Car Imports for Returning Residents from LHD Countries

Car Imports for Returning Residents from LHD Countries

Have you been living aboard and planning to return to Kenya permanently? There are exciting new things to look forward to in the good old motherland - not to mention nyama choma to catch up with, relatives to visit, trips to take, and well, the hustle.

If you are coming from a left-hand driving (LHD) country things just got even better!

In 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that Kenyans living abroad in LHD countries such as the USA, China, France, and Germany would be allowed to import right-hand vehicles to Kenya, duty-free, upon their return.

This offer, in effect, allows permanently returning residents to ‘replace’ their LHD vehicles with right-hand drive cars for use in Kenya.

This excellent offer comes with some conditions, however. To qualify for this duty-free facility:

    • You must be over 18 years old.
    • You must be returning to Kenya permanently and not only visiting for some time.
    • You must prove that you owned an LHD vehicle in the country you resided in, and which you used for at least one year before returning to Kenya.
    • You must show proof of disposal (transfer of ownership) of the LHD vehicle previously owned before relocating to Kenya.
    • The price of the newly acquired right-hand vehicle must not be higher than the previously owned LHD vehicle.
    • The imported right-hand vehicle must be of the same category as the previously owned LHD vehicle in terms of make, engine rating and year of manufacture.
    • You must meet all conditions outlined in the 5th Schedule of the East African Community Management Act of 2004 regarding the importation of personal effects by a returning resident.
    • This vehicle replacement offer does not apply to buses or minibuses with more than 13 seats and load carrying vehicles with a capacity of more than two tons.
  • The right-hand vehicle replacement must comply with all necessary Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) requirements such as it must not be more than 8 years of age at the time of import and must undergo KEBS mandated inspection in the country of export.

Ambiguity in the Conditions

It is worth noting that there is a degree of ambiguity in some of the conditions set forth, which in effect leaves a lot to the discretion of the KRA officers at the port of Mombasa. For instance,
Regarding year of manufacture: KRA requires that one import a car of the same year of production as the one disposed of. What happens in the case that the LHD vehicle that one has been using was manufactured over 8 years ago, in which case a similar car cannot be imported into Kenya considering the KEBS requirement that vehicles imported into Kenya must not be more than 8 years old?
Regarding Make: This is a significant grey area for returning residents. In some documents KRA indicates that the replacement vehicle should be of the same make as the LHD vehicle. There will be instances where one’s LHD make is not available in other markets or has been discontinued etc. What happens then?
These are questions we shall keep raising with KRA for more clarity and will advise our customers accordingly.

What documents are required for returning residents to import cars duty free?

For the duty-free process to commence, you will be required to provide the below (and likely more) documentation for support:

  • Original Passport (older passport may be necessary if the present one was issued within the last 2 years)
  • KRA PIN Certificate
  • Bill of Lading
  • Vehicle Inspection Certificate
  • Documents showing proof of LHD vehicle disposal
  • Vehicle invoices

Frequently asked questions about duty exempt car imports for returning residents

Who is a Returning Resident?

The Kenya Revenue Authority defines a returning resident as any person who has been residing outside of Kenya for two years, and who now is changing their residence to Kenya. Such a person must not have lived in Kenya for a period amounting to three months within these two years.

How many cars can I import duty-exempt under the ‘replace’ program?

You can only import one car.

Is there a timeline for importing the car after I return to Kenya?

Yes. You must import a car within 90 days of your return.

Is there a timeline for importing the car after I return to Kenya?

Yes. You must import a car within 90 days of your return.

When should I submit my documents to KRA?

Import documents must be submitted to KRA 7 days before the arrival of the car.

What happens after I submit my documents to KRA?

A thorough vetting will be conducted, and if everything is found to be in order, your car will be released to you immediately.

What happens if there is a dispute with my papers?

In the case that KRA has doubts about your paperwork, it will be processed provisionally upon your providing adequate security to cover the tax liability. An inquiry will then be started, and KRA will furnish you with the results within 21 days from the date that the paperwork was submitted.

What happens if there is a dispute with my papers?

In the case that KRA has doubts about your paperwork, it will be processed provisionally upon your providing adequate security to cover the tax liability. An inquiry will then be started, and KRA will furnish you with the results within 21 days from the date that the paperwork was submitted.

What happens if my car fails the duty-free application?

If your car does not pass KRA inspections, you will be required to pay for all taxes and any liable penalties in full.

Are you a returning resident? Let us know what car you're interested in importing...