Write Us For Your Questions


Call Us For Your Questions

+254 722 367 091

Customs Clearance

With updated customs regulations and procedures we handle clearance of import and export consignments by sea, air and road more efficiently and easily. Our main services in custom clearing services include advice to the clients in preparing documents related to import and export, completion of appraisement and examination procedures and payments. After the custom formalities are completed we deliver the consignments to the said destination as per our clients’ needs.

As Customs Clearing Agents offer wide variety of services in order to help the clients for import and export customs clearances. For import consignments we require documents such as original invoice, packing list, bill of landing/airway, bill endorsed by the importer or bank, insurance certificate, purchase order or letter of credit, import license and catalogue or literature if the goods are chemical for customs clearance services. Whereas for export clearance, export license or permit and sale contracts are required along with Invoice, Packing list and shipping instruction.

As we receive the said documents our qualified professionals try to provide the best possible benefit to the clients with reference to the custom notifications and exemptions. This helps in avoiding the delay in clearance and other detention charges such as heavy demurrage etc. We normally try to clear both import and export shipments within two to three days after the receipt of the documents.

Customs Clearing Services ( Export/Import)

  • Guidance and consultancy on pre and post shipment services
  • Liasoning and follow up with various Govt Organisations
  • Documentation procedures i.e. preparation and handling of documents
  • All post shipment formalities and endorsements
  • Drawback/DEPB and several other export benefits

Thus our qualified workforce very efficiently arranges for the documents needed by the customs, transfer and receive shipments, scrutinize the goods and lastly handle the cargo at airport and ICD’s to the clients warehouse.

Our bespoke, high-quality custom clearance services include:

Air Freight

Air Freight

We provide customs clearance, expeditious clearance of air cargo from JKIA Cargo Terminal
Sea Freight

Sea Freight

We provide customs clearance, expeditious clearance of sea cargo from Port of Mombasa
Car Imports

Car Imports

We provide customs clearance, expeditious clearance of cars at the port of Mombasa

The experts in quick & cost-effective door-to-door delivery

Kenya Freight Clearance and Forwarding Procedures

Imports into Kenya undergo various tasks through Kenyan customs and Kenya Port Authority during clearance of freights and cargo in Kenya. All this are procedures that freights and cargo undergo and carried out by Kenya clearing agents and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Customs officials.

Imports into Kenya undergo various tasks through Kenyan customs and Kenya Port Authority during clearance of freights and cargo in Kenya. All this are procedures that freights and cargo undergo and carried out by Kenya clearing ageants and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Customs officials.

All going well, prior to actual vessel arrival date in Mombasa, the shipping line lodges its online manifest with customs (into Simba Tradex system) and the port authorities (port KWATOS system). The manifest number pertaining to the concerned shipment on board of the vessel is advised by the shipping line. Special attention has to be given to the place of clearance (port / CFS (Container Freight Station) as this may differ depending on special nature of the cargo (dangerous cargo) or special request from the importer as stated on the bill of lading or granted by the ports authorities (see point 1.3 – Container Freight Station consigning above).

Against the uploaded manifest, a customs entry is prepared on the Simba Tradex online system by the importers clearing agent.

Parallel to this, once the manifest is uploaded by the shipping line, the original Bill of Lading duly endorsed by the consignee (or the telex release) is submitted to the shipping line for issuance and release of a delivery order. This is done after settlement of the local shipping line charges. The shipping line has to ensure the delivery order is also uploaded online.

Uploaded entries are passed after either payment of duties or confirmation of exemption by means of the exemption letter code in the customs system.

A customs folder is prepared by the clearing agents declaration team, and a set of documents is dispatched to customs long room in Mombasa where the documents are endorsed after being checked by customs. Endorsed documents are dispatched to the point of final clearance, i.e. Port of Mombasa (KPA) or nominated Container Freight Station to the resident customs officers.

At the point of clearance the mode of verification is assigned by customs and executed i.e. sight and release, direct release, normal verification, 100% verification, scanning, etc.

For scanning the container is loaded on a truck and passed through the scanning machines either in the port or at the Container Freight Station. If the scanning image shows any irregularities, customs will usually proceed to do verification.

For customs verification containers have to be placed down, opened and stripped. If verification is to be performed at a Container Freight Station, all cargo has to be transferred to the respective Container Freight Station by the Container Freight Station operator.

A verification report, which must tally with the customs declaration, is inserted on the Tradex – Simba system by the Customs Officer. If the results of the designated verification procedure indicate any abnormalities then the customs will usually proceed for 100% verification. Any discrepancies on value-quality-quantity or the finding of any undeclared items will lead to customs raising an offence for which the outcomes are varied and guided by the customs management act.

If cargo was not verified / scanned or if the results of this was a clean bill, customs can issue a customs release order once it is confirmed that the delivery order obtained earlier is reflecting online (indicating the clearing agent for which the cargo was checked by customs is indeed to be released to this clearing agent).

A pick up order is generated via the Kwatos website, on line, for all consignments cleared within the port of Mombasa. This pick up order is attached to the set of documents (which includes the delivery order, passed customs entry, customs release order) and presented to CDO (Customs Documentation Office) at Port.

Port Charges are then paid usually by deducting the clearing agents running account with the port. Cargo can then be evacuated out of the port premises. Allocated truck and trailer must be booked via kwatos for loading purposes.

For Container Freight Station clearance, principle is the same in general Container Freight Station Release Order process though issuing of release orders and payment of Container Freight Station charges can differ per Container Freight Station (some are manual, some electronic, some require bankers cheques, others can give credit). Once charges are secured and paid, a gate pass is issued to the clearing agent for collection of cargo and loading purposes.

Documents required for import customs clearance

An IDF must be applied for and obtained from the Kenya Revenue Authority for any Commercial Importation. The Importer is responsible for applying for the IDF but may use a clearing and forwarding agent to consult or input this into the ORBUS system. Once the IDF is passed, the importer might proceed to arrange inspection of the cargo (see 1.2) and once completed (or not required) ship the cargo.
The IDF contains key information:

  • Value of the cargo for tax calculation.

Note that values may be disputed by customs and cargo verified to solve any disputes over the same. It is strongly advised to use correct values.

  • Quantity

Should be as detailed and correct as possible. Every slightly different type of goods should have their own specified quantity rather than grouping similar items.

  • Quality
  • This should also be backed up by the inspection. Other control bodies such the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Public Health Department, Department of Agriculture (Kephis) etc. may be asked to determine if the expected standards have been met. Incase of suspicion, Tests may be carried out and Certificates/Permits issued. Under this criteria, test Certificates from accredited bodies may be required.
  • Classification (HS Code)
  • Just like the other items these might be queried so it is best to ask beforehand if not sure especially if different HS codes attract different taxations.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards has appointed certain agents (INTERTEK, SGS, Bureau Veritas) for the conformity inspection of the commodities that require inspection.

The full list of such goods can be found on: KEBS. These agents will issue to the shipper/supplier a Certificate of Conformity and the test results. It is important to plan ahead for this requirement especially for time-critical shipments as testing and issuing of the certificate can take some time.

When issuing the bill of lading, the shipping line should take care of the following guidelines:
Consignee. The consignee column on the BL should read “Name & Full address of actual receiver”. This is carried over into the customs system and identifies the taxpayer (or the exempted party). This company / person must always be located in the country of destination and be tax registered (have a PIN/TIN).
Example: Even if for cargo going to Uganda, the buyer is the head office, located in Kenya, the cargo must be consigned to a registered company/person in Uganda.

Exceptions are in the case of letters of credit where a bank is consigned.
An alternative for shipments through Mombasa port is to describe the consignee as “Aeromarine Capital as agents of Name & Full address of actual receiver“. This way will circumvent the need of endorsements by consignee at the back of the Bill of Lading. In general and definitely for cargo consigned to individuals rather than companies, we recommend the first option.

Notify. The notify party on the BL should read:

“SAME AS CONSIGNEE” alternative read “Aeromarine Capital Group Kenya”

Place of delivery. The place of delivery on the MBL should only be filled in case of Through Bill of Lading.

Description. The description of cargo on the BL should always mention the actual number of packages involved eg the BL should read “1x 40′ STC 456 packages <cargo type> General descriptions like 1 x 40′ STC Tiles, Pumps and spare parts should be avoided. This will necessitate the time wasting requisite of applying for manifest amendments to insert number of packages, which will lead to delay charges and demurrage. The number of packages mentioned on the BL should be the number of packages on the presented commercial invoice and packing list (everything should tally).

World IMCO standards apply at the Kenya Ports Authority. Thus if a shipment is classified under an IMCO class that falls into the category of Dangerous Cargo, cargo must be properly described as such with the correct code. Also note a surcharge is charged by the Ports Authority as soon the shipment is discharged from vessel. Importers are thus urged to familiarize themselves with these regulations and know that when shipping such kind of shipment.

When organizing for a telex release (as opposed to courier of Original BL), the wordings of the release instructions should read “RELEASE CARGO TO AEROMARINE CAPITAL AS AGENTS OF “IMPORTERS /CONSIGNEES’ NAME’ WITHOUT PRESENTATION OF ORIGINAL MASTER BILL OF LADING”.

All containerized local imports into Kenya are normally transferred to a private CFS (container freight station) assigned on a per vessel basis by the ports authorities. This is to decongest the port. Exceptions are dangerous cargo and consignments whereby the importer has obtained special permission for port clearance. In order to obtain more free days for clearance of goods (15-21 instead of the usual 4 days only) an importer can nominate the Container Freight Station of his/her choice rather than having the cargo transferred to the Container Freight Station assigned to that vessel. It can also assist the importer in smoother delivery from the Container Freight Station if dealing with a better equipped Container Freight Station. For this to take effect, a clause “to be transferred to CFS (Container Freight Station) on merchant’s account and risk” has to be inserted into the bill of lading. It has to be noted the Container Freight Station will charge an additional transfer fee in this case in return for the priority handling of the cargo and additional free storage days.

Description of goods on the packing list must match with the details mentioned on the Bill of Lading and the Commercial Invoice. Packing List must indicate the package number, description, weight in metric ton, length in meter, width in meter, height in meter and cubic measurement of all packages.

Invoice must be detailed (as per pertaining packing list) and the total CIF value of the consignment must be indicated. It would be preferable to have the exact details reflected on the packing list copied and paste on the commercial invoice and values indicated in the adjacent column, and a total CIF value indicated at the bottom of the document (Items cost, freight charges and insurance amount must be duly broken down on each Commercial Invoice).

Charities, major projects, governmental organizations, diplomatic missions, returning residents etc. can apply for exemption of duties and/or VAT. This is done by the receiver writing to the Treasury. If accepted, the Treasury instructs the customs not to collect the waived portion on the particular consignment. Exemption letters are usually granted for specific consignments which have to be exactly described in the application.

Obtained exemptions are uploaded into the customs system by means of a code which has to be passed on to the clearing agent when declaring the cargo later on

All the above documents must reach us at least 7 days prior to vessel arrival in Mombasa to avoid losing valuable time.

Removal from Port or Container Freight Station Operations

After clearing your freight through Kenya Customs, the next step is for the clearing and forwarding agent to follow up release and removal with Kenya Port Authority (KPA) or Container Freight Station (CFS) and ubsequently forwarding your freight to customer’s delivery address. Now your cargo is about to get to you and this is process of forwarding the freight from the Port or CFS.

Containers are usually loaded on standard semitrailer trucks to either the final destination or an intermediate staging area. Since the cargo is fully customs cleared at this stage, it can be delivered to any storage area or destination site not under customs hold.

In the case of bulk/project cargo, direct delivery from the vessel can be requested from the ports authority bypassing any discharge in port or Container Freight Station operation. For this the actual clearance has to be completed in advance and any special requests by customs have to be adhered to.

Once the vessel begins discharging, trucks (standard semitrailers, Step-Deck trailers, lowloaders or modular trailers if required) will be driven alongside the vessel An independent surveyor can be present if required. Approval for trucks to enter and exit the port with details of the trucks and cargo on the vessel has to be processed in advance.

If required, the clearing and forwarding agent and/or the designated transporter will undertake the special road permit application formalities for all Out Of Gauge cargo – which implies that each particular loads are duly weighed at a certified weighbridge and physically checked and sighed by a representative of the Ministry of Roads and Public Works.

These permits are issued at the discretion of the authorities and require several working days to be processed, usually longer if the item is considerably out of gauge.