Kenya and South Africa share close business ties. Though sending shipments to Kenya from South Africa is generally straightforward, here are some things to bear in mind.

Country Information

Sending items to Kenya– general advice

All institutions, entities or individuals wishing to import Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones into Kenya must seek approval from the Ministry of Defence & authorization from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority(KCAA). Items must not be shipped before acquiring approvals.

For dutiable items, only commercial invoices are permitted. Proforma invoices are not accepted by customs. Commercial invoices must:

  • Be in English
  • Be on official letter headed paper with the invoice number clearly indicated
  • Have the contact name, telephone number, postal, and email address details of the shipper and receiver.
  • Be dated and signed
  • Contain a clear itemization of contents, with individual unit values indicated and a total value summary provided
  • Contain full clear descriptions of the contents/items being imported is required (make, model, descriptive lay-mans description to support highly technical terms)
  • Have the same currency as on the airwaybill

Help creating a commercial invoice can be found here

Customs will not accept amended invoices. Undervalued invoices for imports into Kenya will result in penalties up to USD 10,000 to the importer. Shipments found to be undervalued will be referred for verification and may incur a clearance delay of a minimum 3 days.

Customs duty rates range from 0% (brochures, pamphlets, books, magazines) to 25% (banners, advertising materials, electronics), plus 16% local Value Added Tax & 1.5% development levy. Low value shipments (up to USD 1,000) will be processed through simplified clearance.

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) have announced that all shipment packaging material made up of wood and wooden packaging material such as planks, crates that is imported into Kenya shall be adequately treated and marked in line with the International Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measure (ISPM) No. 15 requirements. Failure to do so may result in shipments facing delays at Kenyan Customs.

Temporary imports are accepted upon approval by Kenya Revenue authority.  The  approval  should  be  sought   prior to the  shipment pickup or arrival into the country; where  duties   will be  exempted   through  a temporary  import bond. If the process is not followed, full taxes apply.

Shipments with values exceeding USD 1,000 and/or a weight over 70kgs require an Import license (IDF) and formal clearance. Personal Identification Number (PIN) and Import Declaration Form (IDF) will be required from the receiver. A Certificate Of Conformity is required for all dutiable shipments with value exceeding KES 500,000 in lieu of which a 15% automatic penalty will be levied by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.


All shipments are liable to 100% verification by Customs. Kenya Customs have been mandated to increase any value should they find the declared value to be insufficient. Value uplifts are based on Kenya Revenue Authority’s own guidelines, which are not open to public scrutiny.

Used Laptops are subjected to an anti-dumping excise duty at 25 %.

Gift items are taxable.

Duties and taxes are not included in the freight costs.

A trade discount, if declared on the invoice, will be taxed.

Charitable shipments are subject to close scrutiny and often incur high rates of duty, including a special rate of duty for used clothing of 35%. This is to protect the local garment industry. A donation certificate is required and an exemption letter must be obtained from the Treasury Department – Ministry of Finance allowing for the clearance of the items on duty free basis.


Diplomatic missions / UN shipments: Please provide a duty exemption letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kenya.

Drugs, non-prescription: Obtain a Certificate of Conformity (COC) before shipping.

Drugs, prescription: Must be accompanied by a prescription from a qualified medical doctor based in Kenya. Contact DHL if the shipment weight exceeds 100 kg.

Foodstuffs: If the shipment weight exceeds 100 kg, contact Gateway Manager for approval. All foodstuff imports (private and commercial) are liable to Health Authority & Radiation Examination at a cost of KES 3,000 (approximately EUR 35) to the receiver.

Parts, machine and electronic: Spare parts (motor vehicle, machine, medical parts, computer parts) require formal clearance regardless of value.

Personal effects: These may be imported using a pro-forma or general invoice showing itemised list of contents with individual values. This invoice must be in English and has the same requirements as the commercial but does not require letter headed paper. New items declared under personal effects are subject to duties. The receiver’s passport will be required to clear shipments containing personal effects.


X-ray machines: Please contact the destination prior to shipment for any licenses or permit requirements 

Commodities considered as Documents

Kenya Customs defines a document as general correspondence (business or private) as well as the following items. Please take not of the quantity restrictions highlighted:

  • Advertising brochures/pamphlets 1
  • Airline tickets, issued / validated 1
  • Annual reports
  • Artwork including drawings / proofs / layouts
  • Blueprints 1
  • Booklets, brochures (non-advertising) 1
  • Business cards 1
  • Calendars 1
  • Catalogues 1
  • Charts / graphs
  • Cheques, cancelled (NI)
  • Cheques, cashier (NI)
  • Computer printouts
  • Deeds
  • Diaries 1
  • Documents, general business
  • Drawings, technical / architectural /engineering
  • Invoices, not blank
  • Labels
  • Magazines, periodicals, journals 3
  • Manuals, technical 1
  • Manuscripts
  • Maps
  • Money orders (NI)
  • Music, printed or manuscript
  • Newspapers 3
  • Pamphlets
  • Passports
  • Personal mail
  • Photographs 2
  • Photographs as part of business reports
  • Plans / drawings: architectural /industrial / engineering purposes
  • Price lists
  • Shipment manifest – computer generated
  • Shipping schedules
  • Transparencies 1
  • Visa applications
  1. Max quantity: 10 pieces
  2. Max weight: 20kgs (44lbs)
  3. Max quantity: 6 pieces

NI = A negotiable instrument is a document guaranteeing the payment of a specific amount of money, either on demand, or at a set time, with the payer named on the document

Prohibited items

The following items are specifically not allowed to be sent with DHL to Kenya. This is in addition to DHL’s Globally standard list of prohibited items which can be found here.

  • Airline tickets, blank stock (NI)
  • Asbestos
  • Dangerous goods, including hazardous or combustible materials
  • Firearms, parts of
  • Furs
  • Invoices, blank 

Size and Weight notes

The maximum weight per shipment is 3,000 kg (6,600.0 lb). The maximum weight per piece is 1,000.0 kg (2,200.0 lb). Shipments exceeding these weight limits may incur additional delays. The maximum dimensions of each shipment are length: 120.0 cm (47 in); height: 160.0 cm (62.0 in); width: 100.0 cm (39.0 in). Pallets are accepted.

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