Everything You Need to Know Before You Import a Car to Kenya

Kenya has long held its position as one of the world’s top importers of used vehicles, with Japan dominating the market as the primary supplier. According to official data, Japan contributed a staggering 94.3% of the 62,495 used cars exported to Kenya in the 12 months leading to June 2023. This trend emphasizes the significant role Japan plays in supplying both commercial and private used cars to the Kenyan market.

Sport Cars
Kenya flag

Check any VIN from Kenya today!

The Japanese Connection

  1. Popular Japanese Makes: Toyota models lead the pack in popularity, with the Probox, Corolla, Land Cruiser, Hiace, and Vitz being among the most sought-after. The surge in Probox sales is notable, attributed to its versatility in serving both as a passenger and cargo carrier.
  2. Dominance of Japan: Japan’s consistent position as the primary source of used cars for Kenya is a testament to the reliability and quality of Japanese vehicles. The robust market includes a wide range of models, appealing to diverse needs.

Regulations and Age Limit

  1. Vehicle Age Limit: Kenya imposes an age limit on imported cars, currently set at 8 years from the date of first registration. This means that any vehicle being imported must be less than 8 years old.
  2. Consideration for Age Limit Reduction: There have been discussions about lowering the age limit further to 5 years, although this is yet to be implemented. Potential changes in age limits are crucial for buyers to monitor as they significantly impact the options available in the market.

Laws and Regulations

  1. Standards for Imports: Kenya regulates car imports through the Standards (Verification of Conformity to Kenya Standards of Imports Order), 2018. These regulations are in place to ensure that vehicles meet specific standards and comply with safety and environmental requirements.
  2. Right-Hand Drive Requirement: One of the key regulations is that the imported vehicle must be right-hand drive. This is in alignment with the country’s traffic norms, and all vehicles need to adhere to this specification.
  3. Roadworthiness Inspection: Before importing a car to Kenya, it is mandatory for the vehicle to undergo a roadworthiness inspection. This inspection is conducted by a KEBS-appointed agent in the country of export, ensuring that the car meets safety and quality standards.

Considerations for Importing a Car to Kenya

  1. Importation Process: Understanding the importation process is crucial. This involves identifying a reliable exporter or dealer, checking the vehicle’s history, and ensuring compliance with Kenyan regulations.
  2. Age and Model Considerations: With the age limit in mind, buyers need to consider the specific model they want to import and ensure it complies with Kenyan regulations. Understanding the popularity of certain models, like Toyota, can aid in decision-making.
  3. Market Trends: Staying informed about market trends is beneficial. Knowing which models are popular and understanding any potential changes in regulations or age limits can impact the resale value and overall suitability of a car in the Kenyan market.

Japanese Import Cars for sale: The Cost Breakdown

Importing a Japanese car to Kenya involves costs beyond the vehicle’s price, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of the financial commitment. The significant contributor to the overall cost is the Import Duty, constituting 25% of the total. Calculated based on the customs value, which includes the car’s cost, freight charges, and insurance, a $10,000 car, for instance, incurs an Import Duty of $2,500.

Excise Duty, another vital element, varies based on factors like engine size, vehicle type, and age. It is an additional tax, with brand-new and larger-engine vehicles attracting different rates. Value Added Tax (VAT), a standard tax at 14%, applies to the sum of customs value, Import Duty, and Excise Duty, resulting in $1,470 for the $10,000 car example.

Administrative charges, known as Import Declaration Fees, amount to 2% of the customs value, covering paperwork and processes. For the $10,000 car, Import Declaration Fees equal $200. The Railway Development Levy, set at 1.5%, contributes to railway infrastructure and adds $150 to the same car.

In summary, the total cost of importing a Japanese car to Kenya encompasses the customs value, Import Duty, Excise Duty, VAT, Import Declaration Fees, and Railway Development Levy. It is crucial for importers to consider these charges when budgeting for their desired vehicle, ensuring a transparent overview of the financial commitment

Importing a car to Kenya from Japan offers diverse choices, but awareness of regulations, age limits, and market trends is crucial for a smooth process and compliance with Kenyan laws. With Japan’s strong presence in Kenya’s used car market, understanding cost breakdown empowers buyers to make informed decisions, preparing for the financial aspects.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Japanese import cars are known for their reliability, fuel efficiency, and advanced technology. They often come with low mileage and are well-maintained, making them a popular choice for buyers seeking quality and longevity.

Direct car imports involve purchasing a vehicle directly from an international market, such as Japan. The benefits include access to a wider range of models, potential cost savings, and the ability to get the latest features and technologies before they reach the local market.

Yes, Detailed Vehicle History is a trusted alternative that offers European VIn decoding and vehicle history reports at an affordable price. You can access their reports through their user-friendly mobile app, which is available for download on the Google Play Store and App Store.

Yes, the process includes identifying a reliable exporter, choosing the desired vehicle, understanding import regulations, arranging shipping, and complying with local customs and duties. It’s advisable to work with reputable dealers experienced in direct car imports.


The best Japanese import cars vary based on individual preferences and needs. Popular choices include Toyota models like the Corolla, Honda Civic, and Nissan Skyline. However, the “best” car depends on factors such as budget, usage, and personal preferences.

More information can be found on the Bahamas vin check page by clicking this button.