PURCHASING A MOTOR VEHICLE? What You Need to Know and Do

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PURCHASING A MOTOR VEHICLE? What You Need to Know and Do

No one ever forgets how it felt when they bought their first car or when they finally bought their dream car. Unfortunately for a number of us, we were left with a bitter taste in our mouths, after realising that we had been conned by very cunning individuals.

Read on to know what do you need to prevent falling victim to vehicle fraudsters.  

Seek a Trusted Mechanic’s Advice

Take a trusted mechanic with experience in that particular vehicle model to view, check and road-test the vehicle to confirm that it is mechanically sound, to help pinpoint any issues such as mechanical faults and to help you in the negotiation process. Tell the mechanic to take a mental note of the condition, the parts and accessories of the vehicle as they are on that day.

Crucial Searches to be Conducted

NTSA Search (TIMS Portal)

Conduct a search on the motor vehicle ownership and registration on NTSA TIMS’s portal here using the prospective vehicle’s Registration Number (what Kenyans call ‘number plate’). This will help determine:

  • who the registered owner of the vehicle is; the VIN number (or the chassis number); the engine number; vehicle type (that is, model, type (station wagon, saloon, lorry), colour, engine capacity etc.); and
  • whether there are other co-owners of the vehicle such as a bank, a micro-finance institution or other creditor such as a motor vehicle dealer.

Sometimes, there might be another co-owner or owner listed on the logbook such as:

  • a bank, a financial institution or a motor dealer, which would mean that there is a loan or a debt secured by the vehicle. Request the owner/seller of the vehicle to discharge the charge on the logbook by getting the bank, financial institution or motor dealer to write to NTSA stating that the loan or debt has been repaid (if it has) and to request the charge to be discharged/removed. The owner will then pay discharge fees, surrender their original logbook with the co-owners’ names; and NTSA will issue a new original logbook with the seller’s names only; or
  • a deceased person (legal term for ‘a person who has passed on’). In such a case, you should request the seller to present a copy of confirmed Letters of Administration or Grant of Probate issued by the courts to the NTSA office together with the original logbook, NTSA will then advise on the next steps and ultimately facilitate the transfer of the vehicle to the administrator/executor of the deceased’s estate who has been confirmed by the court and who in turn will transfer the vehicle to you or NTSA will transfer the vehicle directly to you and issue you with a new original logbook in your names.

IMPORTANT: Do not attempt to purchase a vehicle with a logbook showing another owner such as bank, financial institution, a motor dealer or a deceased person! It can be repossessed by the bank, financial institution or a motor dealer or the transfer challenged in court by dependant of the deceased person such as one of their children or spouse! You might end up like the gentleman below!

Collateral Registry Search (eCitizen Portal)

Conduct a search on the Collateral Registry (MPSR) under the Business Registration Service (a department of the Attorney General’s Office) on your account on the eCitizen Portal, by clicking on “Search Request” and select “Search Criteria” then “Grantor’s Identification” where you insert the owner’s/seller’s name and national ID/Passport number or “Motor Vehicle Chassis Number” where you insert the VIN Number of the vehicle. The Collateral Registry lists movable assets including motor vehicles which have been used as security to secure loans granted by individuals, banks, financial institutions such as microfinance institutions, saccos, credit institutions and motor dealers.

KEBS Search 

Conduct a search on Kenya Bureau of Standards’ (“KEBS”) mileage verification portal here using the prospective vehicle’s Chassis Number (VIN Number) to determine whether there has been odometer tampering to reduce actual vehicle mileage. You can also send a text message to 20023 as follows:- CH#Chassis Number. Get the Chassis Number from the NTSA Search document you had already obtained.

KRA Customs Duty Search

Check online for a public notice published in the local dailies on Sunday, May 15, 2016 by Kenya Revenue Authority (“KRA”) and on KRA website for a public notice, which required owners of 124 vehicles (registration numbers listed) to present the vehicles and their importation documents to KRA for verification of payment of import duty; to confirm that the prospective vehicle’s registration number is not among the 124 registration numbers listed therein.

If possible, ask the seller whether they have all (or any) of these documents, QISJ (issued by KEBS), Import Declaration Form (“IDF”), F147 and Payment Slip, Export Certificate, Duty Entry Form and Payment Slip, CFS invoice, Receipt and Release order, and Bill of Lading; especially if they are the vehicle’s first owner or if the seller is a motor vehicle dealership.

Confirm whether the engine has ever been replaced by the seller, and if so, inquire whether there are importation documents such as IDF Forms for the engine, if it was imported; or sale receipts, if the engine was bought locally.

Before Meeting the Buyer

Obtain from a lawyer a Motor Vehicle Sale Agreement or search for a suitable one, online or from a legal portal such as LexisNexis, amend it and then print it.

Open an account with the NTSA TIMS portal and confirm that the owner too has an account on the NTSA TIMS portal. Get the owner’s bank details.

Carry the Motor Vehicle Sale Agreement,NTSA TIMS Vehicle Search and a Bankers Cheque drawn in favour of the owner with the agreed purchase amount.

IMPORTANT: Avoid transacting in cash when meeting the owner/seller. Always use Bankers’ Cheques! They are as good as cash but have the safety precaution of being traceable, easy and safe to carry and have to be banked. In the event that the seller insists on cash (we advise against this!), request them meet you at the banking hall of your  bank and release the funds to them in the hall, not outside, and only AFTER concluding the transfer and being given the original logbook!

Before the meeting, ask the owner to come with the vehicle (if it is roadworthy) to the meeting place, if it is not, arrange for a flat-bed recovery truck to go to the premises where the vehicle is and load it up, that is, BEFORE parting with your Bankers’ Cheque. Remember the film “Now You See Me” or the “Pata Potea” street cons of downtown Nairobi? You can get conned in a blink of an eye. Being a little paranoid, always helps!

IMPORTANT: Avoid paying a seller and then collecting the vehicle later on, even if the seller is a friend. The vehicle might get involved in an accident, be stolen or damaged between the time of payment and collection. Pay only when you can see the vehicle and the keys!

Also before the meeting, ask the owner to carry their original as well as copies of their National ID or Passport and PIN Certificate. Request for the original logbook to be brought to the meeting. Do not forget to ask the owner to carry the QISJ, IDF, F147 and Payment Slip, Export Certificate, Duty Entry Form and Payment Slip, CFS invoice, Receipt and Release order, and Bill of Lading (if these apply, and are available); and where the engine has been replaced, to carry the IDF for imported engines, or sale receipts for locally purchased engines.

On the Transaction Day

IMPORTANT: Hold the meeting in a public place such as a law firm, shopping mall, restaurant, NTSA’s offices, a bank etc., where there are members of public and/or security officers about, as well as internet.

Have your trusted mechanic accompany you to the meeting as well as a trusted friend or relative for security purposes. The mechanic will do a final check on the vehicle to confirm that the vehicle is in the same condition it was when you and him/her checked and road-tested it (vehicle battery, radio, spare wheel, jack, wheel wrench and other parts and accessories are still there and that there is no new dents, cracks or scratches etc.).

Lastly, ensure you have money in your MPESA account for the payment of the motor vehicle transfer charges which vary based on the vehicle type such as saloon, lorry etc. and engine capacity (“cc.”). KES. 6,000.00 is the maximum amount one may be required to pay at present and minimum around KES. 1,000.00.

Ensure that you have access to internet for the purposes of accessing NTSA TIMS portal transferring the vehicle from the owner’s NTSA TIMS account to your NTSA TIMS account.

Confirm and double check that:

  • the engine number (called Vehicle Identification Number “VIN”) on the vehicle matches the one on the NTSA TIMS Search and the original logbook; if it does not, then the vehicle is either stolen, or duty was not paid and has been given the registration of another scrapped or written off vehicle;
  • the original logbook is authentic and not a forgery;
  • the names on the owner’s original logbook match the names on the NTSA TIMS portal;
  • the ID Number or Passport Number and PIN Number on the owner’s TIMS account match those on their original National ID or Passport and PIN Certificate; and
  • there is no other listed owner on the logbook or the TIMS portal such as a bank, financial institution or a motor dealer etc. and if there is, abort the transaction until the other owner consents to the sale and agrees to transfer the vehicle together with the owner to you.

Both parties, that is, the seller and the buyer will then fill in the relevant details on their respective TIMS accounts where the seller transfers and the buyer accepts the transfer (as set out in this link).

The seller will then sign the Motor Vehicle Sale Agreement, handover the original logbook, motor vehicle keys and the buyer will hand over the Bankers Cheque. Also ask for an invoice and/or a receipt (if available).

Take your vehicle, legal documentation and go.

After the Purchase

If the engine had been changed, arrange with the seller to accompany you to the Nairobi Traffic Headquarters along Ngong Road, next to Kenyatta Hospital or the nearest traffic base or police station for the police to sign the replaced engine IDF document or purchase receipt.

Depending on the vehicl type, you can book online on the NTSA TIMS portal for the vehicle’s inspection by NTSA Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit at Industrial Area, Nairobi or the nearest regional Inspection Unit.

Follow up with NTSA two weeks after the transfer, to collect your new logbook in your name. Note to carry your original ID or Passport and the original logbook in the previous owner’s/seller’s name.

Lastly, never ever pay any “Commitment Fee” or any amount “to enable a seller to bring the car to you for viewing or for fuel” or any “Advance Payment”. KES 5,000 or KES. 50,000 is not a small amount! Neither is KES 600,000 or KES 1,000,000. Be smart and take your time and due diligence. Above all, follow our advice here to the letter. Be a little paranoid!☺

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