How to Import Goods From China to Kenya: A 7-Step Process

China is famous for its cheap prices and high-quality goods. As a result, many people are looking to import products from China into their own countries, including Kenya. There are many processes involved in the importation of goods from China to Kenya. You have to be careful in this to ensure the safety of your goods. Many people in Kenya have lost their goods and money by following wrong import procedures. Remember, there are hungry con artists waiting to dupe you into importation shortcuts to con you. Because of the rising cases of people losing money and goods as they try to import goods in the country, we decided to write this article to guide Kenyans. Here, we present the right procedure on how to import goods from China to Kenya safely.

After our recent post on the best shipping companies in Kenya, some of our audience also expressed interest in importing goods from China to Kenya. However, they wanted to know the right process to import goods from China to Kenya. Therefore, this guide will also be beneficial to them.

Here are the steps you should take if you are looking at how to import goods from China to Kenya

  • Gather information about the exporting process in China
  • Decide on the products to be shipped
  • Select the product supplier
  • Find a shipping company for your goods
  • Make the necessary payments
  • Choose your shipping avenue
  • Wait for your goods

1. Gather Information about the Exporting Process in China

how to import goods from China to Kenya
Chinese Exports

Don’t make the mistake of rushing into importing goods from China to Kenya. You may get stuck along the way for not adhering to the exporting process in China. Each country has exporting laws that must be adhered to for a seamless export process.

China Enacted the Export Control law (ECL) on December 1, 2020. This is the law that governs all exports from China to other countries. Some of the requirements in this law include:

  • Export license: All exporters must have a license to export controlled goods. Based on this requirement, you should purpose to work with a licensed exporter.
  • Export restrictions: there exists some export prohibition in China with respect to certain countries, entities, or persons. This is so to protect national security interests. On this, you will have to confirm with your supplier if the goods you want to import are prohibited.

2. Decide on the Products to be Shipped

You have been online and identified some goods from Aliexpress or Alibaba. In this case, you want to make a personal purchase of these goods, you can therefore skip this step.

However, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur, getting the right goods will determine the success of your business. You want products with high demand in Kenya so that once they arrive, you can sell and recover your money. Therefore, you must be extra careful in this step.

Best Products to Import from China to Kenya for Business

If you want to break into the Kenyan market as a business person, you should invest in products with high demand. Based on our research, here are products in high demand in Kenya:

  • Clothing, especially women and ladies’ clothes
  • Electronics like Smartphones and TVs
  • Vehicles
  • Food like rice and wheat
  • Jewelry and other beauty products
  • Trendy shoes like loafers and smart sneakers

However, before deciding to import given products for business, you should consider your location. For instance, some goods in high demand in Nairobi might not be on-demand in Nakuru. Therefore, market research based on your location is the best way to start.

You should identify a need in your location. Identify some goods people have to travel far to get and purpose to provide those goods. These are the goods you should import from China for a business.

3. Select the Product Supplier

You have the goods you want to ship from China in mind. Now the question remains, “Where will you source these goods from?” Thanks to the advent of the internet. You don’t have to travel all the way to China to get a supplier. With the internet, you can assess potential suppliers in China and choose the best.

A simple google search with the keyword ‘best product suppliers in China’ will give you a list of companies supplying different products in China. Some of these include Aliexpress and Alibaba.

When choosing a supplier, consider the ratings and reviews from clients. You can do this by checking the supplier’s social media pages. Any negative comment by buyers regarding the supplier is a red flag.

Alternatively, the products you want to ship can help you in selecting the supplier. Once you have the product you want to ship, you can contact the original manufacturers and inquire about their qualified distributors.

If you have friends and family in China, you can consult them on the best suppliers for a given product.

Gather samples of your products from China

A reliable supplier who already sells to Kenya is probably a good choice for an initial order. You can test the quality of their services and delivery time before placing large orders.

The samples will ascertain whether the products are the ones you want for your market in Kenya. You should only proceed with a supplier if you are satisfied with their samples.

How to Communicate with your Preferred Supplier

For the best business experience, you need to community effectively with your supplier. There are different ways to do this:

  • WeChat: This is a WhatsApp-like communication platform used by most Chinese suppliers. Download the WeChat app from either Google Play Store or App Store and ask the supplier for their contact.
  • Alibaba Chat: This tool can be accessed from the Alibaba website.

Pay for the Goods

You should only pay once you are satisfied. There are many digital payment platforms you can use to make your payments. If you are buying from Aliexpress or Alibaba, you can pay them via PayPal. You should be careful when using PayPal to avoid PayPal chargebacks.

Apart from PayPal, here are other platforms you can use to pay your Chinese suppliers:

  • Payoneer: Like PayPal, sign up for a free Payoneer account, fund it with money and pay for your goods.
  • Western Union: Liaise with your bank for Western Union Services to transfer funds to China. Most tier 1 banks in Kenya offer these services.
  • Bank Transfer: You should ask for the supplier’s bank details and send the money directly.

4. Find a Shipping Company for your Goods

You now have the preferred supplier and even made the payments. However, how will these goods get to Kenya? Who will be in charge of making sure your goods arrive in Kenya safe and sound? You need a shipping or freight forwarder company.

There are many trusted shipping companies in Kenya. Most of these companies are willing to engage and assist you in any way you want. They can provide you with a consolidated shipping route from China to Kenya.

You should check the company’s testimonials from past clients before choosing one.

5. Make the Necessary Payments

Before embarking on shipping the product, you should know your Costs per Product. Your trusted freight forwarder company in Kenya can help you in determining the costs.

Shipping companies provide all the services for a fee. The fee includes freight forwarding, handling, and customs clearance of goods. The price you pay will vary depending on your location in Kenya, the number and weight of the products.

You should compare shipping costs per kg from different forwarders before making any decision. You might also need to factor in other costs such as insurance and packaging.

The freight forwarder company will give you a consolidated invoice with all the charges included. You should pay them before they ship your goods from China. If you want, you can also request an estimate of the shipping cost per product so that there are no surprises when it comes time to settle your bill.

Clearance and Customs when Importing from China

When importing and shipping from China to Kenya, you will incur some other expenses. These include clearance, inspection, VAT, warehousing, duties, and taxes. Here are the necessary payments you will have to make:

  • Taxes and Duties: The Kenyan government imposes tariffs on all goods imported. The tariffs can start at 0% to 100% depending on the products. However, you will pay 20% to 30% on average. You will also pay a 16% VAT based on the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value, custom duty, and other import taxes.
  • Import Declaration Fee (IDF): the IDF is 2.25% of the CIF value with the minimum amount being Ksh. 5,000.
  • Cost of sourcing the goods
  • Pay for labeling and packaging of your goods as per the Kenyan laws
  • You will also pay export clearance costs in China
  • Import clearance fee
  • Port-to-port freght costs
  • Inland transportation fee if you want your goods delivered to you.

6. Choose Your Shipping Avenue

Your goods can either be shipped as air freight or sea cargo. Most shipping companies allow their clients to decide how they want their goods shipped.

However, weight, urgency, and the condition of the goods play a key role in determining how they can be shipped.

In terms of weight, you will not be allowed to ship goods exceeding 1,000kgs through the air. Therefore, if your goods exceed this weight limit, you will have no option but ship them through the sea.

In terms of urgency, air transport remains the fastest shipping means on earth. Thus, if you want your goods to arrive within the shortest time possible, you should go fr air transport. However, you should make sure that your goods meet the set weight limit and conditions.

Goods that Can’t be Shipped Through Air

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has laws and regulations that govern which products can be shipped by air. Based on their laws, the following products cannot be shipped by air:

  • Colognes & perfumes
  • Nail polish/lacquer and remover
  • All flammable liquids, gases, and solids
  • Compressed air or liquids
  • All flying drones & toys
  • Fire arm-related items
  • All military & police items
  • Tasers, pepper spray and camouflage wear
  • Alcohol, Tobacco & drugs including cigars & e-cigarettes
  • Seeds, unprocessed animal products & plants

7. Wait for Your Goods

After completing all the above steps, it’s time to remain patient and wait for your luggage. However, you should not just sit and do nothing about your goods on transit. Be sure to closely monitor their condition while in transit and upon arrival at the Kenyan port. This will ensure that all is well with them over the entire period in transit. You can also follow up on shipping progress online through your freight forwarder’s website or social media page where updates are regularly posted.

Normal airfreight shipping from China to Kenya takes about 6-8 days. Therefore, if you decided to ship through air, this is the approximate time you will wait for your goods. On the other hand, if you used sea shipping, it will take a few weeks to months to get your goods.

I believe this guide on how to import goods from China to Kenya will make your shipping process easy, faster, and convenient. The important consideration is to avoid online fraudsters and get your goods safely in Kenya.