As it stands, there are five common ways for foreigners to set up or own a limited company in Kenya.
I. Register a Foreign Company With a Kenyan Partner as Director
This is one of the easiest ways for a foreigner to set up a company in Kenya. A foreigner owner who has a Kenyan partner will not be required to provide a KRA PIN and Alien ID which take enormous time and effort to acquire. Kenyan partner can be a family member, friend or business partner.
Do you already have a Kenyan business partner whom you can start the business together? He or she needs that have a copy of ID, a copy of iTax KRA PIN, passport photo, and other details. If the Kenyan partner doesn’t have an eCitizen account, we can assist to register one for them.
The duration for registering a foreign limited company varies based on how quick you avail your requirements and payment as well as the Company Registry workload. To avoid any delays we recommend that you prepare all your requirements in advance before the registration process begins.
Duration: 2-3 weeks
II. Register a Foreign Company with Nominee Director
This option will make it easier for you to register your company conveniently and with ease. This route will provide you with a service where a nominee will act as a director of your company during the registration process to meet the requirements needed to set up a company.
Nominee Director will only hold 1% share of the company. Once the company has been registered, they will stay as nominee director for up-to 6 months allowing you ample time to find your potential local business partner to replace the nominee director and transfer the shares that were being held. Please note that to replace a director of your company, it usually cost around $100.
Duration: 2-3 weeks
III. Opening a Branch of an Existing Foreign Company
To open a branch or subsidiary in Kenya of an existing foreign company, you will need to register for a Certificate of Compliance. You must provide a copy of your Certificate of Incorporation, a copy of Memorandum and a Company Tax Registration Certificate of the existing foreign company.
These documents need to be certified as genuine by a Public Notary. You will also be required to provide details of the intended/actual physical location of your business in Kenya.
You will need an agent in Kenya to represent you in the application process; who will be able to provide their ID and KRA PIN as well as sign Form 238 on your behalf. You will also need to have an Alien ID, in order to open an eCitizen account as a foreigner.
IMPORTANT: Please note that we currently do not offer Option 3 registration process at the moment.
IV. Register a Foreign Company Fully Owned by Foreign Nationals
Foreign owners intending to register their company without a Kenyan partner will be required to provide a KRA PIN for the application. In order to acquire this document as a foreigner, they will first have to get an Alien ID, for which they become eligible for after three months of consecutive residency in Kenya.
Alien ID application can take up to five weeks to be processed. Alternatively, foreign owners who already have $100,000 and above to invest in Kenya, they can apply to KenInvest to facilitate obtaining a KRA PIN for the directors that will facilitate the registration of the company while avoiding the need to have an Alien ID.
IMPORTANT: Please note that we currently do not offer Option 4 registration process at the moment.
V. Acquire an Existing Company Previously Owned by Kenyans
Through acquisition or merger, foreigners can pay an agreed amount for a target Kenyan business and start the process of changing ownership by adding and removing directors and shareholders. This process will be more rigorous if buying a public limited company as opposed to a private company limited by shares.
IMPORTANT: Please note that we currently do not offer Option 5 registration process at the moment.
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We have launched our new ebook that will guide you to start, run and grow your own business in Kenya.
Our ebook covers in more depth all the crucial topics you need to start your business in Kenya, including;
- Complying with Company Regulations
- Kenya Revenue Authority compliance
- Business Visa
- Business Premises
- Work Permit
- Alien ID
- Add/Remove Director
- Opening a Business Bank Account
- Getting a Lipa Na Mpesa Account
- Applying for Government Tenders
- ETR Machine
- Company Seal
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