Entry & Exit Formalities
Entering Kenya is generally pleasingly straightforward, particularly at the international airports, which are no different from most Western terminals.
Visas, needed by most foreign nationals, are straightforward. An e-visa scheme (www.evisa.go.ke) has now been rolled out and is the simplest way to apply, pay and receive a visa almost instantly. It is expected to replace the visa-on-arrival scheme soon. Contact your nearest Kenyan diplomatic office to get the most up-to-date information.
There are strict laws about taking wildlife products out of Kenya. The export of products made from elephant, rhino and sea turtle are prohibited. The collection of coral is also not allowed. Ostrich eggs will be confiscated unless you can prove you bought them from a certified ostrich farm. Always check to see what permits are required, especially for the export of any plants, insects and shells.
Allowable quantities you can bring into Kenya are:
Pipe tobacco 250g
There are no restrictions on which nationalities can enter Kenya, but you will need a passport with a validity of more than six months.
Visas, needed by most foreign nationals, are straightforward. An e-visa scheme (www.evisa.go.ke) is the simplest way to apply, pay and receive a visa almost instantly.
Visa on arrival Tourist visas can still be obtained on arrival at all three international airports and at the country’s land borders with Uganda and Tanzania. This applies to Europeans, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and Canadians, although citizens from a few smaller Commonwealth countries are exempt. Visas cost US$50/€40/£30 and are valid for three months from the date of entry. Tourist visas can be extended for a further three-month period. Check before travelling whether the visa-on-arrival scheme has been replaced by the e-visa, which must be applied for in advance.
E-visa The Kenyan government's online visa portal (www.evisa.go.ke) issues single-entry tourist visas (US$51) valid for up to 90 days from the date of entry, as well as transit visas (US$21). Simply register, apply and pay online, and once it's approved (within two business days) you'll be sent a PDF visa document to print out, which you then present on entry to Kenya.
Single-entry visas Under the East African partnership system, visiting Tanzania or Uganda and returning to Kenya does not invalidate a single-entry Kenyan visa, so there’s no need to get a multiple-entry visa unless you plan to go further afield. Always check the latest entry requirements with embassies before travel.
Prearranged visas It’s also possible to get visas from Kenyan diplomatic missions overseas, but the only reasons to do so are if you come from a country not eligible for an on-arrival visa, you want to get a multiple-entry visa, or you need longer than three months in the country. If this is the case for you, apply well in advance, especially if you’re doing it by mail.
East Africa Tourist Visa
The East Africa Tourist Visa scheme issues tourists with a 90-day, multiple-entry visa that covers travel to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for a single fee of US$100. These visas are available upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, and at most land crossings.
Applications can also be made prior to travelling to the region, either at an embassy or consulate for one of the three countries in your home country or online. Although requirements vary from embassy to embassy, most applications require a single passport photo and a letter to the embassy outlining your travel plans. With the visa duly in your passport, your first port of call must be the country through which you applied for the visa, whereafter there are no restrictions on travelling in and out of the three countries. No visa extensions are possible.
Apart from convenience, the East African Tourist Visa could save you money, with individual visas for most (but not all) nationalities costing US$50 for Kenya, US$50 for Uganda and US$30 for Rwanda.
For more information and links to online application forms, see www.visiteastafrica.org.
Visas can be renewed at immigration offices during normal office hours, and extensions are usually issued on a same-day basis. Staff at the immigration offices are generally friendly and helpful, but the process takes a while.
Requirements You’ll need two passport photos for a three-month extension, and prices tend to vary widely depending on the office and the whims of the immigration officials. You also need to fill out a form registering as an alien if you’re going to be staying more than 90 days.
Immigration offices Offices only open Monday to Friday; note that the smaller offices may sometimes refer travellers back to Nairobi or Mombasa for visa extensions.
Lamu Immigration Office Travellers are sometimes referred to Mombasa.
Nairobi Immigration Office Visa extensions can be obtained at this office, around the side of Nairobi's once-feared main administrative building.
If you’re enrolled in a language course that extends beyond the period of your three-month visa, you are usually entitled to a visa extension. The fee for a Pupil’s Pass varies. A charge will be levied by your school for sorting out the paperwork, so expect to pay a minimum of KSh4000 for a one-year pass. A deposit of KSh5000 or a letter of guarantee by an approved body registered in Kenya (your language school) is usually required, along with two photographs and a copy of your passport.
Visas for Onward Travel
Since Nairobi is a common gateway city to East Africa and the city centre is easy to get around, many travellers spend some time here picking up visas for other countries that they intend to visit. But be warned: although officially issuing visas again, the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi was not issuing tourist visas for a number of years and the situation could change again. Call the embassy to check.
Most embassies will want you to pay visa fees in US dollars, and most open for visa applications from 9am to noon, with visa pick-ups around 3pm or 4pm. Again, contact the embassy in question to check the times as these change regularly in Nairobi.
Visas for Neighbouring Countries
|Country||Visa available?||Visa fee (US$)||Passport photos||Issue time||Notes|
|Ethiopia||Yes||50||1||same day||Must show that it was not possible to obtain your Ethiopian visa in your home country.|
|South Sudan||Yes (3-month, single entry)||100||2||48hr||Collect form 8.30am-10pm; must have letter of invitation; must pay visa fee at bank.|
|Tanzania||Yes (3-month, single entry)||50 (US nationals 100)||1||same day||-|
|Uganda||Yes (3-month, single entry)||50||1||same day||-|