Legal checklist for a new business in Kenya

Any woman entrepreneur knows the importance of always being on the right side of the law. As such, we, HerBusiness have Uwakili give you advice on dealing with business legal issues in Kenya. Today, you learn the legal checklist for a new business in Kenya.

Here are a couple of things to look out for when venturing into a new business:

1.Legal Structure

There are different legal structures you may choose from in the Kenya business law context. You may choose a general partnership, a limited liability partnership, a company limited by shares or a company limited by guarantee.

Choosing one legal structure is important because you will know the limitations of your business and what liabilities your business may incur. Depending on the growth trajectory you have drawn for your business you are able to pick one that will suit your capital borrowing capacity and membership.

To find more details on the different structures, you can check out uwakili for a comprehensive pro and con list.

2.Founder’s Collaboration/ Partnership Agreement

Ensure that the agreement with your business partners is put into writing, and more importantly it addresses  the key issues such as management of the business, its operation, shareholders’ rights and mode of dispute resolution. This will save you a lot of headache in future.

Various different agreement are usable to note this down, for example:

3.Tax Registration

To register for Value Added Tax (threshold at Ksh 5M per year), local service tax and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax, one needs:

  • Personal tax identification number(PIN)
  • PIN certificates of at least two signatories
  • Company tax identification number


Businesses in Kenya have to acquire one or more licenses and permits, based on the type of business.  There are usually two types of business licenses:

  1. Sector-specific licenses –  these licenses are issued by the agencies mandated with regulating those sectors to firms operating in a specific line of business for instance; banking.
  2. Non-sector specific, or cross-cutting licenses – these licenses are issued to firms that fall across many business types but are still  subject to regulation for example environmental permits.

Additionally, businesses in Kenya are required to obtain a Single Business Permit, which is issued by the local government authority where the business is situated.

5.Intellectual Property Rights

The business should have full ownership of Intellectual Property assets so as to protect the value of the business. This can be achieved by entering into Assignment of intellectual property rights.

If you have any questions you can go over to their Asked & Answered section and ask away or email them at or call  +254 773 615 006. While you’re at it, please give them a visit on their social media pages: