Whether you are planning to diversify your business or leverage cheaper-made products, importing from China to Kenya can be an important ingredient in your small business. But before you rush to import your first batch of products there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Here are some simple business tips to guide you through the process of identifying marketable products and importing them to your small business store here in East Africa.
Importing from China to Kenya: The Complete Guide
Kenya and China share a bilateral trade relationship that keeps strengthening day by day.
China’s economy as we know is also ever growing.
The country as of today is the largest exporter of goods to regions across Africa, Asia, America, and Europe.
These, among other things, has created a host of opportunities for Kenyan entrepreneurs, especially in the import business.
Nonetheless, for many Kenyans, importing from China to Kenya has never been mean meat.
Sourcing, shipping, and customs clearance are some of the challenges that Kenyan importers have had to deal with over the years.
It is for these reasons, therefore, plus the many questions we’ve been getting on how to import from China to Kenya that I’ve written this guide.
Here, I intend to share all the information relevant to the import from China to Kenya business.
What are the paperwork requirements for importing from China to Kenya?
You will need to file quite a number of documents to be able to import goods from China to Kenya successfully.
These documents include;
1. Certificate of origin
2. Bill of lading/airway bill
3. Commercial invoice
4. Inspection certificate
5. ISM (imports standard mark) certificate
6. Packing list
7. Import license
Which are the best shipping companies from China to Kenya?
There are many shipping companies from China to Kenya, and all of these provide quality shipping services.
The most popular ones however are:
1. China ocean shipping company (COSCO)
2. EMC(evergreen marine corporation)
3. Hapag Lloyd
Which is the cheapest way to ship imports from China to Kenya?
Honestly, there is no cheapest shipping method.
It all depends on what you’re shipping, how you’re shipping it and which company is shipping it.
To ship 1000kgs of goods by air will be costly than if you shipped the same shipment by sea.
What considerations should I make when choosing a sourcing agent from China to Kenya?
Professionalism, experience, market knowledge, credibility, and good communication are excellent indicators of a good sourcing agent.
I hope by the end of the read, you’ll be an expert in this.
So let’s begin.
Step 1: Identify What To Import
As with any other investment project you may be trying, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you are going to be doing before going into it. Find some good products which can attract demand locally.
Examples sanitary wares, plumbing fittings, electrical fittings, tiles, electronics and cheap jewelry. Consult the customs office to make sure the products you are planning to import are acceptable under Kenyan laws.
Also, make sure you have an active KRA pin. If you don’t have one visit the KRA website and obtain one. This will help a lot during the custom clearance process once your goods arrive in the country.
Step 2: Find a Good Suppliers
Sites such as alibaba.com or aliexpress.com have an excellent database of Chinese Manufacturers. Here you will find many suppliers supplying different product categories.
It is however advisable to double check on the credentials of your chosen supplier just to make sure you are getting the right deal. To avoid scams or cases where poor quality products are supplied take the following precautions:
- Get contacts of one of the Kenyans living in China. These might be helpful in locating the right suppliers and spot checking quality of your products.
- Before you order in bulk, request the supplier to send you a sample of the product. Normally, samples are given out free of charge but you may have to pay for freight charges (about $50 or Ksh4,500).
Step 3: Determine How Much You’re Going to Spend
Since you are importing to re-sell, it is important that before you place the order you get your math right. Apart from paying the supplier for the goods, you will be required to pay for freight, clearing, duty fee, inspection fee among other charges.
A simple formula for determining how much you’re going to spend on the whole process is to multiply the manufacturer’s price with 1.6. The answer will be the total amount you’ll spend and with this figure, you can now predict your profit even before you import the products.
If you are importing a bunch of watches that cost Ksh50,000 in total all you need to do is to multiply 50,000×1.6=Ksh80,000. So Ksh80,000 is roughly the amount you need to cater for all expenses along the way.
If you are satisfied with the cost and quality of the products (assuming you’ve already received your free sample), go ahead and place an order with your chosen supplier.
Step 4: Identify the Port of Loading
IMAGE: BOLLORE AFRICA
Unlike in Kenya where we only have one main port city, China has many outlets. There is Guangzhou, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Ningbo and Dalian among others. In each port city you will find courier companies which can deliver to Kenya and help you clear with the customs offices. Examples being:
- Salihiya Cargo
Once you have identified your port and potential courier company (and assuming that you have already received the samples and are satisfied with them) you can direct your supplier to drop your goods at your agent’s office in the nearest port city. From that point, you can negotiate with the courier agent on terms of delivery.
Step 5:Collect Your Goods At The Port
If you pay for your goods to be delivered by air, it goes without saying, you will have to collect them from your nearest international airport. On the other hand if you chose delivery by sea, then you have to collect your products from the port of Mombasa.
You will be required to pay custom duties and inspection charges. You can seek the assistance of your clearing and forwarding agent at this juncture to expedite the process of clearing your goods from the port.
Now that your imported goods have arrived in Kenya, all you need to do is make good use of your entrepreneurial skills. With proper pricing and marketing, the sky is the limit for small business importers who source their goods from China.
6 DON’TS When Importing From China To Kenya
(1)Don’t buy in bulk until you have seen the samples and LIKED them
(2)Don’t listen to supplier who try to tell you that they can’t ship samples; they might just be trying to scam you
(3)Don’t pay with your ATM card. Use PayPal at least for the first 6 months until you fully trust your supplier.
(4)Don’t buy counterfeit products.
(5)Don’t buy a lot of items on your first order. You can start off buying 1-5 units at a time until you build up the money to re-invest into your inventory.
Chapter 1: Best Products to Import from China to Kenya
As I said, Kenya enjoys close trade ties with China.
As a matter of fact, close to 60% of Kenyan imports are from China.
In 2017 alone, Kenyan imports from China made up an estimated USD 3.8 billion.
This is in 2017 alone, and the figure is said to have jumped by 20% from the USD 3.4 billion recorded in 2016.
Now, with the way things are going between China and Kenya, the trade relationship shared is only bound to strengthen.
This means that Kenyan entrepreneurs should look forward to more business opportunities arising from this relationship.
Kenya Imports – Source: OEC
For now, these are the most popular import from China to Kenya businesses you can explore;
1. Import diapers from China to Kenya
The diaper business is one that’s currently booming in Kenya.
Diapers are a necessity today that thousands of families spend hundreds of dollars on for their infant children.
This demand, therefore, presents a very ripe opportunity for importers from China to Kenya.
You should thus take advantage of the hassle that mothers are going through in accessing baby diapers.
And, not just accessing diapers but diapers that are suitable for their children at an affordable price.
So to venture into the diaper importation business successfully, you should do three key things.
First of all, identify your market, find a suitable brand and supplier and then venture out.
2. Importing building material from China to Kenya
Like the diaper business, the real estate industry is also rapidly expanding in Kenya.
Everybody is spending on construction materials in Kenya today.
And, this I must attribute to the rapidly growing population, rural-urban migration and the need for better housing and accommodation.
Copper nickel pipes
The huge need for accommodation and rapid urbanization are the most factors that are forcing governments and investors to build.
Due to this, I can tell you for sure that building materials can fetch you the right amount of profit.
Cement, wood, steel, ceramic tiles, prefabs, glass, electrical and plumbing fittings are the most in demand.
So you have no excuse in this, trust me.
The idea of founding a building material importation business in Kenya is still a soft spot that you can take on.
All you need to do is to put in a little more effort than everyone else in the industry.
3. Importing clothes from China to Kenya
The clothes importation business is a successful venture not just in Kenya but all over the world.
This is primarily because clothing is one of the basic human needs.
We can’t do without clothing, and that means that demand will always be there.
Unfortunately, success in this business does not come easy, especially when importing to Kenya.
Clothes for sale
You see, the Kenyan government restricts the importation of clothing as a means to protect and boost the local textile industry.
Therefore, you must adhere to all the Kenyan customs requirements for clothes importation which include licensing and adherence to quality.
4. Importing cars from China to Kenya
Importation of cars is one of the most lucrative businesses in Kenya.
This is especially if you own a car bazaar and are considering sourcing for your cars from abroad.
Used cars are especially fast moving in Kenya.
They are easy to find and sell at cheap prices-Kenyans love affordable products.
The best part?
Times and needs change.
And thanks to technology, people will always dispose of old cars and acquire new ones.
Thus, providing an opportunity for you to import and sell used or even new cars.
You can import and sell cars from any country that’s allied to Kenya.
Cars from China are notably easier to get, import and sell.
5. Importing electronic from China to Kenya
Electronics whether new or used are hot sellers in Kenya.
You can import a wide range of these from smartphones, computers, kitchen appliances, etc.
Chinese suppliers sell these items at very affordable prices.
You can import them and resell in Kenya at a profit.
Note that electronics importation doesn’t have to be for business purposes only.
You can also import them for personal use.
If you’re building a house and need new electronics,i.e. TV’s, fridge, kettles, cooker, etc. you can easily import good quality products from China.
Just remember that when importing electronics for personal use, the landing price of the goods shouldn’t be over the top when compared to local prices.
6. Importing watches from China to Kenya
If you’re looking for an import business that doesn’t cost much to start and is easy to manage, then this is it.
Watches don’t cost much.
With USD 300, you can quickly start and set up a lucrative wristwatch business.
USD 300 may seem small for an importation business, but trust me with small Chinese merchandise like watches, this is more than enough.
Besides, you don’t even need to set up a store or shop from where to sell the watches.
You can easily do this from the comfort of your home.
All you’ll need is a good computer, excellent internet connection and above all excellent customer service skills.
7. Importing furniture from China to Kenya
Quality furniture is very profitable in Kenya.
You can import anything from office desks, chairs, beds, sofa sets, entertainment consoles, tables, dining sets, and so on.
Like electronics, you can also import quality furniture from China to Kenya for domestic use.
I can bet you that Chinese furniture is unique.
They present a certain elegance and beauty that you’ll love to have in your home.
8. Importing phones from China to Kenya
It is apparent that Kenya is not yet manufacturing phones.
While this is sad, it is also great as it provides a lucrative business opportunity for entrepreneurs.
Bearing in mind of how affordable Chinese phones are, importing them and selling here in Kenya can be very profitable.
9. Importing shoes from China to Kenya
Shoes are as in demand as clothes in Kenya.
According to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the annual demand for shoes in Kenya stands at 24 million to 30 million pairs.
This is a demand that the local industry can’t meet on its own- the local industry currently produces just about 4 million pairs annually.
The deficit, therefore, has to be filled with imports from other countries like China.
Although there is mistrust among Kenyans for China-made shoes, the market response is not at all bad for quality wear.
So if you’re venturing into the importation of shoes, you’ll need to pay attention to quality and price affordability.
These are the two things that will ensure your success in the business.
10. Importing tiles from China to Kenya
We all know how much interior décor is valued in Kenya today.
Tiles, in this case, are highly valued in ensuring quality interior decors for homes and businesses.
And where else to import the tiles than from the world leading ceramic tiles manufacturer, which is China.
I promise you, the wholesale prices in China are very cheap, and product availability is just excellent.
Besides, importing from China provides you with a wide array of designs to choose from.
As I said, you have no excuse not to succeed in importing goods from China to Kenya.
There are very many products whose importation you can venture in.
All you need is capital, a good supplier and good knowledge of the import business.
As you do this, remember that the business of importation from China to Kenya has its ups and downs.
But then, once you get established, everything becomes easy.
What about finding suppliers? Well, let’s find out below.
Chapter 2: Finding Suppliers for Kenya China Importers
Most Kenyan entrepreneurs find Chinese suppliers online.
It doesn’t matter whether they are buying in a large or small scale, the fact is that Kenyan importers seldom go to China to find suppliers.
You may wonder the reason for this; well, to be honest, the cost of traveling from Kenya to China is quite high.
This starts with the air ticket, accommodation, and transport fees.
That is just one reason; another is that finding a reliable and trustworthy Chinese supplier can be quite tough.
Unless, if you had already contacted potential suppliers before traveling to China.
Or, if you go directly to fairs, exhibitions and other places where suppliers are known to be found like Yiwu.
Now let me not scare you much because there is an upside to all this.
You see, with the advent of technology and the racing minds of the Chinese population, there are more convenient ways of locating trustworthy Chinese suppliers.
Allow me to explain some of these ways:
· Get AliExpress Suppliers
For small-scale importers, AliExpress is a perfect place to locate suppliers for Chinese merchandise.
If you’re starting or are looking to venture into drop shipping, AliExpress maybe an excellent place to begin with.
Maybe I should explain this a little bit.
AliExpress is an e-commerce platform for Chinese retailers.
Now, retail prices are often known to be over the top; but then, with AliExpress, the prices there are very affordable.
You can still buy goods on AliExpress and sell them back in Kenya at a good profit.
· Search for Alibaba Suppliers and Manufacturers
When looking for the best wholesale supplier, I recommend that you lookAlibaba’s way.
As you may be aware, Alibaba is the largest B2B site in the Far East and is known to contain valuable information about a majority of suppliers in it.
Nonetheless, you need to note that not all suppliers on Alibaba are top quality.
This means that you will have to do due diligence in ensuring that your only source for reliable and trustworthy suppliers.
We have an article has a section that explains more about finding and verifying suppliers on Alibaba.
Please read it for more insight.
· Use China Sourcing Agents
Alternatively, you can hire a sourcing agent from China to help you find suppliers and source for goods to import to Kenya.
China sourcing agent
To be honest, for someone who has little knowledge about the importation process from China to Kenya, this is a good option.
All you will need to do is identify a trustworthy sourcing agent, and they will do all the work for you.
They will identify the best supplier for your chosen product, source the goods and with your guidance arrange for shipping to Kenya.
Finding a sourcing agent in China is no hard task as there are thousands of them waiting for your signal.
Just ensure that the agent you chose is professional, reliable and most of all trustworthy.
· Visit China Yourself
Now, the above are options on the internet.
But if you don’t want to source online or to work with a sourcing agent, there is a third option that you can explore.
This is to visit China yourself.
You see, you can get plenty of firsthand information about suppliers by attending some trade shows.
In China, the “Canton Fair” is known to be the largest trade fair and is held twice in a year.
Here, you can interact with clients and get to know the products they offer and even see them personally.
The bottom line here is that getting a Chinese supplier is not difficult.
The challenge is getting reliable suppliers.
And to run an efficient China to Kenya import business, you need to ensure that you have dependable suppliers.
This is both regarding quality and timely delivery of supplies.
Besides, you also need to pay attention to cost.
Allow me to explain this in detail below.
Chapter 3: Calculate Cost of Importing Goods from China to Kenya
Cost when importing from China to Kenya is a very critical element.
And, this being a business, it is essential that you get your math right.
You see, apart from the cost of buying goods, there are other costs that you’ll incur when importing from China to Kenya.
You will have to pay for shipping, clearance, duties and taxes, inspection, warehousing among other fees.
With this, it is essential to know how much you’re going to spend in the process of importation.
This way, you can easily predict your profits even before importing the product.
You don’t want to go through all the importation trouble only to find out that you’ve spent more on a product that you can sell it for.
Besides, knowing the costs of importation can also help you organize your budget better as well as avoid getting conned.
So here’s how to calculate the cost of importing goods from China to Kenya?
Step 1: Know Cost of Products in China
Before anything else, you need to know the cost of products in China.
Product prices vary depending on various factors including the type of product and supplier.
Now, to be able to calculate your product ‘landed cost” you need first to know how you’ll potentially spend on a product.
My advice for this would be that you do your research and compare product prices from different suppliers.
Go to Alibaba and find out the majority price range of the product.
Find out also from other platforms and then pick the average price.
So let’s say that the product ranges between USD 15-25 per unit.
The average cost should be about USD 20.
So use this to estimate how much it’ll cost you to import the product to Kenya from China.
Step 2: Calculate Kenya Import Duties and Taxes on Different Imports from China
When calculating the cost of goods importation, taxes and duties shouldn’t be ignored as they make up a large part of these costs.
You see, every country imposes duties and taxes on imports and Kenya is no different.
The only difference is the amount charged by each country for this tariff.
Kenya, in particular, imposes a tariff on all imports.
This tariff note is applied based on the harmonized system code and the requirements of the East African community.
Generally, the tariff for Kenyan imports ranges from 0-100% with an average of 25%.
Apart from this, imports into Kenya are also subject to VAT tax at a rate of 16%.
The VAT tax is determined based on the sum of the CIF value, duty and other taxes of the import products.
So when calculating your products’ landed cost, first find out the HS code for the product and its applicable tariff.
Then apply the VAT tax to this to get the applicable import tariff.
You can learn more from the Kenya Revenue Authority Website.
Step 3: Pay for Logistics Fee –Sourcing Products, Packaging, Labelling and Freight Forwarder
First of all, you will need to pay for the cost of sourcing products.
Then pay for the packaging, and labeling of the products.
Besides, there is also the freight forwarder fees that you will have to pay up when importing from China to Kenya.
So you see, it’s quite some costs.
This means that you need to be careful when estimating these costs as they make a significant percentage of your total cost of importation.
Step 4: Estimate the Cost of Shipping Container from China to Kenya
Like I said, getting your products from China to your doorstep in Kenya involves a myriad of costs.
First of all, you’ll have to pay for inland transportation costs which cater for transporting products from factory to port of loading.
Then cater to the export clearance cost in China.
After that comes the port to port freight cost and then the import clearance cost that you’ll pay in Kenya.
Other shipping costs will include warehousing, distribution inland transport in Kenya among other charges.
Remember that when importing from China to Kenya, shipping costs will be based on the incoterm used.
This means that your supplier in China can quote a product, including the cost of freight to the loading port in China, to the destination port in Kenya (including or excluding port charges) or including delivery to a specific location in Kenya,i.e. your doorstep.
So remember the sourcing costs when calculating the overall cost of importing a product from China to Kenya.
To get the math right, do the following;
i. Choose the mode of shipping from China to Kenya
Decide if you’re going to ship by or by air.
Also, decide if you’re shipping FCL or LCL.
Note that in all the cost of shopping will vary.
Types of shipping container
ii. Choose the best Incoterm when Shipping from China to Kenya
As I said, there are several incoterms used when shipping from China to Kenya.
FOB, CIF, are CFR however the most commonly used incoterms, and each of these has their pros and cons.
So choose the right incoterm for you, understand the terms of the incoterm and estimate the costing as per the incoterm.
iii. Airfreight shipping cost
Remember that airfreight cost is calculated based on the weight and volume you’re shipping.
Air carriers use what is known is known as a chargeable weight to calculate shipping costs.
Chargeable weight note is the higher weight between the actual weight and volumetric weight of the cargo.
And the cost of shipping is charged by Kg of goods.
iv. Shipping cost per container size
Well, in sea freight, goods are shipped in different types of containers.
There 20 ft., 40 ft. And 40 HQ containers.
Depending on the container you’re using to chip, the cost of shipping will vary greatly.
Port of Mombasa
Also, it will depend on whether you’re shipping FCL or LCL.
FCL costs are calculated based on the volume of goods shipped.
Charges for shipping LCL are calculated like in air shipments.
Well, I don’t want to say much about this as we already a detailed guide in this regard.
Here it is: shipping from China to Kenya read it for more insight.
Chapter 4: Mode of Paying for Imports from China to Kenya
A lot of things can impact your success when importing from China to Kenya.
Among those things is how you choose to pay for the imports as one wrong move in this can lead to drawbacks.
Because of this, it is imperative for you to exercise extra caution when paying for imports from China to Kenya.
Now here is the thing; there are several payments options that you can use when importing from China.
However, not all of these options are safe nor convenient.
You just need to be able to identify a method that works for you at that particular time – a safe and convenient option.
In this chapter, therefore, I will look at some of the most common payment options used to pay for imports from China to Kenya.
When people talk about payment options for imports from China, PayPal always features among the top of the list.
You see, PayPal is a very popular payment service that is used far and wide.
It is convenient and most especially fast, thus readily acceptable by suppliers in China, especially those that are tech-savvy.
Besides, PayPal is very easy to use.
No matter if you are a seasoned or new-to-China importer, the interface is very user-friendly.
It is also safe, and there are several ways to fund it including funding via bank transfer, credit card, mobile payment, etc.
The only disadvantage with PayPal is that its fee is percentage based thus making it unsuitable for large transactions.
Unless if you agree that your supplier bears the PayPal fees which will also have an impact on your costing.
So generally, PayPal is best to use for smaller transactions.
· Letter of credit
A letter of credit or as its popularly known LOC is a form of insurance on payment for goods issued by your bank.
LOC among all other payment options for imports from China is by far the safest and most convenient.
Letter of credit
If you’re engaging in large transactions, then LOCs are the best.
However, if you’re a small time trader, using a letter of credit for payment may not be your best option.
Well, first of all, it is because of the expensive bank charges per transaction.
Secondly, LOCs are quite complex and involve tedious paperwork.
If you’re new to China importer, understanding the details in a letter of credit may be problematic.
You may even be forced to hire a documentary credit specialist for consultation and compliance.
This is at least before you get a hang on how LOCs work.
Last but not least, not many suppliers like using letters of credit for transactions.
This is due to language barriers and the complexity of the documents.
So if you’re to use a letter of credit, I recommend you use it for large transactions and when dealing with large-medium sized suppliers.
· Credit card
Credit cards are hardly an option when it comes to paying for imports from China.
You see, unlike in America and Europe, credit cards are not readily accepted as a form of payment in the east.
Chinese suppliers, especially, are often reluctant about credit cards due to charge back issues and the high fees associated with them.
E-commerce websites and a few tech-oriented suppliers accept credit cards though.
So if you’re importing from either of these, then you might be lucky to use your credit card to pay for goods.
· Western union
Like credit cards, western union is also not readily accepted by Chinese suppliers as a payment option.
Mostly, this is because it is known to be a high-risk payment option for suppliers due to its anonymous nature.
You see, in methods like wire transfer, you get to know the billing address and name of the company you’re sending money to.
With Western Union, however, there is total anonymity as to whom you’re sending money.
This in its every sense is suspicious as it’s hard to tell if you’re dealing with a legitimate supplier or not.
Besides, there is very little recourse once you send money via western union.
So unless you’re sure that you’re dealing with a trusted supplier, avoid it as much as you can.
Cash is significant as a form of payment. It is in China and will be for years to come.
It doesn’t matter the size of your transaction; cash can be used to pay for large, medium and large-sized imports.
Pay in cash
Also, no matter if you’re personally in China or are using a sourcing agent, cash still works.
Suppliers love cash payments.
Importers love it too as it enables them to access relatively lower pricing for supplies.
Note however that like all other forms of payment, there is a disadvantage to paying by cash.
This is that it has minimal resource.
Thus, cash payments should be used to pay trusted suppliers and for smaller transactions.
· Escrow transfer
Escrow is quite similar to LOCs.
It is safe and convenient, especially for smaller transactions.
In China, Alipay is the most common escrow service.
Alibaba owns it, and it enables importers to pay for goods ordered via the website securely.
You may ask how an escrow transfer works.
Well, first of all, the escrow service looks into the transaction process.
It then receives and holds the payment until there is confirmation that goods have been received in excellent condition.
That is when the payment is released to the supplier.
Otherwise, if goods are delivered in bad shape or contrary to the buyer-seller agreement, the payment is refunded, or the products are returned to the seller.
Please note that although safe and convenient, escrow transfers have one problem and that is dispute resolution.
It takes a very long time for escrow disputes to be settled.
It is also pretty difficult to get refunds and responses from the service’s dispute resolution team.
Well, these are the most common modes of payment for imports fromChina.
And as you can see, each of these options comes with its advantages and risks.
So my advice is that anytime you transact, keep a record.
You never know when the records may come in handy, especially when filing for dispute.
Chapter 5: Choose Sea Port/AirPort of Loading in China
Now, you’ve paid for imports and are ready to ship your goods from China.
Do you know where you will ship the products from in China?
And, have you decided yet which shipping method you’re using?
Well, a little help regarding the means of shipping and loading port is what I intend to offer here.
So let’s get to it.
· How to ship from China to Kenya
Well, first of all, shipping from China to Kenya should not be a scary venture like most people like to make it sound.
As I said to you earlier, the process is simple as long as you know your way around it and are conversant with the dos and don’ts.
That said, there are two popular means of transporting goods from China to Kenya.
There is sea freight and air freight.
Sea freight involves transporting imports using ships on the water.
It is mostly preferred for large or rather bulky shipments and those that are not time tied.
Sea shipping, I would love to mention, is very cost-efficient that is why most importers to Kenya prefer using it.
Sea route from China to Kenya – Source: PORTS.COM
By sea, you can ship practically anything regardless of type, size, shape, weight or volume.
The only problem is that it is slow.
You may have to wait from 30-40 days before you receive items shipped via sea from China to Kenya.
Unlike sea freight, air freight is very fast thus it is preferred for shipping imports that are bound by time.
It is also preferred for shipping light goods.
To ship an item from China to Kenya may take at most 3 days by air.
This is pretty fast and very convenient if shipping urgent goods.
Note however that the convenience of speed comes at an extra cost.
Thus if you’re to ship by air, keep in mind that the cost is quite high.
At least three times the cost of shipping by sea.
Another thing, there are different ways of shipping items from China to Kenya.
Depending on the type, size, and shape of goods you’re shipping, you can choose from the following shipping options;
- FCL (full container load) for large shipments enough to fill a standard 20 ft.or 40 ft. container
- LCL (less than container load) for small volume goods that can’t fit a standard shipping container
- Reefer shipping for perishables and goods that require shipping under special conditions. e., dairy products, meats, fruits, vegetables, medicines, fish, etc.
- OOG shipping for oversized goods and those with an abnormal shape like helicopters and heavy plant and agricultural machinery.
- Ro-Ro shipping for shipping wheeled cargo,e. trucks, cars, and buses
- Drop shipping if importing directly from a supplier to your customer
- Door to door shipping if you don’t have the time to engage in the shipping process. Here your imports will be delivered directly from the supplier’s door to your doorstep in Kenya
- Express shipping for small, urgent and valuable packages like jewelry and documents.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
With this in mind, here are some of the ports that you can load your goods in China when shipping by sea to Kenya.
- Port of Guangzhou
- Port of Hong Kong
- Port Shanghai
- Port Qingdao
- Dalian seaport
- Tianjin seaport
- Port of Ningbo
- Xiamen seaport
There are more than 100 seaports in China.
The above is, however, the main ones that you can load your imports to Kenya from.
So be wise when choosing one to use.
Of airports, you can use either of the following depending on the location of your supplier and your destination.
Airports in China
- The Beijing capital international airport in Beijing
- Guangzhou international airport in Guangdong, Guangzhou
- Chengdu shuangilu international airport in Sichuan, Chengdu
- Shanghai Pudong international airport located in Shanghai
- Shenzhen Baoan international airport in Guangdong, Shenzhen
- Kunming Changshui international airport in Yunnan
- Shanghai Hongqiao international airport in Shanghai
- Xi’an Xianyang International Airport in Shaanxi, Xi’an
- Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport in Chongqing
- Hangzhou Xiao Shan International Airport in Hangzhou, Zhejiang
- Nanjing Lukou International Airport Jiangsu, Nanjing
- Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport in Fujian, Xiamen
- Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport Henan, Zhengzhou
- Changsha Huanghua International Airport in Hunan, Changsha
- Qingdao Liuting International Airport in Shandong, Qingdao
Remember that the above is what you refer to as the loading ports.
It is where your imports from China will be shipped from.
Therefore, ensure that you choose a port that is nearest to your supplier that provides a shorter shipping distance to your destination in Kenya.
Chapter 6: Identify City to Collect Imports from China to Kenya
After you’ve chosen a loading port, you move forward to identifying a city from where you’ll collect your imports from China.
Now, compared to China, Kenya doesn’t have that many seaports or airports.
In Kenya, there is only one international shipping seaport, the Kilindini harbor in Mombasa.
There is also a smaller port in Malinda, but this does not ship internationally.
Main cities in Kenya
So, the sea shipping option here is Kilindini in Mombasa.
Of airports, the main international airport is Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi.
There is also the Moi international airport in Mombasa.
These are the main shipping ports for goods from China to Kenya.
Of cities, there are three major cities in Kenya; Nairobi, Mombasa, Kenya.
Depending on your final destination, you can arrange for goods to be shipped to Mombasa if shipping by sea and then find a way to get the goods to your final destination.
For instance, if shipping by sea to Kenya with your destination being Machakos, this is how you’ll do it;
Ship the goods from China by sea to Mombasa.
Once you collect the products at the port, you can either transport them by rail using the newly commissioned standard gauge railway.
Or, by road using trucks via the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.
You see, although Kenya is a third world country, its infrastructure has improved tremendously over the years.
This means that moving goods from one town to the other is no hassle.
You can use the SGR, road or air depending on the type of goods, location, budget, and convenience.
So the bottom line is that after successfully sourcing and paying for goods in China, you need to identify your port of loading as well as the receiving city in Kenya before shipping.
After that, you go ahead and find a reliable freight forwarder to help with the shipping process.
Chapter 7: How to Hire Freight Forwarder from China to Kenya
Using a freight forwarder is an excellent means to ship goods from China to Kenya successfully.
As it happens, inconveniences that arise due to freight forwarding mistakes can lead to irreparable damages.
These include losing customers, credibility and even losing goods all of which can take ages and an extra input of funds to recover.
Therefore, to avoid such inconveniences, you need to take time when choosing a freight forwarding agent.
You need to find an agent that you can entirely entrust with the transportation of your imports from China to Kenya.
That said, a good freight forwarder from China to Kenya should have some qualifications.
A good freight agent should be well accustomed to the nature of work that you’re hiring him for.
This is because some agents just acquire knowledge from non-conventional sources and pose like dependable persons.
You should know that in international shipping, any mistake that can happen due to inexperience can be a major blow to your business.
And, that experience in this business comes along with other qualities including a good reputation and plenty of connections.
A couple of years’ presence in the industry allows one to create great connections.
It also allows a company to know and be able to meet the specific requirements of clients in the best possible way.
A good reputation, on the other hand, is gotten after several successful freight forwarding jobs.
This you can tell from the reviews and ratings of past customers.
The best freight forwarders have the practical and technical aspects of the job at their fingertips.
They need to be familiar with the current market trends, emerging policies, and newly introduced rules and regulations.
This is because all of these may affect the successful transportation of goods from China to Kenya.
A lack of this knowledge, therefore, can be dangerous and can result in unforeseen misfortunes.
III. Should be able to advise you on better shipping deals
One of the needs of hiring a freight forwarding agent is to have your shipping done in the most convenient of ways.
This should be done by maximizing your benefits and reducing the costs of shipping.
In this case, the best choice for a freight agent should be one that will give you reliable advice that can make you increase your profits and satisfy your shipping needs.
In other words?
Your ideal freight forwarder should be a person or company that’s capable of advising you on better business deals.
Professionalism is an excellent indicator of a good freight forwarding person or company.
A quick scan at the agent’s webpage or portfolio will be a good indication of whether you should hire them or not.
V. Provision of additional services
When choosing a freight agent, another qualification that you look out for is the agent’s capability to offer extra services.
These should be services that are all aimed at keeping you as the customer satisfied,i.e. cargo tracking.
So if you’re unable to get the best out of some potential agents, use this qualification as the determinant.
Other considerations that you can make when hiring a freight forwarding agent include;
- Quality customer service
- Good references
- Good communication
- Adherence to timelines
- Affordable pricing
Evidently, there are a lot of things to consider when selecting a freight agent to work with.
So in all this, you just need to ensure that the forwarder you choose can meet your needs fully and without excuses.
Most importantly, chose a forwarder that you can trust with your goods.
But if you’re not sure where to start, I can help you.
Well, first of all, there are numerous freight forwarders service providers from China to Kenya.
BanSar, however, is a forwarder that can help you ship any type of goods from China to Kenya.
From small, medium, large sized, FCL to LCL shipments among others.
The company has very rich experience in shipping goods from China to Mombasa and other cities in Kenya.
It works with a professional staff that helps to ensure the safe, reliable, affordable and timely transportation of your imports.
Chapter 8: How to Buy from Alibaba in Kenya
If you don’t know, Alibaba is the largest product directory in Asia and among the largest in the world.
It is the largest directory for made-in-China products in the world.
The site generally contains hidden treasures inform of cheap products that can boost your business success tremendously.
Note however that while Alibaba may be a wonder, it has also led to the destruction of most businesses and businessmen.
This means that when shopping here, you need to be careful especially of what you buy, from whom and how you do it.
Otherwise, one small mistake can lead to trampling loses when you least expect it.
Luckily for you, I have created a simple step by step guide below on how you can buy goods from Alibaba in Kenya.
The process provides a simple but safe and reliable shopping experience for those of you yearning to experience the Alibaba marvel.
So here we go;
Step by step process on how to buy from Alibaba
Here is how you can go about this process:
Step 1: Create an account
To buy from Alibaba, you need to be registered on the site.
So if you already have an account, go ahead and sign in.
If not, you’ll need to sign up on the website after which you sign in to be able to make purchases.
Please note: the Alibaba interface is very user-friendly.
So don’t worry about navigating through it if you’re a first time user.
You just ensure that your internet connection is good.
Step 2: Search for a product
After you’ve signed in on the Alibaba website, your next step would be to search for your preferred product and possibly identify a supplier.
With Alibaba, there are several ways of searching for products.
The first option is to search by keyword or phrases related to the product simply.
For instance, if you’re looking for phone covers, merely key in the phrase ‘phone covers’ in the search bar.
To search, you’ll go ahead and select your origin country in this case ‘Kenya’ and then click search now.
Alternatively, you can search for products using the categories bar on the left side of the screen.
Just go to the left side of the homepage and click on a subcategory to browse products.
Or, you can search for products by suppliers.
Just click on the supplier’s tab.
It will bring you the results of suppliers selling the products you’re looking for.
Last but not least, you can simply post a ‘request for quote’ on the website and let suppliers find you.
How does this work?
Well, on the Alibaba website, there’s an option for ‘submit RFQ”.
You just need to click on this tab and fill in the required details,i.e. product, quantity, and any other specifications then submit.
This will create a post that suppliers will be able to see and those interested will respond to you with quotes.
Step 3: Filter your results
You see, Alibaba has thousands of products on their site.
Random searches for a product can give you over 1000 results per product.
As such, you need to filter your search results to find the exact product that you’re looking for.
Filtering, in this case, includes adding specific keywords to make the search more particular. I.e., if you were searching for phone covers, you may add a particular brand like iPhone phone covers.
Or specify to something like leather phone covers.
Step 4: Contact suppliers
From the search results or RFQ post, you go ahead and pick a few suppliers of interest.
Then contact them through the communication options they’ve provided.
Here, you can ask them any questions about their product, minimum MOQ, unit price, shipping details, etc.
Also, this is where you try to negotiate the prices and MOQ.
Step 5: Pick a supplier and verify their credibility
From the few suppliers that you contacted in step 4, there are those that seem promising to work with.
So pick three of these that seem to meet your supply demands.
Here, you will then verify the credibility of each supplier as you do not want to be a victim of a scam or fraud.
Remember not all suppliers on Alibaba are trustworthy.
There are as many legitimate suppliers as there are scammers and fraudsters.
So you need to ensure that the person or company you’re dealing with is reliable and trustworthy.
How do you verify the credibility of suppliers?
Well, it’s simple.
Just look for obvious things like the supplier’s website.
How detailed is it?
Does it look legit?
Also, ask for their physical address, a trusted supplier should have no problem providing a physical address.
Remember also to confirm if the address given is real.
Another thing to look for is their reputation and reviews.
If they’ve been selling on Alibaba, they should have some reviews from customers.
From the reviews, you can easily tell whether it’s safe to work with the said supplier or not.
With this, you should be able to identify the best supplier to work with — a supplier that seems to meet your supply needs and demand.
Step 6: Order for goods
Once you’ve identified a supplier, go ahead and contact them again, this time with exact order details and specifications.
Agree with the supplier on the price, MOQ, and delivery.
You can first let them supply you with a sample product to verify quality and the likes after which you can then proceed to order for goods.
Step 7: Pay for your order
As seen in chapter 4, there are several payment options for imports fromChina.
Choose any of the options to pay for your goods.
Just make sure that you pay attention to the two critical factors that are safety and convenience.
Also, ensure that your supplier agrees with the mode of payment you intend to use.
Once you’ve paid for goods, you can now arrange for shipping from China to Kenya.
Here, you can hire a freight forwarder to take care of this, or handle it by yourself if you’re confident of doing it.
I can’t this say this enough times; Alibaba is not 100% safe especially for amateur importers.
So to be safe from scammers and fraudsters when buying from the site, keep these simple rules in mind:
- Deal with suppliers that have structured websites are licensed and have verified transactions
- Never buy too much product at one time, especially the first time
- Don’t be shy to bargain with the supplier. You’ll be surprised if you end up buying the product 65% lower than the listed price.
- Be sure that you’re dealing with a professional
And a trick for a successful import from China business is to find one trustworthy supplier and stick to them.
That is it!
Chapter 9: How to Shop from AliExpress in Kenya
Like Alibaba, AliExpress is a goldmine for most China to Kenya importers.
It has many items to buy, especially those that are hard to find in Kenya and other places.
So if you’ve been thinking of how to shop from AliExpress in Kenya but don’t know where to start, here is how to do it.
Step 1: Set up an AliExpress account
Like Alibaba, you need to have an account before you can shop from the site.
If you already have one, just go in and log in with your details.
If not, go on the registration page and type in your personal information,i.e. name, address, phone number, and email address.
Proceed to choose a username and password to use on AliExpress.
This is how AliExpress sets one person apart from another.
You will receive a confirmation email which you will have to verify to set up your account completely.
Once the account is set, login and begin shopping for items.
Step 2: Search for your preferred product
After signing in on your AliExpressaccount, the next thing is to find products on AliExpress that you want to buy.
Let’s say you want to find a nice sewing machine that will not give you trouble when using it.
Searching for it is the first step. So type in‘sewing machine’ or something similar.
After pressing search or enter, a list of sewing machine results will be shown from many different sellers.
Find the machine that looks nice to you and clicks on it for more information.
There, it will show details about the product like how much it costs, the size, color and who the seller is.
Make sure to look at the ratings and reviews of the seller.
If the seller has very few to no negative reviews, then it is generally safe to shop their product.
Stay away from sellers with ratings of less than 90%.
Also look at the number of people that have bought the same item.
If many people have purchased the item and the feedback is positive, you can be sure that the seller is trustworthy and the product is of good quality.
Step 3: Buy the item
To buy the item, click the ‘buy now’ button and it will go to the checkout process.
If you want to continue shopping, just click on the ‘add to cart’ option and continue to shop.
Once you’re done shopping, go to checkout.
Here, you will need to confirm your order details first then proceed to the payment section.
Choose your preferred payment method and fill in the required details and submit the order.
The seller will receive an email of your order so they can ship the item/s to you.
Practically that’s it.
Chapter 10: FAQs on How to Import from China to Kenya
In this guide, I believe that I’ve tried to cover what you need to know about importing from China to Kenya.
Kenya and China Presidents
Nonetheless, I know that there are some questions that you’d like answers to.
Therefore in this section, I am going to answer a few of the common questions on importing fromChina to Kenya.
So if you have any questions regarding this topic, I hope that you find your answers here.
1) How does Alibaba protect buyers?
Alibaba has several buyer protection mechanisms.
One of them is the trade assurance mark given to suppliers to help buyers identify trustworthy suppliers from rogue ones.
Also, there is the verified tag on suppliers that are verified by Alibaba.
This assures customers of the supplier’s credibility.
The Alipayescrow service also helps to protect buyers from scammers and fraudsters.
Lastly, Alibaba often removes suppliers identified to be scammers or fraudsters from the site.
2) What is the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress?
Alibaba still owns nothing much since AliExpress.
The difference between the two is that Alibaba suppliers sell in wholesale and their MOQ is high while AliExpress is mainly a retail site meant for small-scale buyers.
3) Can I still resell products from AliExpress for a profit?
Yes, you can.
The fact that AliExpress is known to be a retail site doesn’t mean that product prices there are that bad.
If you compare to the prices of products in Kenya, AliExpress is way cheaper.
This means that you can still buy a product on AliExpress and resell it in Kenya a fair profit.
4) What is the estimated shipping time for products bought from Alibaba?
Well, it depends on several factors including your exact location, shipping method, and the supplier.
But generally, it can take somewhere from 3 up to 45 days to get your items from Alibaba to Kenya.
Remember that the exact will be based on the factors mentioned above.
5) Is it safe to use a sourcing agent when importing from China to Kenya?
Yes, it is as long as you do due diligence when finding the agent.
If you’ve been holding back from importing from China to Kenya because you believe its challenging, now you know that it’s not.
I believe that this guide has helped clear your doubts on how hard it is to import goods from China.
Because as you can see, it is not hard at all, at least not when you have the right knowledge and guidance.
Besides, you should know just how profitable importing from China can be for your business once you learn the ropes of importing from China to Kenya.
So honestly, there’s nothing to be scared of.
Take that bold step and if you need anyone to hold your hand, contact BanSar now.
We will provide you with the right advice and assistance for a hassle-free import from China to Kenya process.
All the best!
Do you have any experience importing products into the country? Would you like to start importing soon? Share your thoughts via the comment box as we’d also like to hear from you.