How to Register a Company in Kenya in the Special Economic Zone(SEZ)

Special Economic Zones which are governed by the Special Economic Zone Authority are set up as a means of realizing Vision 2030 and the Big 4 Agenda through creating a favourable business environment for investors within delineated special zones through integrated infrastructure facilities, removal of impediments to economic and business activities undertaken by SEZ Enterprises.


A company can be registered either as a developer, operator, or an enterprise within a special economic zone depending on the nature of intended operations. The applicant must meet the following requirements:

  1. Must be a company incorporated in Kenya,
  2. Must have the financial capacity and technical expertise to carry out the SEZ proposed operations;
  3. Must own or lease land or premise within an SEZ to set up its operations
  4. Must engage in any activity eligible to be undertaken by an SEZ;
  5. The company’s operations must create employment opportunities to the local residents.
  6. The operations of the company should not have negative impact on the environment or engage in activities that are a threat to national security.


Both local and foreign owned companies may set up business in a Special Economic Zone in Kenya and are amenable to the following incentives;

  1. It is a One Stop Shop service for facilitation and aftercare – SEZA Investor Support Division offers support to SEZ enterprises and advice.
  2. Operation under essentially one license issued by SEZA aimed at minimizing bureaucracy and administrative procedures.
  3. Exemption provided under the SEZ Act include;
  4. Exemption from rent and tenancy controls.
  5. The provisions of the Foreign Investments and Protection Act relating to certificate for approved enterprise.
  6. Exemption from the payment of advertisement fees and business service    permit fees levied by respective County Governments’ Finance Acts among others.
  7. Fiscal (Tax) Incentives-SEZ
Corporate tax   10% for the first 10 years after start of operation. 15% for the next 10 years. 30% for the subsequent years.  
VAT   The supply of goods or taxable services to an SEZ is perpetually VAT exempt  
Stamp duty   Perpetual exemption from stamp duty on any executing documents or instruments relating to the business activities of SEZ enterprises, developers and operators.  
Withholding Tax   WHT rate of 5% on the all payments by the SEZ enterprise, developer or operator to non-resident persons.  
Investment Deduction   Outside Nairobi and Mombasa counties – 150%. In other cases – 100% This is applicable on all construction of a building and purchase/ installation of machinery for use by a SEZ enterprise Excise Duty Excise Duty is perpetually exempt  
Excise Duty Excise Duty is perpetually exempt  
Import Declaration Fees/Railway Development Levy IDF/RDL Perpetual Exemption from payment of IDF and RD  
  • Rapid Project approval and licensing.
  • Liberalized foreign exchange regime and easy repatriation of capital and profits, access to foreign currency accounts, domestic and offshore borrowing.
  • Onsite customs documentation and inspection by Customs Staff.
  • Unrestricted investment by foreigners.
  • Entitlement to work permits of up to twenty per cent of their full-time employees; and on the recommendation of the Authority, additional work permits may be obtained for specialized sectors


  • Investment Inquiry: the investor confirms the proposed SEZ activity with the Special Economic Zones Authority in order to be issued with the relevant application forms.
  • SEZ Investment Project Application: the investor is required to make the application for the SEZ License for the Authority to provide advice where necessary.
  • Formal Application: the investor is issued with the SEZ License application to complete and attach documents as per the list of requirements.
  • Appraisal/Review of Application: by the SEZ Authority ensues to confirm that all the information has been provided and meets the set criteria.
  • Approval: once the application satisfies the requirements, an approval letter is issued
  • Issuance of SEZ License: an SEZ License is issued to the company after payment of the Annual License fee of USD 1000 and fulfilling the following requirements:
  • Investment Agreement and land lease agreement from the SEZ Company.
  • NEMA License/approval letter
  • Fulfilling any other registration conditions given at this stage relating to business activity.
  • Obtain the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Certificate:
  • Obtaining the final SEZ License at an annual fee of USD 1,000.

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