CEO Weekends: See How Easily You Can Import a Car From Japan



By Brian Syuki

As we all know, importing a car to Kenya can be hectic, costly and time consuming especially if you don’t know how to go about it. This article will outline everything you need to know when importing a car.

The Kenyan market has three main sources of used cars, Singapore, Japan and Dubai. Out of these three Japan is the most sought-after and reliable source, in fact more than 90% of used cars imports come from Japan. This is attributed to the fact that their vehicles are well maintained and are in great condition.

It’s possible for any individual to import a car from Japan with ease. You just need to follow this guide and you’ll have a car in 21-45 days.

Decide which car you want

Having a clear picture of what you want will make the whole buying process a lot easier. Decide on the make, model, color, mileage, year of manufacture, transmission and the extras you want. By doing this, you’ll be able to easily identify a car.

It’s advisable you choose a car suitable for Kenyan roads and which you’ll be able to maintain.

The period after vehicle year and month of registration should not exceed 8 years, as the government dictates. For example, in 2014 you can only import vehicles manufactured in 2007 and beyond. The age of the vehicle also determines the duty paid at the port, the more the years the less the duty.

Ascertain your source

After you have made up your mind on what you want, identify a reliable and genuine exporter that you’ll purchase from. To avoid fraudulent websites you’ll need to confirm that the exporter is a member of JUMVEA, the Japan Used Motor Vehicle Exporters Association. Note that there are a few credible exporters who are not members of Jumvea.

After that you can search for the car you want, if you don’t find it, send an email to the company requesting for the car you want, most companies will find it for you.

Ascertain the quality of the vehicle

The quality is rated on a scale of 5, most websites tend to rate each vehicle part separately. That is, the engine, body, interior and wheels. The average rate should be above 4; this means the vehicle is in a good condition.

You need to pay close attention to this because all vehicles exported from Japan have to pass through the Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre (JEVIC), where they are awarded a certificate for road worthiness. This certificate will be required at Mombasa port, when you are clearing your vehicle.

 Making the purchase

After you are satisfied with everything, it’s time for the buy! Contact the exporters, via email, skype, phone or web chat.

There are two types of pricing, Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) or Free On Board (FOB). The latter doesn’t include insurance and freight charges, so make sure the company tells you their method of pricing. You can always bargain for a better deal!

The exporter will ask you for your personal details, which will be included in the pro-forma invoice.

Some companies ask for the full amount while other ask for 50% before shipping. Either way, make sure you pay the full amount because the suppliers can’t release the vehicle documents without receiving the full amount.

Transfer of funds takes 2-3 days for the money to reflect in exporter’s bank account.

Shipping of the vehicle

The supplier will handle the shipping, they’ll book the ship and do all the documentation work for you. It’s advisable you deal with a big company to avoid shipping delays.

Every month there are 2 ships leaving Japan for the port of Mombasa and it usually takes 21 days for a ship to get to Mombasa.

Tracking and clearance

For your car to be cleared at the port, KRA will require some documents from you. These are the documents that the exporter will mail to you via a courier service.

The required documents include; the invoice, certificate from JEVIC, three copies of Bill of Lading, original vehicle logbook and deregistration certificate. These are the documents your clearing agent will use at the port.

The clearing agent will do all the calculations for all the payments you have to pay; in fact most clearing agents have a calculator for import duty and other expenses.

It usually takes 1 to 7 days depending on the queue and technicalities for the vehicle to be cleared at the port. You can go and collect it or get someone to do it for you. Before it’s driven to its final destination, the vehicle should be serviced in Mombasa and insured.