How To Import Used Cars in Kenya

How To Import Used Cars in Kenya

Owning a car is every person’s dream. To have your own car, drive your parents in it and have them enjoy the successes of your hard work. However, not many are able to afford to buy a new car straight from a showroom.

Thus, many resort to importing used cars to Kenya. Used cars in Kenya are mostly imported from the UK, Japan, South Africa or Singapore.

While it’s the go-to for the majority, the process of importing a car can be quite painstaking and confusing especially for first-time car buyers and/or importers. Like every sector, there are rules and steps you can follow to ensure a smoother importing process.

What Are Some of The Regulations for Importing a Car in Kenya?

As per the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the vehicle must comply with the Kenya Bureau of Standards requirements of 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.

In particular, the Imported Vehicle:

  • Must be less than 8 years old from the year of first registration,
  • Will be subject to roadworthiness inspection by a KEBS appointed inspection agent in the country of export,
  • Must be a Right-Hand drive.

What You Need to Know Before Importing a Car

#1: Choosing A Seller

This is the first and most important decision you need to make before importing a car.

However, finding the right one, who has your best interests at heart, can be confusing and a tad bit hard. Especially in this new age of online markets, where it is so easy to be conned as the exchange of goods and money is not simultaneous. You will have to pay for the vehicle weeks before you can get it in your hands. Plus, if you choose a seller that doesn’t have an office in Kenya, you’ll be sending money to people you have never seen or met.

To avoid scammers, if you are planning to import a car from Japan, you need to check if the importing company is registered by the Japanese Used Motor Vehicle Exporter’s Association (JUMVEA). Also, we advise first-time importers to use the services of companies with established outlets in Kenya.

#2: Resale Value and Maintenance

After settling on a seller, you need to decide on the make and model of the car you want to import. Take into consideration, the maintenance cost of the car and its resale value.

Always remember, when choosing the make, make sure that the spare parts are available locally. After importing the car and using it for some time, you may want to sell it off to acquire another one. To stand the chance of having a good deal, one should consider the car’s make and model’s popularity, mileage, CC, and seating capacity.

#3: Grade of The Car

Choosing the quality of the unit you want comes after step 2. Pictures might give you an idea of the condition the unit you are viewing is in, but technology is limited, this is why a system has been put in place to help buyers understand the amount of wear that a certain vehicle has.

This system grades vehicles based on an inspector’s assessment of the overall quality of the car.

The grades range from

  • grade 0– vehicles that have been involved in accidents and probably have had some degree of repairs
  • to grade 5, which are very close to brand new status but with several thousand kilometres of mileage.

So don’t look at how cheap the car you want to import is. Look at the various auctioning grades. Cars with grade four and above are always in good condition and easier to work with.

#4: Test Drive and Quality of the Car

Probably one of the most important steps when choosing a car. Importing a car, however, means you don’t exactly have the chance to test-drive the car you’ve settled on.

Instead, you can find a local dealership that sells the same make and give it a test drive. If you can’t find a similar car, find a similar model by the same company.

To understand the condition the car is in, ask for as many photos as you can. This can help you assess if the car has ever been involved in any motor accident, the number of dents and scratches, and the overall appearance.

Mileage is also an important factor when buying a used car, it is used to determine how long the car has been driven. Low or high mileage affects the value of the car at purchase and sale, as well as the likely cost of maintenance and servicing. For best car condition, choose a unit that has a mileage of less than 100,000km. The car should also have a Japanese Exports Vehicle Inspection Centre (JEVIC) certificate. This guarantees a car is in a good condition and ensures that the mileage has not been tampered with.

#5: Shipping Methods

It is now time to choose the best shipping method for you.

The decision in this step is determined by your timeline, your needs, and most importantly, your budget. There are three shipping methods you can choose from;

  • Roll on Roll off (RoRo)

This is the use of specially designed ships for carrying wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, and trailers. Vehicles can drive on and off of the ship on their own wheels through a vehicle platform. This is the cheapest of all available shipping methods.


  • Airlifting

This is the quickest method of shipment, and you can get your car in about 3 days. However, it is the most expensive as well. Airlifting is usually done for brand new cars by people who can afford it. The main disadvantage with it is the cost. The cost sometimes is so expensive, that it’s more than the cost of some second-hand vehicles.


  • Containerized

This is where you ship your vehicle inside a dedicated or shared container. This is a bit more expensive than the RoRo, however, the main advantage of this method is that you are allowed to ship your personal belongings along with the car.


#6: Documents Required for importing a car

Some documents are required to complete the importation procedure. Importation Supporting documents should be attached including but not limited to (According to KRA):

  •  1 Original Commercial Invoice
  •  1 Original Bill of lading
  •  1 Original Logbook from the country of importation that has been cancelled from the country of origin.
  •  1 Copy of your PIN certificate/ Copy of certificate of Incorporation (applicable to companies)
  •  1 Pre-shipment inspection certificate. (Certificate of roadworthiness)

If you clear all these then you are ready to import cars from Japan to Kenya.


#7: Extra Fees for car importation

To get the car to the port of Mombasa, it will first cost you the CIF value, this includes the cost of the vehicle, Insurance charged, and Freight cost of the vehicle/goods. For clearance of the imported vehicle, an Import Declaration Fee (IDF) should be paid. The Import Declaration Fee in Kenya is usually 2.25% of the CIF value or a minimum of Ksh 5,000. Additionally, there’s an import duty of 25%, Value Added Tax of 16%, and Railway Development Levey of 1.5%. The Excise Duty also varies depending on the vehicle category.