Kenya Traveler Information — Travel Advice

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY: 6months.

Embassies and Consulates

United Nations Avenue
Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +(254) (20) 363–6451
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(254) (20) 363–6170
kenya_acs@state.gov

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kenya for information on U.S. — Kenya relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Kenyan Immigration has instituted a strict visa policy whereby all visitors are strongly encouraged to obtain visas by using an online system, though visas are available upon arrival at international ports of entry including Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

  • Single-entry visas are available online and upon arrival at Kenyan airports; however, Kenyan Immigration plans to end visas upon arrival in the future.
  • Multiple-entry visas must be applied for prior to traveling to Kenya.
  • Obtain the latest information on visas, as well as any additional details regarding entry requirements, from the Embassy of Kenya, 2249 R Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 387–6101, or the Kenyan Consulates General in Los Angeles and New York City.
  • You should have proof of yellow fever immunizations, or you may be denied entry.
  • In December 2018, the Kenyan government announced a new work permit program that requires foreigners to apply for permits and visas from their country of origin. It is recommended that work permit applications be submitted 6–8 weeks prior to travel. People already in Kenya working on a permit should submit renewal applications at last 90 days before the permit expires.

Safety and Security

You should review the Department of State’s Travel Advisory for Kenya before considering travel to Kenya.

  • In January 2019, a terrorist attack on the Dusit Hotel complex in the Westlands District of Nairobi resulted in the death of 21 victims, including one U.S. citizen.
  • In November 2018, a 23-year old Italian national was kidnapped from a rural area in Kilifi County approximately 50 kilometers west of Malindi along the Kenyan coast.
  • All parts of the coastal counties of Tana River and Lamu, and all areas of Kilifi County north of Malindi.
  • The road between Kainuk and Lodwar in Turkana County due to banditry.
  • The Nairobi neighborhoods of Eastleigh and Kibera.
  • Avoid using the Likoni ferry due to safety concerns.
  • “Matatus” (privately-operated public transportation buses) tend to be targeted since they carry multiple passengers.
  • Cases of violent street crime targeting Westerners occur in many seemingly safe areas of Nairobi, ranging from simple muggings to kidnapping and extortion, including attacks during daylight hours. U.S. citizens using off-the-street taxis have also been victims of robbery, kidnapping, and extortion.
  • Sexual assault has largely been associated with women. However, the sexual assault of men has been a growing trend that often goes unreported because of the stigma associated with it.
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police.
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms.
  • provide a list of local attorneys.
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States in cases of destitution,
  • help find temporary accommodation and arrange flights to a United States home residence.
  • replace a stolen or lost passport.
  • Healthcare Assistance Kenya (HAK) offers a 24 hour Rapid Response Service to women and children survivors of Gender Based Violence at its Call Centre as well as a 24 hour toll-free hotline for sexual and gender based violence assistance.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

  • Kenya enacted strict legislation regulating the sale and consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.
  • Penalties for possessing banned wildlife items under Kenya’s Wildlife Act include large fines and severe penalties, including life imprisonment.
  • Violations of the Kenya Firearms Act are punishable from one year to life imprisonment. Possession of any amount of ammunition can incur a minimum seven-year sentence.
  • If convicted three times of the same charge within a 12 month period, you will be required to participate in mandatory rehabilitation at your expense.
  • You should ensure that your U.S. currency bills are relatively new, as banks in Kenya have been known not to accept older U.S. currency.
  • observe all local or park regulations and exercise appropriate caution in unfamiliar surroundings; and
  • thoroughly check the qualifications and safety record of all tourist lodges and guides before engaging their services and venturing into the wild in their care.
  • Possession of firearms while in Kenya requires a firearms certificate, which can be difficult to obtain.
  • Violations of the Kenya Firearms Act are punishable from one year to life imprisonment. Possession of any amount of ammunition is punishable by a minimum seven-year sentence.
  • A separate statute specifically criminalizes sex between men and specifies a maximum penalty of 21 years’ imprisonment.
  • Police have detained persons under these laws, particularly suspected sex workers.
  • LGBTI advocacy organizations, such as the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, have been permitted to register and conduct activities. However, societal discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread.
  • Accessibility to public transportation and taxis is limited. There is no functioning bus system in Nairobi, but rather an extensive use of vans (“matatus”) that travel along designated routes; taxis are also used, as are motorcycles serving as taxis (“boda bodas”).
  • Public transportation and taxis do not accommodate wheelchairs; these vehicles are most often hailed from the side of busy roads.
  • Footpaths along the side of roads are generally unpaved, bumpy, dirt paths, and road crossings are often unmarked.

Health

Medical services are adequate in Nairobi for most medical conditions and emergencies. Health care outside of major cities (Nairobi, Kisumu, and Mombasa) is very limited.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Road accidents are a major threat to travelers in Kenya. Roads are poorly maintained and are often bumpy, potholed, and unpaved.

  • Beware of vehicles traveling at excessive speed, and unpredictable local driving habits.
  • Many vehicles are poorly maintained and lack basic safety equipment.
  • Heavy traffic jams, either due to rush hour or because of accidents, are common.
  • Some vehicles will cross the median strip and drive against the flow of traffic.

Fact Sheet

Please see Fact Sheet for this country/area.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Kenya. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Aardy.com

Aardy.com

AARDY is the nation’s fastest insurance marketplace. Compare Travel Insurance, Medicare and Health insurance plans to find the right insurance for your needs.