When you want to start a company or formal business, you should register it with the Company Registry that operates under the Attorney General. Having a registered business gives you more credibility and thus more customer flow because it shows that your business activities are legitimate. However, before registering, you must first conduct a name search. This way, you get to avoid using already registered company names. Duplicate business names can cause many complications including fraud, tax evasion, etc. Here is a guide on how to conduct a business name search in Kenya.
What to know before hand
Sometimes, your business name search can come back negative. There are many reasons for the rejection of a proposed name. Here are a few things to know
- Any business name with the words Groups, Projects, or Holdings must be limited. For example, Mawe Group Limited.
- Single worded names are not viable. For example Mawe. The name should give a kind of idea what the business or company is.
- You cannot use numbers in the business name unless it is the number for the current year. For example, Mawe Restaurant 2020.
- No offensive or vulgar words should be in the business name.
- The name you are looking up should not be a club name. The registrar only registers companies and businesses.
- Names with the name ‘Kenya’ are strictly reserved for the government.
- The business name search application should be for one name only. Each name search should have a separate application. The search should not be a name modification application but a new search altogether.
What you will need
- Working internet connection
- eCitizen account
- Ksh 150 in your MPESA (plus transaction fee)
Steps to Follow
Now that you know what to do and avoid, you should be able to start with the search process. Here is what to do:
- Go to your browser and search for ‘eCitizen log in’.
- Once you are in you eCitizen portal, go through the tabs provided on the home page. Find the ‘Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice’ and click on it.
- A new page will appear. Click on the ‘Make application’ button.
- On the new page, find and click on ‘Name Search-Company/Business’ option.
- Now a new page with the instructions for the application process will appear. Take time to go through them carefully. Once you are sure you have understood everything, click on ‘Apply Now.’
- Now choose the business entity for which you want to register once your name search goes through.
- Now enter your proposed business name keeping in mind the name restrictions outlined at the top of this post.
- Give a short but clear description of your business. This can include what the business will be e.g. cyber café, nursery school, restaurant, etc.
- Now go through all the details provided and make sure everything is okay before submitting your application. Once you are sure, click proceed.
- Now choose MPESA as your payment method and follow the provided instructions.
- With a successful payment, you now just have to wait for a response from the registrar’s office. This usually takes a minimum of one business day.