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The Registrar of Companies is responsible for business registrations in Kenya. He/she issues certificates of compliance for foreign companies, certificates of incorporation for local companies and certificates of registration for sole proprietorships and partnerships. Firms must then obtain registration with National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) . A business permit should also be obtained from the County Government depending on the business type.New: All company and business registrations (sole proprietorships and partnerships and limited liability partnerships) are being done through the ecitizen online platformClick on the links below to see all the steps to start a business in Kenya including where to go, forms to download, what to bring, costs, time frames and legal justifications.
Starting a local company
A local company is a company incorporated in Kenya. It may take the form of:
A company limited by shares
A company limited by guarantee
The registration process for the various forms of local company is the same though the requirements and costs vary.
A company's official search, popularly know as a CR 12, is a confirmation letter by the Registrar of Companies indicating the details of the directors and shareholders of a company, respective shareholding, registered office address of the company and details of any debentures, charges or encumbrances registered against the company. Members of the public can apply for an official search of any company registered in Kenya.
Business name (sole proprietorship) is a business structure operated and owned by one person. The owner is the sole decision maker in the business and is liable for all the losses and returns of the business. In most cases it is usually a business structure for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
A partnership is a form of business structure between two or more people who have a common view of making profit. The level of financial risk in partnerships is less when compared to sole proprietors as any loss incurred is shared between all the partners. Since it also involves more than one person's expertise, the chances of the business failing is also reduced. In addition, the formalities of registration (cost, requirements, duration) are minimal making it an attractive business structure.
A limited liability partnership (LLP) is a unique business association provided for in the Limited Liability Partnership Act which combines the characteristics of both a company and partnership. Once it is registered, it gains a corporate legal entity different from its members and is able to own property in its own name. In addition, it is effective from a tax perspective as the partnership income is taxed in the hands of each partner.
The Company Registry requires that a name search be conducted and approved before the registration process of any local business. Business name reservations are done online through the e citizen portal.
The various county governments in Kenya are responsible for issuing single business permits to the various business types operating within the counties.The type of business permit to be issued depends on factors such as the geographical location of the business, the number of employees,business type, activities of the business among others.
The unified business permit (previously known as the single business permit) is a permit which consolidates all the licences required for running a business within the county. It includes : a trading licence, a fire clearance certificate, an advertising signage licence, health certificate, and a food hygiene licence. All business entities ought to have a trading licence and a fire clearance certificate. Entities dealing with consumables must in addition have a health certificate and a food hygiene licence. An advertising signage licence is applicable for all entities with advertising signages (300mm by 600 mm or less). The unified business permit makes it possible for business people to apply for the different licences in one application without going to the different institutions to obtain them. The permit is valid for one year upon which an applicant ought to apply for renewal.
Access to Governmment Procurement Opportunities (AGPO)
Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) is a government initiative to ensure that youth, women and persons living with disabilities owned enterprises gain access to government tenders and contracts. Before the enterprises can access the government opportunities, they must register with the National Treasury.