Since the introduction of the East African Tourist Visa in 2014, it is possible to travel to several East African countries on a single visa. At present, you can visit a total of three countries with this kind of visa: Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Other countries may be added in the future.
What is the East African Tourist Visa?
In theory, the East African Tourist Visa is a combined tourist visa that allows you to travel to Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with a single visa. The visa is the product of a cooperation agreement between the heads of state of the concerned countries and serves to improve both the relationship between the three countries and introduce tourists to the diversity of East Africa.
Requirements and validity of the East African Tourist Visa
Every traveller who wants to visit one of these three countries can apply for the East African Tourist Visa. To do so, they have to meet all the requirements. For example, only travel with a tourist purpose, such as a holiday, is allowed with this visa. Working is not allowed with this type of visa. The visa costs USD 100 (about £92) and can be applied for online, at the immigration service, or at diplomatic representations of the concerned countries. The proceeds of the paid amount are split among the three countries. The country in which the visa can be applied for gets USD 40 (about £37), and the other two countries both get USD 30 (about £28).
The East African Tourist Visa is a multiple-entry visa. The visa has a validity period of 90 days, starting from the day it is granted. Within that period, travellers are allowed to travel between the three countries as often as they choose. Upon leaving the region, the visa loses its validity. The length of stay allowed is the same as an e-visa for Kenya, which allows a traveller to stay for a maximum of 90 days.
To apply for this combined visa, a couple of documents need to be supplied that are required to process the application. First, the applicant needs to have a passport that is valid for at least six more months from the indicated arrival date in the first of the three countries. When applying, the traveller also needs to have booked a return ticket that shows that he or she leaves the last of the three countries before the validity of the visa expires. Additionally, travellers need to submit a sharp scan or image of their passport and a sharp photograph with a neutral facial expression. For the photograph, there are several additional requirements. For example:
- it cannot be an image or scan of the photograph in your passport.
- the photograph cannot be older than six months.
- the photograph has to be in colour.
- the photograph should show the entire face of the traveler and have a neutral background.
- the traveller has to wear normal clothes in the photograph. Photographs in which the traveller wears a uniform are not accepted. Photographs with clothing or accessories worn out of religious conviction are allowed.
- the traveller cannot wear headgear that covers the hair or hairline.
- any glasses, wig, hearing aid, or other device worn from a medical perspective must also be worn in the photograph.
- sunglasses or glasses with dark lenses are not permitted, provided they are medically necessary. An additional medical certificate may be requested in this case.
In addition to the scan or image of the passport and photograph, several other documents need to be submitted, depending on your travel purpose. For a tourist trip, travellers additionally need to submit an itinerary stating the places to be visited and containing the booking confirmations of the accommodations. Travellers who are visiting family or friends in one of the three countries need to submit an invitation letter from the concerned family member or friend. This invitation letter needs to be written in English. In this case, it is also required to submit a scan or image of the passport, identity card or foreignerʼs certificate of the person in question.
Tanzania and Burundi possibly added in future
In addition to Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, other countries may be added to the combined visa in the future. Negotiations are currently underway for other East African countries to join. For example, on 24 January 2023, a negotiation took place between Rwandaʼs Representative, Major General Charles Karamba, and Pindi Hazara Chana, Tanzaniaʼs Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism. These negotiations focused on the importance of the visa and Tanzaniaʼs entry into the program. Tanzania is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. Therefore, Tanzaniaʼs entry into the East African Tourist Visa Program will benefit tourism in the rest of the East African countries.
Travelling to Kenya? Apply for a Kenya visa
If you are only planning to travel to Kenya and not visit any other East African countries, then a Kenya visa suffices. You can easily submit a Kenya visa application online with the online application form on this website. After completing the application form and paying the costs, you have to submit several documents. Those include a photograph and a scan or image of the passport of each traveller, as well as a booking confirmation for a hotel or other accommodation. In the case of visiting family or friends, instead of a booking confirmation of the accommodation, you should submit an invitation letter in English. When all the documents are submitted correctly, your application will be submitted to the Kenyan immigration service.
On average, the visa is issued within 9 days and sent to you by email. If you need a visa faster, for example, because you are leaving for Kenya within a short period of time, you can submit an urgent application. An urgent application is approved within 3 days on average after all details and documents are checked and found to be correct. Keep in mind that, in case of an urgent application, a surcharge of £17.50 is charged.