Restricted Goods subject to Prior Approval*


Basic information


Outline of the system

The import licensing system is regulated by the Import, Export and Essential Supplies Act Cap. 502 together with a host of other administrative legislation depending on the product. The principal import licensing document is the Import Declaration Form (IDF) which is a self-declaration by the importer of goods intended to be imported into Kenya. The IDF is issued by commercial banks on behalf of the Government and is administered in accordance with the Customs and Excise Act. The importer has to approach more than one administrative organ depending on the nature of the
products intended for importation.


Product coverage

The purpose of licensing is to ensure public safety, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and
protection of the environment.
Licensing coverage is as listed in the Schedule below:
(ii) Part B of the Schedule contains goods which are restricted subject to the importer obtaining
approval from the relevant authorities.
Goods which do not fall under these Schedules may be imported freely. All imports into
Kenya with an FOB value in excess of US$1,000 are subject to preshipment inspection unless listed
on the exemption list as shown below:
- Goods destined to approved duty free stores
- Goods destined to approved Export Processing Zone (EPZA) enterprises
- Goods destined to approved Manufacturing Under Bond (MUB) enterprises
- Accompanied or unaccompanied used personal effects
- Ammunition, weapons or implements of war imported by the Government
- Current newspaper and periodicals (daily and weekly)
- Household and personal effects including motor vehicles provided such motor vehicles
qualify for exempt entry under items 8(3) or 8(4) of the Third Schedule to the Customs and
Excise Act
- Post parcels, excluding goods imported for trade
- Personal gifts sent by foreign residents to their relatives in Kenya for their personal use but
excluding motor vehicles
- Gifts and supplies for use by diplomatic and consular missions and to United Nations
NB: The Ministry responsible for Finance can from time to time amend this list or Schedule
and publish the same in a legal Gazette Notice in accordance with the Customs and Excise Act.
All importers are required to fill Import Declaration Forms (IDF) for all imports except for
items falling under the exemption list. IDF is for import surveillance purposes.

Nature of licensing



If Automatic, administrative purpose



If Non-Automatic, description of the notified Non-Automatic Licensing regime

Non-automatic licensing is for the purpose of administering import restrictions maintained pursuant to Legal Notice No.135 of 14 May 1993.


Products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports

Automatic import licensing is for management/statistical purposes while non-automatic import licensing is for the purpose of administering import restrictions maintained pursuant to Legal Notice No.135 of 14 May 1993.


Questions for products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports

Information on the products is published in the Government Gazette which is available for purchase from the Government Printers to any interested person. There are no restrictions on quantity or value of imports. No quotas are imposed on imports.


The system applies to products originating from which country?

The system applies to imports of goods originating in and coming from all countries.


Expected duration of licensing procedure

Eligibility of applicants


Is there a system of registration of persons or firms permitted to engage in importation?

Importers may register under the Registrar of Business Names Act Cap. 499, or the
Partnership Act Cap. 29/30 (Unlimited Partnership Cap. 29 Partnership Cap. 30) Company Act,
Cap. 486.


What persons or firms are eligible to apply for a licence?

All persons, firms and institutions desiring to import are eligible to apply for a licence.


Is there a registration fee?


Is there a published list of authorized importers?

Contact point for information on eligibility










E-mail address




Contact officer

Submission of an application


Administrative body(ies) for submission of an application

Documentation requirements


What information is required in applications?

No import licence is issued. All importers complete Import Declaration Forms (IDF). These IDFs are freely available to importers from preshipment inspection companies and commercial banks.


What documents is the importer required to supply with the application?

Licence applications are not required. An importer is required to complete Import Declaration Forms (IDFs) in accordance with the Customs and Excise Act together with a copy of the proforma invoice or contract or letter of credit, and PIN number from the income tax.

Import Declaration Form.pdf

Window of submission of an application


How far in advance of importation must application for a licence be made?

Not applicable.


Are there any limitations as to the period of the year during which application for licence can be made? If so, explain

There are no limitations as to the period of the year during which application for licence
and/or importation may be made.

Issuing the license


Can a licence be granted immediately on request?

Not applicable.


Can licences be obtained within a shorter time-limit or for goods arriving at the port without a licence

Not applicable.


Which administrative body is responsible for approving application of licences?

Where goods are restricted, the IDF forms must be approved by the appropriate Government Department before goods are imported.


Must the applications be passed on to other organs for visa, note or approval?

An importer may be required to approach more than one administrative organ in connection
with an application, depending on the product intended for importation. Mines and Geology Department; Office of the President/Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources; Ministry of Energy; Kenya Police


Are there any other conditions attached to the issue of a licence?

Yes. For prohibited goods and those that require prior approval by the Government.

Fees and other administrative charges


Is there any licensing fee or administrative charge?



What is the amount of the fee or charge?

There is no licensing fee (IDF) but a 2.75 per cent Government processing fee, calculated
based on the value of goods, is payable to customs when clearing goods upon arrival in Kenya.


Is there any deposit or advance payment required associated with the issue of licences?

There is no deposit or advance payment requirement associated with the issuance of licences


Amount or rate?


Is it refundable?


What is the period of retention?


What is the purpose of this requirement?

Refusal of an application


Under what circumstances may an application for a licence be refused other than failure to meet the ordinary criteria?



Are the reasons for any refusal given to applicants?

The reason for any refusal is given to the applicant in writing.


Have applicants a right of appeal in the event of refusal to issue a licence?


If so, to what bodies and under what procedures?



Are there any limitations as to the period of year during which importation may be made?

There are no limitations as to the period of the year during which application for licence
and/or importation may be made.


What documents are required upon actual importation?

Upon actual importation, an importer is issued with a CRF certificate by a preshipment
inspection agent for use by the customs authority.


Are there any other administrative procedures, apart from import licensing and similar administrative procedures, required prior to importation?

An import licence (referred to as Miscellaneous Occupation Licence) under the Trade
Licensing Act, Cap. 497, is required. This licence is issued on the spot and free of charge. It is used
for surveillance and statistical reasons.
Importers must apply for Customs Computer Code used for import tracking.

Conditions of licensing


What is the period of validity of a licence? Can the validity be extended? How?

There is no validity period for a licence. The IDFs which form the principal documents of
importation are valid indefinitely. If unutilized IDFs remain a mere piece of paper.


Is there any penalty for the non-utilization of a licence or a portion of a licence?

In view of reply 47, there is no penalty for non-utilization.


Are licences transferable between importers? If so, are any limitations or conditions attached to such transfer?

Licences (IDFs) are not transferable between importers, because different importers have
different PIN numbers.

Foreign Exchange


Is foreign exchange automatically provided by the banking authorities for goods to be imported?

Foreign exchange is automatically provided by the banks.


Is a licence required as a condition to obtaining foreign exchange?

No foreign exchange application is required.


Is foreign exchange always available to cover licences issued?

Foreign exchange is purchased in the open market by importers.


What formalities must be fulfilled for obtaining the foreign exchange?

Foreign exchange is allocated to importers by banks through the normal banking procedures and formalities.