Importing a Motor Vehicle(Car) in Kenya: Procedures, Regulations, and Taxes

Learn how to import a vehicle into Kenya with this comprehensive guide. Explore the procedures, regulations, and taxes associated with the importation process.

Sep 10, 2023 - 14:34
Dec 11, 2023 - 08:43
Importing a Motor Vehicle(Car) in Kenya: Procedures, Regulations, and Taxes
Importing a Motor Vehicle(Car) in Kenya: Procedures, Regulations, and Taxes

Importing a vehicle into Kenya can be a complex process, involving adherence to specific regulations and payment of various taxes and fees. Understanding these procedures is crucial for anyone looking to bring a car into the country, whether for personal use or resale. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the importation process, including key steps, regulations, and the taxes involved.

Now, let us get started, but before that, let us look at who KRA is in Kenya.

Who is KRA anyway?

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) plays a pivotal role in regulating and overseeing the importation of motor vehicles into Kenya. Established under Chapter 469 of the Kenyan laws, KRA is responsible for collecting revenue on behalf of the government. Let's delve deeper into the core functions of the KRA concerning motor vehicle importation:

Core Functions of Kenya Revenue Authority

  1. Assess, collect, and account for all revenues following written laws and specified provisions.
  2. Guide on matters related to revenue administration and collection.
  3. Execute functions directed by the Minister regarding income.

Importation Regulations In Kenya

Before embarking on your journey to import a motor vehicle into Kenya, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the regulations governing this process. Compliance with these regulations is vital to ensuring a smooth importation process. Here are some critical laws:

Vehicle Compliance with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS)

Your imported vehicle must adhere to KEBS requirements, particularly Legal Notice No. 78 of 15th July 2005, "Verification of Conformity to Kenya Standards Imports Order, 2005," and KS1515:2000, "Kenya Standard Code of Practice for Inspection of Road Vehicles." Specifically, your imported vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • Age: The car should be less than eight years old from the year of first registration.
  • Roadworthiness: It must undergo a roadworthiness inspection by a KEBS-appointed inspection agent in the country of export.
  • Right-hand drive: The vehicle must be right-hand drive.

READ ALSO: KRA PIN Registration for Companies and Partnerships in Kenya: A Comprehensive Guide

Taxes Applicable in Motor Vehicle Importation

When importing a motor vehicle, you'll encounter various taxes and duties based on the customs value of the car. Here's an overview of these taxes:

Import Duty (25%)

  • Ambulances and hearses: 0%
  • Motor cars and other vehicles designed for the transport of persons:
    • Engine capacity between 1,000 cc and 1,500 cc: 20%
    • Engine capacity between 1,500 cc and 3,000 cc: 25%
    • Engine capacity exceeding 3,000 cc: 35%
  • Compression-ignition piston engine vehicles (diesel or semi-diesel):
    • Engine capacity up to 1,500 cc: 25%
    • Engine capacity exceeding 1,500 cc but not exceeding 2,500 cc: 25%
    • Engine capacity exceeding 2,500 cc: 35%
  • Vehicles with both spark ignition and electric motor propulsion (25%)
  • Cars with both compression-ignition engines and electric motor propulsion (25%)
  • Vehicles with both spark-ignition and electric motor propulsion, capable of being charged by an external source (25%)
  • Vehicles with both compression-ignition engine and electric motor propulsion, capable of being charged by an external source (25%)
  • Vehicles with only electric motor propulsion (10%)

Value Added Tax (16%)

Import Declaration Fees (3.5%)

Railway Development Levy (2%)

Required Documents

To successfully navigate the motor vehicle importation process, you must have all the necessary documents. These documents include:

  • Original Commercial Invoice
  • Original Logbook from the country of importation, duly cancelled from the country of origin, required by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to issue an original Kenyan Log Book.
  • Original Bill of Lading
  • Pre-shipment inspection certificate (certificate of roadworthiness)
  • Copy of your Personal Identification Number (PIN) certificate or Certificate of Incorporation (applicable to companies)

Motor Vehicle Importation Process

The motor vehicle importation process closely resembles that of other goods. It's crucial to follow these steps diligently to ensure a successful importation:

Step 1: Research and Vehicle Selection

Before making any decisions:

  1. Research the vehicle you wish to import.
  2. Consider factors such as budget, intended use, and specifications.
  3. Take advantage of reviews and insights available online to make an informed choice.

Step 2: Choose an Importation Website

Select a reputable importation website to begin your search. Websites like SBT Japan, Be Forward, and Carfrom Japan offer many vehicles and have earned favourable reputations.

Step 3: Determine Total Cost

You'll need to factor in taxes and levies to calculate the total cost. Use the KRA import duty calculator to determine the taxes and levies applicable to your vehicle based on its year of manufacture and model.

Step 4: Purchase and Shipping

Once you're satisfied with the cost and condition of the vehicle, create an account on the importation website and negotiate the price with the seller. After reaching an agreement, proceed with the purchase, making the required payment. The vehicle will be inspected, and the shipping process will commence.

Step 5: Clearance at Mombasa Port

Upon arrival at Mombasa Port, the clearance process begins. This step involves paying all taxes and levies to KRA, registering the vehicle on the NTSA portal, clearing port charges, and obtaining the Logbook and number plate.To clear the vehicle through Kenya Customs, you will have to contract a licensed clearing agent to process your declaration in the KRA system. A list of licensed clearing agents is available on

Step 6: Insurance

Ensure your vehicle is covered by insurance before driving it on Kenyan roads. Comprehensive insurance is recommended to provide comprehensive coverage.

Advantages of Importing a Car to Kenya

Importing a car offers several advantages:

  1. Cost Savings: Importing a car can save you up to 20% compared to buying from local dealers, who often include additional costs.
  2. Better Condition: Imported cars from first-world countries tend to be in better condition, as they have been driven on well-maintained roads.

Risks of Importing a Car to Kenya

While importing a car can be cost-effective, it comes with some risks:

  1. Fraud: Sending money overseas to purchase a vehicle unseen carries the risk of fraud. Exercise caution and consider using reputable importing agents.
  2. Waiting Period: Importing a car can take up to two months, and delays can occur due to disruptions in global shipping.

Cost Breakdown

Understanding the cost breakdown is essential for budgeting your importation. Key components of the cost include:

Cost Insurance Freight (CIF)

The CIF comprises buying fees, transportation insurance fees, and shipping fees. This amount is paid before shipping.

Import Duty Fee

Paid to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) upon the car's arrival at the port.


Paid for vehicle registration and issuance of a logbook and number plate.

Clearance Fee

Paid to the clearing agent at the port, starting from Ksh 6,000.

Insurance Cover

Ensure your car is covered by insurance before driving it on Kenyan roads.

In conclusion, importing a motor vehicle into Kenya is a viable option for acquiring your dream car. By following the outlined procedures, complying with regulations, and conducting thorough research, you can enjoy the benefits of owning a vehicle that suits your needs and budget. Happy importing!

READ ALSO: Capital Gains Tax in Kenya: What is it, Rates, Transfer Value, Exemptions and How To Pay Capital Gains Tax

Final Thoughts

Importing a motor vehicle into Kenya is a regulated process that involves adhering to specific standards and paying the required taxes and fees. Following the steps outlined in this guide and ensuring compliance with all regulations, you can successfully import a vehicle that meets your needs. Importing a car offers cost savings and access to a broader range of options, making it a popular choice for many Kenyan car enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the maximum age limit for importing used cars into Kenya?

    • The maximum age limit for imported used cars into Kenya is seven years from the year of manufacture.

Are left-hand drive vehicles allowed for registration in Kenya?

    • Generally, left-hand drive vehicles are not allowed for registration in Kenya, except for particular purposes such as ambulances, fire tenders, and large construction vehicles imported for specific projects.

How can I calculate the total cost of importing a vehicle to Kenya?

    • Using the KRA import duty calculator, you can calculate the total cost, including taxes and levies. This tool considers the vehicle's year of manufacture and model to provide an accurate cost estimate.

What are the advantages of importing a car to Kenya?

    • Importing a car to Kenya can lead to cost savings of up to 20% compared to buying from local dealers. Additionally, imported vehicles often have better conditions due to stricter regulations in their origin.

What are the risks associated with importing a car to Kenya?

    • The primary risk is the possibility of falling victim to fraud when sending money overseas to purchase a car. Delays in the importation process can also occur, impacting the waiting period for your vehicle.

Is comprehensive insurance recommended for imported cars in Kenya?

    • Comprehensive insurance is recommended for imported cars as it provides complete coverage, including damage to your vehicle, other vehicles involved in an accident, and property damage.

What is the clearing process for imported cars at Mombasa Port?

    • The clearing process involves paying all taxes and levies to KRA, registering the vehicle on the NTSA portal, clearing port charges, and obtaining the Logbook and number plate.

Are there specific documents required for vehicle clearance in Kenya?

    • You will need your National Identification (ID), KRA PIN, two copies of the Bill of Lading, the inspection certificate, and an account on the NTSA rims portal for vehicle clearance.
Joseph Richard Joseph Richard, a leading contributor to, uses his decade-long expertise in finance, business, and technology to offer clear, reliable guides and analyses. His work aids Kenyans in making informed financial and business decisions, earning him a reputation as a trusted industry authority.