General Overview to Exporting from Kenya
This page offers a general overview of exporting in Kenya, where export of commodities is regulated by respective, mandated Government Agencies. These Agencies are governed by their Acts, Regulations, or Legal Notices that guide their export procedures. The Portal provides in more detail, the specific rules/laws to trade for respective commodities.
1. Register as a company or business
Registration of businesses in Kenya is done by the Registrar of Companies who issues certificates to local & foreign companies, and sole proprietorships & partnerships.
Companies must then register with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). A business permit should also be obtained from the respective County Government where the business will set-up its operations, depending on the business type. All company and business registrations are processed through the eCitizen platform.
2. Open a bank account
Upon successful registration of a business, a trader may proceed to open an account with a bank. A list of commercial banks and mortgage finance companies which have been licensed by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), can be found here.
3. Obtain product-specific registrations/licences & certificates
Procedures on the Portal are accessed through the filter search bar on the homepage; First, select the trade operation of interest (export, import, or transit), then select your product, and click search, as illustrated below:
In order to address the full reality faced by the trader wishing to complete a specific trade operation (import, export, or transit), the Portal captures information on four categories of procedures covering both pre-clearance and clearance processes:
Preliminary/initial registrations: An individual or business often needs to be registered in order to subsequently be able to apply for licenses and permits. This may involve verifications such as warehouse or farm inspections. Usually, registrations only need to be done once by each entity.
Licenses: Several industries are regulated and firms (individual enterprises or corporations) wishing to trade in these industries need to be issued with licenses before they are authorized to do so and obtain the needed permits. In some instances, licenses must be renewed annually;
Permits: Permits are the authorizations that must accompany a consignment before clearance procedures can begin. Examples include phytosanitary or veterinary certificates, certificates of origin, import permits, certificates of compliance, etc. These procedures must be completed for each trade operation or for each consignment;
Customs clearance & border procedures: These include all procedures that are required for the consignment to be cleared with the Customs & Border Control Units at the various exit/entry points. This entails submitting a Customs declaration, applicable consignment verifications/inspections by regulating Authorities, cargo sealing, etc. These procedures may be required for every new trade operation. Currently, the Portal provides Customs clearance procedures through ten (10) exit points as per the screenshot below.
Procedures for a first time trader: This section summarizes all the steps/procedures a new trader is required to comply with; therefore providing a detailed overview of the procedures from the point of registration to the clearance at the exit or entry points.
Presentation of procedures on the Portal
4. Obtain a sales contract from buyer
An exporter requires a sales contract or sales agreement, that describes the goods being sold, the terms and conditions of the sale, and the price to be paid. The sales contract will be required to complete export clearance procedures with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Customs & Border Control Unit.
5. Contract a clearing agent
In accordance with Part XI, (Sec 145-148) of the East African Community (EAC) Customs Management Act, a licensed clearing agent, with the authority of the exporter, will facilitate the clearance of export cargo with the Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA), Customs Border & Control Unit. The clearing agents are licensed by KRA. A list of licensed clearing agents can be found here.
6. Declaration of consignment
In order to facilitate clearance of the cargo, the exporter is required to provide their clearing agent with the consignment documents, including but not limited to: a valid commercial invoice, certificate of origin (where applicable), permit(s) relevant to the consignment, license for restricted goods (where applicable), Company or Individual PIN certificate, purchase orders or contracts, and packing lists. Upon submission of the consignment documents for processing, witnessing of stuffing/verification of the consignment, release of the declared consignment for export, and exit of the consignment through a border point, KRA will process and issue a Certificate of Export.