Looking to move to Mombasa - Advice most welcome

I have just joined because I am hoping to move to Mombasa towards the end of this year.  I would really like to chat to people who are in a similar position to me or to those who have already made the move.  I have been coming to Kenya since 2009 when I spent 3 months volunteering at a children's centre in Nairobi.  I fell in love with the country and the people and have been coming back 2 or 3 times a year ever since.  I have a great network of friends in Mombasa and feel that I could make it my home.  I have done some research but could really do with some advice, especially in looking for work or starting up a business.
I look forward to hearing from you.

glad you have enjoyed your stay in this beautiful country.

I suggest you do more exploration of Kenya

for startup business it will depend on what business you want to venture in

for the case of work employment, it depends on your qualification in your line of career

welcome to Kenya

Hello Luciejane

Kindly note that a new thread has been created as from your post on the Mombasa forum to help you get more interactions from members.


Hello. Firstly moving to Kenya and becoming a resident here is not an easy process. 

To work legally in Kenya (including voluntary work), you must have a Work/Residence Permit.  There are various classes of these, depending upon your background and what work you may be eligible to do.  For the majority, the Class D, Class G and Class K permits are the ones that may normally be applied for:

If you are looking for employment, you would need a Class D permit, to enable you to work.  These are applied for in response to an offer (to you) of employment.  It is the prospective employer who applies on your behalf.  I have copied the requirements below:

Class D Requirements.
•Copies of academic/professional certificates along with the CV.
•Evidence that the organization failed to fill the vacancy from the local labor market.
•Form 25 dully filled, signed and sealed by the company.
•Processing Fee Kshs.10,000 non-refundable.
•Fee is Ksh. 200,000/= per year or part thereof.

The permit is normally issued for a period of two years.  Employers are supposed to train up someone from the local labour market to do the specific job, so that its possible that after the two year period, your work permit may not be renewed.

Starting a business:  Registering a company is a relatively straightforward process.  You would need to apply for a PIN from Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).  It appears that you can apply if you are non Kenyan and non resident.  Once the PIN has been obtained, the company can be registered.  It can be useful to employ a lawyer, as they know how to word the 'Articles of Association'.  Apparently, the government has just simplified the registration process. 

Working within your business;  You will not be legally permitted to be anything more than a sleeping partner, unless you have a Class G permit, which is for investors. Unfortunately, you do need a lot of capital to obtain this type of permit and even then the application may not be straightforward, as bribes are often sought.  I have copied the requirements below:

Class G Requirements.
◦Documentary proof of capital to be invested/already invested minimum of 100,000 US dollars or equivalent in any other currency.
◦Registration certificate of the company OR certificate of incorporation.
◦Copies of personal and company PIN (Personal Identification Number) if business is running.
◦For renewals; audited accounts for previous 2 years and a certificate of tax compliance from the Kenya Revenue Authority.
◦Processing Fee Kshs.10,000 non-refundable.
◦Fee is Kshs. 100,000/= per year or part thereof.

The Class K permit, is for anyone who has sufficient funds, or the means to support themselves ie; rental income to the tune of about £16,000 per year, for the two year permit period.  Work is not permitted with the Class K.

It should be noted that applications can take quite a few weeks.  If your single entry visa expires in the meantime, you would have to leave Kenya, then return.  Single entry visa's are normally valid for 3 months and can be extended (once per visa) for a further 3 months.  On expiry, it was common practice to cross the border, out of East Africa, then return.  However, I have heard of recent stories where visas have been declined, or given, but just for a few weeks.

As an example, I am married to a Kenyan citizen for almost 19 years.  I am not in a profession of which there is a shortage in Kenya.  I have been the main wage earner and therefore was unable to get a Dependents Pass.  After a period of 10 years or so, I have finally got a Class K Permit - but had to bribe to get it.  This is despite investing heavily in property here.  Its not easy!

Further to my previous post: with regard to your choice of area, I think that this may be partially dictated by the sort of work/business that you want to do.  Despite Mombasa being the second city, Kenya is very Nairobi centred.  As it is the East African hub for many European based charities, businesses, embassies and the UN, there are arguably more job opportunities there, for expats.  Mombasa region has been very heavily reliant on the tourist industry and has really been hit by the downturn in this sector.  Nevertheless, Mombasa is quite popular with expats and if you already have a network there, this would be an important factor in settling in - there is a world of difference between visiting and living!

Both Mombasa and Nairobi are expensive cities in which to live, particularly the latter.  It would be worthwhile having a look on the internet for properties to rent.  This will facilitate you to do a budget.  An apartment is generally cheaper than a property in its own compound, but watch out for service charges.  Electricity costs are not much lower than in the UK, water is metered and the cost varies depending on where you live.  We pay around Ksh 5000 to 7000 per month on power (would be much higher if we did not have solar water heating) and Ksh 1500 - 2000 on water, per month (but we have a large house).  Gas is bottled and (once you have bought the cylinder, costs approx. Ksh 2500 for a 13kg refill.

I do not recommend that you rent a property 'blind'.  It is important to view and negotiate in person, or if you have a friend that can absolutely be trusted, get them to help you.  Rental agreements are very similar to those in the UK, except that rent can be asked for quarterly, or up to 6 months in advance. Don't be afraid to bargain the price down - its expected here.  It is normal, at the end of a tenancy, for the departing tenant to have the property repainted.

Workwise, I note that you are a nanny.  In Kenya, people tend to employ house helps, who help with childcare, rather that a child going to a nanny. Pay for house helps is notoriously poor, so I think that it would not be a useful career path for you, if you intend to live here.

Hi Kenjee,

Thanks for the heads up.


Welcome to is a nice place to stay

Welcome to Mombasa

Moderated by Bhavna last year
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I am interested to move to Mombasa.
some one can
give me idea
how to get visit visa ?
Then how to get
business visa ? or can anyone guide me or introduce me a lawyer for visa and business registration process

First time
Mombasa Kenya.
How to get a 3 month visit visa.

Hello Hasan,
You don't need a lawyer to obtain a single entry visa (visit visa). You can apply online at;

You can also apply on arrival in Kenya.  The visa is valid for a maximum of 90 days, you should have an onward/return ticket dated within 90 days of the arrival date and evidence of funds to support yourself - minimum of $500 (or equivalent in another currency).   The cost is $50 paid in recent bills.  You can extend a single entry visa by a further 90 days, by making an application at immigration a week or two before your initial 3 months expires.

It should be noted that the single entry visa does not give permission to do any kind of work, paid or unpaid. 

The business visa has to be applied for at a Kenyan Embassy and would allow you to do things such as attend meetings, conferences and so on, in connection with your work. It does not permit you to work within your own Kenyan business.

You can register a company while in Kenya on a visitors visa.  To register a company, you first need to apply for a PIN from Kenya Revenue Authority. It is useful to have a lawyer to help with the articles of association, but otherwise it's not essential. I am unable to recommend the lawyer we used though. 

Once your company is registered, you would be unable to legally work within it in any capacity at all, without a class G work permit. The requirements of this are strict.  You must have a minimum of $100,000 (or equivalent) to invest. The permit costs Kenya Shillings 100,000 per year, plus a Kenya Shillings 10,000 processing fee. You are also supposed to provide evidence that your business will be of benefit to Kenya.

Rampant corruption in Immigration may mean that with a very hefty bribe, some of the above may be overlooked!  However, the government has recently been focusing on the issuance of work permits to foreigners. You also need to consider that if you get a work permit 'via the back door' this time, it may be refused when you come to renew in two years time (for renewal, you present accounts for the previous two years to demonstrate that you have a viable business).

Additionally, operating a business here means obtaining local government permits.  Officials can be quite obstructive and make you wait indefinitely if you don't give them a bribe.

If you want to register a company etc, then I suggest that Nairobi would be a better base for you, while you do this.

Really really thankful for your detailed advices and informations.

Thank you

Hello Dear Friend,
Thanks for your Interest in Living in Mombasa.
where Specifically do you want to Live in Mombasa?

i am planning to visit
mombasa...stay in a down town city economical guest house.
or find a pakistani owned guest house to live.
after business registration
like to move in normal one bed room
want to do raw leather business in mombasa.

I am sorry guys, but somehow I feel that this forum is giving out information in the most difficult of manners, why couldn't we just say that Hassan ' You can get the Kenyan Visit visa on arrival at the airport for $50 only, and your stay can vary, it's better you need a copy of your hotel or contacts with you at the time of arrival.
I feel that there is a strange feel of keeping people away from starting up a business in Kenya or visiting there as well, by some authors.

Hi I have beautiful apartment in mombasa for sale,  in Bamburi Beach home,  just in the beach. Danilo

Have you read a book "The White Maasai" or have you seen a movie of the same name? A white woman from Switzerland shares a lot of her first-hand experiences of managing a family-business in Mombasa in the book - I would strongly advise to read the book first. Good luck with your endeavour.

<<I feel that there is a strange feel of keeping people away from starting up a business in Kenya or visiting there as well, by some authors.>>

I don't think that its that at all.   Its a matter of government policy, which is clearly laid out on the immigration website.  'Authors' on here are trying to tell it how it is and to help by giving as detailed information as possible -  I am sorry if you don't like that approach, Hasshu. 

Personally, I don't mind whether someone wants to start a business in Kenya or not.  Fact is, that permits and passes are needed, to operate legally and it would be unfair to tell people 'Oh, its easy'.  On the face of it, applications are fairly straightforward, but Immigration officers can convolute and complicate the process, quite often because they want a bribe

I have been through the application process for an investors visa (where you run your own business).  I met all the criteria, including having (at the time) $100,000  available.  I had some help to complete and submit.  The immigration department complicated my application to the extent that I was advised to withdraw and apply for a different type of permit (which I now have - although immigration complicated this application to elicit a large bribe, which I was warned about).

I can only wish the very best of luck to anyone wanting to start their own business in Kenya.

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