Facts for the Visitor
Visas, Climate, Currency - all you need to know for your holiday in Kenya
A visa is required for entry into Kenya when travelling as a tourist. Whilst tourists to Kenya can still obtain a visa upon arrival at the port of entry, it is now also possible to apply online for your visa via the eVisa portal https://www.ecitizen.go.ke/. If you apply online, please ensure that you apply at least 3-4 weeks prior to your travel dates as approval for the eVisa takes up to 7 working days to process. Once the eVisa is issued, it is valid for 3 months. You must print a copy of your visa to present to the Immigration Officer at your point of entry into Kenya. A full list of the nationalities who can be issued with an eVisa can be found here: http://evisa.go.ke/evisa-faqs.html
The following eVisa types are available (please note that visa fees for children under the age of 16 has been removed):
Single Entry - Allows you to enter into Kenya once - current cost USD 51.
Transit - Allows a short stop over (up to 3 days/72 hours) in Kenya - current cost USD 21. This is ideal if you want to leave the secure area of the airport, for example for an overnight stay inbetween flights, or for a period not exceeding 72 hours. No visa is required for a direct transit (not leaving the secure area of the airport, aka staying ‘airside’, within the airport terminal) between 2 flights.
It is also possible to get an East Africa Tourist Visa which is valid for 90 days and allows holders to travel to and within Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda - current cost USD 100 per person - but you can only apply for this at the point of entry or via your local Embassy.
Your passport should also be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Kenya.
PLEASE NOTE: Countries can change their entry requirements at any time. Travel Butlers try to ensure that the information displayed here is correct, but the onus remains with the traveller to verify the information with the relevant High Commission or Embassy and ensure that they can compy with current passport and visa requirements.
You are advised to contact your doctor or clinic around 4-8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations and to get their professional medical advice regarding travel to Kenya.
There is a risk of malaria in all areas of Kenya, except Nairobi and the highlands - check with your doctor about suitable antimalarial tablets. Dengue fever can also be transmitted via mosquito bites. Try to avoid mosquito bites wherever possible - wear loose long-sleeved clothing and trousers, and use a repellent on clothing and exposed skin.
Kenya falls into the yellow fever region in Africa. There is only a low potential for exposure to yellow fever in Nairobi, Mombasa, Lamu, Malindi and Shimba Hills National Park, but in the rest of the country there is a higher risk. It is therefore advisable for all travellers aged 9 months and older to obtain a yellow fever vaccination no less than 10 days prior to travel, but depending on the rest of your travel plans and country of origin, it is not compulsory:
Travellers from the UK who are only travelling directly to and from Kenya are not required to produce a vaccination certificate upon their return to the UK.
If you are arriving into Kenya from a country which has a risk of yellow fever transmission, you will be required to provide a certificate of your vaccination upon entry into Kenya. These countries include Angola, Argentina, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda and Venezula but it is up to the traveller to check the full list via http://www.who.int/ith/2015-ith-annex1.pdf?ua=1
Certain countries including South Africa and Tanzania will deny entry if you are arriving from Kenya without the vaccination. Please ensure you check the full list via http://www.who.int/ith/2015-ith-annex1.pdf?ua=1 to see which countries impose this rule.
language and people
English is the common commercial language, therefore it is spoken in the major towns and at all lodges and hotels. There are 52 tribes in Kenya, each with their own tribal language. The national language in Kenya is Swahili.
The monetary unit is the Kenyan shilling. There is no limit to the amount of currency or traveller's cheques that you can bring into the country. US dollars are widely accepted too, however, notes dated before 2001 are no longer accepted and high denomination notes may also not be accepted.
All the major Credit cards are widely accepted in the city hotels, city restaurants and city shops but this may not be the case in the rural areas or whilst on safari. A commission charge is normally added to any transactions using a credit card.
Travellers cheques may be cashed in a bank but this can be a somewhat lengthy process.
The smaller safari lodges and camps or rural hotels may not all accept travellers cheques or credit cards and where they do they may give an unfavourable exchange rate or add a surcharge, so it is recommended that you obtain whatever local currency you may need on safari in advance by drawing cash from an ATM at a bank in Nairobi or there is a bank at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which is located in the far corner of the Baggage hall, so you can obtain money while waiting for your luggage to come through.
Reverting your Kenyan shillings into hard currency is easily done at the airport, hotels and banks. The rate of exchange varies between banks, foreign exchange bureaus and hotels. Do NOT change money on the black market, or destroy Kenyan currency as both acts are illegal.
You can read more about the climate in our guide to the best time to visit Kenya.
The international dialling code for Kenya is +254. Most areas of Kenya have some form of mobile phone network, however it is often weak or unreliable, so please do not always rely on it.
Voltage in Kenya is 240 volts, and plugs are generally square 3-pin UK style. In some properties power is only available in the early morning and evening, and some do not have power points in the rooms/tents. Where power points are not available, there will be charging facilities for cameras, phones and computers in the main areas.
Kenya Standard Time is 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3). Kenya does not operate Daylight-Saving Time.