Container Shipping From USA to Kenya

Container Shipping From USA to Kenya. Here is what you need to Know

We have relaunched ocean shipping or sea shipping or shipping using containers from the United States to Kenya.

You will now be able to shop and ship via air freight or ocean shipping depending on the nature of goods that you needed to buy from the USA.

There has been a lot of changes in the government of Kenya that has affected how ocean freight was traditionally done.

Some of these changes or requirements include the requirement of every commodity going into Kenya to be inspected by any dependent body before loading into a container.

This is what we call Pre-Exploitation Verification of Conformity (PVOC). We recently went to Kenyan relevant authorities and tabled our grievances especially regarding the returning residents in the United States who would want to ship used clothes and shoes for personal use.

Good news!

Our case was listened to and we were given a special provision that now allows us to be able to ship goods for returning residents without having to worry about harassment at the port of entry.

This special provision gave us a green light to be able to ship personal use clothes and shoes, get them inspected by dependent bodies inside the United States so that they’re compliant with Kenya Bureau of standards requirements.

We’re the only company allowed to do this in the US to Kenya

A few things need to be observed when preparing your load for ocean shipping, especially when dealing with used clothes and shoes for personal use.

  1. Clothes and shoes must be packaged in different boxes. This means that you cannot mix both shoes and clothes in a single box
  2. Your boxes must not exit 50 kilograms. This case applies even when you use barrels.
  3. You must manifest accurately per box. This means that if a box has 20 shirts it must be exactly 20 shirts and it cannot be 21. There is no exception or excuses for this rule. It must be done accurately.
  4. All boxes must be labeled with the name of the sender, the receiver in Kenya their Phone number.
  5. On special occasions, you might need to put the receiver pin number. This is especially required if the goods that your shipping has commercial value.
  6. We will have a minimum charge of $500 per box that you ship and MUST be 100% prepaid. If you are not willing to pre-pay, do not ship.
  7. All good package per box must be homogeneous meaning they all look alike all their goods of the same kind. For example, if you’re shipping a box of shoes then everything in that box must be shoes and nothing else.

There are some goods that we consider special categories. Such good includes:

  • foods
  • supplements
  • cosmetics
  • chemicals
  • medical equipment and devices

These types of products require special licensure in the United States and in Kenya. These types of goods carry a high risk for human harm and are regulated both in the United States and in Kenya.

Shipping Cosmetics, Supplements & Medical Devices by Ocean from the USA to Kenya

All food products must be packaged in containers that are airtight and contain manufacturing date and expiry date.

The expiry date must be at least 12 months after the container has arrived in Kenya. Anything less than that will not be allowed.

Food supplements, medical equipment & supplies require certification from pharmacy and poisons board. You are required to obtain this licensure prior to shipping your goods.

Pre-exploitation verification of conformity may require these goods to be tested in a laboratory for testing. You will be responsible for paying testing fees which is good for one year.

All cosmetics are subject to pre exportation verification of conformity. Just like supplements once cosmetics are certified, the certification is valid for one year.

Cosmetics cannot contain skin lightening ingredients like hydroquinone or Mercury. They also should contain an expiry date that is at least 12 months from the day when the container arrives in Kenya.

you will be responsible for paying testing fees

Shipping Chemicals & Hazardous Material From the USA to Kenya.

If you need to ship chemicals or any hazardous material, unfortunately, we are not able to ship those kinds of products, unless you’re shipping a full container load.

This kind of shipment requires special handling special certification licensure and labeling. Such goods need to be tested in a laboratory for pre exportation verification of conformity.

Besides these regulations and stipulations, the rest should be easy to do. Just make sure that your box only has one kind of item.

Shipping Containers for USA Returning Residents

As a USA returning resident, you are entitled to duty-free importation from the United States to Kenya. Please, note that duty-free does not mean tax-free. It simply means that you were not supposed to pay 25% import duty.

but you still pay at the taxes like VAT, IDF, and railway levy

Returning residents can also buy a right-hand car that is of equal value to the car you owned in the United States and import duty-free.

For example, if you are driving a Toyota Corolla in the United States, you can sell it in the United States and go to countries where they sell right-hand drive cars and buy an equal or similar car.

Please note that you cannot go and purchase a vehicle that is more expensive than what you are driving in the United States.

The other provision says that you cannot buy a van or a commercial vehicle for duty-free clearance as a returning resident.

Finally, you can only ship goods that you were using in the United States duty-free, but you cannot purchase brand new items an important duty-free.

There is a 100% verification requirement for returning resident goods!

You are only allowed to have not more than 10% of brand new items as a returning resident. Everything else in the container must be what you were using and should not include things that have commercial value.

For example, it will be virtually impossible to convince anyone that you are using 5 brand new TV or 3 brand new fridges.

In such situations, you will be required to pay import duty taxes and even excise taxes where applicable for the whole container and invalidate your privilege of clearing as a returning resident.

Ocean shipping for commercial goods from the USA to Kenya

If you’re planning to use our ocean shipping service, please do note that some items can no longer be imported or accepted for pre-exploitation verification of conformity.

Your goods may require to be tested in a laboratory at an extra cost passed down to you. This is especially if you are shipping cosmetics supplements medications or chemicals like fertilizers.

If you’re shipping electric or electronic items, you must make sure that they are 240 volts and the power supply cord follows Kenya Bureau of standards.

Example, a 3 prong USA plug will not be accepted.

You might be required to buy and attach a step-down unit in situations where you are shipping 110 Volt electric item.

These rules are not optional just in case you are used to the old way where nobody really cared about such things.

If you plan to ship generators or any small engines, they cannot contain fuel or oil. Some items may require to be drained by professionals and issue a certification verifying that they do not pose fire risk during shipping.


Let us summarize what we just talked about ocean shipping from the United States to Kenya

  • Returning residents are entitled to duty-free tax break when they’re importing goods to Kenya
  • Returning residents must have been outside the country for at least 2 years
  • Returning residents must show that they are coming back into the country permanently not just a mere visit.
  • Returning residents can also import a motor vehicle duty-free if they can prove the owned and disposed of a similar vehicle in the United States.
  • All good for ocean freight have a minimum charge of $500 but regardless the size of the box and must be paid before shipping
  • All shipping boxes cannot exceed 50 kilos or 110 pounds.



By |2020-02-18T19:48:44+00:00September 23rd, 2019|Ocean Shipping|

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