How to Import a Car from Japan to Kenya

A Guide to Importing a car to Kenya

If you are thinking at  acquiring a car in Kenya there are a number of ways to go about it.

  • You can buy from a yard in many of the major towns, this is hustle free but the price will have been marked up, meaning you will pay a little bit more.
  • There second option is buying form a dealership, meaning you are getting a brand new car at zero millage.
  • The third way is to import for yourself from either Japan, Singapore or Dubai. At the moment Japan is the number one used car exporter to Kenya.
  • The forth way will be to buy what I call a third hand car. This will be an old car but if you are lucky you can find a fairer car but be sure your visits to the mechanic will be many.

The third option is usually preferred for people who have the patience to wait for about 2 months to get a car they already paid for.

Documents Needed to Clear Imported Vehicle 

  1. Copy of Identification document ID or passport
  2. Original Logbook
  3. Original Pre- Shipping Certificate
  4. Copy of KRA PIN Certificate
  5. Original Bills of Lading

The process is easy and can be done from the comfort of your office or home straight from Japan. It should take approximately one and half months.

Know The Type of Car You Need

Prior to purchasing a car, you need to identify a number of things. Things like the colour, transmission, Mileage. This helps makes your search a little easier and precise, you get to save time surfing the internet. There are all kinds of cars in Japan, even those that are not manufactured there.

To minimize duty paid, you need to pay attention to the year and month of manufacture. To get lower duty purchase a car that is 7 years old and was registered a month that precedes its arrival month in Kenya. e.g to buy a car in December 2018 you need to look for a unit that was registered before December 2011. That said importing car in December is rater tricky if there happens to be any delays in shipping. You risk getting a car that will arrive in Mombasa older than 7 years, if you follow the example above.

Most car trading websites will show the registration details of cars listed on their site.

Determine Your Source 

When buying a car online one has three options:

  • Log onto a website and purchase any of the models posted.
  • Bidding online from an auctions in Japan- there are several.
  • Placing an order through the exporting companies.

Data from the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicate that most Kenyans purchase cars using the 1st method. The main car dealers are in Kinki, Okinawa, Nagoya, Tohoku and Tokyo. These dealers are regulated by JUMVEA (Japan used motor vehicle exporters association)

JUMVEA exists to among other things, arbitrate disputes between the car buyer and its members. lists the registered members.

There are two distinct auctions that happen in Japan. The USS auction held every day and the Global Online held every Monday. With the auctions you need to put up a deposit to get a biding number.

The JUMVEA list is not extensive, there are other credible Japanese car exporters that can still help you acquire a good car

Check the Quality

Used cars are usually graded from 1 to 5. Grade 4 and above is a good quality car. You should check out for separate grading for the interior, tyres, engine and body work. Additionally, JEVIC (Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre) inspects all vehicles imported to Kenya for roadworthiness. JEVIC issues a certificate that is needed for clearing the vehicle at the port of Mombasa.

Placing an Order for the Car

Once you have identified the car you need, the next step is placing an order. You can do that in various ways. You can order through web chat, email, phone or WhatsApp.

There two kinds of prices:

FOB (Free On Board) – Does not include freight and Marine Insurance charges

This particular price is usually negotiable so don’t go for what they offer.

CIF (Cost Insurance and Freight)- Includes Marine Insurances and Freight charges

The supplier will require your details, full names as they appear on your ID as well as contact details:- Post office box address and telephone contacts. These will be used to process the Proforma invoice. The invoice will be needed at the bank when making payments as proof of payment usually a requirement by central bank when performing Telegraphic Money Transfers, it also indicates the agreed price.

Depending on the company, you can either remit 100% of the value of the car before shipping or 50% down payment. Usually , your Japanese supplier will hold on to the export documents in case you have not paid the whole amount for the car.

TIP! To save money, try to remit the money (in dollars) when the exchange rate to the shilling is low. It takes about two days for the money to reach your supplier’s bank account in Japan.


Your car exporter usually handles shipping. Established companies are quicker as they are able to find space much faster due to their network. Its takes about 22 days or there about for the ship to reach the Port of Mombasa. Normally there are two ships that leave Japan for Kenya in any given month, one is usually direct while the other goes through Dubai or Durban.

HowKE Team

Here to give precise how to guides. Helping you,Know Everything!

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