Before you book that dream safari trip to the Masai Mara, start planning beach time in Mombasa or working out which of Nairobi’s cool bars you want to enjoy a cold beer at, make sure you’ve got your visa to visit Kenya figured out. 

The good news is a tourist visa for Kenya is easy to obtain for many nationalities, and most are issued promptly after an online application. We've got everything you need to know about Kenya visa applications, including costs, the documents you need, and which countries require a visa.

Do I need a visa for Kenya?

Most nationalities (Category 2) need to apply for an eVisa online before arriving in Kenya. Some nationalities are exempt and do not require a visa to enter, which is classified as Category 1, and a small number in Category 3 require referred visas, meaning a trip to the local Kenyan embassy before arrival.

The President of Kenya, William Ruto, recently announced a plan to end all visa requirements for visitors from other African countries by 2024. 

Two people looking out of a Jeep Safari in Kenya, Africa
Only a handful of nationalities can travel to Kenya without getting a visa first © ACALU Studio / Stocksy United

Who can visit Kenya visa-free?

Citizens of a small number of countries don’t need a visa to enter Kenya. Check the official comprehensive eligibility list, which includes some Caribbean and African nations and countries such as Cyprus, Fiji and Singapore. Travelers under 16 are often exempt but check directly for specific visa requirements for your nationality.

How do I apply for a tourist visa for Kenya?

Apply for a tourist visa through Kenya’s official eVisa website. Set up an account with a username and password, and keep it handy because you can log in to see your application status. You'll need to provide your travel itinerary, and you’ll have to upload a recent color photo taken in the last six months.

Give yourself enough time before you travel to complete the application because you might need to supply details of where you’re staying. Although the website says visas are issued within 48 hours, we recommend giving yourself a buffer in case of any delays. After submitting, some applicants might be asked to provide extra information about their stay or their hosts.

The visa service says you’ll receive email confirmation of your application or payment, but this isn’t always the case – don’t panic if you don’t get anything via email. Instead, log in with your username and password to check the status of your visa. You can also check the dedicated Verify an eVisa portal.

When your visa is issued, print off a couple of copies (one in color) to take with you, and download the PDF so you have a digital copy saved to your phone.

Kenyan market stalls on the side of the Nairobi Highway (A2).
A fruit market stall on the side of the Nairobi Highway (A2) © Jordon Sharp / Shutterstock

How much does a tourist visa for Kenya cost?

The standard visa is the single-entry visa and it costs US$51. All online payments are taken in US dollars. You can use this to enter Kenya once for business, tourism, medical or other reasons. The single-entry visa is valid for three months from the date of issue.

Your passport needs to have at least six months’ validity from the date of entry, and you must have a return ticket. 

Kenya also offers a multiple-entry visa for US$101, which is great if you’re planning at least two trips to Kenya in a year. It’s valid for three to 12 months from the date of issue. Multiple-entry visas sometimes require more paperwork, so some travelers prefer to apply for a single-entry visa each time, however Kenya’s visa service is getting better and faster online.

Does Kenya have a transit visa for short stays?

If you’re in Kenya for less than 72 hours and want to leave the airport, you don’t need a full visa. You can apply for a transit visa instead, which costs US$21. If your flight connects directly and you’re not leaving the airport, you don’t need a visa for Kenya at all.

If you’re also visiting Rwanda and Uganda, look into the East African Tourist Visa (US$101).

Can I extend my visa to stay in Kenya longer?

You can extend your visa for 90 days by applying for the Visitor's Pass Extension via the Department of Immigration Services. Create an account, and after submitting your application, print out the form, sign it and take it to the Immigration Counter at Nyayo House in Nairobi for processing, along with your passport and original visa document.

A lion in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
You can extend your visa to spend more time spotting lions in the Masai Mara National Reserve © ihab / Getty Images

Does Kenya offer a working holiday visa?

Kenya does not have a working holiday visa. Instead, you’ll need a work permit from the Department of Immigration Services. It’s illegal for any foreigner without a valid work permit to be employed in Kenya, including volunteering and self-employed work.

If you’re planning to volunteer or have an internship or other work placement, ask the host organization or company for advice on the correct work permit.

The East African Tourist Visa is an option

The East African Tourist Visa is a handy option if you’re planning on visiting Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. This multiple-country tourist visa costs US$101 and is valid for three months from the date of issue.

You can apply online. Once it’s issued, print out your eVisa to show to immigration officials at your first port of entry, where you’ll receive an East Africa visa sticker for your stay.

This article was first published Jun 18, 2022 and updated Nov 29, 2023.

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