Like many websites, Shipa Freight uses cookies to personalize your browsing experience.

Register

Ocean and Air Shipping from South Africa to Kenya

FCL, LCL and Air shipping comprehensive guide and instant online quote

Global Air & Ocean CoverageGlobal Air & Ocean Coverage
24X7 Customer Support24X7 Customer Support
500 Offices in Over 100 Countries500 Offices in Over 100 Countries

Kenya is South Africa’s 27th most-popular export destination, accounting for about 1% of the country’s exports. If you’re seeking to import from South Africa to Kenya, this is the page for you.

It’s dedicated to sharing information about shipping freight from South Africa to Kenya. The page includes guidance on choosing between ocean and air shipping, plus details on airports, seaports and customs clearance.


What Are Your Options for Freight From South Africa to Kenya?

Although it’s entirely possible to transport freight by road across the African continent, most businesses export from South Africa to Kenya using air or ocean freight services. Both of these methods have their pros and cons, which will be covered on this page.


Ocean Freight From South Africa to Kenya

Less than Container Load (LCL): With this type of shipping, you pay for your freight to share a container with other goods. This requires logistics processes known as consolidation and deconsolidation, which can mean LCL shipping takes slightly longer than FCL.

Full Container Load (FCL): This is typically the fastest way to ship your goods as ocean freight from South Africa to Kenya. With FCL, you get exclusive use of a container for your cargo. You can fill—or partially fill—your container with goods and seal the container after stuffing.


Air Freight from South Africa to Kenya

Air freight is the fastest way to import from South Africa to Kenya, but the price tag is high for this mode of shipping.


How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From South Africa to Kenya?

To calculate a quote for your cargo, a freight forwarder will need to take into account all of the following:

  • Which seaport or airport in South Africa you’re shipping from
  • Whether you want a port to port, port to door, door to port or door to door delivery
  • What kind of cargo you want to ship
  • The volume and dimensions of the cargo
  • How much your freight weighs

The weight of your goods not only affects the cost of your shipment—it could influence the mode of transport you choose: If your consignment weighs 35kg or less, you’ll need to use the services of an international courier, as freight forwarders won’t quote for such a light load.

If your goods weigh 35 kg to 100 kg, you’re unlikely to find much of a price difference between the quotes you get for ocean or air shipping.

For consignments weighing above 100 kg, ocean shipping typically works out more affordable than air freight.


How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From South Africa to Kenya?

Air freight is easily the fastest mode of transport if your business is importing from South Africa to Kenya. Your freight forwarder will almost certainly route your goods to Kenya’s Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta Airport. It’s about 4,100 km north of Cape Town.

With customs clearance and other processes to be adhered to, shipping air freight from South Africa to Kenya can take up to five days.

Shipping a container from South Africa to Kenya by ocean is an even longer process. Cargo vessels travel at an average speed of 35 km per hour. It's a 3,600 km journey from Durban up the east coast of Africa to Kenya’s only international seaport in Mombasa. Therefore, your supply chain planning should allow for at least a couple of weeks lead time between dispatch and delivery of export orders.


How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From South Africa to Kenya?

Shipment duration will depend on the port of origin you choose in South Africa. The majority of ocean carriers will head for the Port of Mombasa, Kenya’s only international seaport. To give you an idea of transit times, you can expect an LCL shipment to Mombasa from either Cape Town or Durban to take 20 to 30 days. An FCL shipment between the same ports will take 15 to 25 days.


How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From South Africa to Kenya?

Freight forwarders will direct most air shipping to the international airport in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. Although the flight time for direct services from Johannesburg to Kenya is a little over four hours, shipments can take up to five days to complete. That’s because procedures and protocols must be adhered to, and not all airports in South Africa offer direct flights to Kenya, so your goods may be shipped using indirect services.


Customs Clearance Procedures in South Africa and Kenya

All commodities being imported from South Africa to Kenya must adhere to customs rules and regulations. The following documentation will need to accompany your shipment:

  1. Commercial Invoice
  2. Packing List
  3. Certificate of Origin
  4. Letter of Credit or other payment terms (this depends on the contract between the supplier and buyer of the goods)
  5. Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight can supply this)

To see examples of these, please visit our documents list page. Additional paperwork might also be required for your shipment, perhaps including permits, certificates, or licenses.

It’s fair to say that customs clearance is one of the most complex areas of international trade and transportation. Many businesses choose to hand over responsibility for the process to a freight forwarder. By doing so, they minimize the risk of unnecessary delays affecting their shipments. They can also rest assured that their consignments comply with all South African and Kenyan shipping regulations.


Should You Choose Ocean or Air Shipping From South Africa to Kenya?


Ocean Freight

Port-to-port or door-to-door ocean shipping is often chosen by businesses working with a limited budget, or those that have a large consignment to export. When you choose sea freight an ocean carrier will move your goods in a shipping container from South Africa to Kenya.

Your goods will most likely ship in a standard 20ft or 40ft container. These containers open at one end and you either have one for your exclusive use (FCL shipping) or your goods can be shipped in a shared container (LCL shipping). We provide more detail about both forms of ocean shipping below:


Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

LCL shipping is a popular choice for companies with:

  • A consignment comprising a maximum of six standard pallets
  • Cargo that is not urgently required in Kenya
  • Goods that can be safely transported in a shared container
  • Freight that cannot be shipped by air cargo operators for size or safety reasons

LCL shipping could be worth avoiding if:

  • You don’t want your cargo handled or moved more than is necessary
  • You don’t like having no control over the freight with which your goods will share a container
  • Your cargo is high-value, fragile, perishable, or otherwise unsuited to shipping in a shared container

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

FCL is often the best ocean shipping option if:

  • You need to be as sure as possible that your goods will be in Kenya by a specific date
  • You don’t mind paying to ship an entire container, even if you might only partially fill it
  • Your shipment is large and it would not be feasible to use a shared container
  • You want to seal your container in South Africa ahead of the journey to Kenya

Air Freight

Air shipping your freight from South Africa to Kenya is a good option if:

  • You have an urgent delivery deadline to meet
  • Your consignment isn’t that large, and hence, will only occupy two or three pallets
  • Your goods have a short shelf-life and need to be in Kenya fast
  • You want to pay less insurance on your goods than you would if you used ocean shipping
  • You’re shipping valuable cargo that will benefit from the high security offered by airport operators and airlines

Ocean Cargo Port Guide


Cargo Ports of Origin in South Africa


Port Elizabeth

Port Facts:

  • Situated in Algoa Bay
  • Container terminal features three berths for cargo vessels
  • 2.9 million tonnes of containerized goods were handled here in 2016
  • Vehicle parts account for a large percentage of container traffic

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >216,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAPLZ.


Durban

Port Facts:

  • South Africa’s busiest ocean freight hub
  • Over 65% of South Africa’s container traffic is handled here
  • There are only three larger container terminals in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Ideally located to handle containers from Australia, the Far East, Middle East, and India.

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.5 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZADUR.


Cape Town

Port Facts:

  • Situated in Table Bay along one of the world's busiest shipping routes
  • South Africa’s second-largest containerized goods facility
  • Infrastructure includes 34 berths for cargo vessels
  • Served by strong rail and road connections for easy onward distribution of goods across Southern and Western South Africa

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >888,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZACPT.


East London

Port Facts:

  • The only river port in South Africa that’s still in commercial use
  • Formerly known as Port Rex
  • Situated in East Cape Province at the mouth of the Buffalo River
  • Infrastructure includes 12 commercial berths and a ship repair quay

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >53,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAELS.


Coega

Port Facts:

  • Also known as the Port of Ngqura
  • Situated in Nelson Mandela Bay, close to Port Elizabeth
  • A relatively new port, established in 1999
  • Boasts a 60-hectare container terminal
  • Plans to relocate Port Elizabeth’s airport to the Coega Special Economic Zone are expected to boost cargo traffic at the port

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >630,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAZBA.


Cargo Port of Arrival in Kenya


Mombasa

Port Facts:

  • Kenya’s only international seaport
  • The biggest port in East Africa
  • Kilindini Harbor is the port’s main area
  • The hinterland extends to Uganda
  • Handled a record 1.4 million TEUs in 2019
  • The port’s container terminal has ten ship-to-shore gantry cranes

Owned By: Kenya Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.4 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: KEMBA.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide


Airports of Origin in South Africa


Johannesburg

Airport Facts:

  • Also known as O. R. Tambo International Airport
  • Located in Kempton Park, Gauteng
  • The busiest airport in continental Africa

Kenya Airports Served: Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta.

Johannesburg to Kenya Cargo-Only Operators: BidAir Cargo, Cargolux, Emirates Sky Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo, Qatar Airways Cargo, Saudia Cargo, Singapore Airlines Cargo, South African Airways Cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo.

IATA CODE: JNB.


Cape Town

Airport Facts:

  • Africa’s fourth-busiest airport
  • South Africa’s second-busiest air cargo facility
  • Situated 20 km outside of Cape Town

Kenya Airports Served: Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta.

Cape Town to Kenya Cargo-Only Operators: BidAir Cargo.

IATA CODE: CPT.


Port Elizabeth

Airport Facts:

  • Just a five-minute drive from the center of Port Elizabeth
  • Ideal airport of arrival for goods destined for Eastern Cape province
  • About 800 tonnes of air freight is handled here annually
  • Infrastructure includes two runways and 13 aircraft parking bays

Kenya Airports Served: None.

Port Elizabeth to Kenya Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: PLZ


Durban

Airport Facts:

  • Also referred to as King Shaka International Airport
  • 35 km north of central Durban in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal
  • Africa’s ninth-busiest airport
  • Cargo terminal occupies a 15,000 square meter site

Kenya Airports Served: None.

Durban to Kenya Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: DUR


Airport of Arrival in Kenya


Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta

Airport Facts:

  • Located in Embakasi, about 18 km outside of central Nairobi
  • Named after Kenya’s first president and prime minister
  • Aprons can accommodate eight wide-body aircraft simultaneously

Connected Airports in South Africa: Cape Town, Johannesburg.

South Africa to Nairobi Cargo-Only Operators: BidAir Cargo, Cargolux, Emirates Sky Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo, Qatar Airways Cargo, Saudia Cargo, Singapore Airlines Cargo, South African Airways Cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo..

IATA Code: NBO.


Why Ship From South Africa to Kenya With Shipa Freight?

Shipping cargo by ocean, and by air, is easier when you use Shipa Freight’s website. It’s a platform designed to make international shipping simple and straightforward for businesses of all sizes. You can manage all your shipments in one place, and track every step of every delivery on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.

Other benefits of shipping freight from South Africa to Kenya with Shipa Freight include:

  • Access to services provided by the world’s best air and ocean carriers
  • Quick quotes that are easy to understand and compare
  • Online booking and payment using cards or a wire transfer
  • Benefit from a friendly customer service team, available 24/7
  • Expertise to deal with customs/compliance procedures so you can stay focused on your business
  • An online platform connecting you to the network and resources of Agility, a world-leading logistics enterprise

“With Shipa Freight, I could do everything from quotation to booking with just a click”.

Follow us and be up to date on shipping News!

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

Get instant global freight rates