Importation of goods into Kenya is an elaborate process that entails various documentation and procedures. Lead times are available on the Kenya Ports Authority website.

  • The documents required during the import process are:
  • Bill of lading
  • Cargo release order
  • Certificate of conformity
  • Commercial invoice
  • Declaration of customs value
  • Import Declaration Form
  • Packing list
  • Proof of payments of customs duties.
  • Terminal handling receipts. Import procedures involve four key steps: pre-order, placing the order, post order placement and goods arrival and clearance at port of entry.

Step 1: Pre-Order

Step Activity Whom to consult Document issued/ Reference
1. Ensure you have a trade license or seek services of a registered importer. Ministry in charge of Trade License
2. Ensure you have an import license or seek services of a registered importer. Kenya Revenue Authority License
3. If it is food, drugs or chemical substance obtain permit, where necessary Port Health Office; Pharmacy and Poisons Board Permit
4. For agricultural products- permit maybe required KEPHIS Permit Phytosanitary requirements
5. Establish the Kenyan standard for the product you are exporting. KEBS Standard specification
6. Determine the goods you need to export in respect of:

– Description

– Quality

– Specifications

– Quantity

Exporter firm Specification
7. Send out information to the identified supplier clearly stating the following:

– Description of the goods – Technical specifications

– Quantity

– Price

– Delivery period

– Regulatory requirements

e.g. quality standards, health and safety standards, etc.

Firm Specification. Regulatory requirements.
8. Check to ensure that the goods are not prohibited or restricted from importation. KRA Second schedule of the EA Customs

Management Act

9. Check to determine whether the goods are exempted from duty. KRA Fifth schedule of the EA Customs Act
10. Check to determine whether the goods attract counterfeiting and/or anti-dumping duties. KRA EA Customs Management Act
11. Determine the cost of the goods to be imported. Company Costing schedule
12. Organise for funding either internally or externally. Company and Bank Funds are available
13. Consult your bank and obtain financial advice. Bank Financial advice

Source: Adapted from the Kenya Revenue Authority

Step 2: Placing the Order

No. Activity Whom to contact Document issued/ Reference
1. Discuss with the selected importer and agree on terms Foreign and local company supplying. Contract Order placed
2. Advise your importer on the bank to use Company Bank name
3. Make payment arrangements According to agreed terms Company Advice on


Source: Adapted from the Kenya Revenue Authority

Step 3: Post Order Placement

No. Activity Whom to contact
1. Obtain documents that bank requires. Normally they will be:

– Commercial invoice

– Packing list

– Bill of lading/Airway bill

– Certificate of conformity

2. Appoint a clearing agent. Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association
3. The clearing agent computes customs duty, port charges and transport charges required and advises you. Clearing Agent
4. The clearing agent makes arrangement for transport of the goods to your premises. Transporter
5. The clearing agent prepares the customs declaration entry electronically, pays duty at the bank and lodges the supporting documents with Customs. Clearing Agent KRA
6. Ensure the relevant quality certificates for the goods are available. Avail them to the Clearing Agent to clear with KEBS. KEBS
7. The Clearing agent clears with KEPHIS, if necessary. KEPHIS
8. The Clearing agent clears with the Port Health Office, if necessary. Port Health Office

Source: Adapted from the Kenya Revenue Authority

Step 4: Goods Arrival and Clearance at Port of Entry

No. Activity Whom to contact
1. Customs processes the documents KRA
2. Release order is issued KRA
3. Authentication of relevant compliance certificates and release of goods KEBS KEPHIS

Port Health Office

4. Port charges are paid and goods are released to importer or clearing agent Kenya Ports Authority
5. Goods are collected and transported Transporter
6. Goods are received at your premises Premises handlers

Source: Adapted from the Kenya Revenue Authority