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Kenya visa requirements: How to get a visa for Kenya

by Juan José Herranz | November 3, 2020
how to get kenya visa

Kenya is an East African country with a coastline on the Indian Ocean, which borders Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Southern Sudan. It covers an area of roughly 580,000 km2 and has a population of about 48 million.

There are four geographically distinct areas: the Western Plateau which is home to Lake Victoria, Mount Elgan and the prominent national parks; the Central Plateau; the Coastal Belt; and the semi-desert area in the north-east.

Kenya's climate is tropical on the coast and arid in the interior, with the average temperature in the country around 25 degrees.

In this article you will get all the important information about how to get a visa to Kenya: different types available, nationalities exempt from the Kenya visa requirements and so much more. 

Do I need a visa to travel to Kenya?

All travelers will need a travel authorization called Kenya ETA. Additionally, depending on their nationality, they will need a traditional visa for Kenya. The type of visa that you will require depends on the reason for your trip to Kenya.

What is the Kenya ETA?

All individuals intending to travel to Kenya will need to obtain an electronic travel authorization called Kenya ETA. This functions more or less like a single-entry visa. It allows only one entry for a stay of 90 days in the country. The difference is that it is mandatory for all travelers to Kenya, whereas the need for a visa for Kenya depends on the nationality of the traveler.

As mentioned, your Kenya ETA is valid only for one entry into Kenya. However, there are some exceptions, and your ETA will continue to be valid for multiple entries if:

  • You visit one of the following East African Community member states: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, and;
  • You do not visit any other country, and
  • Your Kenya ETA has not expired (90 days from issuance).

airballon with sunset in the background

How to apply for a visa in Kenya?

The travel authorization called Kenya ETA is processed fully online. You just need to fill out a simple online form, submit it, and wait to receive your authorization via email.

Who needs a visa for Kenya?

Currently, 148 countries need to know how to get a visa for Kenya. Only a select few countries are exempt from the Kenya visa requirements which are notably neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Zambia. Citizens of some countries, such as Yemen, are not allowed to enter Kenya at all. Children under age 16 are exempt from the need to apply for visas. European citizens must apply for a visa to travel to Kenya.

Feel free to check out our eligibility verifier to know the specific requirements of each nationality for the Kenya eVisa.

What are the Kenya visa requirements?

The requirements to travel to Kenya will depend on the type of visa and the purpose of your trip. However, there are some general documents that all travelers must have in order to obtain an ETA. You will need:

  • Passport, photo, outbound ticket, return ticket, email for receiving documentation, and a credit/debit card for payment (entry by air).
  • Passport, photo, travel itinerary, email for receiving documentation, and a credit/debit card for payment (entry by land/sea).

Travel purposes and documents to get an ETA Kenya

In addition to the standard documents mentioned before, specific supplementary paperwork may be required based on the purpose of your travel.

Leisure-related trips

In addition to the previously mentioned documents, you will need to provide your hotel booking when traveling for tourism purposes. If you are visiting friends and family, you will need to present your host's ID and an invitation letter from your host.

Work trips

For travelers with work-related purposes, specific documents will be required depending on the nature of their work in Kenya.

  • Business or work: hotel booking and a letter from the employer 
  • Conference: hotel Booking
  • Crew from planes or ships: hotel booking and crew ID or seaman book
  • Seaman from fishing vessel: hotel booking and crew ID or seaman book

Laissez Passer holders

This category is for those travelers to Kenya that do not hold ordinary passports. In addition to the general documents, Laissez Passer holders will need: 

  • Hotel booking
  • Note verbale. This is a cover letter, a document written by the applicant detailing their intended activities during their stay in the country.
  • Passport front cover

Unplanned Travel Disruption

This category is intended for travelers who encounter unforeseen circumstances, such as flight disruptions notified by the airline through official communication. In these cases, they can apply for an eTA to remain in the country until their travel resumes. These travelers require to show: 

  • Boarding pass
  • Letter from the airline 

Other reasons to travel to Kenya

In addition to the general documents, if your purpose of travel to Kenya falls under any of the categories below, you will need to present additional documentation:

  • Medical Care: medical referral and hotel booking
  • Religious visit: hotel booking
  • Study/education: hotel booking and evidence that the applicant is a student
  • Transit: hotel booking

Can the visa for Kenya be changed once it has been processed?

No, it is not possible to change the visa once it has been processed. If any of the details or dates on the visa are incorrect, you will have to re-apply for a new visa and the relevant visa fees will have to be paid again.

flamingos in Lake Nakuru in Kenya

How much does a visa to Kenya cost?

The Kenya ETA has a government fee of approximately €32.

How far in advance do I need to apply for a Kenya visa?

Typically, the ETA and online-processed visas have an average processing time of 3 business days. However, it's advisable not to rely solely on this and to apply for our visa at least 7 days before our trip whenever possible.

What are the borders of entry to Kenya?

Kenya is linked to the rest of the world with a wide-reaching network of air travel with four international airports. It is possible to transit through all Kenyan airports with the electronic visa. The Kenyan international airports are:

  • Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) – is the busiest airport in the country, located in Nairobi, about 15 km from the city centre.
  • Moi International Airport (MBA) - also called Mombasa Airport, is the second most important airport in the country.
  • Kisumu International Airport (KIS) - is the third-largest airport in the country in terms of passenger movement and located in Kisumu.
  • Eldoret International Airport (EDL) - is located in the west of Kenya, in the city of Eldoret.

Kenya has land borders with 5 countries: Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Southern Sudan. Visas are required at all border crossings. Entering Kenya through the border posts of Somalia or Southern Sudan is not advisable, due to safety issues and conflict. The most advisable land routes into Kenya are through Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia:

  • From Uganda: Busia, Iwakhakha Road, Lwakhakha Road, Malaba, Suam Road
  • From Tanzania: Isebania, Loitoktok, Lunga-Lunga, Muhuru Bay Road, Namanga, Taveta
  • From Ethiopia: Moyale

Kenya can also be reached by boat from the islands of Zanzibar to the port of Mombasa. This port can also be reached from a cruise ship on the African route. If you intend to enter Kenya by sea, it is recommended to obtain the electronic visa before starting your journey. These are the seaports that will accept your ETA: Kilindini Port, Kisumu Port, Mbita Pier Port, Old Port Mombasa, Shimoni Port, and Vanga Port.