How to import a used motor vehicle in Kenya

Toyota Prius, a foreign used motor vehicle eligible for import in Kenya. Photo: sbtjapan

Kenya has an elaborate procedure for importing goods and services. This means that importing a foreign used motor vehicle is well covered. But then, how do you import a used motor vehicle to Kenya? We shall explain how and the documentation required.

Regulation to consider when importing a used motor vehicle in Kenya

1. Age limit of the vehicle

Kenya only allows the importation of vehicles that are 7 years old (or less) from their date of manufacture. For instance, in 2022, only cars manufactured in 2015 or later were allowed for importation to Kenya.

2. Left-hand or Right-hand drive

All left-hand driven motor vehicles are not allowed in Kenya, unless for a special purpose. This means that left-hand vehicles are not eligible for registration by NTSA.

Yes, when importing or exporting a car to Kenya ensure it is right-hand driven. You will be safe with NTSA.

3. Roadworthiness

All vehicles imported or exported to Kenya must be roadworthy. This means that they must undergo a roadworthiness inspection (done by QISJ or ) prior to their inspection. 

Read also: NTSA Motor Vehicle Inspection: Checklist, Cost and Centers.

The used motor vehicle importation process

Having understood the regulations of importing your valued and dream car you need to understand and start a vehicle importing your car. Again we take you through the importation process step by step.

Step 1: Sourcing for an exporting company

This is a great start. Get it right and you get the right results. Develop criteria for the exporter you want to deal with. Yes, there are numerous car exporters from Japan and UK. However, my simple checklist criteria are:

  • Transparency
  • Experience
  • Accreditation

This is the first and the most important stage of importing your dream car. I am sure you are asking how you get this information. There are a number of ways of getting these companies. Among them are:

  • A trusted friend or family member
  • Embassies of the exporting country
  • Online reviews

Having identified and vetted your exporting company, it is time to reach out. Call or email them and state your business clearly. If you have questions ask them. If satisfied go on to the next step.

Read also: How do you import vintage car in Kenya?

Step 2: Choosing your car

Go through the stock list of cars on your chosen company’s website and choose your dream car. Mostly, vehicles are classified based on according to countries due to different import regulations in different countries.

An example of a car stock list. Photo: sbtjapan

Therefore, limit your search to vehicles with an image Kenyan flag. Read to stick to the car import regulation.

Click on the image of your preferred vehicle to reveal more details about it. The details are technical and FoB price.

Step 2: Negotiate payment options

Well, there is more than one method that you can pay for your dream car. However, it all depends on your exporting company. Some of the payment options are PayPal, local office and Telegraphic Transfer (TT).

Once you have both settled with the payment amount and option, ask for a quotation/proforma invoice. The proforma invoice will show the amount agreed upon by both of you for the unit (s) you want to buy. Once you have this document proceed to pay for the car.

For me, where there is no local office, I prefer Telegraphic Transfer (TT) as it is secure and transparent. However, you have to present yourself at your bank.

When making this payment attach your proforma invoice to the transfer form and ask the teller to capture the major details (car brand, engine and chassis number) about your car to be. Once done, scan the transfer form and send it to the exporter.

Generally, companies require that you make payment before your car can be shipped to you. Well, upon payment there are other critical documents that your seller prepares for your ease of clearance.

Read also: How to transfer car ownership in Kenya

Step 3: Wait for the documents

Your seller is responsible for three major documents namely;

  • Bill of landing-
  • Export certificate
  • Roadworthiness inspection certificate

The three documents are among some of the documents required during vehicle clearance at Mombasa Port.

Once your payment has been verified by your seller, he will make sure that the three documents are prepared as fast as possible. Note that each document originates from a different source. Therefore, it may take time to gather them. Once your exporter gathers the three documents together, he will send them as one packet to you.

Read also: How to do an NTSA Motor vehicle and log book search in Kenya

Step 4: Clear your car customs

Once your car departs the port of origin you will be informed by your seller. From Japan to Kenya, your car may take 3-4 weeks. Note that your seller has no control over your car during shipping. Therefore, the estimated land time may vary slightly.

Once the ship gets to Mombasa, you will be informed too. The shipping company may decide the duration they can hold your car before you clear.

Also, note that the clearing process is not the responsibility of the seller. It lies squarely with the customs. There are fees and taxes to pay before your car is cleared. To know more about the clearing process and taxes paid for cars imported into Kenya read our next article.

Read also: List of vehicle/motor insurance companies in Kenya

Buyers of any commodity or service fear being conned. This is an issue that exporters take seriously. Numerous articles have covered this issue. However, the more you import the more experience you become in importing cars successfully. Additionally, there is an advantage of importing your car directly, you save more than KSh. 200, 000.

Read also: How to buy a used car in Kenya. Tips and guide