Three Documents You Need When Importing

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Published On:

March 14, 2017

After earlier discussing the clearing and forwarding procedure in Kenya, this post will look at the three main documents that you will need when importing.

The three documents are the Import Declaration Form(IDF), the Certificate of Compliance and the Bill of Lading.

Goods being offloaded to a Sidoman Truck at the Port of Mombasa. Some shipping Terms may be difficult to understand [Image: Sidoman]

Goods being offloaded to a Sidoman Truck at the Port of Mombasa. Some shipping Terms may be difficult to understand [Image: Sidoman]

The Import declaration Form (IDF)

An Import Declaration Form (IDF) is required for all shipments with an invoice value above USD1,000 and/or any with total weight exceeding 70 Kgs and/or those whose description include Spare parts.


The importer applies for the IDF from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) platform through a custom agent, but may consult Sidoman for purposes of Customs classification.

Most goods imported into Kenya are subject to an import declaration fee of 2.25% of the value of the goods, the minimum amount being KES5,000. The importer needs to identify if the goods they are importing are subject to the fee, or if they are exempted.

Once the fee is paid, you will obtain the relevant IDF forms prior to importing the goods. This fee is separate from and additional to, any other tax which might also be charged on the import, such as duty, excise and VAT.

The IDF contains key information such as

The Value of the cargo – Important for tax calculation

Quantity– Make sure it is detailed and correct

Quality– This information should be backed up by an inspection. Bodies such as the  Kenya  Bureau  of  Standards may  be  may be requested to determine if your goods meet the country’s standards.  Test  Certificates  from  accredited  bodies may be required in some instances.

Classification (HS Code) – Different HS codes attract different taxes. Ensure you have the correct certification.

Certificate of Compliance

The  Kenya  Bureau  of  Standards  has  appointed  certain  agents  (INTERTEK,  SGS) for the pre-export conformity inspection of the commodities that require inspection. These agents will issue to the Shipper/Supplier a Certificate of Conformity and the Test Results. An IDF will be required before any inspection can be performed.

The full list of goods that will need inspection can be found on

It is important to plan ahead for this requirement as an importer, because the testing and issuing of the certificate can take time.

Master bill of lading (B/L)

This document covers goods that are transported by sea. It is signed by the carrier and serves as evidence of the contract of transport containing the conditions of transport, and as a document of title by which possession of the goods can be transferred.

Typically a B/L is issued in a set of three signed originals, one of which must be presented to claim the goods.

The B/L contains details such as:

Consignee – The full names and address of the receiver. This identifies the tax payer to the KRA.

The place of delivery

Description of the cargo – Always mention the actual number of packages

Container Freight Station (CFS) consigning – All containerized local imports are normally transferred to a private CFS assigned by the ports authorities so as to decongest the port. Dangerous cargo are the only exceptions.

Importation of goods into the country can get confusing at times, and that is why Sidoman Logistics is here to hold your hand and make the process an easy and stress-free for you.



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