How to Acquire a Horticultural Export License In Kenya

The process of acquiring a horticultural export license in Kenya sucks!

And here’s why,

First, you’ll need countless documents to initiate the process, some which take a lot of hustle to acquire.

Second, you need to perfectly understand the international market requirements, and third, break the bank trying to outsource some of the services since it’s evident that you can’t do it all alone.

Fourth, be prepared to be taken round in circles by the licensing authority, and lastly, brace yourself for disappointments along the way.

Good news, though.

You will ultimately get your export license and trust me, it pays.

But does the process have to be all that difficult?

Probably yes!

Because let’s face it, nothing good ever comes easy. However, with the right information coupled with a passion for your business, we can make the process a breeze.

In this article, I’m going to provide you with the former and assume that you will contribute the latter – passion.

First things first, do you have what it takes to target the international market?

If your answer is, ‘no’ or ‘not sure,’ this article may not be of much help to you. However, if your answer is ‘yes,’ then welcome aboard.

Steps for Applying for a Horticultural Export License in Kenya

I have segmented the process into nine steps that are easy to follow through. It is also important to note that, not everyone will go through each step.

It depends on what stage you are at establishing your export business. Some have registered their companies and some might just be starting out.

Step1: Register your company/business

It’s important that you register your company or business with the registrar of companies. You can either do this yourself or pay somebody to do this on your behalf.

Once you’ve obtained a certificate of business registration, make a copy and move to the next step.

Step2: Apply for company’s KRA PIN and Tax Compliance Certificate

Make sure that you apply for a KRA PIN for your company early enough. Secondly, login to your KRA iTax page and apply for a Tax Compliance Certificate. That is, assuming that you’ve filed your returns.

Step3: Pitch your company to buyers overseas

It doesn’t make sense to apply for an export license without having clients abroad. Therefore, pitch your company and offer to importers first.

Your primary objective is to enter into any form of agreement with an overseas client. Strive to get an order or get a written agreement that they will buy from you.

If you’re past this stage, you can move to the next important step.

Step4: Conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of your project

Get in touch with National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) or a certified consultant and let them conduct an EIA of the project.

Once they are satisfied with your compliance, they will issue you with an EIA license. You will have to pay a small fee, though (Minimum of Ksh10,000).

Step5: Reach out to strategic partners and apply for a local business permit

At this stage, you must have realized that there’s so much to be done and that you might not have all the resources. It’s time call a few players that you can partner with.

For instance, you’ll need more out-growers (farmers) to supply you with fresh produce or supplement your production.

You’ll need the services of a logistical company and a cold storage/ Packhouse. Horticultural Crops Directorate can help you with that.

However, if you have the necessary resources and finances, you can still go it alone by setting up your own infrastructure.

Lastly, you’ll need a county government business permit. (This can be obtained from nearest Sub-County office e.g in Juja you can visit Juja Sub-County offices).

Step6: Request for a phytosanitary statement from KEPHIS

Next, you need to email KEPHIS to request for a phytosanitary statement. Just make sure you tell them that you’re in the process of applying for an export license.

Since you don’t yet have an account yet, your statement will read nil. Which is fine.

Step7:  Fill out the necessary application forms

You’re almost through.

Next, visit AFFA-HCD website, download and fill the following forms; Form 1A, Form 1B, PS1 & PS11 Forms, and EQS Form (all typed).

Fill the forms as accurately as possible.

Step8: Attach the necessary documents

After filling the forms in step7 above, you need to attach the necessary supporting documents. This is when everything that you’ve gone through from step1 becomes important.

The documents to be attached include;

A certified copy of a certificate of business registration from the registrar of companies.
A certified copy of the company’s KRA Pin.
A certified copy of memorandum and articles of association.
Photocopies of IDs for all the directors (passport and work permit in case of foreign directors).
Documentary evidence from your overseas client indicating agreement or order for produce.
KEPHIS phytosanitary statement for one calendar year.
Evidence of Good Agricultural Practices
Farm and Pack House Inspection Report by HCD staff

Step9: Appear for the vetting at AFFA-HCD headquarters

Once through with step8 above, it’s about time to present yourself and your documents for vetting at AFFA-HCD Headquarters located at JKIA, Nairobi.

You need to prepare well by further visiting AFFA-HCD website and downloading the vetting checklist. Go through the checklist and ensure you’ve fully complied.

After successfully going through the vetting and attaining the minimum requirements for licensing, you’ll have to pay a license fee of Kshs. 5,000 and a Cess deposit of Kshs. 5,000.

Your license is processed instantly.

That marks the end of your struggle and the beginning of a flourishing export business.


Exporting horticultural produce is one of the most lucrative business today. However, it’s dominated by a few individuals because of a lot of bureaucracies involved.

I have, however, demystified the silly belief that acquiring a horticultural export license is impossible. On the contrary, it’s the easiest part. Don’t let the amount of documentation required upfront fool you.

Are you already exporting? Let me know your experience of acquiring the export license. Any more thoughts? Let’s meet in the comments below.