KENYA – Electronic Visa System Replaces Visa on Arrival
Effective 1 September 2015, foreign nationals requiring a single-entry visa for travel to Kenya for business or tourism, or a transit visa, are now required to obtain an eVisa online before travel, rather than applying manually for a visa on arrival in Kenya.
What is the eVisa?
The eVisa is a pre-approval for entry to Kenya granted online by the Department of Immigration Services. It can be applied for via a dedicated website. Payment must be made with a Visa or Mastercard debit card, and approval officially takes 2 business days, although it may take longer in practice.
The eVisa is issued in PDF format and should be printed out and carried on entry to Kenya. It allows the holder to travel, within 90 days of issuance, to a Kenyan port of entry, where the immigration authorities stamp the holder’s passport, granting the right to enter Kenya once, for up to 90 days. The duration of stay may be renewed once for up to a further 90 days, at the discretion of the immigration authorities.
The eVisa system was introduced on 1 July 2015, but until 1 September manual applications at the port of entry to Kenya were still possible. Multiple-entry visas are not yet available through the eVisa system.
Who is Eligible?
- Visa-required nationals who previously qualified for visa on arrival are eligible for the eVisa;
- "Category 3" nationals are not eligible for the eVisa and need to make a paper-based application for a referral visa to the Department of immigration services prior to travel. These include nationals of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, North Korea, Eritrea, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Palestine, Senegal, Somalia, Syria and Tajikistan;
- Visa exempt nationals do not need to obtain any visa to enter Kenya.
Why Is This Significant?
Although Kenyan Airways has announced that the Department of Immigration has temporarily installed e-Visa booths at Nairobi airport where travellers can obtain an eVisa on arrival, it is likely that there will be very long queues at these booths.
Moreover, depending on the airline, travellers may not be allowed to board their flight to Kenya if they cannot show their eVisa when checking in. It is strongly recommended, therefore, to obtain an eVisa before travel to Kenya.
- Ensure that any visa-required nationals travelling to Kenya obtain an eVisa in advance of travel to avoid potential issues when boarding and delays on arrival.