Reasons to Return to Kenya
- Watching the sunset with the familiar taste of a Tusker and nyama choma
- Being part of the technology leapfrog as you jump over the digital divide.
- Shouting yourself hoarse for the Kenya Sevens.
- Chilling with the cool crowd to the best musical vibes every month at the Blankets & Wine festivals
- Welcoming your soul home as your shouts echo within the Ngong Hills.
- Building your OWN economy, instead of someone else’s.
- Waking up each morning with the realisation that you are a Kenyan, in Kenya, for Kenya
A Few Words From Some Recent Homecomers
“The reason why I love living, working and playing in Africa is because this continent allows you to maximise your full potential and discover the purpose of your life” – Hazel Ojany
“You often ask yourself ‘is it worth it’ when a lot more things go wrong than right. But there is nothing else that I would rather be doing right now, especially being part of that growth story in my own country.” – Ritesh Doshi
“I was in Dubair for 10 years and I came back to do development in Kenya. And today, with my partners, we own the second largest mobile money transfer company in the country.” – Oscar Ikunu
“Pack up and come home, the opportunities are here.” – Chehar Shah
“I returned from Canada. There are more opportunities back here in terms of professional life, in terms of family network, in terms of quality of life – coming home completely surpassed my expectations” – Angie Gachui
“When you come home to Kenya,almost anything you do, and apply yourself enough, could have a transformational impact” – Andrew Mwavua
“We must change Africa in this generation, it’s our responsibility, no excuses” – Teddy Warria
“You don’t want to miss Africa in this moment in time, this is a ten year space when things are absolutely going to lift off. And one of the things I thought to myself is the last things I want my children to say to me, ‘Dad, where were you when this was all happening. Why were you sitting in London, when things were just lifting off in Africa?’ And that’s the question that I was scared that my kids would ask me, and I’m not wrong, this is the time to be here. This is Kenya’s moment in a way which is really exciting” – Aly-Khan Satchu
Moving Home Checklist
Our 6 month moving home checklist is a great resource for finding out what you should be doing every month leading up to your actual return date. Once you’ve made the decision to return, it can be very daunting trying to figure out how to get the ball rolling and what needs to be done. Here are some useful tips and suggestions that will help you prepare for your return:
- 1 Month
- Cancel monthly magazine or entertainment subscriptions. Also cancel or suspend your memberships at any clubs, associations.
- Give notice to landlord, if renting current property. You want the rent to expire after you have actually moved out and not before.
- Schedule the cancellation of your utilities such as electricity, gas, oil, water, mobile telephone, and internet.
- Working with your doctor and pharmacist, ensure you have enough medication for your family for at least two weeks if needed.
- Confirm collection and arrival dates from International movers/shipping company
- If you will be taking your pet with you, get a veterinary certificate from your vet.
- 2 Months
- Give notice at your current place of employment. Give yourself at least a month before your move date to leave work. You’re going to need all that time to wrap up the final details before leaving.
- Give notice at any clubs or associations you or any of your family members (especially the kids!).
- Make arrangements for the collection of your mail in the short-term if necessary. For the long-term, you should arrange for redirection of mail from your current address to a more suitable location.
- Read over the terms of your leasing agreement if currently renting. Ideally your rent should expire after you’ve left the country.
- Have a farewell get-together with close and family to have them share in your excitement about your new life.
- Finish selling all the personal items you are not taking with you, donate all unwanted items
- Ship your car, furniture, and other non-essential personal effects
- Confirm housing arrangements for those crucial first few weeks back home.
- Pay off any outstanding loans or bills you may have if you are able. If not, call the relevant institution to discuss consolidation of loans or the arrangement of your current payment schedule.
- Consolidate your bank accounts and close any nonessential accounts (Consider the bank charges!).
- 3 Months
- Send off application for import permits for any animals that will be traveling with you.
- Visit friends and family and see all the sites you want to see with your family. Chances are you will not all be able to come back to visit at the same time in the future. Take it all in and assure friends and family that you’ll always be accessible
- Start sorting and packing clothes and items that you want to take with you.
- Advertise and start selling household items and personal effects that will not be going with you.
- Sign any contracts with your international moving or shipping company. Obtain written confirmation of your moving dates and expected day of arrival.
- 4 Months
- Book flight tickets for yourself and your family. Flights are usually cheaper when purchased in advance.
- Start advertising to let your property when you’re away if you own the property. A real estate or letting agent should be on hand to facilitate the process with you.
- Research health insurance options.
- Make copies and store all ticket, passport, visa, educational and health documents so that it does not get packed up with the rest of the shipped documents.
- 5 Months
- Finalise and register your kids at your school of choice. Remember to collect and make copies of their educational records and certificates.
- Contact an international tax accountant to advise on meeting your tax obligations in your current country as a resident or non-resident, if applicable.
- 6 Months
- Negotiate employment packages and benefits and finalise your new job in Kenya
- Open a domiciliary account with a Kenyan bank so you can start sending money (in foreign exchange) for easy access. Remember to sign up for online banking.
- Shortlist schools for the kids. Ensure you have visited each school on the shortlist. Find out about their requirements for admission and work with your children’s current school to ensure a smooth transition.
- If you own your own home, you should speak with a letting agent to advise on scheduling if you want to sell or let your property before you move.
- Speak with 2 or 3 shipping/moving companies and get quotes for your personal items, car, etc.
- If you are flying back with a visa, ensure that your passport is valid for more than 6 months.
- Speak to your doctor and veterinarian about vaccinations for your family and any pet you will be relocating with. Infants in particular should have finished their schedule of vaccinations before the move date. Pets need to have all their inoculations up-to -date.
Below we answer some of the most commonly asked questions by Kenyans considering a return home.
- What are the main international companies that will ship cargo to Kenya?
- What documentation will I need to accompany my shipment?
- Supplier’s invoice (details description of goods, price, quantity)
- PIN certificate (obtained through the Kenya Revenue Authority)
- Packing list
- Bill of landing/airway bill
- Import Declaration Form (IDF Form C-61)
- Declaration of customs value (Form C-52)
- Certificates of compliance
- Release order
- Insurance certificate
Please note that in order to import any commodities into Kenya (including household goods), you will need to enlist the services of a clearing agent who will process the import documentation through Kenya Customs and clear the goods on your behalf. A list of licensed clearing agents in Kenya can be found here.
- For how long should I be in Kenya before the goods arrive?
It is generally advisable that you are in Kenya at least ten days before your goods are scheduled to arrive.
- Will I be charged an import duty fee/VAT on importing my household goods?
If the items have been owned and used overseas for 24 months before you depart for Kenya, you will not be charged an import duty.
Imported goods that are owned for fewer than 12 months before departing for Kenya will be subject to duty and Good Service Tax assessment.
- What are the restricted/dutiable items?
You are only allowed up to 10 pieces of the following:
- Advertising brochures/pamphlets
- Blueprints, plans, drawings (architectural/industrial/engineering)
- Non-advertisement booklets and brochures
- Business cards
- Technical manuals
Other restricted items include:
- Photographs (maximum weight 20 kg)
- Prescription drugs (must be accompanied by a prescription from a qualified medical doctor based in Kenya)
- Magazines, periodicals, and journals (maximum 6 pieces)
- Machine and electronic parts (motor vehicle, machine, medical, and computer parts all require formal clearance regardless of value)
- Tobacco (no more than 200 cigarettes/50 cigars/250g tobacco)
- Liquor (no more than 1 litre)
- Perfume (no more than 500 ml)
You may only import one of each electrical appliance (e.g. radios, televisions, refrigerators etc.) duty-free.
- What items are absolutely prohibited?
- False money and counterfeit currency notes and coins and any money not being of the established standard in weight or fineness
- Pornographic materials in all kinds of media, indecent or obscene, printed paintings, books, cards, lithographs or other engravings, and any other indecent or obscene articles
- Matches made with white phosphorous
- Blank invoices
- Any article made without proper authority with the Armorial Ensigns or Court of Arms of a Partner State or having such Ensigns or Arms so closely resembling them as to be calculated to deceive
- Distilled beverages containing essential oils or chemical products (including thijone, star arise, benzoic aldehyde, salicyclic esters, hyssop and absinthe)
- Narcotic drugs under international control
- Hazardous wastes and their disposal as provided for under the base conventions
- All soaps & cosmetic products containing mercury
Animal traps, animal skins, game trophies, tusks, ivory, and horns
At The Airport
- What is the process at Customs?
- The importer/agent submits an Application for Tax and Duty Free Allowance, Import Declaration, and all supporting documents to the Customs office at the port of entry
- Customs verifies the documents and the Application for Tax and Duty Free Allowance and charges taxes and duties on any household effects not eligible for tax and duty free allowance
- The importer/agent pays taxes and duties (if any) at the Cashier Division, and then contact the Customs to release goods
- Customs inspects the imported household effects against the Declaration. If there is no discrepancy between the Declaration made and the goods inspected, all goods will be released
- Are any foodstuffs prohibited?
- Fruits and vegetables
- Milk and dairy products
- All foodstuffs from China
- Poultry and meat products
- Are there any restrictions on vehicles being imported?
- The vehicle in question cannot be over 8 years old.
- The importation of used tyres for light commercial vehicles and passenger cars is prohibited
- The importation of left-hand vehicles is prohibited, unless they are over 8 years old and have been granted authorisation from the Ministry of Transport
- Will I be charged duty/tax?
Duty is charged according to the following:
- Import Declaration Fee – 2.25% of vehicle’s CIF value
- Import duty – 25% of the vehicle’s CIF
- Excise duty – 20% of (import duty + CIF value)
- VAT – 16% of (excise duty + import duty 6 CIF value)
Returning Kenyans can import their vehicles duty free, provided that they meet the following criteria:
- You must be eighteen years or older
- You must have resided outside of Kenya for at least 2 years
- You should not have resided in Kenya for 90 days or more within the aforementioned 2 years before returning to Kenya
- The vehicle should be imported within 90 days from the importer’s arrival
- The vehicle should be personally owned and registered in the importer’s name or spouse’s name
- The importer should have used the motor vehicle for at least 1 year prior to importation
- The motor vehicle should meet the Kenya standard code of practice for inspection of road vehicles
- The moto vehicle should not be over 8 years old
The motor vehicle should be a right-hand drive (except for special purpose vehicles)
- What documentation will I need to import my vehicle?
New vehicle documentation:
- Original proof of purchase
- Original Bill of Landing
- Import Declaration Form (for duty paid vehicles)
- Clean Report of Findings (for duty paid vehicles)
- Original passport
- Duty exemption documents where applicable
- Duty free PRO-IB forms approved by Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Supplier’s invoice
Used vehicle documentation:
- Original logbook or certificate of title plus original translations (if documents not in English)
- Original Bill of Landing
- Original passport
- Duty exemption documents (if applicable)
- Proof and documents of registration for used cars
If the vehicle is dutiable, you will also need the following documentation:
- Clean report of findings
- Import declaration Form
- Original sale bill/invoice
It is also recommended that you have the following in order for the vehicle to be cleared:
- Pre-inspection certificate
- What is the exact process for importing cars into Kenya?
Firstly, you will need to enlist the services of a clearing agent to clear the goods on your behalf.
- Firstly, your vehicle must be registered in Kenya, subject to the following conditions:
- The vehicle must have been acquired with all the appropriate taxes paid and these must not have been exempted or refunded in any way.
- The standard registration number plates in use in the domestic market of a country are normally accepted as evidence of this.
- The vehicle may not in any circumstances be driven in Kenya beyond 21 days.
- The vehicle may not be disposed of or hired out in the Kenya or lent out for commercial purpose.
- The period of time that the vehicle is in the Kenya does not exceed 3 months before registration is done.
- A longer period may apply where a person is on a task of definite duration in Kenya
- Before importation, the vehicle’s condition will be verified, and you will likely pay an import declaration fee of 2.25% of the CIF Value
- If the conditions is satisfactory, you will need to complete the following documents (which will be given to you):
- Allocation of Registration Number of New Vehicle Form
- Auto vehicle License Form
- Form B
- Traffic Road Safety Form
- Tax Form
- After you complete the above forms, the registration officer will forward them to the Police Officer attached to the Licensing Office to obtain his/her signature on the Allocation Form
- You will pay the government import tax and other duties (if applicable) at Kenya Revenue Authority
- The vehicle cannot be removed from the port before official registration
- The registration process takes up to 10 days beyond the initial clearance
- Upon receiving the police-endorsed document, the registration officer then processes the payment based on the type and capacity of the vehicle
- Documents should be sent 30 days in advance to reduce possible demurrage charges
- Vehicles must be imported within 90 days
- Your licence plate number will be sent for verification
- Documents submitted for registration of the vehicle are confirmed with the above stated requirements
- You will submit all completed documentation and proof of payments
- You will receive your licence plate number and all necessary documents
- Will I need to re-do my driver’s licence test?
For the first 12 months being back in Kenya, you may use your foreign or international driver’s licence. After this period, you should get a Kenyan driver’s licence.
- What is the procedure for registering my vehicle?
You will need the following documentation:
- Duty and VAT receipts
- Import entry form (Form 63)
- Foreign log book translated into English
- Port Release Order
- Bill of Lading or Airway Bill
- Clean Report of Findings (CRF)
- Import Declaration Form (IDF)
- Authority to enter goods for home use from the Commissioner of Customs & Excise
- Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) if the vehicle is for commercial use.
- A temporary Importation Document (Form C44A or C44)
- Road manifest or Carnet de Passages in the case of vehicles imported by road
- Foreign Vehicle Receipt/License
- Personal Identification Certificate Number (PIN) card
- Certified copy of national identity card of vehicle owner or valid Passport.
- Insurance cover
A dully filled Form “A” personally signed by the Importer.
For all your property queries, and to discuss your future home in Kenya, contact Pam Golding Properties. An internationally-esteemed real estate group, PGP has more than 300 offices across Africa and covers all of Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Can I use foreign funds to buy property in Kenya?
It is generally acceptable to use foreign funds (e.g. dollars, pounds, rands) to buy Kenyan property, but potential buyers should double check this with the respective agent/seller.
- How can I get a mortgage bond?
- Am I eligible to purchase property in Kenya?
If you meet at least one of the following criteria, you are eligible:
- You have Kenyan citizenship and live abroad
- You are a foreign national of Kenyan origin
- You have Kenyan parents in Kenya
- You have an entry visa into Kenya (if you are a foreigner)
- What is the process of purchasing a property?Please note that it will be beneficial/necessary to hire a real estate lawyer, as much land in Kenya is not registered and a title search is therefore very important.
- The first thing you will need to do is obtain the property tax statement from the tax authority in Kenya
- Once the property has been chosen and a price is agreed upon, the lawyer will prepare a sale agreement as a conditional preliminary contract (to be signed by both parties)
- Upon execution, the buyer will pay a 10 – 30% deposit of the purchase price (this is usually refundable if the seller defaults on the transaction)
- Closing is usually within 90 days from signing. During this time, the seller must obtain a clearance certificate from the municipality (this is presented to the buyer to ensure that all local taxes and utility bills have been settled)
- The lawyer will then file a Draft Transfer at the Lands Office, and then stamp duty will be paid
- An official from the Ministry of Lands will come to inspect the property, verify its condition, and ensure that the sale price is in accordance with its actual value (this will take 2 – 4 weeks)
- The lawyer will submit the documents to the Lands Office to be able to register the transfer, including the original title held by the seller, clearance certificates, consent transfer and the form for the valuation for stamp duty. At the same time, the buyer settles the remaining balance with the vendor (taxes and lawyer fees are paid within 30 days from closing)
- After the negotiations and the agreement on all material terms of the contract, the buyer will pay the seller the requested price
- The buyer will subsequently go to the Real Estate Registry to request registration (you will pay a fee of approximately KSh 5000)
- The request is then internally transferred to the Kenyan Surveying Authority to complete a survey of the land
- The Kenyan Surveying Authority inspects the property and conducts the survey of a property, and prepares the report of its findings on the property
- The report is then delivered to the Measurement Department (this process takes about 15 days at no cost)
- The entire report will be internally transferred to the Real Estate Registry for acceptance of the inspection report and the request for registration
- The Real Estate Registry also conducts an engineering and legal review of the request and grants approval by stamping the documents with the words “approved to be authenticated”
- The approved documents will then be released to the buyer and seller
- At this point, the parties also obtain a stamped form from the Real Estate Registry on which they will print their contract agreement (this takes about 21 days at no cost)
- The parties’ lawyers draft a contract on the form obtained from the Real Estate Registry
- The parties/their lawyers will then deliver the contract to the lawyers’ syndicate for verification
- The lawyer who drafts the contracts ascribes his syndicate identification number to the form, and the lawyers’ syndicate must verify/certify that the involved lawyer is registered with the syndicate (this takes about 4 days at a cost of 0.5% of the property value)
- After collecting the contract from the lawyer, the parties then deliver the contract to the Realo Estate Registry for review
If accepted, the documents will be stamped by the Real Estate Registry as “approved to be registered” (this process takes about 10 days at no cost)
Medical & Health
- How long before going to Kenya should I get my vaccines?
You should get vaccinated 4-6 weeks before arriving in Kenya.
- What are the recommended/required vaccines?
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Yellow fever
- Your annual flu shot
- What other vaccines should I get before entering Kenya?
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Can I bring my medication into Kenya?
Customs in Kenya requires that you have a form/document from the Kenyan Minister of Health approving the medications that you are importing, prior to your arrival in Kenya.
- What kind of medical coverage can I get?
There are a number of medical insurance providers in Kenya, such as Jubilee Insurance, Resolution Insurance, Heritage Insurance Company, and PACIS. When choosing your insurance company, be sure to look out for the following features:
- Inpatient limit
- Outpatient limit
- Dental cover limit
- Optical limit
- Maternity limit
- Overseas treatment
- Waiting periods
- Is the tap water in Kenya safe to drink?
Unless you are in Nairobi or Mombasa, it is not advisable that you drink the tap water in Kenya.
- What kind of plug sockets are used in Kenya?
Kenya uses type G electrical plugs (the same plugs used in the UK, Ireland, Singapore etc.).
GT Bank offers exceptional services for personal and business accounts, and makes banking easy for every Kenyan customer.
- What will I need to open a bank account?
The following documentation:
- An original and copy of your national identity card or passport
- Formal confirmation of your current address
- Colour passport photograph
- Recommendation letter from an employer or other customer
- Minimum opening balance (varies from bank to bank)
Depending on the type of account you wish to open, you may also need two referees. For a savings account, you will not need any references, but will need two if you wish to open a current account or company account.
- What is the exact process of opening an account?
You can fill in the GT Bank individual account opening form here and take it with you to your closest branch, or fill it in person at your closest branch. Make sure that the address on this form matches the one on your utility bill. After handing in this form, you should receive an account opening alert within 1-2 weeks, notifying you of your new account details.
- Can I transfer foreign funds into my bank account?
Yes, GT Bank will accept foreign currency cash deposits that do not exceed $ 10 000 in value. You can transfer the money into your account via internet banking, Mobile App, or at any branch.
- Can I bring currency into Kenya?
Residents may import up to KES 500,000. There are no restrictions on the import of foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding $5,000 in value must be declared.
- Will my traveller’s cheques work in Kenya?
Please note that traveller’s cheques are no longer accepted in Kenya.
- Where can I exchange my currency?
Currency can be exchanged at the major banks, bureaux de change or authorised hotels. The banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport have 24-hour exchange services. The easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, Pounds Sterling and Euros.
- At what age do students begin primary school?
For the majority of Kenyan children, primary school will begin between the ages of 5 and 7, after one year of nursery/pre-primary school.
- What is the educational system structure?
Kenya operates on an 8-4-4 model. Students receive 8 years of basic education, 4 years of secondary education, and a 4 year undergraduate curriculum.
- How are the schools terms structured/when are school holidays?The following information is based on the average term structures. For specific and definitive dates, please contact the respective institution.
The school year runs from January to November.
1st term: 4 January – 8 April
2nd term: 2 May – 5 August
3rd term: 5 September – 18 November
- What do typical school fees look like?
National and county boarding schools: KSh 66 424 p.a. (maximum)
Special needs schools: KSh 69 810 p.a. (maximum)
Day schools: KSh 22 244 p.a. (maximum)
School fees are typically spread over the three terms in a 50:30:20 ratio
- In which language are classes taught?
Most schools will teach exclusively in English, although some also instruct in Kiswahli.
- Which certificates will be awarded?
After completing primary school, students will be awarded their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). After completing secondary school, students will receive their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).