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The Complete Guide to Importing Cars to Kenya

Choosing new and used cars from the UK

Choosing your car can be daunting. If you are buying online, a good place to start is AutoTrader which the UK’s largest website for cars. You will find a mixture of major manufacturers and independent retailers. There are also major car supermarkets to consider too such as Cinch. They have a large selection of cars which will be advertised as VAT qualifying.

You may also consider buying at UK car auctions where you will also find may VAT qualifying cars. But you will need to do your homework on each car to make sure you asses the condition of the car and establish how you will bid on these cars and then export them.

Our buying specialists are experts in sourcing your ideal car, negotiating the best price and buying it and exporting to Kenya for you.

Choosing the best month for import duty

You should also be clear on the month and year of registration for your car and check this against the month you expect the car to reach Kenya. Each year, the car will be awarded a lower rate of import duty according to its registration date. The best month for your car to arrive is when it has recently passed its registration birthday as it will move to the lower rate of import duty. If a car is coming up to a birthday, you may want to choose a different car or buy it and wait for it to leave the UK so it arrives just after the birthday has passed.

Buying a VAT qualifying car

Buying a VAT qualifying car will mean you can save 20% VAT off the advertised price when you export the car. Finding VAT qualifying cars isn’t always straight forward as they are not always advertised as Vat qualifying. But it is worth the saving.

Reclaiming the VAT on a VAT qualifying car

Before Brexit, it was possible for non-EU residents to reclaim the VAT when you exported your car. However, the rules to reclaiming the VAT on VAT qualifying cars have changed and this is no longer possible. The VAT reclaim must be done by a UK VAT registered business which has caught out a lot of people.

Buying a UK car from another UK dealer.

If you have found a car which is with a non-export dealer, we are very happy to step in and manage the purchase with the dealer for you. We will negotiate, inspect and export your car to Kenya with the same care we give to all our cars.

Buying a UK car.

Before you buy a UK car, it is vital you see the V5 log book, a valid MOT certificate and a full confirmation of the specification. The V5 confirms that the car is genuine and will ensure you can match the chassis number and registration plate to the car you are seeing in photos. You must also read the car’s full service history. This will detail the car’s services and will be stamped and dated by the garage. Most services will also have the car’s mileage noted at the time of the service. This will help you check the mileage is consistent with the car’s advertised mileage.

Essential Background checks.

All cars have thorough background checks before buying. We give each car an HPI check which includes a confirmation of mileage from the UK National Mileage register. These checks are a standard part of our service and ensure the car has no history of theft or finance and confirms that the mileage is consistent with the advertised mileage.

QISJ inspection

All cars to be imported to Kenya must pass the KEBS requirements of a QISJ roadworthiness check. This is done before the car goes to the UK port and currently costs £290.

How to pay for your UK car

If you are buying a car directly from a UK dealer, you are usually asked to pay a deposit of £500 - £1000 to secure the car for you. This will hold the car for you for 1-2 weeks. You will then need to pay the balance.

But if you are buying with an exporter you may be able to take advantage of better buying terms.

C&F payments: After paying the deposit, your balance will be due within 7-10 days.

Delivered to Nairobi service: For cars which we are shipping to Mombasa, clearing and delivering to Nairobi, we accept 70% payment before the car is exported and 30% is required on arrival in Mombasa ahead of the duties being paid.

Cars exported with Bank Finance: a minimum 20% deposit is required. The monthly repayments begin when you have received your car, in line with the terms of your offer letter.

How to export your UK car.

You may need to choose a car exporter as many dealers are not set up to provide professional export services and therefore don’t have the resources or the knowledge to export your car to Kenya. Find out more about how to choose a car importer in this link.

Car Import Services to Kenya

We offer three car import services: C&F, Delivered Duty Paid to Nairobi (cash) and Delivered to Nairobi with bank finance. What do these mean exactly?

Cost and Freight (C&F): We manage the purchase, VAT reclaim and export of your car to Mombasa. On arrival you manage the customs clearance and registration for your car.

Delivered Duty Paid to Nairobi Cash (DDP Cash): This is the C&F service plus clearing and registration in Mombasa, storage and transport to Nairobi on a car carrier and your personal handover from our team in Nairobi.

Delivered Duty Paid with Bank Finance (DDP Bank): This is the DDP cash service with the addition of a mandatory 4 year tracker subscription, valet and personal handover in Nairobi.

Marine insurance to Kenya

It is a requirement of Kenyan law that marine insurance is bought through a local Kenyan company. We strongly recommend you take out comprehensive marine insurance for C&F services prior to your car leaving the UK. We do this for you if you are taking a DDP service with us.

Shipping to Kenya

To ship a car to Kenya, you can choose between Roll on – roll off service or the container service.

Roll on – Roll off: This is the cheapest option and therefore the most popular. The cars are driven onto the vessel and secured prior to shipping to Kenya.

Container shipping: Is considered to be more secure as your car is loaded into a single 20ft container or a shared 40ft container. The cars are secured within the container which is then locked and loaded onto the vessel. As a more expensive option which is preferred by clients importing high value prestige cars.

Air freight: The cars are transported to Amsterdam where they are loaded and flown on a cargo plane to Nairobi.

How long does it take to ship to Kenya from the UK?

The entire process from purchasing your car to it reaching Mombasa takes approximately 40 days. (This can vary depending on the timings of the boats. ) The breakdown is detailed below:

Day 1: Car inspected, collected and transported to our office.

Days 2-8: Shipping booked, tuning & modifications, QISJ inspection & delivered to the UK port.

Days 9-12: Packed & loaded onto the vessel.

Days 13-40: Shipping from the UK to Mombasa.

Port Charges

You should anticipate to pay port charges to your clearing agent who will then pay the CFS. The fees are approximately twice as much for a containered shipments versus a ro-ro shipment. If you are importing your car C&F then the port charges are paid to the appointed clearing agent. If you are using a DDP import service then you should expect to pay port charges to your importer.

Car Import Duty to Kenya

When your car reaches Kenya you will be required to pay the excise duties, import duties, VAT and IDF fees. These are as follows:

Import Duty (25%)

Excise Duty (varies)

Value Added Tax (14%)

Import Declaration Fees (2%)

Railway Development Levy (1.5%)

Calculating your import duty requires the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to establish the Current retail Selling Price (CRSP) of your vehicle. This is laid out by the KRA in the current 2019 CRSP.

This calculation is as follows:

KRA provide the current Retail Selling Price (CRSP) for your vehicle.

Customs Value is the CRSP value with depreciation applied.

Import Duty is 25% of the Customs Value.

Excise Duty is 20% of the Customs Value + Import Duty.

VAT is 16% of the Customs Value + Import Duty + Excise Duty.

IDF Fee 3.5% of the Customs Value.

RDL Fee is 2% of the Customs Value.

Importing Cars Duty Free

Diplomats, government officials and returning residents are often eligible for duty free car imports.

To qualify for returning residency you will need to show that you have been living overseas for at least two years and have not visited Kenya for a total of 90 days within those two years. The KRA will need you to demonstrate that you have permanently left your previous country permanently.

It is essential that you are over the age of 18 and support your returning residency with your work permit, passport and alien ID.

Documentation which support your departure could be; Termination of employment, termination of residential lease agreements or sale of property, termination of visa.

Documents which support your returning residency could include new employment contract, new property lease agreement, new property purchase agreement, repatriation of foreign funds.

In terms of your car, you will need to prove that you have owned and used the car for more than one year prior to arriving in Kenya. You will need to show proof of purchase such as receipts, invoices, bank statements, log book, insurance and road tax.

It is also important that your car meets the car import requirements for Kenya eg your car must be right hand drive, have a valid QISJ certificate and not be older than 7 years when it arrives in Mombasa.

Car registration in Kenya

Registering your car is a KRA requirement. To do this for civilian plates you need to have a NTSA TIMS account. Find out how to register for your NTSA TIMS account before proceeding.

You can register your vehicle online via the NTSA online portal. When you have logged in, simply follow the prompts and scan the required documents and upload them to the portal.

The current cost to register your vehicle varies with engine capacity. The lowest rate is Kes 7,410 for 1000cc and below up to Kes 21,215 for vehicles above 3000cc.

Transport to Nairobi

For cars being delivered to Nairobi, we always employ a professional car carrier to transport our cars professionally. If you choose to have your car driven, be sure you carry out sufficient background checks to be confident your car isn’t going to be at serious risk of damage or theft.

What to expect when your car reaches Nairobi

By now the cars have been in transit for approximately 50+ days. So all cars being delivered to Nairobi have a valet to ensure they are in top condition following their long journey.

Paperwork you should receive with your car.

It is wise to have your loose items and paperwork couriered independently of your car. We DHL all items such as headphones, remote controls and spare keys with the car’s paperwork. You should expect to receive to following documents from your importer:

- Bill of lading

- V5 log book

- Valid MOT certificate

- QISJ certificate

- Owner’s manual

- Stamped service history book

- HPI certificate

Your personal handover.

The day has arrived when you are getting into your new car for the first time. Whilst is it always a very exciting day and you cannot wait to get out on the open road, take time to check that you understand the controls and that everything is in good working order. Consider things link the air conditioning, provision of a spare tyre or foam kit, the sunroof, parcel shelf, tyre depth, music speakers and windscreen wipers. Once you are completely happy that your car is everything you had been dreaming of, you can take it for your first drive in the confidence you have bought a gem of a car.


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