Kenya Customs Regulations: a Guide for Foreign Travelers

Kenya Custom Regulations

Kenya is quickly turning into one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Millions of foreign travelers every year visit Kenya for its unique safari options, cultural treasures, and idyllic beaches.

To encourage this rise in international tourism, the Kenyan government is taking steps that make traveling to Kenya easier and hassle-free. For example, the new eVisa for Kenya allows eligible overseas visitors to enter the country for tourism, business, and health purposes. It can be applied for entirely online from anywhere in the world and is valid for up to 30 consecutive days.

But visa requirements and travel documents are not the only things one should keep in mind when traveling abroad. Like most countries around the world, Kenya enforces a series of customs, currency, and airport tax regulations.

In order to avoid delays at the airport and potential fines, it’s important that foreigners are aware of these rules. This article will provide you with useful and practical information regarding Kenya’s customs policies, including what you can and cannot import or export from the country.

What Can I Import into Kenya?

When you pack your luggage for Kenya, there are a series of items you cannot forget (like appropriate and comfortable clothes, medications you know you will need, and your travel permit for the country).

However, there are also items that are considered restricted or even prohibited by the Kenyan authorities.

Prohibited Items: What You Can’t Take into Kenya

Here is a list of prohibited items that you cannot import and should leave out of your luggage:

  • Illegal drugs
  • Guns, explosives, and ammunition – unless you have a relevant written permit
  • Knives and hunting weapons
  • Hazardous materials
  • Meat and meat products
  • Plants and plant products – unless you have a relevant written permit
  • Soil
  • Counterfeit money and goods
  • Single-use plastic bags
  • Pornographic material.

As you can see, some of the above are illegal objects or substances, while others are forbidden to ensure that the local environment (with its unique flora and fauna) is preserved.

Restricted Items: What You Need to Get Permission for

The below items are not forbidden completely. However, you may have to get permission before traveling to Kenya with them, or you may have to clear them at the Kenyan border with Customs.

Here’s the list of prohibited items for Kenya:

  • You will need a written police permit to travel with arms
  • You will need a special Plant Import Permit in order to import any plants or plant products into the country
  • Meat and meat products must be declared at customs and cleared. They may not be permitted entry
  • Animals can only travel as cargo. Cats and dogs require a general good health certificate from the country of origin and another recent certificate clearing the animals of Rabies. Wild birds coming from countries with bird flu will require a sanitary import permit issued by the Director of Veterinary Services
  • Other restricted items may include: unprepared ivory, precious metal and stones, historical artifacts, imitation firearms, children’s toys, and fruit.

Can You Take Alcohol into Kenya?

Yes, travelers are allowed to enter Kenya with a limited amount of alcohol. Here is a list of items — including alcohol — that can be imported into Kenya as long as quantity limitations are observed:

  • Cigarettes and tobacco: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 227 grams of tobacco
  • Alcohol: 1 bottle
  • Perfume: 1 pint
  • Money: no limits to local and foreign currency that foreign travelers can import. However, residents of Kenya can import up to 500,000 Kenyan Shillings and an unlimited amount of foreign currency.

What Can I Export from Kenya?

All tourists like to bring back souvenirs and unique objects to remind them of their time on holiday. And of course, Kenyans are proud of their fine artifacts and products.

However, Kenya’s custom regulations also cover what goods can and cannot be exported so make sure that you have everything in order before deciding to take items outside of the country.

Here’s a list of common objects that may have special regulations in place or may be prohibited altogether:

  • Cameras and equipment for filming outside the country which the traveler plans to bring back must be declared
  • Toolboxes required for repair work abroad and that the traveler plans to bring back must be declared
  • There’s no limit to the amount of money you can export. However, you must declare sums equal to USD 500 with the Customs Department
  • Jewelry must be declared
  • Sporting equipment must be declared
  • Musical instruments must be declared
  • Plants and plant products must receive special written permission
  • Precious metals such as gold and diamonds cannot be exported
  • Wood charcoal cannot be exported
  • Fresh unprocessed fish cannot be exported
  • Hunting products like tusks, skins, hides, etc cannot be exported as hunting is prohibited in Kenya.