How To Open A Bank Account in Kenya

Whether you are visiting or living in the country, it is important that you know how to open a bank account in Kenya. Most banks have standard requirements that you need to meet in order for them to allow you to open an account with the bank. Through the account, you will be able to make various financial transactions and also manage your money well. In addition, through it, you will have access to loans or mortgage plans.

With all the required documentation, opening a bank account in Kenya will most definitely be easy for you since it is a process that will take a very short time for student and personal accounts. However, for the business accounts, it may take some hours or in some cases a few days because of the extra documentation needed for the account.

Different Types of Bank Accounts in Kenya and their Features

Current Account

Various types of accounts fall into this category. They include day-to-day accounts, student accounts and salary accounts. They offer immediate access to funds through a variety of channels including chequebooks and over the counter transactions. They also offer an ATM and/or debit card. In addition, they may or may not offer interest and generally charge fees for transactions. The existence of these accounts is aimed at providing a day-to-day account for both retail and corporate markets offering a means to conveniently undertake transactions.

Transaction Account

They are similar in most respects to a current account but are more focused on a market segment for which a chequebook is not required or appropriate. It is especially suited for the lower-income market owing to its simplicity. Generally, fees are charged for transactions.

Savings Account

They allow for the accumulation of funds. The law does not allow for charges/fees to be implemented for this type of account. The bank pays you interest as long as the minimum balance is maintained. They generally have restrictions on access. These types of accounts are used by banks to collect money from their clientele; the sums are then lent to those who need loans. The customers earn interest on their savings. Only a few banks give chequebooks for savings accounts, albeit majority give ATM cards to their customers.

Fixed Deposit Accounts

The amount deposited in this type of account is fixed for a specified period of time. Different amounts and with corresponding different time periods can earn different rates of interest. The more time the sums are held, the more the customer earns interest.

How Can One Open A Bank Account in Kenya

First of all, it is advisable that you do an extensive research to find out which bank has the best policies that will suit your financial needs. In addition, find out the rates of withdrawal and accessibility of the bank. For instance, there are banks which end their business day earlier than others and furthermore, some banks have more ATMs around the various towns in Kenya thus making them more accessible.

After you have decided which bank exactly to join, Go further and find out what types of accounts there are. Find out how they work then choose an account that will not only meet your needs but also serve the purpose for which it is intended to. For instance, if it is a savings account, ensure that it has certain restrictions that will prevent you from withdrawing your money excessively or irregularly.

The required documents that you will need to present to staff responsible for account opening in the bank include;

  • An original and copy of your national identity card or passport and a formal confirmation of your current address. Learn how to check for your identity card here and open your new bank account in Kenya.
  • A letter from an account holder in the given bank that serves the purpose of introducing you to the bank is also required. However, for those opening the business account, you will also need to present the certificate of your business registration and PIN certificate. This will help the Kenya Revenue Authority to monitor your taxes and ensure that you pay tax.
  • On the other hand, for students who need to open a student’s account, in addition to your Original and copy of your passport or national Identity card, you are required to present your student’s identification card or documents that prove you are a legit student and not an impostor.

Although most banks have the account opening staff take a photograph of you on a digital camera, some banks may require you to bring with you passport size photographs that were taken recently. However, it is advisable that you visit the bank of your choice prior to the day you decide to open the account so that you may find out about any additional requirements they may have and ready them before going to open the account properly.

More often than not, you will be asked to return to the bank after some days for you to collect your ATM card. In addition, you are given an envelope that contains your pin number which you are meant to keep a secret. This will prevent you from being robbed or coned by thieves

Some banks in Kenya requires the customer to maintain a minimum account balance, if the account goes below the minimum levels it attracts charges for unremunerative accounts.

There are several types of bank accounts that can be opened in Kenya depending on your needs.

  • Current Account – This account is required for day to day transactions, it is suitable for students and salary earners who make routine withdrawals to meet certain needs regularly. The day to day transaction allowance on this account, however, means no interest is paid to depositors. You have to be careful with this account as there can be hidden charges, our suggestion is that you inquire from your bank to find out all the charges that may apply here.
  • Savings Account – Deposits earn an interest and the number of withdrawals is restricted to less than 5 in a month. This type of account is good for funds you want to save for near future use.
  • Term Deposit – (Fixed Deposit Accounts) – This type of account can pay you significant interest rate when it gets to maturity. A number of banks in Kenya have structured their Term Deposit accounts in a period of 3,6,9 and 12 months period. If you are not ready to use your money for any of these periods, this option can be a better option for you.

Foreign currency accounts or domiciliary accounts can also be provided on request especially for major currencies  GBP, USD,EUR, JPY and CAD these are very important especially for business people and entrepreneurs involved in import and export trade, with these accounts you will not need to negotiate a rate for foreign currencies sent to your bank to be credited, this will save you money that could have resulted from currency fluctuations.

Kenyan Bank Account Services

Mobile Banking

Mobile banking has also been embraced by various banks. They have created a platform through which services by the banks can be accessed through a mobile phone. These facilities are aimed at enabling customer’s access information relating to their accounts.

Internet Banking

Most Kenyan Banks now have internet banking platforms. This helps to decongest the banking halls as quite a lot of transactions can be made online through the internet banking platform. You would usually request for your account to be profiled for internet banking and you would be given the adequate form to complete before you gain access to your online bank account.

Opening a bank account in Kenya is regarded as a noble idea because of the following reasons:

It offers an avenue where you can transact your financial activities. It also helps develop a saving culture in addition to acting as a platform through which you can receive salary remittances as well as giving a sense of transparency in your business transactions.

You can read our post on  How To Convert Kenyan Shillings to US Dollars and How To Convert Kenyan Shillings to British Pounds.

Opening a Kenyan bank account is no longer a complicated process. It has merely evolved to be a walk in and out affair. The requirements of opening an account are varied as the number of banks themselves. However, there are apparent similarities. The account opening process takes a few minutes for personal and student accounts and a few hours or even days for corporate accounts. With the numerous types of bank accounts on offer, customers are spoilt for choice.

Fadamana U
Fadamana U
Fadamana has built up professional writing and editing experience over the years in report and technical articles, informational and creative content across various topic specialties. Outside work, I like to binge on new movies.


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