A bank account is a primary tool Having a bank account also helps you keep a clear record of what you receive or earn as income. There are many financial institutions in Kenya allowing you to open a bank account, receive, deposit, and withdraw money and in some cases, you can be paid interest on the money you save.


In this article, we will guide you through the process and the requirements for opening a bank account at the most common banks in Kenya.

In 2017, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) directed all commercial banks in the country to demand Kenya Revenue Authority pin certificates (KRA PIN) for any new bank account openings However there is an exception without KRA PIN certificates.

  • Opening a bank account in Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee Camps

If you are in Kakuma or Dadaab, you will be asked for proof of registration - which has your Individual Number. Present this document at your nearest Equity or KCB bank to have your account opened. Bank officials will take a passport size photo for their records. This service is provided by the bank free of charge.

In Dadaab, it is only while KCB can be found in Garissa town located on Corner House, Lt Tumbo Road, next to the main roundabout.

However, if you are opening a bank account outside Kakuma or Dadaab a KRA PIN certificate is required.

Julisha.Info has a guide on how to apply and get a KRA PIN Certificate as a refugee and it is available here.  

  • Opening an Equity Bank, Absa Bank Account - requirements for refugees in Nairobi

The requirements for refugees opening a bank account with Equity Bank and Absa bank are similar. You can open a bank account at any Equity Bank or Absa branch near you.

Below are the requirements for the bank account opening process. Please note that you must be physically present at the respective bank branch to complete this process.

  1. Refugee ID – original copy will be required. Also, carry a photocopy of the same for convenience.
  2. Recognition letters from UNHCR and the Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS) or Refugee Travel document/Conventional Travel Document (CTD)
  3. Copy of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PIN
  4. A passport photo – this will be taken at the bank by the officer helping set up your account.

You can contact Absa Bank via social media on Twitter or. alternatively, you can call +254732130120 or chat on WhatsApp +254710130000. Inquiries to Equity bank can be channeled to the bank using or alternatively one can call 0763 063000. You can also send an email to the bank via info@equitybank.

  • Opening a bank account with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) – requirements for refugees in Nairobi

Kenya Commercial Bank when opening a bank account as a refugee. The main requirements are:

  1. Your Refugee ID
  2. Your Kenya Revenue Authority PIN certificate.
  3. A work permit: Class M- This permit is issued to a person who has been granted refugee status in Kenya. You can click here to learn how to apply for this permit.
  4. Bank officials will take your passport photo. This is done free of charge at the bank.

Persons that have obtained their KRA PIN Certificates and are in Dadaab or Kakuma are still allowed to use KRA Pin when opening bank accounts.

  • How do I get an ATM card?

An ATM is an Automated Teller Machine that is mostly used to withdraw cash. ATM Cards are used to make this possible as they carry a bank account holder’s bank detail. Some banks allow their clients to make cash deposits using their ATM cards.


An ATM card will enable you to make cash withdrawals at your nearest bank agent or ATM machines without having to visit the bank. To get an ATM card, you will need to inform your bank on the day you open your bank account. Alternatively, you can visit your nearest branch and request to be issued with an ATM card. Most banks charge Ksh600 for processing ATM cards.

You will be issued with a special PIN that you will use to safeguard and have total control of the use of the ATM card. Do not share your PIN number with anyone. It takes a few hours or at most 1 week to get an ATM card processed depending on the bank you choose to register with.

Various banks also have agents in various locations including shopping centers that are nearby camps and across residential areas in Nairobi, Kakuma and Dadaab. These agents provide services such as:
• Cash Deposits and withdrawals
• Payment of school fees
• Payment of bills such as rent, electricity and water
• Funds transfer
• Balance inquiries
• Account opening
• NHIF, NSSF and KRA payments
• Collection of ATM cards


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