Kenya - Standards for TradeKenya - Trade Standards
OverviewA Kenyan Standard is a document established by consensus and approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines, or characteristics for products and services and related processes or production methods, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.
Kenya applies a comparative ‘standard’ to all products or services. Kenya standards are classified into six categories: glossaries or definitions of terminology; dimensional standards; performance standards; standard methods of test; codes of practice; and measurement standards. These standards are developed by technical committees whose membership includes representatives of various interest groups such as producers, consumers, technologists, research organizations, and testing organizations, in both the private and public sectors. The secretariat of these technical committees is the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).
Some of the departments include the Food and Agriculture Department which is responsible for the development of standards covering food technologies, food safety, fertilizers, agricultural produce, livestock and livestock products, poultry and poultry products, etc.
The Chemical Department is responsible for the development of standards covering soaps, detergents, paints, pesticides, stationery, and related equipment and all products based on chemical formulations. Others include the services standards department, and the engineering department.
The Standards Information and Resource Section are responsible for the maintenance and availability of standards information, library, World Trade Organization (WTO) National Enquiry Point (NEP), and sales of standards while the Publishing Section is responsible for the editing and publishing of all Kenya Standards and related documents.
StandardsOrganizations that develop standards in Kenya include:
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS)
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)
The Division of Environmental Health
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) is the government regulatory body under Kenya's Ministry of Trade mandated to prepare standards relating to products, measurements, materials, processes, etc., and promote these at national, regional and international levels. The National Environment Management Authority, under the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Public Health, and the Ministry of Health are all government organizations that develop environmental and public health standards in partnership with KEBS. KEBS conducts product testing for individual product categories and undertakes certification. KEBS has a semi-annual standards development plan and is now reviewing all standards with particular attention to those that are ten or more years old. A large number of the standards have been already reviewed and harmonized within the Eastern Africa region.
Kenya is member country of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is required under the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries.
NIST Notify U.S. Service
Notify U.S., operated by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute for Standards and Technology, is a free, web-based email subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed technical regulations of WTO member countries that can affect access to international markets. Register online.
Testing, Inspection and CertificationPublication of Technical Regulations
Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to notify to the WTO proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures that could affect trade. Notify U.S. (www.nist.gov/notifyus) is a free, web-based e-mail registration service that captures and makes available for review and comment key information on draft regulations and conformity assessment procedures. Users receive customized e-mail alerts when new notifications are added by selected country(ies) and industry sector(s) of interest, and can also request full texts of regulations. This service and its associated web site are managed and operated by the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point housed within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Conformity AssessmentAll consignments of regulated products must now obtain a Certificate of Conformity issued by authorized PVoC country offices (programs managed by partners such as Intertek Services) and an import standards mark (ISM) prior to shipment.
The certificate and ISM are mandatory customs clearance documents in Kenya; consignments of products arriving at points of entry without these documents are subject to delays and possibly denial of admission into the country.
The ISM is consignment specific. The mark must be applied to all products which have impact on health and safety, environment such as food and foodstuffs, electrical fittings, electrical appliances and accessories, infant ware and toys. Informal arrangements with customs officials are widely believed to be responsible for the large volume of fake and counterfeit products present in the market, despite these regulatory requirements.
For consignments shipped without inspection, importers may apply for a destination inspection subject to KEBS acceptance and pay a penalty of 15 percent and a 15 percent bond of the CIF value, plus the costs of the test. It is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that shipments to Kenya happen only after issuance of a Certificate of Conformity and ISM. In November 2007, KEBS removed a significant non-tariff trade barrier by agreeing to waive the Certificate of Conformity (CoC) requirement on bulk agricultural commodities inspected and certified by U.S. government inspection agencies, i.e., the U.S. Department of Agriculture Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
In addition to KEBS, other national testing bodies include:
- The Government Chemist (forensic testing for law enforcement agencies);
- The National Quality Control Laboratories (medical and pharmaceutical testing);
- The National Public Health Laboratories (testing of microbiological reagents);
- The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) (certification of all imported plant materials as well as implementing sanitary & phytosanitary requirements);
- Materials Testing Department, Ministry of Roads & Public Works (testing of materials used in the building and construction industries).
Product CertificationCertification can improve reputation, open up new markets, or simply enable the company to operate. It also enables companies to manage risk and drive performance, by tracking a number of key variables over a period of time.
The certification process typically includes on-site audits and standardized testing and inspections. Once a certificate has been delivered, it is maintained through regular audits.
Product certification is voluntary, but essential for marketing purposes. There are no mandatory requirements for product certification, but companies are encouraged to have their export products certified. National organizations such as the Radiation Protection Board, NEMA, the Dairy Board of Kenya, and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) have specific product and system requirements that must be met prior to issuance of licenses or permits.
The importation of any form of plant material (seeds, cuttings, bud wood plantlets, fresh fruit, flowers, and timber) into Kenya is subject to strict conditions as outlined in the import permit issued by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) prior to shipment of such plants from the origin regardless of whether they are duty free, gifts or for commercial or experimental purposes.
Seed certification is mandatory before seeds can be sold locally; the process can take up to three years. Kenya has been a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) since 1999. Note: Seeds are the number one good counterfeited in Kenya.
The Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) registers all agricultural chemicals imported or distributed in Kenya following local testing by an appointed research agency. It also inspects and licenses all premises involved in the production, distribution, and sale of the chemicals. The board has the right to test chemicals sold locally to assure their compliance with originally certified specifications. No agricultural chemicals can be imported into Kenya without prior PCPB authorization, and chemicals can only be sold for the specific use granted by the board. For the most part, major horticulture producers and exporters also adhere to strict European Union and U.S. standards in the application and use of agricultural chemicals.
All organizations involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of agricultural chemicals in Kenya are members of the Agro Chemical Association of Kenya (ACAK). Members must sign a "Code of Conduct" based on the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization Code. This document requires rigid controls in the manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and distribution of agrochemicals. It also mandates an ethics code.
Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) and the Ministry of Health are responsible for the certification and registration of all pharmaceutical drugs manufactured or imported into the country.
To indicate conformity with mandatory product requirements, manufacturers can voluntarily place a KEBS mark of quality on the certified product. KEBS has the legal authority to stop the sale of substandard products and to prosecute offending parties. KEBS may inspect the product to ensure it conforms to KEBS or any other KEBS-approved standards; products that do not meet the standards are to withdrawn from the market and the importer/manufacturer may be prosecuted.
AccreditationAccreditation bodies in Kenya include KEBS, SGS, and Bureau Veritas; however, no mandatory accreditation for laboratories is required for any sector. The Kenya Accreditation Services (KENAS) is a quasi-government body with both public and private sector membership to develop a national accreditation system. KENAS is recognized by the GOK as the sole national accreditation body that provides format recognition for Certification Bodies (CBs), Inspection Bodies (IBs) and Laboratories throughout the country. This ensures that testing and calibration, proficiency testing scheme providers are competent to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks.
KENAS also registers assessors, auditors, and inspectors, and regulates training providers of management systems. KENAS is responsible for the Accreditation of Certification Bodies to ISO/IEC Guide 62 66 (replaced by ISO/IEC 17021:2006 in September 2007) and 65 (including adherence to the IAF interpretation of the same and laboratory certification to ISO/IEC 17025). All inspection bodies are accredited to ISO/IEC 17020 standards.
Publication of Technical RegulationsProposed technical regulations under the Standards Act do not normally require notification via the official government publication, the Kenya Gazette; however, final regulations are published in the Kenya Gazette as legal notices. By enrolling in a corporate membership with KEBS, U.S. companies can, upon a written request to the Managing Director of KEBS, receive proposed technical regulations that affect their industry. They can also submit their comments on the proposed regulations for consideration by the relevant technical committee.
To obtain the list of proposed KEBS standards, U.S. exporters can contact:
Kenya Bureau of Standards,
Off Mombasa Road, Nairobi South C,
P.O. Box 54974 -00200, Nairobi, Kenya;
Tel: +254 (20) 6948201/401; Fax: +254 (20) 60403;
Contact: Mr. Charles O. Ongwae, Managing Director,
Labeling and MarkingSpecial labeling is required for certain goods including condensed milk, paints, varnishes, vegetables, and butter. In addition, imports of pre-packaged paints and related or similar products must be sold by metric weight or metric fluid measure. Weights and measure indicators must be in metric form or display both metric and imperial units (the U.S. standard).
Manufacturers are required to indicate the date of manufacture and expiry on the labels of consumable products. Labeling for pharmaceutical products must include therapeutically active substances, inactive ingredients, name, and percentage of any bactericidal or bacteriostatic agent, expiry date, and batch number, registration number of the product, and warnings or precautions, and the official name and business address of manufacture.
Contact InformationKenya Bureau of Standards
Popo Road, Off Mombasa Road, Nairobi South C
P.O. Box 54974-00200, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 (20) 6948-800, +254-722 202 137/8, +254-734 600 471/2
Fax: +254 (20) 6004-031
Contact: Charles Ongwae, Managing Director
Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.