How to Search and Register a Business Name or Company

How to register a business name or Limited company in Kenya

Are you looking for how to register a company in Kenya? You are in the right place. In this article, I will reveal the easiest way to register a business name or Limited company in Kenya.

In the past, company registration in Kenya was a uphill task, which took months. However, since early July 2017, the government has streamlined business registration process by phasing out manual processes. This means that you, the entrepreneurs, can now easily register a business without much headache like before.

How to register a business in Kenya

To register your business in Kenya, you just have to open an account at eCitizen platform.

What’s eCitizen platform?

eCitizen platform is website by Kenyan government to help Kenyans access government services easily and fast. To use eCitizen platform, you need to open an account.

If you do not have one, you can register on ecitizen by going to and click on create account.

Select Kenya Citizen (if you are a citizen). You will need you ID number, fullnames, phone number and email address.

The next step assumes you now have the ecitizen account.

Step 1: You need to be logged into your eCitizen account.

As mentioned, if you don’t have an account already, follow the above process.Click on sign in on the top right corner.

  2. Click on make an application
  3. Click on name search and reservation
  4. The next screen will give you the options below Business name search

Step 2: Search your business name

What is the name of the business you want to start?

Do brainstorming of viable business names. Then make a decision on the best name (attractive, short and memorable).

Do this before starting the registration process. And I advice you pick more than two names.

There are tens of thousands companies in Kenya. And all of them got names. So there’s a chance that the name you will pick will be already in use.

And besides, 9 out of 10 chance that you are not the first person to start such kind of business. You already have competitors with almost similar names.

So, to be on the safe side, think of more than 2 names.

Next step is to click on MAKE APPLICATION, followed by  BUSINESS NAME REGISTRATION.

This is the section where you now search whether this name you picked actually exists.

If it doesn’t, there are two possible reasons,

  • The name is already taken or
  • The name you picked is against the business naming policy in Kenya.
  • Before you perform a name search it is important to note the following,
    1. Business with the word “Enterprises” at the end cannot use Initials e.g J.K and Brian Enterprises
    2. Names with the word “Foundation” must be registered as Companies limited by guarantee
    3. Names with “Groups” , “projects” and “Holdings” must be limited.(Hawlast group limited)
    4. Names with “Universities” must be limited. (Hawlast university limited)
    5. Single words are not accepted (Hawlast)
    6. Offensive or abusive words are not allowed either. Offensive words in vernacular (mother tongue) are not allowed either.
    7. Political names e.g (Nairobi youth alliance) are not allowed
    8. Numerics are not allowed not unless its the current year eg (2018)
    9. Names starting with the word “Kenya” are only reserved for the government.
    10. Names with ‘Church’ and ‘Ministry or Ministries’ are not allowed
    11. Names with “Trust”, “Foundation”, Programmes are not allowed
    12. The Registrar of Names does not register clubs
    13. Names with “Relief” are not allowed
    14. Names with “welfare”, Organization, Association, are not allowed.

If your business name registration is rejected, don’t panic, you will be served with the reasons why your process failed.

Based on the feedback you will get, repeat the name registration process, this time taking into account the feedback.

After a successful name registration, it will be yours (reserved) for only 30 days, after which it will be available for registration.

Step 3: choose the type of business

What type of company do you want to start?

Is it a partnership? A Sole proprietorship? Private Limited Company?

If it is any of the above, choose from the available options. Then search for the name you picked in the previous step.

Remember name search service is only available during official working hours and days.


Step 4: it’s time to register your business

Your next step is to fill in corresponding business type forms and submit them for approval.

Here are some of the information you will need;

Requirements to register a sole proprietorship or partnership

  • Fill in the BN2 form
  • Scan and upload copies of your ID/Passport, KRA PIN certificate and colored passport size photo

The registration process will take a weeks, upon which your company registration certificate will be available on your eCitizen account.

Requirements when registering a private company

  • Duly-filled CR1form
  • Filled directors and shareholder information (copies of their IDs/Passports, colored passport photos, and KRA PIN certificate
  • Fill shareholding details
  • Fill CR8-a (notification of the director (s) residential addresses
  • Filled nominal capital statement

Remember that you can register a company where you are the director and the shareholder.

Cost of business registration in Kenya

A business can be registered as a  sole proprietorship or company limited by shares.

  • Name search goes for Kshs. 150
  • Partnership/Sole proprietorship registration – Kshs. 1000
  • Company registration – Kshs. 10,650

There you have it, how to register a company in Kenya fast.

How to pick a business name

The name you choose should be unique and only owned by you. The business name cannot be your name though. If you are James and say you want to register an insurance agency you can’t call it James insurance agency. This is where creativity comes in handy I have seen people contort their names like HARON may call his business NORHA….

The other trick would be to add appendages like Ventures, investments, capital, enterprises and agency. My advice would be once you have settled on one name

The name you choose for your business should not be hard to pick but you need to have at least two options when you log on to the Ecitizen website. To be on the safe side and avoid waste of time and money you need to do your research and come up with a name that is not out there.


How To Register Your Business Name Via M-Pesa

a. Download, print and fill in an application form from
b. Visit the Company Registry at the Attorney General Chambers or your nearest Huduma Center to submit your application forms
c. Pay Kshs.800 via Playbill number is 945050, Account number is BN2.
(Note: Only the business owner should pay for registration so payment details coincide with business owner details)
d. Once you pay, you will be issued with a tracking number. Dial *271# and enter the tracking number to find out the status of your application


a. Select Lipa na M-PESA on M-PESA Menu
b. Select Pay Bill
c. Enter Business Number 945050
d. Enter Account Name as BN2
e. Enter the amount you wish to pay (Kshs100 or 800)
f. Enter your M-PESA PIN number
g. Confirm that all details are correct and press OK
h. You will receive a confirmation SMS from M-PESA

4. Should you have any questions, you can call our call center for assistance on 0701 155 955

Paybill Is a chargeable M-PESA service
If you do not have Lipa na M.PESA on your menu go to M-PESA select My Account and Update Menu

Registering a business name is simple and takes about a week  give and take.

1 Choose  a business name that you wish to register.

2Write a simple letter addressed to the “Registrar General”. This letter need only ask the registrar to confirm if your chosen business name is available for registration. Armed with the letter, make your way to Sheria House, and to the Registrar of Companies within the Sheria House compound.

3. Go over to counter No 1 and hand in your letter(s). You will need to pay Kshs 100 for every name that you wish to register. This is what is called “business name search”. The process takes three days, max (usually). You will receive a blue receipt.


4.Three days after handing in your letter, go back to Sheria House and show the attendant your receipt. If your chosen name is available for registration, you will receive a letter from the registrar of companies that, basically, tells you your name search was successful. You will also receive a form, Form BN/2.


5.What you need to do is fill out Form BN/2 as completely as possible. If you are registering a sole proprietorship, the part where it says “Particulars of proprietor or partners” will bear only one name, otherwise you can put in up to 20 partners (for a partnership).

6.Go back to Sheria House and hand in your completed Form BN/2. You will need to pay Kshs 800/-. After a week or so, you will have to go back to Sheria House to collect your business registration certificate. Congratulations, you shall then have registered a new business.

When starting out in the business, sometimes it makes much sense to go solo. When there is no immediate need for one to operate as a limited company the option of registering as a sole proprietor is cheaper and easier.

Here are the requirements of a sole proprietor

  1. Name of business – the name should be unique and not similar to an existing business. One needs to come up with at least three names to present for searching at the company registry at Sheria house. You can now search for your business names on your phone!
  2. Nature of business- the registry requires that the proprietor provide it with a specific nature of business. Examples are hair dressing, motor vehicle repair etc. etc. as a general rule avoid broad terms.
  3. Business address- this the actual location of your business. Here you will need to fill the plot number and street name. This two will give the precise location of the business. More often than not due to lack of a business premise, those starting out use their residential plot number. Here you also include the name of the building
  4. Post office box or the postal address –This is at the nearest post office. It doesn’t have to be registered to the business although it’s best to have one that is specific. It cost about 2500 shillings to get a box. If you happen to borrow an address there is a chance to update your details later.
  5. Address of branches –Applicable to those businesses operating elsewhere. This could be another county.
  6. Names in full – abbreviations are not legal so resist the temptation to shorten your name. It should be as it appears on your identification document.
  7. Nationality
  8. Gender
  9. Age – One needs to state their true age as it appears in their identification document.
  10. Occupation – you need to state the nature of work, is if you are employed or are self-employed. You could write, teacher , underwriter , sales person businesswoman or man
  11. You need to append your signature at the back of the form. If you are registering a partnership then the partners should sign.

NB  The requirements on how to register a partnership business in Kenya are similar to the above.

One thought on “How to Search and Register a Business Name or Company

  • That *271# doesn’t go thru. I tried after paying and it keeps saying invalid MMI


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