Alistair Benn
By Alistair Benn

If you are lucky enough to have a duty exemption through your employment, you will be lucky enough to have a protocol officer to assist you step by step through your car import and ensuring you will not have to pay Kenyan import duty. However, if you are a returning resident, the challenges you face in bringing your car home duty free, can be complex and fraught with hurdles. We thought it would be helpful to provide the requirements in an easy to read, digestible format, to help you understand the regulations and common pitfalls. We frequently assist returning residents and have a wealth of experience to guide our clients carefully through the process and support them to help them get their rightful outcome.

Duty Free Sign

Regulations for Returning with Your Own Car

This section assumes that your car is a right hand drive (RHD) car. If you are returning with a left hand drive car, please skip to the appropriate section below.

You must be over the age of 18 and show passport, work permit and alien ID etc to support your returning residency.

Demonstrate you have been living outside of Kenya for at least 2 years. You must not have visited Kenya for a total of 90 days in that 2 year period. The KRA will require you to prove that you are leaving your previous country of residence and permanently returning to Kenya.

* Typical, example documentation to support your departure would include; Termination of employment, termination of residential lease agreements or sale of property, termination of visa.

* Documents that would support your returning residency could include new employment contract, new property lease agreement, new property purchase agreement, repatriation of foreign funds.

You must prove that you have owned and used the car for more than one year prior to arriving in Kenya. This is where people are often caught out as they do not provide sufficient documentation such as proof of purchase in the form of receipts, invoices, bank statements, log book, insurance and road tax.

Your car must also meet the import regulations for Kenya; your car must not be older than 7 years when it arrives in Mombasa. It must be right hand drive and have passed the QISJ inspection prior to leaving the previous country.

Regulations for Returning From a Left Hand Drive Country

If you are returning from a left hand drive (LHD) country, the KRA will require the same documentation regarding proof you have been away for two years and proof of your permanent return as detailed above.

Left hand drive cars are not allowed to be imported into Kenya. You are required to show documentations proving that you owned the LHD vehicle in the country of your former residency for at least one year. You will also be required to prove that you have sold the car in the form of transfer of ownership documents and other supporting evidence such as receipts and banks statements.

It is important that the RHD replacement car does not have a CRSP value that exceeds the CRSP value of the LHD car that was disposed of. Please also note that both the previously owned vehicle and the replacement vehicle must not have more than 13 seats, nor a carrying capacity of 2 tonnes.

Duty Free Cars for First Arrivals

To qualify as a first arrival exemption, you must meet the following conditions. Persons arriving to live and work for the first time in Kenya and can produce a contract of employment for longer than two years are defined as first arrivals. To import your own RHD car duty free, you must have owned their vehicle for over one year prior to arriving in Kenya and you must be able to prove this with appropriate documentation such as the purchase invoice, payment receipts, ownership documents, road tax documents. The car must be imported into Kenya within 90 days of your arrival in Kenya and the work permit being issued. The vehicle cannot be sold, lent or otherwise disposed of during the stay of the work permit.

It goes without saying that it is imperative to get the preparation done and documents ready well in advance of leaving your former country of residence. Errors or omissions in documentation are extremely costly and we appreciate this risk brings great stress to an already emotional move. We guide all our returning resident clients through this process and with the help of Mitchell Cotts whose scale and unwavering professionalism ensures your car remains duty free provided all conditions are met.*

*Please note that this document is updated regularly to reflect the current requirements. However, laws can be updated at minimal notice and we cannot be half responsible for any change in Kenyan law or for a client’s failure to meet the KRA’s conditions.

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