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International Trade and Supporting Global Enforcement Effort PDF Print


Customs and Excise Department implements bilateral, regional and international trade arrangements, and supports global enforcement efforts against smuggling, the illegal importation and exportation of arms, drugs of abuse, etc as mandated through various international legal instruments. For example, Kenya is a member of both the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Membership in these two regional blocs entails extending preferential tariffs to goods imported from EAC and COMESA Member States subject to agreed conditions (the Rules of Origin). Goods originating in Kenya also enter into the countries in question at preferential rates.

The Customs and Excise Department, as the agency of government entrusted with the responsibility to monitor and control imports and exports, is responsible for the implementation of the 'trade and customs'clauses of the regional trade agreements. This also applies to trade preferences that may not be mutually applying - such as the preferences extended to Kenya under the African Growth and Opportunity Act of the USA and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific/European Union Cotonou Partnership Agreement (signed in June 2000). At the international level, the Kenya Revenue Authority Customs and Excise Department is a member of the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Membership in the WCO confers certain benefits to the country: e.g. participation in negotiations towards accession to customs agreements with international application (such as the Harmonized System Convention that forms the basis for tariff classification of goods traded in the international market). The links assist in developing best international practices through benchmarking, training of customs officers through the WCO or Member States, networking with other organizations with a stake in international trade e.g. the World Trade Organization, the International Chamber of Commerce, the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), etc.).

Since Kenya is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Department also implements and enforces those WTO agreements to which Kenya has acceded. These include the Agreement on Customs Valuation (ACV) adopted by Kenya with effect from January 2000 and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The Department has also participated in negotiations and consultations toward the WTO Agreement on Rules of Origin, which is due for discussion at the 9th to 11th November 2001 meeting at Doha, Qatar.

The Department hosts the World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) for Eastern and Southern Africa, Nairobi. The office is a centre for gathering customs intelligence on drug seizures, methods of concealment of smuggled goods, money laundering, precursors, etc and is networked to the WCO Secretariat through the worldwide Customs Enforcement Network. It gathers information from 16 countries in the region, and feeds it to the CEN thus supporting global enforcement efforts.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is contained in the United States of America Trade and Development Act of 2000, signed into law by then President William J. Clinton on 18th May 2000. The Act provides for entry of Kenyan (among other Sub-Saharan Countries) exports to the USA at preferential rates. Currently, only textiles and apparel originating from Kenya and consigned directly to the United States is eligible for this treatment.

A manufacturer who wants to take advantage of the benefits of AGOA has to obtain a Certificate of Registration for manufacture. The Certificate is issued annually to registered manufacturers in Kenya wishing to export merchandise to USA under AGOA. Application for the Certificate is made using prescribed forms obtainable from the Registrar of Industries in the Department of Industries, Ministry of Trade and Industry with details of the products, which are intended for export to the USA. The form may also be obtained from the nearest District Industrial Development Office.

On receiving the application, the Registrar of Industries undertakes, within a reasonable time, a physical inspection of the manufacturer’s/Exporter’s premises so as to verify the details regarding capital equipment, labour used, inputs used or to be used in production of the subject goods, etc. On completion of the exercise, the Registrar prepares four (4) copies of the Certificate then distributes as follows:

- Original to the Applicant

- Duplicate to the Director, Department of External Trade

- Triplicate to the CUSTOMS

- Quadruplicate retained by the Registrar of Industries.

The applicant will thereafter make and attach a photocopy of the certificate to every application for a Certificate of Origin. A manufacturer is required to apply for amendment to the certificate every time changes take place in the business premises such as change of equipment and machinery, changes in production capacity, etc. if the manufacturer still expects to export goods under the AGOA scheme.

The manufacturer shall make an undertaking to preserve all records relating to the production of the goods to be exported such as records of the number of workers, actual quantities produced, work that is subcontracted (done outside the manufacturer’s premises) and the machinery used. The records should be kept for a period of at least seven (7) years.

KAM scrutinizes the documents and forwards them to the Customs and Excise Department to examine the relevant documents, and if satisfied that the goods fulfil the requirements of origin in Kenya according to AGOA, issue a Certificate of Origin and visa stamp.


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