Work permits in Lesotho

Work permit Applications in Lesotho

Obtaining a work permit in a foreign country can be a stressful exercise. It is, however, imperative to obtain all the necessary permits as scheduled itineraries and plans could come to a drastic halt as employers cannot engage an employee unless they hold a valid Lesotho work permit.

In terms of section 165(1) of the Labour Code Order of 1992

“No person shall employ any person in Lesotho who is not a citizen of Lesotho and no such person shall accept employment in Lesotho unless that person is in possession of a valid certificate of employment issued by the Labour Commissioner”.

Employment of non-citizens is highly regulated in Lesotho and all non-citizens taking up employment in Lesotho are required to be in possession of work permits. The Labour Code Order, 1992 under Part XII makes provision for employment of non-nationals. From section 165 there are detailed outlines of work permits, their conditions and production thereof.

The application is lodged at the Ministry of Labour and Employment and undergoes review before it can be granted and/or denied. Any person who labours in the country without a valid work permit will be guilty of an offence and liable to pay a fine or to be imprisoned.

Before a work permit is issued, Labour officials ensure that a Basotho national is not qualified to do the job in question. This is one of the reasons why the application may not be successful. This is provided for under section 166.


Checklist for obtaining a work permit 

1. Appointment letter or letter of invitation to provide services in Lesotho;
2. A covering letter from the company requiring the work permit;
3. A completed application form;
4. Certified copy of passport including residence permit;
5. Certified copies of educational certificates (all documents must be certified copies and where applicable translated into English, which translation shall be certified as a correct translation by a translator).
6. Certified copy of trader’s license certificate (certified at the Ministry of Trade);
7. Certified copy of the Company’s tax clearance certificate;
8. Certified copy of Memorandum and Articles of Association if the applicant is a director in a company;
9. An agreement between the main contractor and the sub-contractor if a sub-contractor is engaged;
10. Certified retention certificate copy (for doctors/nurses/pharmacists);
11. Copies of an advertisement in a local newspaper for the role/position;
12. Names and terms of reference of a local counterpart (if applicable);
13. Organisational structure of the Company;  and a detailed training program;
14. Detailed training programme pertaining to a local counterpart; 1
15. List of local employees and their phone numbers.


Important information

  • The application form fee is M500.00 per application and is only payable to the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
  • The application forms can only be purchased on a Monday and Friday.
  • The submission for the applications is done only on Tuesdays;
  • Card printing is done on Monday and
  • There are various fees payable depending on the duration of the permit.
  • The process usually takes about a one to three months;
  • Applicants are always encouraged to make submissions on time to avoid having to start work without the proper permits.


Our corporate commercial team has assisted clients with lodging applications of work permits in Lesotho.  We have a dedicated staff compliment with vast experience in the permit sphere. Please contact us if you need legal advice or assistance with work permit application.


This article was written by Palesa Nkoho. Palesa is an Advocate of the High Court of Lesotho.