The Kenyan RDTFs on Car Importation / Exportation

Updated: June 23, 2010

R.D.T.F: Rules / Regulations, Duty, Tax, Facts, these are the four major facts we will be looking at. Currently we have new car importation rules at Mombasa so I thought I should let you know what is expected of you before you think of bringing in that BMW or Benz or Bentley.

Rules and Regulations

There are three main  regulations that you must follow when exporting or importing vehicles:

  • Age Limit: Vehicles manufactured before the year 2001 (i.e above 8yrs old) are not allowed for importation into Kenya.
  • Left Hand Drive Vehicles: All left hand drive vehicles are not allowed for registration unless they have a special purpose e.g. Ambulances etc.
  • Road Worthiness: All used vehicles imported into Kenya must be inspected to ensure road worthiness, safety and other requirements.

Duties and Tax Payable

They are both derived as follows:

Import duty at 25%, Excise duty at 20% and VAT at 16% are payable cumulatively and in that order. Therefore:

  • Import duty is 25% of the Customs value (CIF) of the vehicle i.e. 25% of (Invoice value + Insurance + Freight charges)
  • Excise duty is 20% of (Customs Value + Import Duty)
  • VAT is 16% of (Customs Value + Import Duty + Excise Duty)

Further, an Import Declaration Fee (IDF) of 2.25% of the CIF is also charged subject to a minimum of Ksh. 5,000 payable in advance on application.

*CIF - Cost, Insurance and Freight

Still under duty and taxation we have:

Duty Exemptions

1. Returning Residents

This is a person changing residence from a place outside Kenya to a place within Kenya where that person has been residing outside Kenya for a period of at least two years and has not resided in Kenya for a period(s) amounting in aggregate to ninety days or more within the two years immediately before this return to Kenya.

If you have bought a vehicle outside Kenya and would like to ship it home, an importer will do all pre-shipment documentation, clearance through the port and registration. As per the current import regulations, they will also require copies of your National ID/Passport and PIN certificate.

A returning resident may import one exempt motor vehicle (excluding buses and minibuses of seating capacity of more than 13 passengers and load carrying capacity exceeding two tonnes) Provided that:

  • The person has attained the age of eighteen years
  • The vehicle was used by him and owned by him outside Kenya for a continuous period of 12 months (excluding the period of voyage in the case of shipment)
  • The vehicle is owned and registered in his name and/or his spouse. Where the motor vehicle is purchased on hire purchase terms, the first installment in respect thereof was paid and delivery taken at least three hundred and sixty days prior to importation

However, vehicles belonging to returning residents must abide to the Kenyan standards as stipulated by the Kenya bureau of standards (K.B.S). The importation of Used Motor Vehicles into Kenya is covered under the Kenya Standard Code of Practice for Inspection of Road Vehicles KS03 1515:2000.The Standard spells out three major criteria for acceptances of the Vehicles for importation. These are:

  • Age Limit: All road vehicles, which are more than eight years old from the year of manufacture, shall not be allowed for importation. Currently we are exporting cars manufactured in 2003 and after.
  • Left Hand Drive: All left hand drive vehicles are not allowed for registration unless they are for special purpose i.e. Ambulances, Fire Tenders and large construction vehicles imported for projects and to be eventually donated the Kenya Government.
  • Road Worthiness: All used vehicles imported into Kenya shall be inspected for Road Worthiness, safety and other requirements.

2. Other Parties

Vehicles for diplomatic or consulate missions, Vehicles for the United Nations or its specialized agencies, Vehicles for Foreign Embassies, Donor Agencies, Specifically designed vehicles to be used by the blind, disabled and physically handicapped persons, rally drivers - certain exemptions, vehicles for aid funded projects etc.

Facts on Importation

  • Excise duty on all vehicles is now 20% irrespective of engine size
  • 20% dumping fees on all vehicles has been removed
  • Cumulative taxes on all vehicles has been set at 76.75% of dutiable value
  • Import duty is 25% of dutiable value.
  • Excise Duty 20% of Excise Duty Value.
  • VAT is 16% of VAT value.
  • Import Declaration Form (I. D. F.) processing fees is 2.75% with a minimum of shs 5,000 that is paid in advance on application.
  • Calculated cumulatively, Import Duty+ Excise Duty + V.A.T+IDF will work out to 76.75% on all vehicles irrespective of engine size.
  • AGE LIMIT - I Kenya Importation of used vehicles is limited to eight years. All used motor vehicles originating from Japan and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) -Dubai, will be subject to destination inspection. Importers of vehicles from Japan and the U.A.E will be expected to present their motor vehicles to Japan Auto Appraisal Institute (JAAI) in Japan and JAAI/  CAAC in Dubai who will inspect the motor vehicles and issue a certificate of road worthiness, which shall be presented for clearance purposes.
  • Pre-shipment inspection by Cotecna and Bivac International is no longer a requirement from 1st July 2005. Dutiable values will now be determined by custom authorities at Mombasa Port.
  • Import Declaration Forms (IDFs) will be processed by KRA-customs services.
  • Import duty, excise duty, VAT and I. D. F fees are calculated based on dutiable value which is not necessarily the purchase price.

More Facts

  • 50% import duty on motor vehicles, based on the C.I.F. value
  • 40% sales tax
  • 25% import duty on components for vehicle assembly
  • No local content requirements exist, but components manufactured locally may not be imported.
  • No export requirements
  • An import license accompanied by a 100 percent refundable prior import deposit is required
  • Importing medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles with a 3-ton or more load capacity is prohibited unless they are completely dismantled and contain no components that may be produced locally.
  • Importers have been directed to seek 90 to 180 days credit overseas.
  • Import protection is accorded to local producers of the following automotive components: sealers, adhesives, batteries, tires, tubes, paints, flat glass, canvas, soft trim, upholstery, insulation, radiators, exhaust systems, leaf springs, spare wheel carriers, seat frames, wiring harnesses, and brake linings.

So we have looked at the R.D.T.Fs on importation and exportation but there is also something else you need to know.

Importation Declaration Form (IDF)

An IDF must be applied for and obtained from the Kenya Revenue Authority for any Commercial Importation. The Importer is responsible for applying for the IDF but may consult us for purposes of Customs Classifications which form the backbone of the information drawn from the Pro-Forma Invoice.

The IDF Fee is 2.75% of the CIF Value of the goods. A minimum payment of Ksh.5000/= is payable for the IDF to be issued, while the difference if any, will be paid alongside the Import Taxes. The IDF may set Conditions such as the following:

  • Value - The IDF gives the indication as to whether the Values declared thereon are final. If not final, then an Appraisal of Value must be sort with the Valuation Section of the Customs Services Department. In this case, a complete set of the Shipping documents will be attached to the Appraisal Of Value Request Form following which a Value Certificate is issued. The process could involve physical verification of the goods.
  • Quality/Quantity – Other control bodies such the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Public Health Department, Department of Agriculture (Kephis) and Mines & Geology Department may be asked to determine if the expected standards have been met. Incase of suspicion, Tests may be carried out and Certificates/Permits issued. Under this criteria, test Certificates from accredited bodies may be required.
  • Classification – The Customs Services Department may be asked to determine the correctness of the classification for purposes of collection of the correct Taxes. This may involve Physical verification and/or Computer Scanning.
  • Pre-Verification – All Items originating from Dubai, Hong Kong and China including Textiles, Electronics, Motor Vehicles & Spares will be subjected to Pre-verification by the Customs Valuation Section who will accordingly issue a Certificate to the effect.

Quality Inspections

The Kenya Bureau of Standards has appointed two agents namely INTERTEK and SGS for the Pre-export Verification of Conformity inspection of the commodities listed on the Guidelines referred bellow. These agents will issue to the Shipper/Supplier a Certificate of Conformity and the Test Results. An IDF will be required before any Inspection can be performed.

See attached Guidelines from The Kenya Bureau of Standards which is self explanatory. Please also be advised that these guidelines are being updated by KBS without any alert.

Customs Import Entry

The following documents are required for Customs Import Entry Purposes

  1. Original Commercial Invoice
  2. Packing List
  3. Original Bills of Lading – Two Original
  4. Original Certificate of Conformity
  5. Original Test Result/Report/Analysis
  6. Original Certificate of Origin for Preferential Trade Area Partners e.g. COMESA.
  7. Import Declaration Form and the Receipt
  8. Insurance Debit Note
  9. Importers Declaration(C52)

These documents will enable Electronic Registration of The Customs Entry. The registered entry will be passed for eventual release of the goods upon:

  • Payment of Import Taxes
  • Providing a Security Bond

Import Taxes are payable to the appointed Bank upon confirmation of the Registration of the Entry. The Banks Electronic Confirmation of Receipt of Payment of Import Taxes enables the Customs Entry to be passed for further processing at the Port of clearance.

Security Bonds are executed and put in force against the Entry as an Undertaking or Guarantee to settle the Import Taxes at a later date as per the provisions of the relevant section of the Act.


Some Importations can be entered under a Security Bond instead of payments of Taxes. The Bonds could be provided to cover:

  • The movement from the Port of clearance into a Customs Bonded Warehouse
  • The movement from the Port of clearance into a Customs Export Processing Zone Bonded Warehouse
  • The movement from the Port of clearance into a Customs Manufacture Under Bond Warehouse
  • Temporary Importations
  • Foreign Aided or Government Funded Projects

The above are governed by the guidelines provided under the Customs Act.


The Customs Act has provided privileges of exemptions from Import Taxes to a number of institutions and people but within set guidelines. The guidelines are either under the category of:

  • Special Exemptions
  • General Exemptions

There are Special Permits obtained from the related authority to support the exemptions.

Shipping/Carriers Release

One Copy of the Bill Of Lading dully endorsed by the Importers and Bankers will be presented to the Shipping/Carriers local Agent who will issue a Delivery Order (D/O) upon the following conditions:

  • Payment of Freight Charges if not Pre-Paid
  • Payment of Container Deposit and/or Demurrages if FCL
  • Signing of a Container Guarantee
  • Payment of Other Charges e.g. Stripping of LCL

The Delivery Order then forms a part of the Cargo Clearance Documents including the Approved Customs Entry and the Mombasa Port Release Order.

Adopted from:

Also you can visit: to get the current version of the quality inspections document.


  1. License Plate Frames

    June 25, 2010 at 4:44 am

    Yet all the while, the FDA publicly maintains such importation is illegal, thus threatening importers with dire legal consequences.

  2. Steven

    June 25, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Thank you very much for the usuful information.

    However, I have one questions. On your Blog under Facts of Importation, it says that when importing a car from Japan or UAE, they need to present their car to JAAI.

    I thought Kenya needs JEVIC inspection not JAAI inspection?

    Please kindly advise.

    Thank you.

  3. Masasabi Dorcas

    June 25, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Hello Steven,

    Thank you for your comment
    Now, Kenya still needs JEVIC inspection and still will unless that ever changes. JAAI were the ones who used to do the inspection but that changed.

    If you want any more information on JEVIC visit their site at

    Thank you.

  4. Stefany Bernard

    July 1, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this post so thoroughly. I look forward to future posts.
    There are various sea vessels involved in shipping to guyana. It may include box boats or container ships, bulk carriers, tankers, ferries, cable layers, dredgers and barges.

  5. Maurice Macharia

    July 18, 2010 at 11:05 am


    The CRSP goes a long way in estimating the value that KRA attaches to vehicles. Can we now get the formula that KRA uses to get the dutiable value. For example according to KRA a Nissan Vanette is worth 1,800,000/= what formula do they use to get the duty payable for this van?

  6. Admin

    July 21, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Hi Maurice,

    The formula used by KRA in duty calculation is a bit confusing and they have an Excel spreadsheet that has been programmed with the calculations. What I can tell you is that the duty payable on a 2003 Nissan Vanette is Ksh. 190,552/-. You should also note that there are other additional charges like car registration, Port Charges (CFS - Container Freight Station), agency fees and all.

    If need be you can contact our imports department for assistance on this matter. Simply visit our contacts page.

  7. Admin

    July 30, 2010 at 8:49 am

    For all those who have been wondering how to calculate the duty for motor vehicles entering Kenya. Well, we have prepared an article to help you further understand the process and charges in duty calculations. Here is a breakdown of the process, charges, and definitions of the many terms used (i.e. IDF, CRSP, CFS, etc).

    Read more here: How to Calculate Import Duty for Cars in Kenya

  8. Mutei

    August 10, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I would like to import a Subaru Forester SG5-X20. FOB is USD 5,100 from Japan or a cheaper market you might advice,What are the charges i should expect to pay?
    Thank you.

  9. The Editor

    August 11, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Hello Mutei,
    I need you to give me the year of manufacture of the car to be able to answer you question better. The year of manufacture of the car affects the overall charges. Do send it as soon as possible.
    Thank You!

  10. nick shango

    August 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Would like to import a vehicle from japan: Autorec Enterprise ltd. Since this will be my first time can you please confirm if this company is realy genuine.
    Also guide me what is the payable duty on: Make-Toyota, Year of manufacture-2004, Name-corolla fielder x, Engine size-1500cc, Gear-AT, Fuel-petrol, Chassis-NZE 121-0294520, Model no-CBA-NZE121G, Engine type-1NZ-B201349, Milage-98,000km
    Thank you,

  11. mspaul

    September 30, 2010 at 4:21 am

    It is such an effective information that I was looking for to import and export my car. Perfect knowledge and perfect information.

  12. Hermann Lauber

    October 13, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Can you tell me how much importation duty and tax will be on a VW Passat 1.8T SE 2003 126000 KM.
    VIN: wvwzzz3bz4e077740

  13. Edwin

    November 2, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Does the eight year requirement also apply to agricultural vehicles and machines such as harvesters and tractors? How about heavy commercial trucks????

  14. The Editor

    November 2, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Hello Edwin,
    The 8 year limit does not apply to heavy commercial vehicles or the agricultural vehicles and machinery

  15. Elistone

    November 13, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Do the above duty charges apply on heavy commercial trucks tractor units?are they also subjected to the 8yr rule?thanx

  16. Admin

    November 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Hi Elistone, with regards to your query, heavy commercial trucks and tractors are not subject to the 8 year rule and they are exempt from duty charges, although there are some charges that you will have to pay. To get the calculations worked out for you, please fill in the details of the truck and make payment here:

  17. Daniel njoki

    January 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks a lot for this very valuable info you are providing. May God bless you greatly. Kindly help me get the drive home value for this vehicle. Also help me in verifying whether autorec and sbtjapan are genuine car importers. Am destined in Nairobi.

    Year: 2005
    Make: TOYOTA
    Engine Size: 1500 cc
    Gear: AT
    Fuel: Petrol
    Door: 5
    Seats: 5
    Chassis: NCP51-0111229
    Model No.: CBE-NCP51V
    Color: WHITE
    Engine Type 1NZ-B855186
    Mileage 115,000km
    Accessories AC,PS,PW,CL,PM,WA,AB

  18. joseph murage

    April 21, 2011 at 8:01 am

    what is the age limit for importation of a agricutural tractor? 8 year?

  19. Angela

    May 5, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Hi Joseph,

    There is no age restriction for importing agricultural trucks. However, it would be advisable to do a thorough research on the machines you are looking to buy, to know the best quality. Also consider the availability of spare parts before choosing which tractor to purchase.


  20. ali

    June 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I intend to export Trucks and cars from UK to Kenya in the near future, please could you tell me what sort of vehicles are fast moving and what sort of margins I can expect. I would like to know what your charges for handling clearing for me would be, I know it is a difficult question, because I do not want to use “briefcase” clearing agents at the port, although they are cheaper. I will be selling the vehicles through my brother based in Nairobi. I want to go for high turnover and less margins to roll my stock. Initially I am looking at a mix of vehicles, trucks and cars, approximately 5 a month for the first 6 months and then increasing to 20 a month. Rgds Ali

  21. Angela

    June 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Hi Ali,

    Thank you for you mail. We have sent you an email in response to address your concern. Please feel free to contact us whenever you need any assistance.


  22. Myles M

    November 2, 2011 at 8:41 am

    what iis the total import taxes for a truck SCANIA TIPPER WORTH 31000 Sterling pounds ( UK ) - cost & freight imported to Kenya ?
    The truck is a 2006 model registration and is 11000 cc and 340 horsepower and is RHD and it is 8×4 WD
    ie 8 axles and 2 rear differential housing - viz double rear diff .


  23. Admin

    November 3, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Dear Myles, according to KRA regulations, when importing heavy commercial vehicles into Kenya, they are not subject to Excise Duty and VAT although there are other charges which are payable like IDF, Import Duty, registration, Delivery order, container freight station fees, etc. We have emailed you a copy of one of our previous clients calculations for your perusal. To get your duty calculations done, kindly visit this page: There is a refundable fee of Ksh. 1,240/- for the calculations that will be deducted from our agency fee once we have the truck cleared from the Port of Mombasa and registered.

  24. Kito

    November 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Hi, I m about to import a mobile food car (electric car using batteries to run) from China. I know battery powered cars are duty free but I would like to know the following:

    - Is there a requirement for pre-shipment inspection?
    - If there is how about it for a car from China?
    - What costs to expect for clearing the car?

    Thank you


  25. KIBET

    February 20, 2012 at 10:16 am


  26. Myles M

    February 22, 2012 at 10:44 am

    What are the various statutory import taxes would I pay on an imported 8×4 WD tipper with Gross Vehicle Weight of 340 bph ? NB this is the kind of truck with 4 front steering wheels .
    Please give rates on % basis eg Import Duty say x % , VAT if applicable xyz % , excise duty say j% if applicable .

  27. lennys

    April 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Please advice about the age limit on tractors for export to Kenya?
    Please send your advice to my email as well.
    Thanks in advance

  28. kesete

    October 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

    am intending to import new tractor truck from china to port of Mombasa can you please advice on the import/excise/ and other taxes please?

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