How to import goods from US into Kenya
To import any commodity into Kenya, an importer will have to enlist the services of a clearing agent like DW Express who will process the import documentation through Kenya Customs electronically on the ICMS system and clear the goods on your behalf.
Effective 7 November 2019, the Miscellaneous Fees and Levies Act (MFLA) was amended through the Finance Act, 2019 to increase Import Declaration Fees (IDF) and Railway Development Levy (RDL) rates from 2% to 3.5% (of the Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) Value subject to a minimum of 5,000.00 Kenyan Shillings) and 1.5% to 2% respectively. However, the Act provided for preferential rates with respect to imported raw material and intermediate products imported by approved manufacturers as well as approved importers of inputs for construction of houses under the Affordable Housing Scheme (qualifying imports). The preferential rates entail reduced IDF rate of 1.5% and maintenance of the previous RDL rate of 1.5% on qualifying imports.
Customs will assess duties payable depending on the value of the item(s) and the duty rate applicable. The East African Community Common External Tariff at https://www.eac.int/documents/category/eac-common-external-tariff lays out the duty rates of imported items.
Kenya has a pre-shipment inspection requirement (the Pre-Shipment Verification of Conformity, or PVoC) for exports destined for Kenya. Exports to Kenya must also obtain an additional ISM, which is mandatory for all imported products sold in Kenya to help consumers identify in the local market imported products that have been certified by KEBS.
For a small number of health, environment, and security imports, import licenses are required. Imports of machinery and equipment classified as equity capital or loan purchases must be received prior to exchange approval; local banks will not issue shipping guarantees for clearance of imports in the absence of such approval. All imports procured by Kenyan-based importers must be insured with companies licensed to conduct business in Kenya. Importation of animals, plants, and seeds are subject to quarantine regulations.
All Kenyan imports are required to have the following documents: import declaration forms (IDF); a CoC from the PVoC agent for regulated products; an ISM when applicable; and valid pro forma invoices from the exporting firm.
Duties and taxes are levied on any imported and exported goods before releasing them from Customs; except goods qualifying for special privilege according to the laws and regulations, whereby their duties and taxes are exempted.
To import any goods such as cars or machinery requires the engagement of a customs clearing agent.
When engaging with your preferred clearing agent ensure you always have:
- Import Declaration Forms (IDF)
- Customs declaration (Entry)
- A Certificate of Conformity (CoC) from the PVoC agent for regulated products
- an import standards mark (ISM) when applicable
- valid Commercial invoices from the exporting firm
- valid pro forma invoices from the exporting firm