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Kenya: Visa Requirements

What do expats need to know before moving to Kenya? InterNations introduces you to one of East Africa’s largest and most dynamic countries. With our info on culture, visas, permits, housing, and safety, your impending move to Kenya will indeed be hakuna matata and hassle-free!
Short-term visitors from selected countries receive a visa on arrival at Kenya’s international airports.

Before you move to Kenya, you should make sure to get the appropriate visa well in advance. If you are simply planning a short-term visit of three months or less, several visa options may apply to you. In any case, you need a valid passport that has at least one blank page for the Kenyan visa stamp.

How to Know If You Need a Visa to Enter Kenya

Nationals of selected countries (e.g. from Tanzania or Uganda) do not need a visa at all in order to enter Kenya for a short-term stay. They can obtain a visitor pass at the immigration counter of the airport. In contrast, citizens of certain other nations (e.g. Afghanistan or Iraq) may only apply for a Kenyan visa with a personal reference.

However, the countries on these two lists can frequently change, which is why we have not mentioned all the nations in question. Before starting your Kenyan visa application, please enquire at the nearest Kenyan mission if you can get a visitor pass on arrival or if you need a reference for the application process.

Your Essentials for a Short-Term Kenyan Visa

For all sorts of shorter visits to Kenya, there are two basic visa categories: the single-entry visa and the multiple-journey visa. As the names imply, the main difference lies in the number of times the visa allows you to enter and exit Kenya.

During the application process for a multiple-entry visa, you usually have to bring along more copies of the required documents and pay a higher fee. But no matter which visa option you choose, you should have the following documents at hand:

  • official visa application form
  • passport, which is valid for at least six more months
  • recent passport-sized photographs
  • copy of flight itinerary / confirmation of travel booking
  • additional paperwork, depending on your reason for moving to Kenya (e.g. a marriage certificate if you want to visit your spouse, invitation from a Kenyan host, a work permit if you are a foreign employee, etc.)

The Right Work Permit for You

If you need a visa for a longer stay in Kenya (usually for more than three months), you must obtain a work and residence permit beforehand. The permit will be part of your visa application.

There are various classes for such permits, depending on your reason for coming to Kenya, as well as special passes for short-term assignees and international students. As it would not be possible to describe all the requirements in detail, we will briefly outline the most common options below.

Please note, the Citizenship and Immigration Regulations were revised in summer 2012. Therefore, you often still find outdated references to the old classes online while the new categories are actually different now:

  • Class D covers “specific employment by a specific employer” in Kenya, including expats on intra-company transfers, foreign assignees, and employees from abroad, as well as humanitarian workers employed by an officially recognized NGO or IGO. These two categories of expats used to need a class A and a class C permit, respectively, according to the old regulations.
  • Class I (formerly class E) is a permit for foreign missionaries wanting to work in Kenya.
  • Independently wealthy foreigners wishing to settle in Kenya need a class K permit. They have to submit proof of sufficient income.

Other permits apply, for example, to foreign investors in various fields of business, from agriculture to manufacturing (e.g. class A, B, F, or G). Regardless of the permit you need, always contact a Kenyan mission or the Department of Immigration Services to check the latest immigration requirements. Note: the DOIS website isn’t always online, but the Embassy of Kenya in Germany, for instance, also has information on the various work permit classes (in English).

After Your Arrival in Kenya

Once you have arrived in Kenya on a valid visa, you still have to register with the Immigration Department or the local police within three months. This rule applies to all foreign residents who are older than 18 and plan on staying more than 90 days. For this procedure, you need:

  • a valid travel document
  • recent passport-sized pictures
  • to have your fingerprints taken
  • to pay the registration fee


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Mario Rimardi

"Wish I had discovered InterNations before I relocated to Kenya. It's really helpful on both a private and a professional level. "

Caroline Hayes

"Expats on InterNations gave us valuable hints for finding an appropriate school in Nairobi for our two children."

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