Kenya has ushered in a new era of travel by offering visa-free entry to all foreign nationals, irrespective of their nationality, for tourism or business stays up to 90 days. However, this groundbreaking initiative comes with the introduction of an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system, ensuring a streamlined and secure entry process.
Visa Waiver Details
All foreign nationals can now enjoy visa-free entry to Kenya, marking a significant shift in the country’s approach to tourism and business travel. This development is a testament to Kenya’s commitment to fostering a welcoming environment for international visitors.
Kenya Celebrates Maiden Visa-Free Arrivals
Despite a brief delay of five days, Kenya on Friday, January 5, announced the arrival of the first group of foreign tourists under an innovative and streamlined entry system.
Crafted to simplify and expedite the entry process, this system is strategically designed to lure a greater number of international visitors, propelling a significant upswing in Kenya’s flourishing tourism sector.
Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Requirement
While the visa requirement has been lifted, non-East African Community (EAC) nationals are now required to obtain an ETA online before embarking on their journey to Kenya. The ETA comes for USD 30, and the processing by the government typically takes up to three business days.
ETA Exemption for East African Community (EAC) Nationals:
It’s important to note that nationals from EAC member states, including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, are exempt from the ETA requirement.
The exemption extends to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia once their applications to join the EAC are ratified.
Getting Your ETA in 3 Simple Steps
Step 1 – Head online: Navigate to the Official Government website (etakenya.go.ke) for ETA and create an account.
Step 2 – Fill in the blanks: Be prepared to answer questions about your trip, personal details, and travel documents like your passport (valid for at least six months beyond your arrival date, with a blank page).
Step 3 – Pay the fee and wait: The ETA costs a cool USD 30, and processing usually takes around three business days, though it can sometimes take longer. Feeling impatient? Expedited processing is available for an extra charge.
Documents Required and Processing Time
- Travellers seeking an ETA must provide essential documents, including; A passport valid for at least six months post-arrival, with one blank page.
- Accommodation booking confirmation(s) and personal information are mandatory.
- Additional documentation may be required, such as proof of financial assets and a scheduled exit plan for some applicants.
While most ETAs are processed within three business days, the duration may vary based on the applicant’s citizenship and other factors. Expedited processing is available at an extra cost.
Successful applicants will receive an email confirming the issuance of their ETA. This confirmation must be printed and presented to immigration officers upon arrival or saved on a related mobile app.
Once you’ve got your ETA
Print it out or save it on your phone: Keep your precious authorization readily accessible – you’ll need to show it to immigration officers upon arrival.
Pack your essentials: Don’t forget the usual travel necessities like a passport, flight confirmation, and proof of accommodation. Business travellers, pack your invitation letter and company registration document too.
Entry Requirements for EAC Nationals:
EAC nationals, exempt from the ETA requirement, only need to present their passport or relevant travel document to enter Kenya, simplifying the entry process for these countries.
ETA Validity and Renewal
Unlike traditional visa programs with multi-year validity, the ETA for Kenya is only valid for a single trip. Travellers must obtain a new ETA for each subsequent visit to the country.
Transition for e-Visas
Travellers who obtained e-visas before the ETA launch can continue to use them until expiration. However, it’s crucial to note that the e-visa platform will be decommissioned, reflecting the country’s shift away from visa requirements.
In a recent incident, the implementation of visa-free entry was temporarily delayed due to ongoing developments in the ETA system. The government assures travellers that the system will be operational soon, providing a more convenient and efficient entry process for all visitors to Kenya.
As Kenya opens its doors with this visa-free initiative, travellers are encouraged to stay informed about the evolving regulations and enjoy the vibrant experiences this East African gem has to offer.