Obtaining a Business Permit in Kenya; Different County Rules and Rates!

A business permit in Kenya is required for the smooth operation of any business in Nairobi and other part of Kenya. To conduct any business within the jurisdiction of any of the counties across Kenya, the business owner is required to obtain a Single Business Permit from the respective County Governments where the business is to commence operation.

Obtaining a business permit as a legal requirement for businesses to operate seamlessly in Kenya not only proves the legality and credibility of the business, it also help local authorities collect their taxes to improve their service delivery to the locals. In addition, a single business permit in kenya is a crucial documentary requirement when seeking to apply for Government tender, borrowing a loan etc. 

The various county governments in Kenya are responsible for issuing single business permit application to the various business types operating within the counties. Issuance of a particular type of business permit will depend on the geographical location of the business, the number of employees, business type, and activities of the business among others.


The unified business permit in kenya which was previously referred to as the single business permit is a permit which consolidates all the licenses required for running a business within the county. It consists of a trading license, a fire clearance certificate, an advertising signage license, health certificate, and a food hygiene license. Specific entities must in addition to the trading license and fire clearance certificate, which are compulsory for all types of businesses, obtain additional license peculiar to the operation of their business.

The unified business permit application makes it possible for business people to apply for the different licenses in one application without going to the different institutions to obtain them. 

Types of Licenses required to operate in Kenya

  1. Business Permit in Kenya

An annual business permit is required to conduct business in Kenya, it is issued by the City Council. The cost of processing this permit will depend on factors such as the size of the premises, number of employees and the industry of the business.

  1. Fire Clearance Certificate

All businesses are required to have the fire clearance certificate. The basic requirement is to have at least a fire extinguisher and any other fire safety requirements as may be advised by a fire safety inspector, depending on the business. Upon inspection of the business premises, a Fire Safety Certificate will be issued.

  1. Food/ Health Related Permits.

Consumable business entities must have both the health certificate and the food hygiene license. In an industry that requires health certification such as food, bakery, beverage, salon etc, it is necessary to obtain a food and health certificate. A health inspector will carry out an inspection on the business premises and upon satisfaction with the standard and payment, a certificate will be issued to the business owner.

  1. Advertising Signage License

All businesses that have advertising signage of about 300mm by 60mm or less are required to have an advertising signage license.


Business permits can be obtained either physically at their various county offices or by using the online portal. Below are the requirements for obtaining business permits both physically and via the online platform with only few differences:

  1. Copy of the business permit application form

  2. Copy of the certificate of incorporation

  3. Copy of the identification card

  4. Copy of the company pin certificate

  5. An approved business permit application form

  6. A payment permit invoice


Upon verification of all documentary requirements, the following steps may be followed to apply for the business permits:

  1. Obtain, completely fill and submit the BR-1 form to the relevant office.

  2. The inspection officers will carry out an inspection to confirm the type of business, location and the number of employees. The visit will determine the Nairobi City County single business permit rates you will have to be charged.

  3. The application form is approved by the signatories and further presented to Data entry clerks for data capturing in the Single Business Permit database.

  4. After capturing the data, an invoice/bill is generated for the client to make payment and receive official receipts.

  5. The client shall present the application form and the original receipt to the license Reception Desk officer who shall receive, record them in the register and have them printed for the signatories to affix their final signatures.

  6. Once signed by signatories, the Single Business Permit is received by Registry, where it is stamped again and taken to dispatch office for collection by the owner.

The online application process is quite easy as well, applicant is to create a company profile on the platform, fill in all required information and make relevant payment. Upon submission of the application, the agency will process same and issue a business permit upon satisfaction of the information provided. Applicants are able to print out the business permit from the online platform.

It is IMPORTANT to note that different counties have their various application process for obtaining business permit in Kenya. Thus the process in Nairobi County can be different from Mombasa, Kiambu or other county areas in Kenya. Thus in obtaining a business permit in Kenya, the applicant has to take into consideration, the county the business is located or operating.


The permit hen issued is valid for a period of one calendar year (January to December) after which an applicant may apply for renewal.

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