For the past few years, Kenya has required visitors to obtain an eVisa in advance of travel, with very few workarounds.
Everything you need to enter/visit Kenya:
1) eVisa: Apply only at the official government website: eVisa.go.ke, at least a few days before your trip. $55 total.
A single entry is usually processed in a day. You’re supposed to print it out in colour, but a black & white copy should be accepted, as will be an online phone copy. They just care that it’s real and valid.
2) Passport valid for at least six months longer, containing 3 blank pages or more.
3) Flights confirming exit: a round-trip or onwards ticket. The airline counter will confirm its validity.
Things you don’t need:
- Covid tests
- Any other health declaration form
- Yellow fever vaccination card (unless you’re traveling from certain other African or Latin American countries where it’s endemic)
- Customs forms
- Vaccination card: not required anymore.
(You used to have to scan/upload to Panabios.org, where you’d be issued a provisional QR code to show upon arrival into Nairobi.
(Panabios is the same entity as Global Haven but with a less confusing website.)
Tips for applying
- Be careful filling your application. It’s fairly extensive, e.g. listing your previous trips to Kenya and the visa numbers. Prepare the necessary documents beforehand (though the form will save your progress).
- Choose single-entry visa if you’re just visiting once. (The other options are more involved and take longer to get approved.)
- Prepare these image files: a passport-type photo, your passport’s front cover, your passport’s biodata page, invitation letter from host (or hotel booking should suffice). They all need to be JPG files up to 293kb (quite small, so you’ll probably have to resize your files).
- Prepare your history of prior trips to Kenya, duration, and prior visa numbers.
- Prepare your host contact information. You’ll need an invitation letter from a Kenyan “host” entity (hotel, individual), their contact info, and (for individual host) an identity card. Save all as small JPG images.
- The forms don’t necessarily allow for every scenario. Don’t worry if you can’t input your info quite correctly. Just enter it as accurately as you can manage within the constraints.
- A few fields (like host phone number) can require a bit of troubleshooting: do your best to play around. Something will work.
- A day later, log back into the eVisa website to see if your visa is processed; you will not necessarily get an email alert.
- As of May 2022, the government is processing evisas in about one business day, or within a few days. I did get an email alerting me to the visa’s issuance, but that was the very first time. It’s best to log into the website to check the status. It might also ask you to correct some info and resubmit. (If there’s a delay on their side and you need to travel, you can print the submission and payment confirmation pages and bring/show those.)
- Once issued online, you need to print the one-page visa in colour and carry that printout (one copy suffices).
- Minors don’t need visas.
- Upon arrival in Kenya, your visa will be endorsed in your passport. Agents have discretion to handwrite the duration of 1–3 months. At the counter, the agent might ask you how long you want to stay, or you can ask the agent to give you the full duration of your intended visit (up to 3 months).
- If you want to extend it further, you can go online and renew it, up to six months total, no extra fee. Issuance of a renewal can take 1–3 weeks. The online renewal process has a number of steps to take to ensure it goes through. Otherwise you could be left waiting forever.
Returning to your country:
Check your country’s requirements for reentry. For example, you do need a Covid test within a calendar day to get back into the US if you’re a non-citizen. There are online tests (verified by video) that are available if you order ahead of time, like Qured, which you can have mailed to you (in some countries). Otherwise, you can get a PCR test in your destination town (check on turnaround time) or very easily in Nairobi (average ~10 hours turnaround) for $0–45. For higher end travel, even safari lodges can arrange testing.