The Republic of Kenya no longer issues visas on arrival, but does offer an e-visa system online, but you need to prepare for it in advance. Don’t let your Kenyan visa go to the last minute or else you might find yourself denied boarding…
Guide: How To Obtain An E-Visa To Kenya
A visa is required for entrance to Kenya, whether for tourism, business, or transit. The only exceptions are citizens of the following countries:
- India (diplomatic passports only)
These so-called “Category 1” nations simply need their passport to travel.
For citizens of the United States, Canada, European Union, or Canada, an e-visa is necessary to apply to Kenya. These nations, and many others, are classified as “Category 2” and visas can take up to 48 hours to process. Children under 16 years old in Category 2 nations do not have to pay for a visa. Category 3 nations, which include poorer and more developing nations, will have to wait up to 10 days for their e-visa to be approved.
The Kenyan government has set up a website to process these electronic visas. Be patient when going through this system, as there are some quirks. For example, you’ll need to upload a photo of yourself and that photo can only be no more than 500 pixels (height) x 500 pixels (width) with a maximum of size of 200KB. That’s fairly absurd in a day and age when our selfies are 2,000 x 2,000 and can be up to 4MB. I used the “Preview” app on my Mac laptop to shrink my photo down to that ridiculous size, but it worked.
Don’t use the Safari browser. Payment rejected every time. But when I used Chrome, the payment was accepted. You can pay with MasterCard and Visa, but not American Express. I used a Capital One card and had to input a code that I received via text message.
My visa was submitted at 5:30 pm CA time on Sunday and arrived by 10:00 am on Monday, the following day. I did not receive a notification that my visa was issued, but when I logged into the portal I found the visa was completed and was able to print it.
The visa was valid for entry up to three months in the future. As my stay was under 72 hours, I chose a transit visa ($21). Had I chosen a single-entry tourist visa ($51), it would have been valid for 90 days. A multiple-entry tourist ($101) visa is valid for 6-12 months (determined at the discretion of the issuing officer).
Finally, note that I had stayed airside and just been connecting between two international flights no transit visa would have been necessary. I needed one because I was actually leaving the airport and spending two nights in Kenya.
There was much drama surrounding this visa, which I will outline in the next two posts. Stay tuned for some entertainment, but I wanted to stick to the facts with this guide.
The new e-visa system is much more cumbersome than the old visa-on-arrival system, but at least you will have it ready in advance. But do give yourself at least 48 hours to obtain it, ideally longer.