‘’What is the difference between Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) quota and Work Permit? ’’, is one of the most common questions I get asked by expatriates and investors starting a business in Ghana. What is the cost of obtaining a GIPC quota or Work permit from Immigration and what is the processing time? These are some of the questions that linger in the minds of prospective investors.

To address these questions, let us first understand the application process and requirements for obtaining GIPC Quota vs a Work Permit from Ghana Immigration.


Work Permit from Ghana Immigration Service

Foreign nationals wishing to work in Ghana may register their business in Ghana and afterwards, apply to obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Interior through the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS). Work permits may be renewed subject to satisfying the conditions for renewal. The duration for processing work permits is within 2 to 3 weeks and the official fee for a 1-year work permit in Ghana is $1,000.

A work permit is an approval granted by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for the employment of foreign nationals specifying the name (s) of personnel, number and description of persons authorized to be employed.

Once the work permit application is approved and processed, the GIS will serve the company with a work permit approval letter with which the person can proceed to apply for a residence permit.

Requirements for work permit

To apply for a work permit, the following documentation needs to be provided;

  1. Application letter on company’s letterhead
  2. Business Registration Documents – certificate of incorporation, certificate of commencement of business, company regulations, form 3&4
  3. Tax Clearance Certificate (for existing companies)
  4. Letter of employment / Contract
  5. Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Certificate (If registered)
  6. Letter of support from Ministry, Department or Agency (if required)
  7. Biodata page of passport of applicant
  8. Curriculum Vitae / Resume
  9. Medical Report to confirm fitness of employee to work from a local hospital in Ghana
  10. Police Clearance Certificate from employee’s country of origin or current residence
  11. Educational and Professional Certificates
  12. Passport & residence permit copy of employer

The work permit is the first stage in the work authorization process and therefore does not entitle a prospective employee to engage in work activities in Ghana. To commence work activities, the applicant is required to apply and obtain a residence permit, after their work permit applications are approved.


Residence Permit application process in Ghana

A Residence Permit is usually obtained after the grant of a work permit. A formal application must be made on behalf of the employee to the Ghana Immigration Service.

The following must accompany the application;

  1. Attach two(2) recent passport pictures
  2. Copy of Non-Citizen ID Card
  3. Original Passport of employee
  4. Approved work permit/Automatic Quota
  5. Current Company Tax Clearance Certificate (for existing companies)
  6. Letter of support from Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Ghana Free Zones Board or Minerals Commission (where applicable)
  7. Police Clearance Report from home country
  8. Medical Report
  9. Business Registration Documents
  10. Offer letter/Appointment letter/ Contract of employment


GIPC Automatic Quota

Companies with foreign ownership (whether jointly / wholly foreign owned) are required to register with the GIPC after the initial company registration at the Registrar General’s Department of Ghana. All GIPC registered companies may subsequently then apply for automatic immigrant quotas based on their equity investment from the GIPC.

The breakdown of automatic quotas a company can enjoy is;

•       US$ 50,000 – US$ 250,000     – 1 quota

•       US$ 250,000 – US$ 500,000   – 2 quotas

•       US$ 500,000 – US$ 700,000   – 3 quotas

•       US$ 700,000  and above     – 4 quotas

The first step in obtaining an automatic quota from GIPC is to initially register the company with the GIPC. After registration, the company may apply for the applicable level of quota (s) by submitting the following;

  • Official application letter, addressed to the CEO of GIPC indicating the name and designation of the personnel for whom the quota is being applied for.
  • Resume of the personnel
  • Passport bio-data page
  • Copy of employment contract
  • Bank draft of GHS 3,150 in payment of the GIPC automatic quota fee

The GIPC processes all quota requests within an average period of 2 weeks and if approved, the GIPC will serve an official notification letter to the Ghana Immigration Service on behalf of the company.

The company is required to collect a copy of this GIPC approval notification letter and present same to the GIS, whiles attaching the following documents;

  • Letter of application for residence permit from company
  • Business Registration Documents – certificate of incorporation, certificate of commencement of business, company regulations, form 3&4
  • Completed residence permit form
  • 2 passport size pictures
  • GIPC quota approval letter
  • Resume
  • Police report from country of origin
  • Medical report from recognised hospital in Ghana
  • Employment contract
  • Tax clearance certificate from the company
  • Copy of non-citizen ID card


GIPC Automatic Quota vs Work Permit from Immigration

Technically, the end product of these two processes is the same. Both processes are options for companies seeking to obtain work and residence permits for their expatriate employees. Physically, the ‘Residence Permit’ sticker in the passport, whether it’s a GIPC quota or Work Permit is the same. The Residence Permit sticker in both instances bears the same inscription details. The distinction can only be made by studying the application documents on the applicant’s file at GIS.

NATURE Issued for permanent staff


Approval letter issued by GIPC in favour of expatriate


Renewal of GIPC quota is effected directly at Ghana Immigration


Issued for short-term workers



Approval letter issued by GIS


To renew work permit, fresh application forms have to be completed and submitted for consideration.

ISSUING AUTHORITY Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Ghana Immigration Service (GIS)


AVERAGE PROCESSING TIME 3 to 4 weeks for new applications


1 week for the renewal of quota residence permit

3 weeks for new applications and renewals
LIMIT Maximum number of quotas any company can have is 4 persons, depending on the company’s level of investment No limit. A company has to justify the need and GIS will consider the application on its merits



If your company has met the minimum capital requirement and is registered with GIPC, then obviously, for long-term expatriates the GIPC automatic quota is cheaper. However if your company is yet to register with the GIPC, then, applying for work permits directly from the GIS presents a good option to obtain a residence permit to enable you to operate a bank account and get your project running.

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