Working in East Africa

Working in East Africa

The Common Market Protocol in East Africa Communities allows workers from any partner state to accept employment in any other EAC country. They can not be discriminated on the basis of their nationality. A worker will be entitled to social security benefits and may be accompanied by a spouse and children.

However, it should be noted that employment in the public service is excluded, unless authorized by the partner state concerned.

Entry, Stay and Exit

A citizen of a Partner State seeking to enter or leave the territory of another Partner State as a worker must do so at designated entry or exit points in accordance with the national laws of the Partner State and must do so in accordance with established immigration procedures.

Work Permits

A worker who has an employment contract lasting more than 90 days in the territory of another partner state must apply to the competent authority for a work permit within 15 working days from the date of entry in the territory of the host partner state.

When a worker obtains employment for a period not exceeding 90 days, he must apply for and receive a special pass.

When the competent authority rejects an application for a work permit, the competent authority shall notify the applicant in writing, indicating the reasons for the rejection.

* Important to note

The Republics of Kenya and Rwanda have abolished work permit fees for East African nationals working in both countries.

Access to Employment Opportunities


Partner States shall endeavour to collect and disseminate information on job vacancies and to set up labour market information systems in order to facilitate the access of Community citizens to employment opportunities.

Equal Treatment in Employment

Partner States shall provide for regular labour inspections and other appropriate measures to ensure that the same treatment is accorded to workers from other partner States as to nationals of the partner State with regard to:

  • Terms & cconditions of employment;
  • Equal opportunities for men and women and in particular access to employment;
  • Occupational health and safety;
  • Contribution to a social security scheme;
  • Access to vocational training;
  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining;
  • Access to the dispute settlement mechanism; and
  • Any other right accruing to a worker by virtue of the provisions of the national laws of the partner State.




Self-employed workers can work throughout the region and are entitled to the social security systems of the host country.

The Protocol requires partner states to remove all restrictions on the right of establishment based on the nationality of businesses, businesses and the self-employed.

For more information on the regulation of self-employment, see the Common Market annex on the right of establishment.