Many people usually find it difficult to navigate around importation processes and procedures in Kenya. In this insight, we outline some of the requirements one need to have before embarking on an importation journey. When one engages in importation, he/she will be required to have a number of below listed documents before the goods can be cleared. It is also advisable that as an importer, you should engage the services of a licensed customs clearing agent who is well conversant with the clearing procedures and documentations.

Below are some of the documents you may asked for when importing goods to Kenya:

  • A Certificate of Conformity (CoC) from the Pre-Verification of Conformity agent for regulated products.
  • An import standard mark (ISM) when applicable.
  • A valid Commercial Invoice from the exporting firm.
  • A valid pro forma invoice from the exporting firm.
  • A Bill of Lading (for goods coming in through sea/ocean) or Airway Bill (for goods coming in through the air).
  • A Certificate of origin.
  • A Freight invoice for sea/ocean cargo.
  • Logbook and its translation if not in English (this is applicable to motor vehicles).
  • Permit/License for restricted goods.
  • Importer’s PIN certificate.
  • An exemption letter (in case goods are exempted).
  • A Purchase Orders/Contracts.
  • A Certificate of Roadworthiness for Motor Vehicles being imported into the country.
  • A Packing List.

Once you have above specified documents, your customs clearing agent will then be allowed to declare the goods you are importing in the customs system and generate an Import Declaration Form, you will then be required to pay the processing fee as assessed. You will then be required to complete the Declaration of customs value form issued by the Customs Services Department in which you will declare the true and accurate value of the imported goods.

You will also be required to process Certificates of compliance as may be required by the different authorities such as KEBS, KEPHIS etc. Additionally, the supplier will also have to give you the relevant certificate to show that the goods comply with the local requirements.

Once the goods are cleared a Release Order will be issued by the port authority. This is the final document that allows the goods to be released to the importers or their agent’s custody after verification and payment of the storage and other charges that may have accrued.

Preparing Import Documentation

Of importance to note and as earlier stated, it is advisable to use the services of a licensed clearing agent who will facilitate the process of preparing the necessary Customs documents. The clearing agent will ensure that all the required documents are in place before submitting them for clearance.

Other considerations include:

Before placing an order

  • Ensure you have a trading license from local county government.
  • Ensure you have an import license from Kenya Revenue Authority if required.
  • If the goods are in form of food, drugs or chemical substance obtain permits from entities such as
  • The Port health Office or the Pharmacy and Poisons Board where necessary.
  • For agricultural products obtain plant import permit from KEPHIS.
  • Establish the Kenyan standard specification for the product from KEBS and communicate to the supplier/exporter.
  • Determine the cost of the goods to be imported.
  • Determine from the exporter the specifications, quality, quantity and description of the goods you need to import. (Remember to communicate to the exporter the specifications of the goods you want).
  • Check with KRA and ensure that the goods are not prohibited or restricted from importation.
  • Check with KRA to determine whether the goods are exempted from duty.
  • Check with KRA to determine whether the goods attract countervailing and/or anti-dumping duties.

Ordering the goods

  • Discuss with the supplier and agree on terms and enter into a written contract.
  • Make payment arrangements according to the written contract.

Before Goods Arrive

  • Appoint a clearing agent.
  • The clearing agent to compute customs duty, port charges & transport charges then to advise you on payment.
  • The clearing agent to prepare the customs declaration entry electronically, pays duty to KRA and lodge the supporting documents with Customs.
  • Avail the relevant quality certificates to the Clearing Agent to clear with KEBS, KEPHIS or any other relevant body.

Once Goods Arrive

  • KRA Customs processes the documents.
  • KEBS authenticate relevant quality certificates and release the goods.
  • Port charges cleared and goods released to importer or clearing agent.
  • Goods collected and transported to the importer’s premises.

For more information or assistance with importation related issues in Kenya; contact us on or +254794600191.

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