Apply for Kenya eTA

Kenya work and residency permits

All non-Kenyan citizens are required to possess a work/resident permit or exemption issued by the Office of the Director of Immigration Services before engaging in any form of employment in Kenya, whether it is paid or unpaid, or establishing a long-term residence.

Kenya work and residency permits

Understanding Work and Residency Permits in Kenya

Work permits in Kenya are essential for non-Kenyan citizens who wish to engage in employment within the country, whether it is paid or unpaid. These permits are designed to regulate and facilitate foreign labour participation in Kenya's workforce.

Residency permits are required for foreigners who intend to reside in Kenya for an extended period, even if their primary purpose is not employment. These permits allow individuals to live in Kenya legally and may be pursued for various reasons, including family reunification or retirement.

Types of Work and Residency Permits in Kenya

Kenya offers various types of work and residency permits to accommodate the diverse needs of foreign nationals wishing to work or live in the country. These permits include:

  • Class A Work Permit

This category is designated for individuals with specific professional skills, such as doctors, engineers, and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) experts. Class A permits are tailored to professionals who bring specialised expertise to Kenya.

  • Class B Work Permit

Foreign investors and business owners seeking to establish or operate businesses in Kenya can apply for a Class B Work Permit. This category encourages foreign direct investment and entrepreneurship within the country.

  • Class C Work Permit

Employees of companies registered in Kenya fall under this category. It applies to foreign workers employed by Kenyan entities and serves to facilitate the hiring of international talent by local companies.

  • Class D Work Permit

Class D permits are issued to foreign domestic workers and employees of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in Kenya. These permits are essential for those working in domestic households or in roles related to NGOs.

  • Special Pass

The Special Pass is a temporary permit required for foreigners engaged in short-term business assignments in Kenya, such as machinery assembly or maintenance. It allows individuals to legally conduct specific tasks for a limited duration.

  • Student Pass

Foreign students pursuing studies in Kenya, including internships and research, need to obtain a Student Pass. This permit is vital for those seeking educational opportunities in the country at various academic levels.

Permanent Residence Process in Kenya

Permanent Residence in Kenya is regulated by Section 37, 38, and 39 of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011. This section is situated within the headquarters of the Directorate of Immigration Services, housed in Nyayo House, and is overseen by a Deputy Director of Immigration Services.

Acquiring Permanent Residence

  1. Online Application

Begin the process by submitting an online application.

  1. Submission of Documents

Submit the necessary documents to the Directorate of Immigration Services Headquarters located in Nairobi, specifically at Nyayo House, Ground Floor South Wing.

  1. Background Checks

Comprehensive background checks are conducted as part of the evaluation process.

  1. Permanent Residence Advisory Committee Interviews and Recommendations

Applicants may undergo interviews with the Permanent Residence Advisory Committee, which then makes recommendations based on their assessments.

  1. Director General's Approval Decision

The Director General of Immigration Services reviews the recommendations and makes a final decision regarding the Permanent Residence application.

  1. Notification of Approval

Once the application is approved, notification is conveyed through the eFNS portal account.

  1. Payment of Permanent Residence Issuance Fees

Applicants are required to pay the designated fees for Permanent Residence issuance.

  1. Preparation and Issuance of the Certificate

Following payment, the necessary preparations are made, and the Permanent Residence Certificate is issued to the applicant.

The Permanent Residence Application Process

The Permanent Residence application process in Kenya involves several steps to attain long-term residency status. Applicants must follow specific procedures, provide required documentation, and adhere to immigration regulations to successfully obtain Permanent Residence in the country.

  • Create Account and Apply on the EFNS Portal

 The process begins by registering an account on the EFNS Portal, where applicants can initiate their Permanent Residence application. This step involves providing personal information and creating login credentials for the portal.

  • Payment of Processing Fee

Applicants are required to pay a processing fee as specified for their Permanent Residence application. This fee covers the administrative costs associated with the application.

  • Upload Required Documents

Applicants must upload all the necessary documents and supporting materials through the EFNS Portal. These documents typically include identification, proof of eligibility, and any other documentation specific to the application.

  • Download Acknowledgment of Application

Once the application is submitted, applicants can download an acknowledgment of their application. This document serves as confirmation that the application has been received and is in process.

  • Approval to Pay Issuance Fee

After the application is reviewed and approved, applicants receive notification to proceed with the payment of the issuance fee. This fee is usually associated with the final processing and issuance of the Permanent Residence Certificate.

  • Provide Proof of Payment

Applicants are required to provide proof of payment for the issuance fee. This is typically done by uploading documents such as deposit slips or payment receipts to the Permanent Residence office through the portal.

  • Issuance of Certificate (In-Person)

Once all the requirements have been met, verified, and the necessary fees paid, the Permanent Residence Certificate is issued to the applicant in person. This final step typically involves visiting the relevant immigration or government office to collect the physical certificate.

Starting and Operating a Business in Kenya as a Foreigner

When it comes to initiating and managing a business in Kenya as a foreign national, the available information can be scarce and unclear. Most resources that address starting a business in Kenya primarily target Kenyan citizens, leaving foreigners with unanswered questions. 

Businessmen shaking hands with flag on background

In this guide, we aim to provide comprehensive answers on how foreigners can start and operate businesses in Kenya.

  • Choosing the Right Business Entity

The first step in launching a business in Kenya as a foreigner is to determine the type of business entity that aligns with your venture. Options include a private limited company, a public limited company, a sole proprietorship, or a limited liability partnership. 

  • Work Permit Requirement

It is essential to recognize that as a foreigner planning to start and reside in Kenya while running a business, you may need to obtain a work permit. The work permit allows you to legally engage in business activities within the country.

  • Alien Identity Card

Alongside the work permit, you may be required to obtain an Alien Identity Card. This card serves as official documentation of your status as a foreign resident conducting business in Kenya. It is a crucial piece of identification necessary for various transactions and interactions within the country.

  • Tax Registration

As a business owner operating in Kenya, whether as a foreigner or a Kenyan citizen, you must register for taxation purposes. This entails obtaining a tax identification number and adhering to Kenyan tax regulations.

Sole proprietorship registration for foreigners

Registering a sole proprietorship or business name is one of the simplest business structures available. In essence, a business name serves to identify the business owner, provide the business address, and indicate the date of registration. For foreigners interested in setting up a sole proprietorship in Kenya, this process can be straightforward. 

Here's a summary of the steps involved:

  • Name Search

The initial step in registering a sole proprietorship business is to conduct a name search. This can be accomplished through the eCitizen portal, which allows you to reserve the desired business name. Name reservation ensures that the chosen name is available for your use.

  • Registration

Once the name reservation is complete, you can proceed with the registration of your sole proprietorship. It's important to note that this type of business entity can be fully owned by a foreigner. The registration form to be filled out is called the BN2 form, which requires you to provide details about the business owners.

  • Required Documents

To complete the registration process, you will need the following documents:

- A copy of your Passport or Alien ID.

- A coloured passport-size photo.

  • Online Registration

The entire registration process can be carried out online through the eCitizen portal. This allows for convenient and efficient registration from anywhere with an internet connection.

  • Processing Time

Typically, the registration of a sole proprietorship business is completed within 7 days, making it a relatively swift process.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Incorporating for Foreigners

An LLP is a business structure that allows partners to separate their personal liability from the liability of the partnership. This means that if the LLP goes into debt, the partners' personal assets are protected. LLPs are also flexible and easy to manage, making them a popular choice for foreign investors in Kenya.

To incorporate an LLP in Kenya as a foreigner, you will need to:

  • Have a minimum of two partners, who can be either individuals or companies.
  • Appoint a manager who is a resident of Kenya.
  • Register the LLP with the Registrar of Companies.

The registration process is relatively straightforward and can be completed online. You will need to submit the following documents:

  • A completed LLP application form
  • Copies of the partners' passports or identification cards
  • A copy of the manager's passport or identification card
  • A business plan
  • A copy of the LLP agreement

Once the LLP is registered, you will need to obtain a business permit from the local county government. You will also need to register for taxes with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Here are some additional points to keep in mind:

  • LLPs are required to file annual returns with the Registrar of Companies.
  • LLPs must also maintain audited financial statements.
  • LLPs are subject to the same tax laws as other businesses in Kenya.

Registering an LLP in Kenya as a foreigner

If you are a foreigner looking to register a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) business in Kenya, here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Name Search

Start by conducting a name search online through the eCitizen portal. This step ensures that your desired business name is available for use.

  1. LLP1 Form

Fill out the LLP1 form, which is the official registration form for an LLP. This form gathers essential details about your LLP and its partners.

  1. Limited Liability Partnership Agreement

Draft and sign a Limited Liability Partnership Agreement among the partners. While this agreement is a requirement, it is not submitted during the registration process.

  1. Manager's Consent

Obtain a letter of consent from the manager who will act on behalf of the partnership. This consent letter must be submitted as part of the registration documentation.

  1. Partner and Manager Information

Gather the following information and documentation for each partner and the appointed manager:

- Names

- Addresses

- Passport photos

- KRA PIN certificates

- Copies of both local and alien IDs

  1. Manual Registration

Registering an LLP is a manual process that takes place at the Registrar of Companies, currently located at Sheria House in Kenya.

Requirements for Foreigners to Establish a Company in Kenya

Starting a business in Kenya as a foreigner involves specific requirements and considerations based on the type of company you intend to open. Below are the requirements for foreign nationals looking to establish a private or public company in Kenya:

For Private Companies

  • Conduct a name search and reserve the desired company name.
  • Fill out the CR1, CR2, CR8, and Statement of Nominal Capital forms.

For Public Companies

  • Appoint a resident Kenyan representative.
  • Ensure that at least 30% of the shares are held by Kenyan citizens.
  • Have a minimum of three directors and a minimum of seven shareholders.
  • Appoint a Kenyan resident company secretary.
  • Fill out the CR1, CR8, and Statement of Capital forms, and draft a memorandum of the company and its articles of association.
  • Gather the following information and documentation for each director and shareholder:



-Passport photos

-KRA PIN certificates

-Copies of their IDs (local or alien)

  • Submit the required documents and complete the necessary forms online through the eCitizen portal for company registration.

Additional Tips

  • If you encounter challenges or require assistance with the registration process, you can seek support.
  • Starting a business in Kenya as a foreigner is manageable, and the right guidance can help you navigate the process smoothly.

Other Considerations

  • Once you have successfully registered your company and obtained the certificate of registration, you can proceed with other permits and regulatory approvals if they are applicable to your specific business activities.
  • It is also important to note that the Kenyan government offers a number of incentives to foreign investors, such as tax breaks and duty exemptions. You can research these incentives and determine if any apply to your business.


Who requires a work or residency permit in Kenya?

All non-Kenyan citizens, including foreigners residing in Kenya or elsewhere, require a work or residency permit if they intend to take up employment, establish a business, or become long-term residents in Kenya.

How can I obtain a work permit in Kenya?

To obtain a work permit in Kenya, you need to apply through the Office of the Director of Immigration Services. The process typically involves submitting the required documents and going through background checks.

What is an Alien Identity Card, and do I need one?

An Alien Identity Card is official documentation of a foreigner's resident status in Kenya. It is often required in conjunction with a work permit. If you plan to reside in Kenya, you will likely need an Alien Identity Card.

Can foreigners engage in short-term business activities in Kenya?

Yes, non-Kenyan citizens can engage in short-term business activities like machinery assembly or maintenance by obtaining a Kenya Special Pass from the Director of Immigration Services.

Are students from abroad allowed to study in Kenya, including internships and research?

Non-Kenyan students intending to study in Kenya at any level, including internships and research, must obtain a student/internship/research pass from the Director of Immigration Services before starting their studies.

Where can I apply for work or residency permits and passes?

Applications for work and residency permits and passes are not processed at foreign missions but should be submitted to the Office of the Director of Immigration Services in Kenya.

How long does it take to process a work or residency permit in Kenya?

Processing times can vary, but permits and passes are typically processed within a reasonable timeframe, often within several weeks to a few months, depending on the type and complexity of the application.




Get eTA to Kenya

  • Step1: Apply on-line Provide the information from your passport to eTA application.
  • Step2: Make an online payment Payment Methods: Credit Card
  • Step3: Check your e-mail address If your payment is confirmed, your eTA will be sent to your e-mail
Get eTA to Kenya

Recent News

Show More

Other Info