Becoming a Kenyan Citizen


- Citizenship is the condition of being a member of a state, country or nation.

- One can become a citizen of a country either by birth, or by registration.


By birth

A person becomes a Kenyan citizen if; 

  • Their mother or father is a Kenyan citizen.
  • They are found in Kenya when they are less than eight years old, and the nationalities of them and their parents are not known.
  • A person who is a citizen by birth but has ceased to be a citizen is entitled on application to regain Kenyan citizenship. This is known as dual citizenship.

You must be a citizen of Kenya to qualify for a Kenyan Passport. A passport allows you to travel to other countries.

Citizenship by registration

The following categories of people qualify to become citizens through registration;

  • A person who has been married to a Kenyan citizen for at least seven years is entitled on application to be registered as a citizen.
  • A person who has been lawfully a resident in Kenya for a continuous period of seven years may apply to be registered as a citizen.
  • A child who is not a citizen but is adopted by a citizen is entitled on application to be registered as a citizen.


Dual citizenship

- A person who is a citizen by birth but has ceased to be a citizen because the persion acquired citizenship of another country, is entiltled upon application to regain his or her Kenyan citizenship.

- This is known as dual citizenship. The person legally belongs to two countries at the same time.

- Such a person has identification documents for the two countries.


Responsibilities of Kenyan citizens

- A good citizen is one that has certain qualities that enable him or her to become a useful member of the community and country in general.

- Good citizens should have the following responsibilities towards their country:

  • Loyalty: A citizen should be devoted and faithful to their country and its President, who is a symbol of national unity and all that the country stands for.
  • Justice: A good citizen of Kenya will ensure that justice is done all the time and that law and order is maintained.
  • Obedience: Good citizens obey the law. If there are citizens who feel that there are certain laws that they do not agree with, then there are legal and constitutional ways in which they can lodge a complaint against them.
  • Patriotism: Patriotism is the love of ones country and its citizens as well as concern for its safety and defense.
  • Respect: Good citizen has respect for other people as well as their views and opinions even if such opinions are different from their own.

- The importance of good citizenship was shown during the post election violence of 2007.

- Good citizenship is one of the keys to avoiding more violence.

Importance of good citizenship

1. Good citizenship promotes peace and harmony among people living within a society, leads to understanding between people, social and economic development and produces responsible people that can fit well into the national and international community.

2. This harmony promotes understanding between people which leads to social and economic development.

3. Good citizenship produces responsible people that can fit well into the national and international community.

This has the following benefits:

  1. It makes a nation secure as its citizens are ready to protect it at all cost.
  2. It leads to the development of moral and civil people. When you pay tax as expected, the government is able to start and sustain development projects. This way, the country develops economically.

4. Good citizenship ensures free movement. People are able to do their business leading to development in trade. 

5. Our environment will remain clean and we will reduce cases of diseases. This way, the citizens will remain healthy.

6. Ensures fairness whereby nobody is denied his or her rights.

7. Good citizenship will ensure that we elect good leaders who are honest and who can bring about development.

The post election violence showed a lack of obedience and respect for the law and other citizens.

How one may lose Kenyan citizenship

If citizenship was aquired by registration it can be taken away if;

  • The person acquired the citizenship by fraud, false representation or covering up of information
  • A person has, during any war in which Kenya was engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy or knowingly assisted an enemy in that war.
  • The person within five years after registration has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or longer.
  • The person at any time after registration, has been convicted of treason or any offence with a penalty of at least seven years imprisonment or a more severe penalty.

If citizenship was aquired by birth it can be taken away if;

  • The nationality or the parent of the person becomes known and reveals that the person was a citizen of another country.
  • The age of the person becomes known, and reveals the person was older than eight years when found in Kenya.

Collective responsibility

This refers to the ability of people to work together towards a common goal for the benefit of their country. For example:

  • People can work together to ensure that the society is a safe place to live in. They should report criminals to the police.
  • People must work together to care for the environment. This way, we all can live in a healthy environment.
  • We must all fight social evils like drug and substance abuse.
  • We must educate members of the society to ensure that people are safe from diseases like HIV and AIDS.

  • We must work collectively to elect leaders that can bring development in our area
  • We must work collectively to solve disputes among our people so that we can all live in peace and harmony.
  • We must work together to change laws governing our country that we do not like.
  • Harambee activities are one example in which development has been achieved through collective responsibility.


A person who is patriotic is called a patriot. Patriotism means loving and being proud of one’s country. People who are patriotic are prepared to defend their countries at all costs. A patriotic citizen abides by the rules of the country and supports the development activities of the country.

Ways of demonstrating patriotism

People can show patriotism to their country through the following:

  • Obeying the laws of the country.
  • Promoting human rights in the country.
  • Not spreading damaging information about their country.
  • Participating in development activities like construction of schools, roads and provision of clean water.

Being patriotic means that you are proud to be Kenyan.

Ways of demonstrating patriotism

  • Volunteering to give service to the nation without pay.
  • Standing by the country and its leaders all the time, even in times of trouble.
  • Avoiding getting involved in criminal activities.
  • Treating all citizens equally without considering their gender, ethnic community or race.
  • Reporting to the authorities issues that affect the country. Such issues include corruption and crime.
  • Participating in civic activities like voting for leaders or for the constitution.
  • Respect for those in authority and offering them support.
  • Protecting the environment to ensure that natural resources like forests, wildlife and water are conserved.

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