Many Kenyans prefer to import second-hand vehicles as they are cheaper compared to the ones in local car dealerships. By cutting out the middleman, buyers can save up to 25% in cost. The process of importing however takes a bit more time and can be quite confusing for many first-time importers. If you are not an experienced buyer, you could lose all your money, there are a couple of things you need to know before importing a car.
Here are the things you need to know before importing a car into Kenya.
1. Choosing a seller
The first and one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make when importing a car is choosing the right seller. There are so many sellers out there that it can be confusing. In this new age of online markets, it is so easy to be conned as the exchange of goods and money is not simultaneous. You will have to pay for the vehicle weeks before you can get it in your hands. Plus, if you choose a seller that doesn’t have an office in Kenya, you’ll be sending money to people you have never seen or met. First-time importers are advised to use the services of companies with established outlets in Kenya.
2. Maintenance and resale value
Once you find a good seller, you will then need to choose the make and model of the car you want to import. One of the things, you need to take into consideration when choosing the vehicle is the maintenance cost and resale value. Depending on your budget, one should look for a car that is affordable to maintain. When choosing a car you should always have this at the back of your mind. It would be quite a bad deal if you saved some money by importing your car only to spend way more to maintain it.
As a rule of thumb, when choosing the make, always make sure that the spare parts are available locally. Secondly, make sure that the car you buy has a good resale value. After importing the car and using it for some time, you may want to sell it off to acquire another one. To stand the chance of having a good deal, one should consider the car’s make and model’s popularity, mileage, CC, and seating capacity.
3. Grade of the car
After you have chosen the make you want, you will now have to choose the quality of the unit you want from the available options. Pictures might give you an idea of the condition the unit you are viewing is in, but technology is limited, this is why a system has been put in place to help buyers understand the amount of wear that a certain vehicle has. This system grades vehicles based on an inspector’s assessment of the overall quality of the car.
These grades range from grade 0, these are vehicles that have been involved in accidents and probably have had some degree of repairs, to grade 5, which are very close to brand new status but with several thousand kilometers mileage. So don’t look at how cheap the car you want to import is. Look at the various auctioning grades. Cars with grade four and above are always in good conditions and easier to work with.
4. Test drive and quality of the car
The test drive is usually one of the most important parts of the car-buying process. It is when you drive the car, that you know whether you want that car or not, but importing the car rules out the possibility of a test drive. In this situation, a good option is to find a local dealership that sells a similar car and give that a test drive. If you can’t find one, look for a similar model made by the same company.
If all else fails, you can look for consumer reviews online, these tend to be honest. Additionally, you could ask for personal reviews from friends and family who have owned the car. To understand the condition the car is in, ask for as many photos as you can. This can help you assess if the car has ever been involved in any motor accident, the amount of dents and scratches, and the overall appearance.
Mileage is also an important factor when buying a used car, it is used to determine how long the car has been driven. Low or high mileage affects the value of the car at purchase and sale, as well as the likely cost of maintenance and servicing. For best car condition, choose a unit that has a mileage of less than 100,000km. The car should also have a vehicle inspection certificate. This guarantees a car to be in a good condition and ensures that the mileage has not been tampered with.
5. Rules and regulations
The vehicles imported into Kenya must comply with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) standard code of practice for inspection of road vehicles, which ensures that the vehicle meets safety and environmental standards. The code spells out the rules and regulations for importing a car into Kenya.
6. Shipping methods
After you have chosen the specific unit you want to import, you will then need to choose the best shipping method for you. This will be influenced by your timelines, needs, and budget. The available shipping methods are Roll on Roll off, Container Vehicle Shipping, and Airfreight. All methods are generally safe and your choice depends on how much you’re willing to spend. However, when you consider all factors, RoRo is the best option for most people.
a. Roll on Roll off (RoRo)
This is the use of specially designed ships for carrying wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, and trailers. Vehicles can drive on and off of the ship on their own wheels through a vehicle platform. This is the cheapest of all available shipping methods.
This is where you ship your vehicle inside a dedicated or shared container. This is a bit more expensive than the RoRo, however, the main advantage of this method is that you are allowed to ship your personal belongings along with the car.
This is the quickest method of shipment, and you can get your car in about 3 days. However, it is the most expensive as well. Airlifting is usually done for brand new cars by people who can afford it. The main disadvantage with it is the cost. The cost sometimes is so expensive, it’s more than the cost of some second-hand vehicles.
7. Documents required
Apart from the rules and regulations, there are documents required to complete the importation procedure.
8. Import duty
Import duty is a tax collected on imports by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). In Kenya, import duty for secondhand Motor vehicles is calculated in a different way from many countries. The cost of the the car isn’t always used as the determinant of it’s value, sometimes, what matters is your motor vehicle’s year and month of registration and what KRA terms as the Current Retail Selling Price (CRSP). The CRSP is the price in which KRA and the Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI) decides a brand new vehicle of the same make and model is retailing at in Kenya.
Once they decide the CRSP for all vehicles, they then create a template that is used nationally. This template is usually placed on KRA’s website and is open to public opinion before it is implemented. If it is rejected, the previous one continues to be in use until another one is provided. If it is approved, it is implemented, and all importers must abide by it. Other factors that affect the total cost of import duty of a secondhand vehicle in Kenya are;
- Make e.g. Toyota, Mazda, Lexus
- Model e.g. Harrier, CX5, Crown
- Year and month of manufacture e.g. October 2014
- Engine transmission, e.g automatic, manual
- Engine capacity e.g. 1500cc, 2000cc, 2500cc
- Fuel type e.g. petrol, diesel, electric
- Class e.g station wagon, sedan, hatchback
9. Extra fees
In addition to import duty, there are other importation costs one should be aware of, this include, port charges, shipping fee, registration fee, clearance fees, among others.
10. Bad month
When choosing a car to buy, it is important to take note of the month in which the vehicle was registered, this is in order to avoid what is called in the car import industry as a bad month. A bad month is when you import a car and have it arrive at the port of Mombasa before its month of manufacture for the year in question. For example, if you buy a November 2014 Toyota Harrier but have it arrive in Mombasa in October 2021, this is a bad month and you will be charged taxes for 2015 which are higher.