Customs, Import and Export regulations of Kenya

Import procedure and regulations Kenya

To import goods into Kenya, an importer must use the services of a clearing agent who will process import documents electronically through the Kenya Customs Simba 2005 system and clear the goods on your behalf.

Customs authorities will determine the duties payable depending on the value of the goods and the applicable duty rate. The East African Community Common External Tariff sets the rates of duty for imported goods.

Kenya requires Pre-Shipment Verification of Conformity (PVoC) for exports to Kenya. Exports to Kenya also require an additional ISM, which is mandatory for all imported products sold in Kenya, so that consumers can identify which imported products have been certified by KEBS.

The following documents are required for all Kenyan imports:

  • Import declaration forms (IDF)
  • A chain of custody from the PVoC regulated products officer,
  • An ISM where applicable, and
  • A Valid pro forma invoices from the exporting company.

In accordance with the provisions of Sec.34 of the East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA) 2004, goods must be declared for importation within twenty-one days of the commencement of unloading or in the case of vehicles, on arrival.

The importer or clearing agent must record all mandatory details required when declaring an import in the customs system.

Duties and taxes on imports

Customs tariff

The Kenyan tariff is based on the nomenclature of the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS 2017). It corresponds to the common external tariff of the EAC applied by the Member States Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi towards third countries with which there is no preferential agreement.

Some products of HS Chapters 72 and 73 (iron and steel and articles thereof) are subject to specific or compound customs duties. In addition, there are sensitive products covered by Schedule 2, which are subject to higher tariffs ranging from 35 to 100 %. Sensitive products are goods where EAC member states see potential for local production and trade, such as agricultural products and textile fabrics.

The basis for calculating the duty is the customs value. In the context of a purchase transaction, this is basically the transaction value, i.e. the price actually paid or payable between the independent buyer and seller on a cif (cost, insurance and freight) basis import customs office in Kenya.

In addition to sensitive goods covered by Schedule 2, EAC Member States may, upon request, suspend, reduce or increase import duties by derogation from the Common External Tariff for a specified period under the "stay application scheme" or "duty remission scheme".

The EAC tariff with product-specific variations in Kenya is published on the Ministry of Industry's digital trade platform.

Non-tariff duty exemptions

The non-tariff duty exemptions are summarised in the Fifth Schedule (Exemption) of the EAC Customs Actv. These include, for example, supplies to the Kenyan government, diplomatic missions, recognised aid organisations and people with disabilities. Also generally exempt from customs duties are, for example, samples of goods without commercial value, educational materials, agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilisers, industrial spare parts for machinery of HS Chapters 84 and 85, specialised equipment for the development and production of solar and wind energy, and diagnostic reagents and equipment.

Value Added Tax

Supplies of goods and services in the Kenyan tax territory as well as imports into Kenya are generally subject to value added tax (VAT).

The regular VAT rate is 16 per cent. The taxable base for imports is the customs value plus all import duties with the exception of the import VAT itself. In addition to the regular rate, there is a reduced rate of 0 per cent. The zero rate applies, for example, to certain basic foodstuffs and medicines, intermediate products for the manufacture of medicines, pesticides and electrical accumulators, as well as supplies to companies in export processing zones or special economic zones.

A number of goods are exempt from VAT. These include certain agricultural products, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. The detailed lists can be found in the annexes (First and Second Schedule) of the Value Added Tax Act.

In addition to fees and charges, excise duties are also levied on various goods.

Excise Duty

The manufacture and importation of certain goods in Kenya is subject to excise duty. These include soft and alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, petroleum products, cosmetics, plastic bags and motor vehicles.

The taxable amount on importation is the customs value of the goods plus the customs duty.

Only authorised traders are allowed to import or produce excisable goods. Licences are issued by the tax authority KRA for a period depending on the category of goods. Authorised traders are obliged to affix a tax stamp on each package of an excisable product.

Import Declaration Fee

A customs clearance fee of 3.5% of the customs value is charged for the import of finished goods. Imports from member states of the East African Community EAC or the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa COMESA are exempt from the customs clearance fee.

Railway Development Levy

An infrastructure charge of 2 percent of the customs value is levied on the import of finished goods for the expansion of the rail network. A reduced customs clearance fee of 1.5 per cent applies to imported raw materials and intermediate products used by approved manufacturers in the industrial sector or for social housing. Imports from EAC or COMESA member states are exempt from the customs clearance fee.

Export regulations - Export from the EU

EU export regulations state that all goods exported to a non-EU country must be cleared through customs.


The cross-border movement of goods and services is in principle free. However, restrictions are imposed on certain goods, countries or persons for various reasons. Special regulations may also apply to the movement of capital and payments.

Restrictions have been imposed on certain countries for foreign or security policy reasons, which in some cases significantly restrict economic trade with the country concerned.

Restrictions can generally be divided into 3 following embargo measures:

  1. Arms embargo - prohibits the export of military equipment to the country in question, usually results from §§ 74 ff. Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV)
  2. Partial embargo - certain prohibitions and restrictions on trade with the country concerned, regulated by EU regulations.
  3. Total embargo - Prohibition of all economic transactions with the relevant country (currently non-existent), regulated by EU regulations.

Kenya is not currently affected by any of these embargoes. You can find the list of affected countries here.

In addition, the EU has taken measures to contribute to the fight against terrorism and to restrict economic transactions with persons held responsible or liable for the political situation in an embargoed country.

These restrictions apply, inter alia, to ISIL (Da'esh), Al-Qaida, Taliban and other suspected terrorist individuals and entities, as well as individuals, groups and entities associated with them.

A list of the persons and entities concerned can be found here.

There are also restrictions and bans on the export of certain groups of goods. A list of the goods this affects can be found here.

Capital and payment transactions with foreign countries are also free in principle. However, there are restrictions and reporting requirements in certain cases. More information on capital and payment transactions can be found here.

Export duties

Export duties can be levied on the export of goods from the customs territory of the EU. Since it is usually in the EU's interest to export goods to third countries and thereby generate revenue, export duties are rarely levied. However, if world market prices for a product that is in short supply on the EU market are higher than the prices on the EU market itself, export duties are also levied to make exporting this product less attractive.

EORI number

The EORI number (Economic Operators Registration and Identification number) is used to register and identify economic operators throughout the European Union.

If your company does not yet have an EORI number, you should apply for one in particular in good time before lodging a customs declaration or an entry or exit summary declaration for the first time.

Export regulations - Export from Kenya


Goods for export shall be declared in the prescribed manner and the owner shall provide the customs authorities with full details of the goods specified in the declaration on the basis of supporting documents. The goods declared shall be exported within thirty days of the date of the declaration.


The exporter must use the services of an approved customs broker. A customs broker is appointed to process the export documents in the customs system and assist in clearing the goods on behalf of the exporter.

An export duty is levied on some selected goods, which are listed in the first schedule of the Miscellaneous Fees and Levies Act of 2016.

Export documents

The number and type of documents required to process an export order for your products must be carefully analysed to avoid costly mistakes and delays. In addition to the export sales contract for the delivery of goods to customers, exporters can also contract with organisations that provide services such as packaging, insurance and transport of cargo, and also use the services of a freight forwarding company that acts as an intermediary in the fulfilment of various tasks.

When a business relationship is established with a service provider, a document is created that constitutes a legal contract. The customer also needs these documents to be able to collect the cargo.

In addition to these documents, the authorities of the exporting and importing countries may also require documents such as licences to prove that the relevant government agency has approved the export/import transaction.

The following documents are required when exporting from Kenya:

  • Commercial invoice (certified invoice)
  • Bill of Lading (B/L)
  • Airway Bill (AWB)
  • Certificate of origin
  • Insurance Certificate
  • Freight insurance
  • Packing list
  • Certificates of inspection prior to shipment

More information on the required export documents can be found on the Kenya Promotion & Branding Agency website.

                Export process

The process for exporting goods from Kenya can be summarised in three steps:

  1. Entry declaration and clearance

The designated customs agent shall make a customs declaration (entry) in accordance with the provisions of section 73 of the East Africa Community Customs Management Act 2004. Customs shall process all declarations in accordance with the regulations.

  1. Completion, review and approval

The customs agent shall present the original customs declaration and the corresponding documents to the customs clearance or loading station for processing.

  1. Exit

After completion/verification, all compliant declarations are cleared and released. An export certificate is issued on exit via the border or port.

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