Registering a business/company in Kenya was once a complicated process. Gladly, in the recent past, the Kenyan government has taken action and simplified the registration process. However, the process can take a while especially when one’s documents and other statutory requirements are not in order whether a Kenyan or foreigner. Early preparation and planning of the registration process are necessary for avoiding delays when starting a business.
The mandate of registering businesses in Kenya is given to the Registrar of Companies who issues certificates of compliance for foreign companies, certificates of incorporation for local companies, and certificates of registration for sole proprietorships and partnerships. All businesses must register with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) at the onset of their registration.
With the onset of the devolution system in the country, all business permits should be obtained from the respective County Government based on the business type. All company and business registrations (sole proprietorships and partnerships and limited liability partnerships) are being done through the ecitizen online platform.
This is a step-by-step guide and all you need to know when registering a business that applies to creative agencies as well.
The Starting Point
A local company is incorporated in Kenya and may take the form of a company limited by shares, a company limited by guarantee, or an Unlimited company. The registration process of the different local companies/businesses is similar despite the variations in the requirements and costs.
Create an eCitizen Account
With the introduction of the eCitizen platform: most government official businesses and services including business registrations are done here at the comfort of the applicant. The Kenyan ID number is the main document used when making an eCitizen account online as well as a working email address.
Start the account registration online at: https://www.ecitizen.go.ke/index.html. Click on “Create an account” in the top-right corner. Foreign citizens living in Kenya can use their Foreigner Certificate Number in place of a Kenyan ID. A Kenyan company can have non-Kenyan directors who live abroad as long as one of the directors is a Kenyan.
Upload a Passport Photo
The next step is uploading a passport photo of yourself with the dimensions of 5.5 cm × 5.5 cm (2.2 in × 2.2 in) on your online account during registration. Upload the digital photo on the eCitizen portal to complete the personal profile registration.
Navigate to the Business Registration Service home page.
Once an account has been created and you have logged in to your account, locate the home page on the eCitizen account created, and locate and select the Business Registration Service will redirect you to the home page for the Business Registration Service.
- Begin your application by choosing a business type.
Once you’re in the Business Registration Service, click on “Make Application.” On the next screen, click “Business Name Application.” From there, choose the type of business you want to create. There are 6 main types of business entities in Kenya; Sole proprietorships, Partnership, Registered companies (public or private), A branch office of a foreign-registered company, Limited liability partnership, or Business societies.
- Enter business.
Key in the business’s intended name such as SimPaul Design, Artlink Agency, etc. The name search is conducted at a fee of Ksh. 150 per business name which is payable through different means (MPESA or using Credit Card). Confirmation of the name acceptance takes about 2 business days on your online portal. The name may be rejected should it closely match with another already registered Kenyan business. Once approved, the registrar at the Registration Service reserves the name for 30 days to allow you to complete the business registration.
- Fill out the company registration form CR1 and CR8 form.
Fill out the CR1 Form and write the company’s name, the location of its business office, and the personal information of all of the business directors and shareholders. Once the CR1 form is completed, scan, print and attach a copy of the ID card and color passport photo of all company director(s) and shareholders.
On the CR8 Form, provide the official physical residential houses of the director(s) including those living outside Kenya.
- State your businesses’ nominal capital holdings on form BN6.
The BN6 Form allows you to state your businesses’ nominal capital as required by Kenya Revenue Authority. One also provides the amount of capital the company possesses in Kenyan shillings.
- Memorandum and Article of Association
It is required of new businesses to describe the name, objectives, location, and authorized share capital of the company which is captured in the Memorandum of Association. The rules, and regulations, powers of company directors, member’s liabilities, powers, and appointment of directors are captured in the Article of Association. These two documents are part of the registration.
- File the completed forms at a Kenyan Registrar’s office.
All the forms and documents above: CR1, CR8, and BN6 forms and the Memorandum and Article of Association and other mentioned identification documents are to be sealed in an envelope. These should be mailed to the Registrar’s office or hand-delivered in person to the Business Registration department if in Nairobi. A mandatory fee of Ksh 10,650 is paid either online via the ecitizen portal or by cheque or credit card at the Registrar’s office.
The address for delivering the forms is:
The Chief Registrar of The Judiciary
Supreme Court Building
P.O. Box 30041 (00100)
- Download your business certificate from the eCitizen platform.
Having done all this, the process of reviewing the documents sent will take about a week. Once approved, your business will be officially registered and the certificate will be posted on your eCitizen portal.
Download it and start doing business!!