Second-hand cars in Kenya hit a bump after the government announces plans to lower import age limit

Cars awaiting clearance outside one of the sheds at Mombasa port.
  • The age limit for second-hand car imports is set to drop from eight to five years starting July.
  • Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has directed Kebs to draft the new regulations starting January 15.
  • Implementation of the order will immediately raise the price of almost all second-hand vehicle imports to above Sh1 million.

It will no longer be business as usual for second-hand car dealers in Kenya after years of smooth riding.

The age limit for second-hand car imports is set to drop from eight to five years starting July, setting the stage for a steep increase in prices and taxes payable on the units.

In a letter dated December 20, 2018, to Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya directed the regulatory body to draft legal amendments lowering the age limit and raising allowable exhaust emission standards for all vehicle imports.

“Be advised that government has already committed itself to developing a National Automotive Policy Framework and at the same time, review the emission levels and age limit on imported used motor vehicles from the current eight (8) years to five (5) years effective July 2019,” Mr Munya wrote in a December 20, 2018 letter to Kebs.

Mr Munya has directed Kebs to draft the new regulations starting January 15, paving way for gazettement and official enforcement of the changes after Treasury secretary Henry Rotich’s Budget presentation in June.

Second-hand car imports are highly popular with the majority of Kenyans due to to their affordability compared to locally assembled units or newer cars from overseas markets such as Japan which cost more to buy.

Implementation of the order will immediately raise the price of almost all second-hand vehicle imports to above Sh1 million, with the cost increase ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions of shillings depending on the model.

A vehicle manufactured in 2012 is the oldest that can be imported into the country this year based on the current eight-year age limit but the change to five years means the year of manufacture will be from 2015.

A 4.6-litre petrol Toyota Land Cruiser VX manufactured in 2012 currently retailing at Sh7 million will shoot to about Sh11 million, what a similar 2015 model currently retails at inclusive of dealers margins, once the new regulations comes into effect.

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