Home Articles How to Import Used Japanese Cars into Kenya in 2020

How to Import Used Japanese Cars into Kenya in 2020


When you need to import a secondhand car into Kenya there are smart ways to do so before getting all engrossed in the action. To make yours a fluid, compliant process, here are important considerations to make in advance.

Know your Responsibilities

Firstly, it is important you consider importation of used car laws in Kenya. These are availed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) in coordination with the Kenya Revenue Authority, and enforced by the Kenya Customs at the port of Mombasa. The port of Mombasa is the entry point for almost all car imports into Kenya and the East Africa region.
These are:

  • Must not be more than 8 years from year of manufacture if less than 1500cc.
  • Must not be more than 5 years from year of manufacture if more than 1500cc.
  • Difference between date of manufacture and date of registration must not be more than one year; if manufactured in 2013, then the registration must have been done in 2014
  • Must be right-hand-drive (RHD) with exemptions only made for special purpose vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines
  • Must be road-worthy; your car must be cleared for being usable and observes the various carbon emissions requirements for environmental conservation
  • Importing a car from Japan requires it be inspected by the Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre (JEMVIC) before leaving Japan shores
  • KRA requires you hire car dealers in Kenya (clearance and forwarding officers) to handle the paperwork and logistics on your behalf. Visit KRA’s official website for a list of accredited clearing and forwarding agents certified to handle imported cars in Kenya

What are the costs to Import a used car into Kenya and would you rather buy from local car dealers?

Our import duty calculator will handle the math for you; nonetheless, here are the duty fees payable to KRA through Kenya customs department:

  • From 25% of the current retail selling price (CRSP) published by the Kenya Revenue Authority as Import duty
  • 2% of the CIF amount as Import Declaration Fee (IDF), or KSh 5000 whichever amount is higher
  • From 25% – 30% of (Customs Value + Import Duty) as Excise Duty
  • 16% of (CIF amount + Import Duty + Excise Duty) as Value Added Tax (VAT)

Additional costs that might not come up on your import duty calculation:

  • Hiring a container will cost you around KSh 10,000 – KSh 13000 to be paid to the shipping company before the transportation begins.
  • CFS (container freight station) fees from KSh 18,500 – KSh 35,000 depending on the car model, paid to the port.
  • About KSh 15,000 for Clearing and Forwarding agents. Contact your C&F agents in advance, so they can track your shipment on high seas.
  • About KSh 3,000 (varies) per day at Mombasa Port car park.
  • You might want to budget for minor repairs too.

Which documents do you need to clear and register an imported car at the port of Mombasa?

  • Original national ID/passport
  • Pre Inspection Certificate issued by JEMVIC in Japan
  • Vehicle’s foreign logbook to confirm ownership
  • Original Bill of Lading and the car registration documents from its previous home country
  • Port release order, evidence of insurance cover, import declaration form, Clean Report of Findings (CRF), and import duty receipt
  • Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) for commercial purpose vehicles.
  • Check the list of Japanese second hand cars allowed for importation into Kenya from KRA’s website.
  • Each car’s original value and estimated current value and other details that’ll help you with calculating duty fees are to be found there. You can use a free online import duty calculator to help you out.

Why buy a used Car from Japan to Kenya?

Most secondhand cars for sale in Kenya are originally from Japan. Toyota tops that list. One reason for that is the fact that Japanese cars are right-hand-drive, like Kenya’s. Importing a used car from other LHD countries such as the US and Europe may violate this requirement. Japanese models are also considerably cheaper for Kenyan car end buyers.
Others choose to import used cars from Dubai to Kenya. Only that most car dealers in Kenya look out for cheap Japanese used cars to fetch better profits and, importantly, sell the cars faster due to affordable pricing.

So, how do you buy a secondhand car in Japan?

You will need to contact a certified used car dealer in Japan, first. Visit JEMVIC’s official website to find a list of accredited car dealers in Japan. Once you have yourself a reliable buyer, enquire for the car of your choice, and if available demand to check unaltered pictures of that particular model. Asking for video footage of your car choice is even better.
To further ensure you won’t be fooled, confirm with the Nairobi-based Japanese Embassy, which supports Kenyans looking to import variables from Japan. Also, shipping companies will tell you that they are not liable for any losses during transportation, so be sure to insure your investment with a reputable company.

Must you hire a container to import a used car from Japan to Kenya?

You are a prudent buyer and would definitely hate to spoil your car during shipping, so you might want to secure your car against damage by hiring a container for it.

Should you ship personal belongings with the car?

The Kenya Customs Department forbids this. If you do, you might incur unnecessary fines and penalty – further increasing the cost of your car. Further, if personal items found in your car are considered illegal in Kenya, such as narcotics or live animals, your car will be seized at the port of Mombasa, and you’d be in for a tussle with the law.

Are there alternatives to importing a secondhand car from Japan to Kenya?

As aforementioned, Dubai is another global used car market. When buying a car though, maintenance costs are a key factor to ponder on. Cars imported from the UAE into Kenya, for example, maybe unattractive to Kenyans looking for cheaper, easier to maintain cars. Much as German machines are legendary in quality, the initial buying price is a turn off for most Kenyans. Maintenance costs, including the availability of spare parts, may also be high.
Japanese used car parts, such as Toyota car parts, are easily available and are cheaper. And most local mechanics can comfortably fix them for you at a low fee.

Vehicle Clearance at the Port of Mombasa

Hiring clearance and forwarding agents at the port of Mombasa will set you free from the hustle of contacting car registration offices in Kenya. The process is quite strenuous (especially for first timers), and delays caused by registration may mean the difference between your car hitting the maximum allowed age of 8 at the port’s parking space, or having it cleared fast.The Kenya Ports Authority is looking to lift off this major issue by digitizing imported car registration. According to the government arm, this will go a long way in speeding the process as well as curb tendencies by import/export dealers to engage in corrupt sideshows.


It is popular to find abandoned cars at the port’s car parking, cars that were not cleared in time and ended up accruing huge fines to the point it makes no economical sense to bail them out and continue to sell them against fierce competition from other newer, cheaper models that were cleared faster.

Make sure you read all the fine print, attend to the paperwork yourself, and also comply with the laid out procedures and laws regarding how to import secondhand cars from Japan to Kenya. It may very likely save you thousands in fines and losses. To your success!