Motor vehicle registration in Kenya

Motor vehicle registration in Kenya

Registration and licensing of a motor vehicle in Kenya

Registration and licensing of motor vehicles and drivers in Kenya are handled by the Registrar of Motor vehicles. This is done in the Road Transport Department which is managed by the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Motor vehicles in Kenya

There are over 500,000 motor vehicles on the Kenyan roads. Of these, saloons and station wagons form about 50%. Utility vehicles especially pick-ups form about 20%. Matatus registered annually are slightly more than the buses/coaches. Both form about 5% of the total motor vehicle population in the country. With the liberalization of the economy, used imported motorcars far outnumber the new motor cars registered annually. Most of the imported used motor vehicles are saloon cars.

The Registrar of Motor vehicles registers, issues number plates and Registration books (logbooks) for all the vehicles, trailers, tractors, mobile cranes, motorcycles, and all other types of motor vehicles. In addition, the Registrar keeps records for all the vehicles registered by the department; civilian, G.K., parastatals, city/county councils, and UN bodies as well as embassies.

Registration of number plates in Kenya

There are five types of number plates issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles; for civilian, GK,  parastatals, local authorities and diplomats. The civilian number plates have a white oblong plate at the front bumper of the car and yellow oblong or squire plate in the rear bumper depending on the make of the car.

The GK plates are similar in design and color as civilian ones only that the numbering is different. The parastatals have the same design of plates but that both plates are blue in color. Local Authorities have green color while diplomats have red ones. It is only the civilian and the GK plates that have white front and yellow rear plates. Others have one color for both plates.

Motor vehicle registration in Kenya

 The history of car registration numbers in Kenya

Motor car registration identification numbers have been changing over the years.

Government vehicles

During the colonial era, the government administration was on His/Her Majesty’s Service (HMS). Therefore government vehicles registered then bore the following identification marks:

HMS 3457 (HMS followed by 4 digits).

This continued until after independence (December 1963) when the registration marks were changed to Government of Kenya (GK).

GK 1245 (GK followed by 4 digits).

This series continued until GK 9999 when a new one GK 001A was introduced.

In 1982, this serialization was changed to:

GK A789 (GK, gap followed by a letter and three digits).

In 1997, a new serial numbering was adopted:

GK B653C (GK, gap, a letter, 3 digits, and a letter).

Civilian registration numbering

The registration identification marking of civilian cars are as follows:

KAB 159

KAB is the registration Mark

159 is the registration Number

♦  Up the to late 1950s, the registration identification numbering was: H 4965 (A letter followed by 4 digits.
♦  In the 1960s the registration numbering was changed to: KAK 498 (K followed by two letters, gap, then three digits).
♦  ln 1989, this was changed to KAM 697E (K followed by two letters, gap, three digits followed by a letter.

Diplomats registration numbers

They are given red number plates and registration marks are as follows:

99 CD 19 K (first figures are the code for the diplomats country. CD shows it is for a chartered Diplomat and the next set of figures is allocated by the embassy, for instance depending on the rank of the car owner in the embassy, then at the end is K which means the embassy is based in Kenya.

United Nations bodies

They are also given red number plates and registration marks which are as follows:

12 UN 23K (The set of figures are for the UN department (for example, Population Fund, UN HQs, UNDP, UNICEF, next set with a K are for the rank or code of the car owner).

Development corporations linked to embassies

Car registration marks and numbers which are on red number plate appear like this:

32 DX 76B K (The first set of figures are the code for the country of the embassy, next set of two letters are for the NGO then followed by a ranking of the car owner and ending with a K.

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)

With its Headquarters in Nairobi, the organization is allocated its own registration Mark and Numbers, for example, UNEP 246K.

Non-profit making international organizations

These organisations include; ICRAF, ILRAD, Red Cross, ICIPE, PTA Bank, They are issued with red number plates with the following pattern; KX 06 B 68 (The first two letters are a code for these NGOs, and the next two digits and a letter are for a particular NGO, then the next set of figures are the serial number of the car or ranking of the officer who owns it.


♦  Initially, trailers had a registration or serial marking as follows: Z 2837

♦  In 1971, this was changed to ZA 0149 ($ digits)

Government officials

Government officials with special numbers for their official cars are: The Attorney General – (AG 1) V

The Speaker of the National Assembly — (SNA 1)

Motor vehicle registration process in Kenya

New motor vehicles in Kenya

The registration process is handled by the motor vehicle dealer before handing over the vehicle to the customer. A motor car should not be used without number plates and appropriate licenses. The Registration Book is issued to the car owner later by the Registrar. However, if the motor vehicle is bought on credit, the Registration Book will show joint owners and it will be released to the financier who will retain it until the loan is repaid. The transfer will then be effected to remove joint ownership. The dealer will obtain from the vehicle buyer the necessary information and documents for the motor vehicle registration.

Imported used motor vehicles in Kenya

Most used cars in Kenya are imported from Japan and Dubai. There are some vehicles also from Britain, South Africa, and a few other countries. Those imported through Mombasa Port are registered in the Registrar’s Mombasa office after they have been cleared from the entry port.

In Kenya, a used car must be registered for no longer than 8 years to qualify for importation. Additionally, the gap between the year of manufacture and the year of registration should be 1 year or less. Otherwise, the car cannot be imported in Kenya.

The Importation rules and regulation in Kenya imposes the following import tax rates:

♦  Import Duty: Around 25% dutiable value
♦  Excise Duty: Around 20% of the sum of import duty and customs value
♦  Value Added Tax: 16% of the sum of import duty, customs value and excise duty
♦  Import Declaration Fee (IDF): Minimum of 5,000 USD or approximately 2.25% CIF, depending on which is higher

The inspection of all import used cars in Kenya is conducted to rate the overall road condition of the car. If the vehicle fails, it will not be cleared by the customs. Basically, there are 2 types of vehicle inspection used in Kenya, and they are as follows:

♦  Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Center, also known as JEVIC
♦  Quality Inspection Services Japan, also known as QISJ

What you need for Motor vehicle registration in Kenya

Duty and VAT paid receipts, Import Entry form, Foreign Registration Book (with its certified English translation if the same is not in English), Mombasa Port Release or Ainuays Bill, Bill of Lading, import Declaration Form (IDF), duplicate valid insurance certificate, Vehicle Inspection Report for Commercial and PSV’s photocopies of the owner’s national identity card or business registration certificate where applicable, PIN card and the completed application form (Form A).

For duty-free vehicles, a copy of an exemption letter or documentary evidence of the exemption should be attached, such as a passport, for returning residents. The rest of the usual registration documents except the tax paid receipts should also be availed. Other motor vehicles registered by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles are: Ex- Army, Ex-Government, Ex-CD or other foreign bodies, and the Police auction cars whose registration number has been tampered with or unknown and the owner cannot be identified.

Where duty was not paid initially during the previous registration, it must now be paid before the vehicle can be registered for the new owner. This means that the motor vehicle will have to be taken to the Customs and Excise Department for valuation for the payment of this duty.

To register a vehicle, you will need to take to the Registrar the registration book, number plates (a pair), duty receipts, copies of your identity card, PIN card, duplicate insurance cover, and a completed application Form A. Parastatal and local government cars are allocated the same serial registration number but with civilian number plate. Parastatals have blue plates while the local government has green.

Motor vehicle registration can be changed for very limited reasons. For instance, if a motor vehicle is stolen and is missing for an unreasonably long period, it may have been involved in many crimes and may be unsafe for the owner to continue using it with the same registration number.

If the Registrar accepts your request, the vehicle will be re-registered and you will be issued with new number plates, registration book as well as road licenses after paying the usual fees. The Registrar will require from the applicant a letter from the C.l.D office confirming the need for such change. Registration book is usually posted to the car owner under certificate of posting using the address given in the application Form “A”.

The vehicle registration book must be surrendered to the Registrar when the vehicle has been written off. The Diplomats must have their forms Pro lB or DAI approved by the officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The approved forms will form part of the registration application documents.

Registration of the customs auction vehicles

You need:

The payment receipt, letter from the Commissioner of Customs and Excise Department confirming that the applicant was the winning bidder, Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) for commercial vehicles, photocopies of ID and PIN card, duplicate insurance cover, customs receipt and application form ‘A’ duly signed.

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