Kenya company registration


pay fee by instalmentsbusiness setup without travel

Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC has assisted our Clients with registering their business in Kenya. We can provide the following services to both individual entrepreneurs and multinational corporations: i) Kenya business registration ii) advisory services and assistance to comply with licensing requirements iii) nominee services for Kenya resident directors iv) corporate bank account opening in Kenya v) visa strategies and vi) office rental solutions. Please press the links on the headings below to read more information on the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a company in Kenya.

Compare different Kenya entitiesLLCFast solution LLCFree zone LLCBranch office
Also known asLLCFast solution LLCEPZ companyBranch office
Best use of company?All products/ svcsClose client deal nowManuf/ export tradingShort-term projects
How soon to invoice Clients?7 weeks4 weeks10 weeks7 weeks
How soon can you hire staff?7 weeks4 weeks10 weeks7 weeks
How soon can you sign a lease agreement?4 weeks4 weeks10 weeks4 weeks
How long to supply corporate bank a/c?6 weeks6 weeks3 months3 months
How long to supply co. reg / tax numbers?7 weeks4 weeks10 weeks7 weeks
Corporate tax rate on annual net profits?30%30%0%37.5%
Additional turnover tax rate? (turnover under US$48k)3%3%0%3%
Limited liability entity?YesYesYesNo
Government grants available?YesYesYesYes
Govt approval required for foreign owners?YesYesYesYes
Minimum paid up share capital?US$2US$2US$2none
Can bid for government contracts?YesYesYesYes
Corporate bank account location?Barclays Bank KenyaKCBStandard CharteredEcoBank
Can secure trade finance?YesYesYesYes
VAT payable on sales to local customers?16%16%16%16%
Average total business set up costs?US$17,350US$29,710US$19,300US$16,250
Average total engagement period?10 weeks4 months5 months4 months

See full table

Accounting and tax considerationsLLCFast solution LLCFree zone LLCBranch office
Statutory corporate tax payable?30%30%0%37.5%
Legally tax exempt if properly structured?NoNoYesNo
Group HQ tax incentives?YesYesYesYes
Must file an annual tax return?YesYesYesYes
Must file annual financial statements?YesYesYesYes
Must appoint an auditor?YesYesNoYes
Access to double taxation treaties?YesYesYesYes
WH tax on payments to foreign s/holders?10%10%0%10%
Company RegistrationLLCFast solution LLCFree zone LLCBranch office
Min. number of shareholders/partners?111Parent company
Maximum shareholding for foreigners?100%100%100%100%
Minimum statutory paid up share capital?US$2US$2US$2none
Security deposit kept with government?NoNoNoNo
Shelf companies available?YesYesYesNo
Time to incorporate a new entity?3 weeks4 weeks10 weeks7 weeks
Can easily convert to a PLC?YesYesYesNo
Public register of s/holders and directors?YesYesYesYes
Can have preference shareholders?YesYesYesNo
Business ConsiderationsLLCFast solution LLCFree zone LLCBranch office
Good entity for trademark registration?YesYesYesYes
Can secure an import and export license?YesYesYesYes
Sponsorship by a local citizen required?No
Our Client must travel to Kenya?No
Temp. physical office solutions available?Yes
You need local resident as bank signatory?No
Can be wholly foreign owned?Yes
The entity will likely be regulated by?companies registry
Minimum number of directors/managers?1
Monthly VAT reporting to the government?Yes
Tax agent required?Yes
Sign office lease during incorporation?No
S/holder/director docs attested/translated?No
Foreign director needs personal tax no.?Yes
Foreign director needs a residence visa?Yes
Maximum number of staff allowed?No maximum number for any entity
Expatriate to local staff ratio?None
Can secure residence visa for business owner?Yes
Other useful information
What will be included in my customer sales invoice?Click link
Kenya has signed free trade agreements?Yes
Kenya is a member of WIPO/TRIPS?Yes
This country is a member of the ICSID?Yes
Average custom duties suffered?25%
Govt foreign investment approval required?Yes
Average monthly office rent?(US$/sq m)US$12
Minimum statutory monthly salary?US$130
Average US$ salary for local skilled staffUS$1,400
US$ deposit interest rate (year average)?7.82%
Overseas remittance currency controls?Yes
Banking considerations
Multi-currency bank accounts available?Yes
Corporate visa debit cards available?Yes
Quality of e-banking platform?Very Good
Crowd funding available in this country?Yes

Kenya business setup summary

The recently launched Huduma Centres, Kenya’s ‘One-Stop Shops’ to access government services, enables entrepreneurs to easily reserve a company name and receive stamp duty assessment. Other government agencies involved in the completion of a new company incorporation include i) the Registrar of Companies at Attorney General’s Office and ii) the Kenya Revenue Authority;

The Kenya Companies Act 2015 provides for various corporate structures including;

  • A private limited liability company: this entity is the most preferred by foreign entrepreneurs and investors looking to do business in the country and is suitable for small and medium sized establishments;
  • A public limited company: this legal entity is preferred by investors looking to establish large corporations with the intentions of listing the same on the Nairobi Stock Exchange;
  • A limited liability partnership: this type of entity is perfect for individual skilled professionals including lawyers and consultants looking to establish a partnership;
  • A branch office: foreign companies looking to do business in Kenya without setting up a subsidiary will find this entity the best establishment for their intended venture in Kenya;
  • Representative offices: Although not provided for in the companies act, foreign banks looking to setup representative offices in Kenya may also do so by directly applying though the Central Bank of Kenya.

Press the link headings below to read detailed, relevant, up to date information.

  • Benefits and problems

    Kenya business registration advantages

    • Our Clients will find registering a limited liability company in Kenya easy because:
      • A Kenyan LLC requires only i) one shareholder ii) one director and iii) no minimum paid up capital to be incorporated;
      • The company can be incorporated and registered for tax within one month and our Clients do not need to travel during the engagement;
      • Kenyan banks are efficient and can open a multicurrency corporate account with internet banking within 4 weeks and without our Client traveling to Kenya;
      • Kenya’s formal language is English and foreign nationals will find it easy to communicate with Government officials as well as bank officers during this period;
    • We recommend to our Clients interested to form a company in Eastern Africa to consider Kenya because:
      • Nairobi is the undisputed transportation hub of Eastern and Central Africa and the Port of Mombasa is the largest port in the region;
      • The transportation infrastructure is superb, with high quality railways, airports, ports and roads. Further improvements, include a new port at Lamu currently underway and a future planned dry port of Naivasha;
      • Kenya is an emerging economy, expected by the International Monetary Fund to grow at approximately 5.8% per year until the end of the decennia. It also has a large population of 42 million;
      • Kenya is active in several regional trade blocs, including the Common market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) providing a free trade area within over 20 member states;
      • Also, Kenya has created a customs union with the EAC, eliminating all duties on goods and non-tariff trade barriers amongst member countries;
      • Kenya is a member of The East African Community, allowing extended judicial protection through the East African Court of Justice for International Trade with i) Uganda ii) Burundi iii) Rwanda and iv) Tanzania.
    • Our Clients forming a manufacturing company in Kenya are advised to establish within an export processing zone because:
      • Kenya has seven Export Processing Zones (EPZ) which offer export-oriented foreign companies: i) exemption from corporate income tax and withholding tax up to ten years and ii) exemption from VAT and customs import duty and stamp duty indefinitely;
      • Any company registered within an EPZ can operate with a single license. The Kenya Export Processing Zones Authority also fast tracks EPZ projects, ensuring approval of the license within 30 days;
      • The Kenyan Government allows EPZ companies to sell their wares within the East African Community after compliance with the legal tax procedures for up to 20% of the company’s annual output;
      • The Kenyan EPZs also offer excellent export infrastructure, with ample amounts of serviced land, ready factory buildings and office premises including 24-hour security, street lighting and landscaping.
    • Kenya is a great and cheaper alternative to South Africa for entrepreneurs looking to enter the African region because:
      • A Kenya company benefits from cheaper utilities, with basic water and electricity bills costing an average of US$40 a month, compared to US$120 a month in South Africa;
      • Mobile phone and internet plans are also significantly cheaper in Kenya;
      • Entrepreneurs stand to benefit from cheap labour because as of 2018, the average wage in Kenya is approximately US$600, compared to the average wage in South Africa of US$1,423;
      • A top-class office space in Nairobi CBD would not cost more than US$11.5 per sqm. while in South Africa this would not be less than US$19 per sqm.
    • Our Clients will also enjoy the following benefits when employing locals in Kenya:
      • English is one of Kenya’s two official languages, with an estimated 80% of the population able to speak English at a conversational level. Therefore, investors will easily be able to communicate with employees, customers and suppliers;
      • The computer literacy among the population is 74%, which makes the employees more productive;
      • While skilled labour standards are of a poor quality compared to western countries, it is the second best on the continent after South Africa.
    • The Kenya Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) is a great location for Kenyan company incorporation since it is the unparalleled logistics and distribution centre of the country, providing the investors with a range of benefits:
      • Numerous tax benefits including i) complete exemption from import tariffs and corporate taxation and ii) 0% taxation on dividends;
      • Excellent strategic location that grants companies to serve the neighbouring markets of Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East as well;
      • Great infrastructure, such as i) modern port facilities; ii) transit airports; and iii) road and railways networks.

    Problems with Kenya company registration

    • Non free zone Kenya businesses are subject to significantly high taxes. Corporate income tax rate is 30%, withholding tax rate is 20% and VAT rate is 16%. Kenya has also signed only 7 double taxation treaties, which fail to reduce the tax burden of foreign entrepreneurs;
    • Kenyan laws restrict 100% foreign ownership in the following industries i) aviation, where 51% Kenyan shareholding required ii) insurance, where at least 33% Kenyan shareholding is required for agents and a minimum 60% Kenyan shareholding is required for brokers iii) telecommunications, where at least 20% Kenyan shareholding must exist within three years of the issuance of the business license iv) agriculture, where foreigners are barred from purchasing or selling any agricultural land v) listed companies, where 25% of their ordinary shares must be reserved for investment by Kenyan nationals;
    • Doing business in Kenya presents the following challenges:
      • Obtaining a work permit requires entrepreneurs pursuing Kenya business setup to have at least US$100,000 in a Kenyan bank account or an auditor’s report confirming that previously at least US$100,000 were invested;
      • Kenya suffers from government inefficiency. It takes an average of i) 3 months to get immigration visas ii) 4 months to receive refunds of VAT and withholding taxes and iii) 1 month to obtain customs clearance;
      • A Kenya company also raises security and safety issues. Between Kenya’s relatively high crime rate and the instability in neighboring Somalia, investors will likely need to spend additional money on security and insurance when working in Kenya;
      • While a Kenya company can freely repatriate income out of Kenya, any transaction involving US$10,000 or more must be supported by documentary proof of the reason for the transfer;
      • Foreigners will have difficulties acquiring land in Kenya, due to lack of transparency and cumbersome regulations within the Ministry of Lands;
      • Companies in Kenya are likely to face infrastructural limitations due to their poor quality as well as inadequate supply. This hinders the growth of the companies from the beginning of their operations. Later, the companies are required to incur slightly high overhead expenses for equipping their offices with modern technology and infrastructure to overcome these limitations and run their business with ease.
  • Best uses for a Kenya company

    • Business process outsourcing: Kenya’s low labour costs, English-speaking population and good educational standards make it an increasingly popular destination for business process outsourcing.

      Being in the UTC+3:00 time zone, Kenya can serve both Europe and the Middle East on more convenient hours than other popular BPO locations like India.

      Konza Technology City will provide office space, infrastructure and incentives to business process outsourcing companies when it is complete. KTC is being built as part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 initiative.

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Contact us

For additional information on our company registration services in Kenya, please contact our in-house country expert, Mr. Kunal Fabiani, directly:
client relationship officer - Kunal