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How To Import Goods From China To Kenya

China has become a global manufacturer and producer. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, it is safe to say the country is not lacking in innovative minds and it goes without saying that the Chinese work tirelessly to build their economy.

Over the recent past, China’s relationship with Kenya has immensely grown. Not only through the loans it has granted the country but also due to the numerous Chinese inventions and products that have flooded the country. So many Kenyans are importing China manufactured goods since there is a massive market for these products. In fact, millions of electronics in Kenya are imported from China. If you want to import goods from China, here is a quick guide on how to go about it.

Identify your niche

What are you interested in importing to Kenya? Most of the products imported into the country are electronics but it’s not limited to that only. Identify products that you will get at discounted prices and are not readily available in Kenya or are too expensive to buy locally. Apart from electronics, you can choose to sell shoes, jewelry and skin care products. After identifying what you want to import, then it is easier to proceed to the next process.

Note: before importing any products to Kenya make sure they are not prohibited since they will not be cleared.

Some of these products are:

  • A wide variety of hazardous materials and chemicals
  • Beauty and cosmetic products that contains mercury
  • Controlled narcotics
  • Counterfeit currency
  • Matches made with white phosphorous
  • Obscene materials
  • Used tires for commercial vehicles

Other items are restricted, requiring permits. Examples include:

  • Bows, arrows, and fencing equipment
  • Firearm parts, ammunition, and explosives
  • Genetically modified items
  • Historical artefacts
  • Ivory of all descriptions

Choose your supplier

There are thousands of eager traders in China who are ready to supply you with what you want. Saying you will make a trip to China to check the goods out yourself can be quite expensive. The easiest way is to use google to find your supplier and while this may seem risky since you won’t be meeting the person, it is the affordable route. Simply identify which supplier is offering good deals, look at their online reviews to make sure they are genuine, and you can begin chatting with them.

Don’t be quick to place orders. Engage with them and ensure they are legitimate by asking the right questions and verifying their answers if possible. If the answers seem sketchy, drop them and look for someone else. Some good and genuine suppliers are even willing to send you a free sample just so that you can be sure before placing an order. 

If you don’t want the hustle of looking for a supplier randomly on the internet, use Alibaba or AliExpress. There are so many sellers in the app and the best part is if you pay for goods and they fail to arrive, you can file a dispute and 99.5% of the customers swear their money is given back to them. If you want to use the above apps, Alibaba is the best for importing wholesale products  and AliExpress for one or few products. The apps have very amazing deals and stories of people making good money by taking advantage of them are numerous. When using the apps, check reviews from different stores to see the experience of other customers with that particular shop.

Order and Payment

Once you’ve identified your supplier and proven they are genuine, make an order. For your first order, you are usually advised not to order too much. Begin with a little amount just to sample the products and see whether you like them or not.

The best methods of payment are via PayPal or bank transfer. You can also use your debit or credit card, however, PayPal is more secure. If you’re ordering from Alibaba or AliExpress, the easiest way is to pay via M-pesa. 


There are a number of ways your goods can reach you. They can be shipped via air transfer or postal address. However, it is much more expensive to ship goods that way above 1,000 kilograms as you will be charged per cubic meters. 

You can also look into affordable shipping companies in the country. Some affordable and best reviewed shipping companies include:

  • Air freight
  • African salihiya Nairobi
  • Kentex cargo clearing and forwarding 
  • LCL companies offering all-in price shipping.

Of course there are so many companies, each offering different prices. There is FedEx which is very popular but many claim it is too expensive. If you choose a higher clearing and forwarding company, you pay them the shipping fee and they take care of customs for you, but some only ship. Be careful which company you choose and conduct thorough research.

African Salihiya offer very competitive rates and prices are all inclusive, meaning they include duty and customs. It takes them up to 14 days to clear goods that arrive by air and 30 to 35 days for goods that arrive via sea. You can also track your goods and they will store them for free in their warehouse for up to 14 days from the day of arrival. After 14 days elapse, they begin to charge a fee per day. 

If you choose Alibaba or AliExpress, then all you have to do is pay for the order with the indicated shipping fee. Shipping fee varies and some stores even offer free shipping. You then wait for the goods to arrive in Kenya through the address you selected. 


Once the goods arrive, go pick them up at whatever address you indicated or your desired shipping company. Some shipping companies may deliver them straight to your home or business address but you are likely to incur extra costs. 

You won’t always pay the exact amount for the goods. For example, if you were importing goods worth Ksh200,000, you may end up paying extra because of shipping and customs. It is also important to ensure you are importing quality original goods as fake goods may not be cleared with customs.