Traveling to Kenya involves finding out about visas, health, safety, weather, currency and getting to and around Kenya.
Visa to Enter Kenya
Kenya Visa Requirements
Kenya visa requirements are for all visitors to Kenya, except for Nationals of the following countries who DO NOT need a Kenya visa:
Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cyprus, Darussalam, Dominica, Fiji Island, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia (for less than 30 day stay), Maldives, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa (for less than 30 day stay), St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, The Bahamas, Trinidad, Tobago, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia & Zimbabwe
Citizens of the following countries require a visa that cannot be obtained online or on arrival at the airport but instead this must be done in advance through a Kenyan Embassy: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Palestine, Senegal, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan.
For all other Nationals, Visas are required for entry and from 1st January 2021 these will no longer be issued on arrival at the airports in Nairobi and Mombasa but must be obtained prior to departure from Kenyan embassies overseas or through the Kenya Government website online.
WARNING: if you plan to apply online for an E-visa then you must beware of the websites of spurious visa handling companies and ensure that you do not use those as they charge exorbitant fees and may even issue fake visas! (See details below of how to apply online).
Passport validity: minimum 6 months before expiry:
Your passport must have at least 6 months left before expiry date and 2 blank pages left for visas. Children under the age of 16, travelling with an accompanying adult, do NOT require a visa.
The online E-Visas will normally be issued in less than 3 days but we recommend that Online Applications should be made at least 7 working days prior to travel to give plenty of time for the application process to be completed. Please note that Single Entry Visas are valid only for 90 days after date of issue, so you should not apply until less than 90 days before date of arrival and departure from Kenya. If you are travelling back into Kenya from other East African Countries on the same trip within the 90 day validity then you do not require an additional visa to re-enter and the Single Entry Visa will be accepted.
How To Apply Online For A Kenya E-Visa
- Click HERE to register with the Kenya Immigration Department for an E-visa Account with your username and a password and to receive an email with a link to enable you to activate your E-visa Account.
- Once you activate your account, by clicking on a link in the email sent to you, you will be asked to submit a recent passport-type head and shoulders photo which you will need to have already scanned and saved on your computer. Please ensure that the photo is less than 1MB otherwise it may not upload successfully on the online form and it should have a white background.
- You will also need to have a scanned copy of the Bio-data page of your passport and a scanned copy of your booking confirmation invoice showing arrival and departure dates.
- To complete the Online Form it is best to have Google Chrome installed on your computer. Using Internet Explorer is likely to cause problems in completing the online process. (Download Chrome for free via this link). The Online E-Visa Application form is mobile-enabled for smartphones and tablets.
- Select “Department of Immigration Services” and then click on Submit Application followed by clicking on “Kenyan Visa”.
- You will then select “Apply for a Single Entry Visa” (which also includes Double Entry) and complete the Application Form online which includes adding the passport photo and booking confirmation.
- You will then submit the Kenyan Visa Application and pay the online fee of US$51, or equivalent, using Visa or Mastercard debit cards. Credit cards are also acceptable for payment but an additional 3% fee applies to make a total of $52.53.
- Then await for approval to be shown on your E-Citizen account page within 3 days, with the status of your application indicated as ISSUED to enable you to click on the Download tab and then print your E-Visa.
- Present your printed E-Visa to the Passport Control officer on arrival at the airport in Kenya. Note: you should proceed straight to join the E-VISA queue at Passport Control.
Disclaimer From Government of Kenya:
- The Visa processing fee is non refundable.
- Incomplete applications will be rejected.
- The possession of an E-Visa is not the final authority to enter The Republic of Kenya.
- Engaging in any form of business or employment without a requisite permit or pass is an offence.
- A Kenya visa is require prior to entry into The Republic of Kenya.
- The E-Visa printout must be presented at the port of entry
Health and Immunizations
Immunizations. No immunizations are required by law to enter Kenya if you are travelling directly from Europe or the US. If you are travelling from a country where Yellow Fever is present you will need to prove you have had the innoculation.
Several vaccinations are highly recommended, they include:
- Yellow Fever
- Hepatitis A & B
It is also recommended that you are up to date with your polio and tetanus vaccinations. Contact a travel clinic at least 3 months before you plan to travel. Here’s a list of travel clinics for US residents.
There’s a risk of catching malaria pretty much everywhere you travel in Kenya. The highlands used to be a low-risk area, but even there you have to be careful and take precautions. Kenya is home to the chloroquine-resistant strain of malaria as well as several others. Make sure your doctor or travel clinic knows you are traveling to Kenya (don’t just say Africa) so s/he can prescribe the right anti-malarial medication. Tips on how to avoid malaria will also help.
In general people are extremely friendly in Kenya and you will be humbled by their hospitality. But, there is real poverty in Kenya and you will soon realise that you are far richer and more fortunate than most local people you meet. You will probably attract your fair share of souvenir hawkers and beggars, but try and take the time to meet ordinary people going about their day to day business too. The experience will be worth it. Don’t be afraid to step out of that tour bus, just take some precautions.
Basic Safety Rules for Travelers to Kenya
- Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage.
- Don’t walk on your own at night in the major cities or on empty beaches.
- Don’t wear jewelery.
- Don’t carry too much cash with you.
- Wear a money belt that fits under your clothes.
- Don’t carry a lot of camera equipment especially in the major cities.
- Beware of thieves posing as police officers.
Roads in Kenya aren’t very good. Potholes, road blocks, goats and people tend to get in the way of vehicles. Avoid driving a car or riding a bus at night because potholes are difficult to see and so are other vehicles especially when they are missing their headlights, a fairly common occurrence. If you are renting a car, keep the doors and windows locked while driving in the major cities. Car-jackings occur fairly regularly but may not end in violence as long as you comply with demands made.
In 1998 an attack on the US Embassy in Nairobi left 243 people dead and over a 1000 injured. In November 2002 a car bomb exploded, killing 15 people outside of a hotel near Mombasa. Both attacks are thought to have been caused by Al-Qaeda. While these are scary statistics you can still go and enjoy your safari or the beach in Mombasa. After all, tourists haven’t stopped going to New York city and security has improved in Kenya since 2002. For more information on terrorism check with your Foreign Office or Department of State for the latest warnings and developments.
When to Go
There are two rainy seasons in Kenya. A short rainy season in November and a longer one that usually lasts from the end of March in to May. It doesn’t necessarily get cold, but the roads can become impassable.If you are on safari you can usually see more animals during the dry season as they congregate around the waterholes. If you wish to plan your trip around the annual migration of the wildebeest you should go between the end of July – September.