When sourcing for goods from the international market, one strategy that many companies have implemented globally is direct importation from China. This has proven to be a very successful strategy. China is a large market that produces lots of products, including home furniture, electronics, building materials, among other accessories. If you are running a company in Kenya that depends on imported goods, you need to know how to import goods from China to Kenya. However, as a newcomer, you will discover the procedure of importing goods from China is not easy.
The entire process can not only be costly but also complex and confusing. You will have to grapple with prolonged transit times, which can erase the profits you expect from selling these goods. Besides, the costs for having imported items delivered to you can fluctuate anytime due to unforeseen circumstances, regulatory fees, and other delays.
As an importer, you will need to understand things like clearance documents, customs fees, and import duties. Also, you need to know which shipping company to use and shipping costs, among other factors.
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How to import goods from China to Kenya
To import goods from China to Kenya, you need to follow these steps:
1. Find out long it takes to ship goods from China to Kenya via different methods
So how long does it take to ship goods from China to Kenya? Well, the number of days it will take to ship goods from China to Kenya depends on various factors. For cheaper and small packages, shipping via China post air mail will take up to one month. When you buy from China to Kenya and use services like EMS or DHL, the shipping cost will be expensive, but it will take up to a week to receive your goods.
If you are shipping heavier goods, it will take up to three weeks to arrive in Kenya. For large-volume products like building materials and industrial machines, shipping them via sea will take longer. Besides, the entire procedure is complicated, and you will either need to hire an import agent or have an import license to clear them through customs.
2. Determine what items you need to import
Chinese manufacturing is an excellent source for many products that you can import and sell online or locally and make a profit. While the choice of items is massive, you need to know what to import before you begin the entire process. If you choose the wrong items, you will lose your money and time as the shipping cost from china to Kenya also depends on the items you are shipping.
Begin by gathering lots of information about the things you want to import. You should then obtain their description, composition, and sample, if necessary. The information you gather will be useful in determining your tariffs and any other costs associated with the importation process. Ideally, the best products to import from China to Kenya should be those you like, are unique, and you can ship in large quantities.
3. Find and work with the best supplier
You need to work with the best supplier because you will be using them to place your orders. It is also the same supplier that will ship or export your items, and also identify the terms of your shipping. Since China is one of the biggest manufacturing hubs in the world, finding a reliable supplier can be challenging.
The best option is to work with the most reputable supplier or with those that are already in business and are known worldwide for their professionalism. Some of the best places to look for the best shipping companies from China to Kenya include:
- AliExpress – It is the best site for finding small-scale exporters
- Alibaba – Alibaba Kenya is the largest B2B platform for sourcing China suppliers
- Analema – It is a B2B company that creates procurement and sourcing solutions from Asia
- China.CN – It is the exclusive government authorized B2B e-marketplace in China
You can also consider sourcing agents for importing goods from China or visit the country in person.
4. Get more information about your product(s)
You need to know what you are buying from the supplier. Make an effort to get samples of your product(s) from the supplier to ensure that they are within the standards set by Kenyan laws. It is also crucial to get the information so that you have an idea of the general quality of the products and the manufacturer’s level of experience.
5. Work with a clearing agent
Before you can import any commodity into Kenya, you must enlist the services of a clearing agent. The work of the agent is to process all the relevant import documentation through Kenyan customs. Once they process the documents electronically, they will clear the items on your behalf.
6. Ensure you have all the documentation
The best way of knowing how to import goods from China to Kenya is to understand the documentation involved. Some of the documents you must have are:
- Certificate of Conformity – It ensures the conformity inspection of your commodities.
- Exemption Letter – It is a latter you receive as a result of importing goods exempt from taxation
- Commercial Invoice – It contains information about freight charges, costs of items, and insurance costs, among others.
- Import Declaration Form – Provided by the KRA, the form contains information regarding the value, quantity, quality, and classification of your cargo.
You must produce these and many other documents on time before your shipment arrives in Kenya.
7. Make your order
If the quality of the products satisfies you or is in line with Kenya’s import regulations, go ahead and make your order. You can place an order either by going to the supplier in person or through the options they avail. Before ordering, negotiate with the product manufacturer to get best deal.
Also, understand that companies in China have minimum order amounts and basic shipping agreements. They expect you to make a specific minimum number of units depending on the product you want to export. Shipping arrangements can either include air mail or sea freight.
If you are contemplating cheap shipping from China to Kenya, sea freight will be ideal. However, it means that you will be importing bulky and larger items in either full or half containers. For airmail, companies to consider are DHL, EMS, and others.
8. Calculate shipping and importation costs
Importation and shipping costs from China to Kenya can be confusing. Some of the expenses associated with the importation process include clearance, shipping, inspection, warehousing, VAT, taxes, and duties. Perhaps the two most significant costs you must calculate first are taxes and duties. Since you are importing to Kenya, the Kenyan government has tariffs on all goods imported to the country.
Import tariffs are not similar. It relies on the item you are bringing in. It can start at 0% and go to 100%. The average tariff is between 20% and 30%. Also, Kenyan regulations impose a 16% VAT on all imports. That number is arrived at after considering the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value, custom duty, and other import taxes.
You will have to pay an import declaration fee (IDF), which is equivalent to 2.25% of the CIF value. The amount is subject to a set minimum of KES 5,000. Understand that customs duty in Kenya is payable after customs assess the value of the items and determines the applicable rate.
9. Pay for all the logistics
You will have to incur a number of costs when importing to Kenya. First, you must pay for the costs of sourcing the items. Secondly, and as per Kenyan regulations, you must pay for the labeling and packaging of your products. Thirdly, you will have to incur export clearance costs in China.
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When your consignment arrive in Kenya, you will have to pay for import clearance fees as well as the port to port freight costs. If you are making use of the cheapest shipping company from China to Kenya, you will have to pay for freight forwarder fees. Since your goods must arrive at your business premises, you will have to pay for inland transportation fees.
10. Find out the shipping costs from China to Kenya
Generally, you cannot put a fixed amount on the cost of shipping items from China to Kenya. However, the most crucial step is finding the right supplier, preferably from Alibaba agents in Kenya. The right supplier will quote the product and include freight costs, both in China and Kenyan ports. The agent’s company should also be listed on Alibaba.
They will also include port charges and delivery to your business premises. That will be easier for you to put an amount to the cost of shipping from China. However, they will not include taxes and import duty in Kenya.
11. Familiarize with importation rules
The process of importing goods from China to Kenya is so lengthy that you may forget other details as a first-time importer. Other factors to consider include:
- Loading Sea Port or Airport: You need to know where you will ship your products in China once they leave the supplier’s facility. Ideally, your decision will depend on the types of items you have purchased and the mode of transportation you choose.
- Prohibited and Restricted Items: Some of the prohibited items by the Government of Kenya include gambling machines, political literature, pornography material, precious minerals and stones, counterfeit securities and currency, and animal tasks, skin, husks, etc.
The restricted items include alcohol, tobacco, firearms, computers, perfumes, appliances, fabrics, and electronics. You need special authorisations and pay specific taxes and duties to import restricted items.
For new businesses, the process of importing goods from China might seem lengthy and complicated. But once you how to import goods from China to Kenya, the subsequent processes will be easier for you. The best strategy is to work with a reputable supplier, freight forwarding agent, and customs agent who understand the nuances of importing cargo from China.
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