Kenya is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. Beach paradises on the Indian Ocean, the Big Five in the large national parks and natural attractions such as Lake Victoria and the Mount Kenya massif invite to unforgettable experiences in the east of the continent.
Whether it’s a safari, a beach holiday or a round trip – before you begin your adventure, you should familiarize yourself with the entry requirements for Kenya so that you can enjoy your stay all round.
What documents do I need to enter Kenya?
To enter Kenya you need a passport, which must be valid for at least six months after the end of the holiday. Children must also have their own passport.
In principle, temporary passports are also accepted, but in order to survive no surprises when entering the country, you should rather take care of an extension of your documents at an early stage. In addition to the passport, a visa is required.
Where can I apply for the visa?
You can apply for the visa when you arrive at the airport. In order to avoid waiting times, it is also possible to have the visa issued in advance via the Kenyan embassy or online.
However, please note that you can only apply for the e-Visa through the official website of the government. Children under the age of 16 travelling with their parents do not need a visa. If you are travelling alone, you will receive the visa-free of charge.
For applying for an e-Visa. In addition to the passport, you will need a digital biometric passport photo, a flight confirmation or travel plan and a credit card to pay the fees. Please note that you apply for the visa at the earliest eight weeks before the start of your trip, as there can be a maximum of 90 days between the issue and entry.
The visa is valid for 90 days from entry. Under no circumstances should you exceed this duration, as otherwise, you could face fines, imprisonment or deportation. After a successful application, you can download the e-Visa from your online account. This printout must be presented upon entry.
If you want to apply for the visa in writing, you must complete the completed application form with your passport, a biometric photo, submit a transfer receipt for the amount of the charges and an envelope from DHL EXPRESS EASY PREPAID NATIONAL for the return of the passport. You can download the application form from the Embassy of Kenya.
If you would like to apply for the visa only upon arrival, you must present a completed application form, your passport and a valid ticket for the return flight or the onward journey at the border.
What is East Africa Visa?
As an alternative to the visa for Kenya, you can apply for the East Africa Visa, which also allows you to travel on to Uganda and Rwanda. This is especially recommended for tours and safaris in cross-border areas.
The visa is also valid for 90 days and can be issued by the Kenyan embassy if your trip starts in Kenya. If you are travelling to one of the other two countries, you must apply for the visa there.
To apply through the Kenyan Embassy, you must complete the required application form and include a valid passport, biometric passport photo, and booking documents that document your itinerary. In contrast to the visa for Kenya, the East Africa visa cannot be applied for online, but only in writing or in person at the embassy.
What restrictions have to be considered with the visa?
For some travellers, special conditions apply when applying for a visa. For example, nationals of Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and some other countries need a visa that requires approval. The application is first sent to Nairobi for review, which is associated with longer waiting times.
It is best to know in advance whether you are affected by this rule if you are not a citizen of a Central European country. This also applies to stateless persons and recognized refugees with a UN refugee passport.
On the other hand, nationals of San Marino and various countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia are exempt from the visa requirement. You can get a complete overview of the Kenyan Embassy.
What do I have to consider when working in Kenya?
If you are travelling for work reasons or would like to work in the country, special entry requirements apply to Kenya. Business travellers who have to enter Kenya at least three times a year can apply for a multiple-entry visa that is valid for one year. An invitation from Kenya or a posting letter from the employer is also required for this.
To start a job, you must apply for a work permit with the Immigration Department. This also applies to voluntary services in aid organizations. The work permits are subdivided into categories A to M depending on the activity, and require, for example, evidence of education or studies, the type of activity or confirmations from the employer or organization. The permits are then usually issued for two years and should be extended early if necessary.
Are there specific vaccination regulations or health recommendations?
The entry requirements for Kenya do not provide any special vaccination regulations for nationals of European countries. However, if you are entering from yellow fever areas such as Ethiopia, Tanzania or the Congo, you must have appropriate vaccination protection.
Even without mandatory regulations, you should make sure that your general vaccination protection is up to date in order to avoid health complications on site. These include vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis A and typhoid. It is best to get advice from a tropical doctor to be prepared for current developments.
Malaria prophylaxis and protective measures such as insect spray, long clothing and a mosquito net are also recommended. The risk of infections is particularly high on the coast and around Lake Victoria. Appropriate protection can also minimize infection with dengue fever, which is transmitted by diurnal mosquitoes.
Make sure that you have adequate hygiene with regard to drinking water and fresh food on-site to avoid diarrhoea. It’s best to only buy bottled water and use it for cooking and brushing your teeth. Fresh food should always be peeled and cooked yourself.
Due to Ebola outbreaks in neighbouring countries, it may happen that you are examined for increased body temperature upon entry and are subjected to quarantine measures if symptoms are noticeable. When entering Europe, however, you have nothing to fear in this regard.
Which customs regulations do I have to observe?
When entering Kenya, you may import foreign currency in unlimited amounts, but the Kenyan shilling only up to a value of 6,000 US dollars. It is not allowed, according to the entry requirements for Kenya, to carry weapons of any kind, including toy weapons, as well as drugs and pornographic material.
High-quality technical equipment should be declared upon arrival and departure. Also, pay attention to which souvenirs you purchase during your trip. The export of endangered animals and plants and products made from them is prohibited and may result in fines or imprisonment.
Under what conditions may I take my pets?
You are welcome to take dogs and cats with you on your trip to Kenya. To do this, you must first apply for an import permit from the Kenyan embassy. You need a current animal health certificate that confirms that there are no symptoms of an infectious disease. The certificate may have been issued no more than five days before entry.
A vaccination certificate is also required, which contains a valid rabies vaccination. The vaccine used, the date of vaccination and the age of the animal at the time of vaccination must be listed. You can apply for the import permit directly at the embassy or by post.
Upon entry, you must also provide flight or ship crew confirmation that the animal has not left the vehicle and has had no contact with other dogs or cats during the trip.
If you enter Kenya by other means, you must present the animal to a local veterinarian within three days. If you travel to Kenya without the required documents, your dog or cat will be quarantined for six months at the expense of you.
Exceptions apply to transit stays of less than 48 hours or for entry from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Ireland or the United Kingdom. Inform yourself in advance in individual cases at the embassy, which regulations apply in detail to you.
What else is there to consider?
Kenya has had a strict ban on plastic bags since 2017, which even makes possession of a criminal offence. So do not carry plastic bags in your luggage and prefer to use cloth bags and food storage containers. Homosexual acts are also punishable in Kenya.
Although the interpretation of the laws in Nairobi and the major holiday resorts is mostly looser, it is advisable to hold back in public. Smoking in public spaces is also prohibited, so caution is also required in this area. You should also avoid taking photos of airports, military facilities, and government buildings.
If you observe the entry requirements for Kenya and take care of all documents in good time, entry to Kenya can be handled without any problems. A valid passport and a visa, which can be applied for either in advance or directly at the airport, entitle citizens of most European countries to enter. In addition, an import permit for pets can be issued. If you also follow the general health and behaviour tips, nothing is standing in the way of a relaxing holiday in Kenya.