Working in Rwanda?

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Working in Rwanda

If you are an expat considering working in Rwanda, you should make sure to be properly informed for your move abroad. This guide briefs you on the most important aspects of preparing to work in Rwanda, such as the economic situation, work permits, taxation and more.

Economic Overview

As a landlocked country with few natural resources and a high population density, Rwanda's economy is based mainly on small agricultural production (33% of total GDP). The peculiar climate and high elevation make it perfect for growing coffee and tea, and as such these are the main export products. In recent years, however, a growing population has meant that farm sizes have decreased on average.

Other significant economic sectors include industry (15%), which is mainly composed of food processing and manufacturing plants, as well as services (53%), including tourism.

Tourism in Rwanda is centered on its protected mountain gorilla population, one of only two in the world that are safely accessible for tourists, and the Volcanoes National Park. In addition, the Akagera and Nyungwe National Parks, with their game and bird watching tours, also attract many visitors.

Mining is also an important part of the economy, especially for coltan, which is used in the construction of mobile phones and tablets. In 2014, Rwanda’s total GDP stood at 18.7 billion USD or 1,700 USD per capita.

Work Permits for Rwanda

Most nationals are required to apply for a visa in order to enter and stay in Rwanda. You can find an overview of the different types of visas, from tourist to job seeker ones, on the website of the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration.

As an expatriate planning on working in Rwanda, you also need to apply for a (work) permit in addition to your visa, as the latter only allows you entry into the country.

Permits for working in Rwanda are split into a number of different categories as follows; first, they are split between temporary and permanent work permits. There are various different types of permits available, depending on the reason for your stay in Rwanda. For example, there are five types of different temporary permits that describe different natures of employment:

  • A skilled worker on an occupation on demand (H1)
  • A skilled worker sponsored by an organization (H2)
  • Journalist or media (H3)
  • Semiskilled or artisan workers (H4)
  • International Organization employees (H5)

In addition, there are many more permit categories available for different purposes, from student passes to investor or entrepreneur permits.

A set of relevant documents in either French or English is required to complete the application and gain your work permit. For more information about permits for working in Rwanda, visit the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration.

Taxation in Rwanda

Locals and expatriates working in Rwanda will be subject to income taxation on earnings from employment. As a nonresident, defined as an individual working in Rwanda but living there for less than 183 days in a twelve month period, you will be charged tax on your local income only.

As a fiscal resident, living in Rwanda for more than 183 days in a twelve month period, you will be taxed on your worldwide income. Income tax is calculated via a progressive system. This means that the amount of income tax you pay is based on what you earn whilst working in the country, up to a maximum of 30% of your income. As in most countries, tax is held by your employer at source through PAYE.

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