by Daniella Gateretse & Conor Walsh
If you’re planning a global conference in Kenya, you need to help your event participants apply for a visa in advance. Kenya offers multiple visas (and visa exemptions) and multiple ways to apply.
However, visa rules can change without notice, so having the most up-to-date information is crucial.
Also, as of 2021, there is no visa on arrival for anyone visiting Kenya.
In this quick guide, we’ll show you:
- Quick tips for successful event visa applications
- The best visas and visa exemptions for international travelers attending an event in Kenya
- Entry requirements for visitors to Kenya
Planning an international conference in Kenya? Get in touch. We’ve organized many events in Kenya over the years, and can guide you through every step for the most stress-free experience.
Quick Tips for Kenyan Visas
- There is no Visa on Arrival for Kenya. Anyone who requires a visa to enter the country must be issued one in advance.
- The 90-day Single Entry Visa is the easiest and most common option for conference attendees.
- A Single Entry Visa approval should take 1-2 weeks. However, delays are common, so anyone applying must do so as early as possible.
- There are lots of scam visa websites, so ensure your participants only use the official Kenyan government eVisa website. Alternatively, you can engage a visa agent in Nairobi for assistance.
- The Kenyan government occasionally changes its visa rules without notice. If planning a global conference in Kenya, ensure you have the most up-to-date information.
If you’re worried about visas for participants at a global conference in Kenya – we can help. We’ve organized countless conferences in the country, and never had an issue getting participants their visas.
But for now, let’s look at the most common visa options for people attending an international conference in Kenya.
90-Day Single Entry Visa
Nationals from most countries can apply for a 90-Day Single Entry Visa on the Kenyan government’s eVisa website (which redirects to the eCitizen portal).
Participants can apply for the visas themselves, or you can engage an agent in Nairobi to complete the process in bulk. If participants decide to apply for their visas, they’ll need to create a “Foreigner” account on the eCitizen website and provide the following details:
- Any previous visits to Kenya
- Details of their parents
- Next of kin
- Reason for travel
- Host details (Hotel, Firm, Friend, Relative, Holiday Home/Apartment, or Airbnb)
- Port of entry
- Some additional personal details
- Uploads of a passport photo, their passport bio page and cover, and any invitation letters (for business travel)
The eCitizen portal automatically saves incomplete applications as a draft. So, if a participant needs to pause their application, they can return to it later without starting over.
Pro tip: instruct every participant to bring a printed version of their e-visa to the airport. It will be essential for checking into their flights and will speed up their immigration process upon arrival in Kenya.
The visa costs $50 plus a $1 application fee per visa. The visa application typically takes 7-10 working days, but we suggest applying as early as possible in case of delays.
For example, the eCitizen website is prone to crashing, and visas are still approved manually, with backlogs causing frequent delays during peak holiday periods in Kenya.
Once the Single Entry Visa is issued, participants have up to 90 days to enter Kenya.
Warning: in the past, a Hallpax team member had his Single Entry Visa to Kenya issued with the incorrect citizenship. He didn’t notice until checking into his flight, when the Qatar Airways staff refused to allow him onboard. So, ensure every participant double checks their visa when issued so there are no mistakes.
Avoiding Scam Visa Websites
There are lots of fraudulent visa websites online issuing fake visas or charging exorbitant processing fees.
To avoid these, share a link to the official Kenyan eVisa website with every participant at your conference.
If you need assistance with visa application for your conference, we can help. We have years of experience navigating Kenyan immigration procedures for conferences and events. We’ll guide you through every step of the process and ensure no one gets refused entry.
Citizens of 42 countries, primarily in Africa and the Caribbean, can travel to Kenya visa-free for up to 30 or 90 days.
As of August 2023, participants from these countries should not need visa assistance, but it’s best to confirm in advance.
Here’s the full list of 42 countries:
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Trinidad and Tobago
Saint Vincent and Grenadines
Papua New Guinea
Additional Visa Exemptions
Employees or officials of the following international organizations may also enter Kenya visa-free for short periods:
International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa
African Airlines Travel Association
Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa
Intergovernmental Authority on Development
African Housing Fund
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
International Labour Organization
African Development Bank
Desert Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa
International Monetary Fund
African Union of Broadcasting
Environment Liaison Centre International
International Potato Center
The final exemptions are given to the following groups:
- Children under the age of 16, regardless of nationality
- Serving members of the British Armed Forces
- Diplomatic and service passport holders from Brazil, China, Cuba, India, Iran, Israel, Nigeria, and Turkey
Once again, we reiterate that you confirm the individual visa requirements for every participant at your conference. This guide should only be used as a reference.
Embassy Application Required
Participants traveling to Kenya from any of the countries below must apply for a visa at their nearest Kenyan embassy or diplomatic mission in-person or via mail.
The application process for nationals from these countries will be much more thorough and take longer than all others.
We suggest prioritizing them.
Additional Visa Options
Four more visa options may appeal to your conference participants, especially if they plan to combine your conference with some travel around Kenya and East Africa.
- Courtesy Visa – A special visa issued by the Kenyan Director General to individuals visiting the country for business or diplomatic purposes. Reserved for high-status visitors.
- 72-Hour Transit Visa – For participants joining your conference on a short stopover, this visa gives them 3 days in Kenya. Costs $20.
- East Africa Tourist Visa – A combined 90-day visa for Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. If Kenya is your first port of entry, you must apply in advance on the eVisa website. Costs $100.
- 12-Month Multiple Entry Visa – If your participants are planning multiple trips to Kenya, this may be the most convenient and cost-effective visa. However, there are lots of conditions, and it’s best done via an agent. Costs $100.
Each of these visas requires different considerations and applications. We suggest you stick to the main visas for your participants to reduce the amount of admin needed.
Requirements for Entry into Kenya
All your conference participants have been issued their visas and confirmed their flights. Now, they just have to follow Kenya’s entry requirements for all visitors.
Don’t worry – these are straightforward and familiar to anyone who has traveled internationally before.
Let’s take a quick look.
Your international participants’ passports must be valid for six months after the date of entry into Kenya and have at least one blank passport page.
If your participants have been issued an e-visa for Kenya, they must have a printed copy on hand upon check-in for their first flight.
If your participants got their visa from a Kenyan diplomatic mission, they need to carry the passport containing the visa, in case it is on a different passport from the one used for travel.
In May 2023, the Kenyan government removed all COVID-19 vaccine requirements for international travelers.
If a participant has “flu-like symptoms” upon arrival in Kenya, they may be required to fill in a passenger location form and get a COVID-19 rapid antigen test at their own expense. If the test is positive, they’ll need a second PCR test and be directed to self-isolate per the Kenyan government’s directives.
Participants traveling from a country where yellow fever is endemic or there has been a recent yellow fever outbreak will require a yellow fever vaccination certificate before entering Kenya.
Letters of Invitation
If any participants have been issued a business visa, they should have included a letter of invitation from a Kenyan business or organization (i.e., a visa agent or an NGO) with their application.
To ensure a smooth immigration process, they should print a copy of this letter and present it to the immigration officer approving their entry.
Confirmation of Accommodation
If your participants are staying at a hotel, we recommend printing a copy of their booking confirmation to present at immigration.
If anyone is staying with friends or family members, a copy of their host’s contact details and address is highly recommended.
Return or Onward Ticket
A return or onward ticket proves that your international event participants plan to leave Kenya before their visa expires. Every participant should have a confirmed return or onward ticket to show the immigration officer upon arrival.
They can print a copy or save it on their phone.
Need Help Applying for a Kenya Event Visa?
We’ve helped countless organizations in Kenya and across Africa organize successful global conferences.
If you’re struggling with any step of the planning process – including visa applications – we can help! Contact us today, and our local Kenya team will be on hand to guide you through every step.