As of 28th August 2017 plastic bags are banned in Kenya. Arriving visitors are requested to avoid bringing plastic bags into the country.

In fact being in possession of a plastic bag will be an offence as it will now be against the law, although the government has indicated that any penalties will initially apply to retail outlets and manufacturing companies in Kenya rather than individuals. Visitors are advised to avoid packing any plastic bags in their suitcases or in carry-on hand luggage before flying to Kenya. Items purchased at the airport before boarding the aircraft should be removed from plastic bags. Please check hand luggage before disembarking in Nairobi and any plastic bags should be left in the plane.

The ban includes plastic bags of any kind (including Ziploc) brought into the East African nation by tourists. In other words: all plastic bags are now illegal in Kenya.

That includes:

  • plastic bags packed in both your hand luggage and checked luggage,
  • duty free bags coming from outside Kenya
  • All kinds of plastic bags, basically!!
  • The new law mandates that all plastic bags be confiscated at ports of entry, whether airports, sea ports or overland.

If you’re thinking of clandestinely sneaking your plastic bags into Kenya, be aware that the penalties for getting caught using plastic bags inside the country are fairly stiff: Fines of up to four million Kenya Shillings (US$38,000) and up to four years behind bars.

While not as dust proof or waterproof as good old plastic, there are a number of alternatives including bags made from non-plastic materials like cloth, paper, jute or sisal as well as polypropylene and 100% recyclable materials.

Two other alternatives, especially for those packing sensitive electronics, are dry sacks and packing cubes.