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How to get a visa for Rwanda

by Luis Sánchez | Wed 13 Jan 2021
How to get a visa for Rwanda

Rwanda is an African country bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania. It is a small country of 26,000 square kilometres and a population of almost 13 million. Rwanda’s capital is Kigali, and the country has several official languages, including Kinyarwanda, English, French and Swahili. Its main tourist attraction is its wildlife and natural parks, with the gorilla trekking, in particular, being the most requested activity for travel to Rwanda.

Do I need a visa to travel to Rwanda?

Yes, as in most African countries, you must apply for an official visa to enter Rwanda. Without a visa, you will not be allowed to enter. The most common visas are tourist visas, either to visit the country or to visit friends or family.

These visas allow stays of 30 to 90 days, depending on your needs. If you are going to do a tour of neighbouring countries, you can also apply for a visa that covers the East African route. It should be noted that some nationalities are exempt from applying for the visa, or on the contrary, have restrictions on applying for it. European citizens can apply online without any problem.

Types of visas for Rwanda

Visas

There are different types of visas and permits to enter Rwanda. Have a look below to see which visa is more suitable to your needs and the purpose of your trip. The types of visas are as follows:

VT transit visa

You must apply for this visa if you are going to make a stopover or transfer in Rwanda, and this country is not your final destination. This visa is processed online and has a maximum duration of 72 hours.

Tourist visa V1 and family visit visa V2

These visas can be requested for both a holiday or a family visit with periods of between 30 and 90 days. Most nationalities can apply online, and there are several visa-free countries, including Djibouti, Gabon, Ethiopia, Israel, India, Guinea, Morocco and Turkey. Foreign residents living in Rwanda only need their residence card to enter and leave the country.

V4 job search visa

This visa is valid for 90 days, during which time you can look for work in the country, and then process a work permit.

Conference visa V5

This visa must be applied for by people who travel to Rwanda to participate in a meeting or conference. It is not valid for permanent work in the country.

Investor (trader or entrepreneur) Visa V6

This visa must be applied for by persons travelling to Rwanda for commercial purposes. It is valid for 90 days. It does not give the option of working permanently in the country.

Visa for medical treatment V7

In case you want to travel to Rwanda for traditional medical treatment, or alternative medicine, you must apply for this visa. It is valid for a maximum of 90 days in the country.

V9 Traveling Business Visa

This visa allows you to enter Rwanda with a mobile or itinerant business, and its duration can be from 2 to 10 years. You must apply for it at the embassy, providing all the required documentation.

Construction visa V10

This visa allows you to enter Rwanda for occasional construction work. If the work takes longer than the 90 days allowed by the visa, you can extend it through the country's embassy

East African V11 tourist visa

This visa will allow you to visit three countries with just one visa: The Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, and the Republic of Uganda. This visa is exclusively for tourism, allows multiple entries within the three countries it covers and is valid for a maximum of 90 days. It must be applied for from the first of the three countries you visit. If your flight arrives in Rwanda, you will apply there, but if your flight arrives in Kenya or Uganda, you must apply in one of those countries. You can check it out on visagov.com, where they will help with the paperwork for any of the three countries, and recommend the best option. Foreign citizens residing in Kenya, Rwanda or Uganda, have this visa for free. They need to apply for an interstate pass at the immigration windows when leaving their country of residence to any of the other two countries.

Visas for crew members VC

This visa is issued to flight crew members who stop in Rwanda. It is valid for 72 hours and can be extended if necessary. These are the most common visas and their categories. For all visas, you can request an extension of the number of days. A grace period of 5 days is allowed once your visa has expired to leave the country. If within 5 days you have not left or renewed your visa, you will face a penalty and expulsion from the country.

Permits

Having entered legally with a visa within Rwanda, you can start procedures to apply for temporary or permanent residence permits. The most common temporary residence permits are:
- For prospecting and mining work (class A).
- Agricultural activities (class B).
- Trade (class G).
- Religious activities (class I).
- Foreign worker with refugee status (class J).
- Volunteer worker (class P).
- Students and apprentices of a trade (class U).

The most common permanent residence permits are:
- Temporary residents over 10 years (class L1).
- Key personnel within multinationals (class L3).
- Marriage (class L5).
- Children (class L6).
- Humanitarian work (L7).

How do I apply for a Rwanda visa?

You can apply for tourist visas on arrival at the airport, or online, by filling in a form with your details. You will then obtain the approval via email before your trip. Our recommendation is to travel with your approved tourist visa. You will avoid queues at airports, and most importantly, you will avoid having any unforeseen problems with your documentation whilst already in the country where it would be challenging to solve them.

The same goes for the transit visa, which can be processed online, or upon your arrival at the airport. You will have to apply for all other visas in advance at a consulate or through the official government website. You can also leave it in the hands of a third party such as visagov.com, who will take care of the procedure for you, and resolve any doubts that may arise.

Who needs a visa for Rwanda?

Virtually all foreign nationalities require a visa to travel to Rwanda, except for nationalities with an agreement with the country, as is the case in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, India, Israel, Morocco and Turkey. Some nationals cannot apply for their visa online but must apply directly to the country's embassy. You can confirm with our eligibility checker if your nationality is compatible with online processing.

What are the requirements to apply for a visa to Rwanda?

To apply for any visa to travel to Rwanda, you must have a passport with a validity of more than 6 months from the time you enter the country. If you apply for an East African visa, in addition to the passport, we must also present a recent colour passport photograph, with a white background, and a document showing your accommodation (hotel, friend's house, etc.).

In both cases, the procedure is done online by filling in a form, attaching the documentation, and paying the processing fees. Children under 16 must always travel accompanied by at least one of their parents or legal guardians. If your reason for travel is not for tourism, you must go to a consulate or embassy to apply for the relevant visa.

Can the Rwanda visa be changed once it has been processed?

No. Once processed and delivered, the visa cannot be changed, so we recommend that you carefully review the data and documentation provided before sending it to the government. You must be careful with your data and avoid small mistakes which can cause problems. Write your name exactly as it appears in your passport; otherwise, your visa may be denied. Always check the form before sending.

How much does a visa to Nepal cost?

Visa costs for Rwanda vary depending on the type of visa we select:
- Transit visa costs 30 USD.
- Holiday or family visit visa (30 days) costs 50 USD.
- Holiday or family visit visa (90 days) costs 70 USD.
- Conference visa costs 50 USD.
- A visa for a tourist visit to East Africa costs 100 USD.

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

Ideally, be proactive and don’t leave things to the last minute. Although processing times can be relatively quick and take between 3 and 5 working days, it is still advisable to apply for the visa at least 15 days before entering Rwanda.

What are the entry borders to Rwanda?

The main point of entry to Rwanda is Kigali International Airport, which is located in the capital, in the suburbs of Kanombe, about 12 kilometres east of the city. You can also enter Rwanda by land through the Katuna border crossing, which is located between Uganda and Rwanda. It is located in the district of Gicumbi, about 80 kilometres by road north of Kigali. This border crossing point is open 24 hours a day, as is the Kagitumba border crossing.

Kagi Tumba is located in the extreme north-east of the country, some 170 km from the capital (Kigali), and is the most common crossing point between the three neighbouring countries, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. These are the two most common and most travelled border crossings in Rwanda; however, there are other land points where you can cross from one country to another: Akanyaru Bas, Akanyaru Haut, Bugarama, Buziba, Cyanka, Kabuhanga, Nemba, Nshili, Poids Lourds, Rusizi I, Rusizi II, Rusumu and Rutwa. Note that these passages are not always open or have time restrictions, so if you decide to cross through one of them, it is best to get up to date information.

Do I need any vaccinations to travel to Rwanda?

It is mandatory to get a yellow fever vaccination and carry your official vaccination certificate to travel to Rwanda. Tetanus, MMR (measles, rubella and mumps) and Hepatitis A vaccines are also recommended.

What is the currency of Rwanda?

The official currency is the Rwandan franc. You can change euros or dollars in the Rwandan main banks and larger hotels. It is advisable to travel in the country with some currency exchanged. There are ATMs in Kigali, but not all of them accept foreign cards. Credit cards are accepted (Visa, Eurocard and MasterCard) in establishments in the more touristy areas.

When is the best time to travel to Rwanda?

In Rwanda, the climate is very stable, with an average temperature of 22/23 degrees all year round. October and November are the months most affected by rainfall; however, the rain is not abundant. You can enjoy Rwanda and its wildlife at any time of year. If your visit to the country is to do a route to see the Gorillas, the best time is during the dry season, which goes from December to February, or from June to September. These are the seasons when the gorillas are most visible.

Is it safe to travel to Rwanda?

Rwanda is one of the safest countries in Africa. The crime rate is very low, apart from some sporadic pickpocketing. Occasionally there can be cases of violent crime, but it is never against tourists and usually due to disputes between inhabitants. However, some border areas do have problems and should be avoided, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Giseny/Gona and Cyangugu/Bukavu's border crossings.

Rwanda advises its nationals not to travel to Uganda. This does not affect foreign tourists at all, although you may encounter additional controls. The border area with Burundi is another area to avoid due to the tension between the two countries.

Important tips for travelling to Rwanda

- It is advisable to always carry a copy of your passport and visa during your stay in Rwanda.
- If you are going to rent a car, you must be careful. Rwandan roads are not very reliable and traffic accidents are common. You will generally find children playing on the roads, and people meandering quietly along them.
- On the first and third Sunday of each month, the city of Kigali bans motor vehicles from 7 am to 12 pm, to promote the preservation of the environment.
- As in most countries, drugs are not welcome, and drug use is severely punished by law.
- Even though homosexuality and public affection are not prohibited by law, they are not accepted by the general society. It is best to avoid public displays of affection.
- It is forbidden to take pictures of Kigali airport, government facilities and military camps. The security forces, both military and police, have an obvious presence and enjoy great power in the country. Avoid any altercation or discussion with law enforcement.


About the author
Luis Sánchez

Luis Sánchez
Hello! I'm Luis, a boy from Extremadura who loves to travel and share his experiences with readers. I write articles for Visagov.com and I also help users to process electronic visas for all countries in the world that require it. I'm more of the mountains than the beach, so the quiet destinations with green landscapes are my favorites.


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