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Shipping Goods to Kenya: A Guide on How and What to Ship

Shipping Goods to Kenya: A Guide on How and What to Ship

Shipping your goods to Kenya can be a daunting task. Everything you read online will give you the same advice: find a local shipping company, get quotes and make sure they are not ripping you off. In principle, this makes sense. However, it is much more complicated in practice. You need to know where and how to look for such a company, which probably doesn’t have a website because they operate locally like that. The problem is that you won’t find them unless you spend days trawling websites or calling every company one by one until you reach the right one. Moreover, if your goods are perishable then time is of the essence—you don’t have time to wait around for that perfect shipping company to appear before your eyes. Therefore, this article contains everything you need to know about shipping goods to Kenya.

What Can You Ship to Kenya?

You can literally ship anything to Kenya as long as it is not perishable in any way. It is extremely important to understand this because many people have lost their goods due to ignorance. For instance, you can’t ship pharmaceutical goods without a permit. You can’t ship foods without their expiration date being on the packaging. You can’t ship certain dangerous materials such as batteries without proper packaging. You can’t ship empty containers to Kenya because they must be fully empty and clean. If you break any of these rules then the Kenyan government will seize your goods and you will never see them again. You need to understand that this is for your own good. The government is not being unnecessarily strict. They just want to protect their people and the environment from possible harm.

Licensed Shippers

The best way to find a reliable shipping company is to find a licensed one. That is where you should start your search. You can find licensed shipping companies online. You should also go to the port authority where you want to ship your goods (more on this below) and ask for their list of licensed shippers. The Kenyan government does not have a single database where you can find a list of licensed shippers. Therefore, you need to go to the port authority and request a list of licensed shippers. The reason why you can’t find a single database is that the government has multiple bodies that are responsible for shipping. The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is responsible for harbors while the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is responsible for the airports. You can find the KPA’s website here. The KRA’s website is here.

Unlicensed Shippers

You can also search for unlicensed shippers. However, you need to be cautious because if you find an unlicensed shipper then there is a high chance that they are not reliable. Unlicensed shippers can be deceptive. Therefore, you need to be careful when choosing one because you don’t want to lose your valuable goods. Unlicensed shippers are very common in Kenya. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are many unlicensed shippers that provide a great service. The problem is that there are also bad unlicensed shippers. They will agree to move your goods but then they don’t show up on the day of the move or they will send an inexperienced team that damages your goods. The only way to distinguish a good unlicensed shipper from a bad unlicensed shipper is to ask for references. Talk to other people that have used their services. If they have bad reviews, then stay away from them.

Major MUD Kenya Shipment Stations

If you decide to ship your goods through the government then you will have to use a MUD (Multiple Use Depot). These are government-owned stations that process all of the goods entering Kenya. There are nine MUD stations across Kenya. They are Mombasa, Malaba, Voi, Lamu, Mombasa North, Mombasa South, Wajir and Nairobi. The majority of the stations are located on the coast. This is because most of the goods are imported via sea. The Wajir MUD station is in the north, near the Somali border. The Nairobi MUD station is only used for government imports like weapons, vehicles, and other sensitive materials.

MUD Shipment Agents

At the MUD stations, you need to find a shipment agent. They are the people that will actually load your shipment and take it to the port. MUD shipment agents are typically the unions representing the dock workers. You need to negotiate with these unions to move your shipment on the day of the shipment. There are two major unions at the MUD stations. The Kenya Union of Dock Workers (KUDW) and the Kenya National Stevedores and Warehouse Workers Union (KNSWWU). The KUDW has more members and therefore you can find more KUDW shipment agents. But you should also talk to the KNSWWU shipment agents to see if they can assist you.

Customs Warehouses in Kenya

There are two customs warehouses in Kenya. They are the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Customs Warehouse and the Port of Mombasa Customs Warehouse. JKIA Customs Warehouse processes all of the air cargo. This is where you will need to go to import your air cargo. The Port of Mombasa Customs Warehouse processes all of the sea cargo. This is where you will need to go to import your sea cargo. Both of these warehouses are in Nairobi. This means that you need to transport your goods from the MUD station to Nairobi. This is where you will need to hire an owner-operator. An owner-operator is a trucker that specializes in moving goods from the MUD station to the customs warehouse. You can also go to the MUD station and negotiate with the KUDW or KNSWWU to move your shipment to the customs warehouses.

Conclusion

Shipping your goods to Kenya is a big task. You could spend weeks trying to find a shipping company that is reliable. Or you could follow this guide and almost have it done in a few hours. The best way to find a reliable shipping company is to find a licensed one. The next best way is to find an unlicensed one. You should also hire a trucker to move your shipment from the MUD station to the customs warehouses. Now that you know everything you need to know about shipping your goods to Kenya, you can start packing.


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