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7 categories of persons exempt from Kenyan visas

By Edwin Kis'sanya | January 31st 2020
By Edwin Kis'sanya | January 31st 2020

While most foreign nationals are required to either obtain a Kenyan visa at their point of entry into Kenya or apply for the travel document before they are granted access into the country, the following groups of people is exempted from obtaining visas to enter the country:

1. Holders of valid re-entry pass for Kenya

As the name suggests, a re-entry pass is a document that allows foreigners granted residency in Kenya to go outside the country and return before their visa expires.

A re-entry pass is used to prove residency. Holders of the documents are not required to re-apply for Kenyan visas when getting back to the country. 

2. Citizens of countries with whom Kenya has a reciprocal visa abolition agreement

According to the Kenyan embassy to the Netherland’s website, Kenya has concluded mutual agreements with five countries - Ethiopia, Rwanda, San Marino, Turkey and Uruguay, abolishing visas completely.

That means citizens of the five countries can enter Kenya without a visa. 

However, they may be denied entry if they do not have a valid passport and other relevant documents besides the passport. For example, Ethiopians travelling to Kenya for short term visits must produce a valid International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever.

3. Passengers arriving and leaving by the same ship, and who do not disembark from the ship

All passengers arriving in Kenya by ship and leaving the country’s territorial waters by the same ship, without stepping on Kenyan soil are not required to obtain visas to enter Kenya. 

4. Passengers in transit through Kenya, who are either arriving and leaving by the same aircraft or transferring to another aircraft without leaving the airport’s lounge

All passengers on board a plane travelling to other countries through Kenya are not required to apply for a Kenyan visa if they are disembarking at a Kenyan airport and leaving by the same aircraft or transferring to another aircraft.

This applies only if the passengers stay in the international transit lounges of the airport the entire time they are in the country waiting to resume their flights or to board other planes. 

 5. Holders of the United Nations Laissez-Passers (UNLP)

Individuals working for the United Nations hold the Laissez-Passer - a diplomatic travel document allowing them to visit foreign countries on official UN business.  Such individuals are exempted from applying for a Kenyan visa to visit the country. 


But holders of the document should be travelling to Kenya in connection with official UN business and it has to be valid since individuals who retire or leave the organization are required to return their Laissez-Passer to the UN’s issuing office before they leave the organization.

 6. Holders of Organization of African Union Laissez-Passers

Just like holders of the United Nations Laissez-Passer, persons working for the OAU, volunteers or those involved in any of the organization’s agencies, who are entering the country to work on behalf of the organization are not required to apply for the Kenyan visa. 

This, as long as they are in possession of the document to identify themselves to the port of entry into the country as personnel the OAU. 

7. Holders of African Development Bank Laissez-Passers

Founded in 1964 with a mission to promote economic growth and to reduce poverty in Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) operates in all 54 countries on the continent and 27 non-regional member countries such as the UK, USA and Japan.

The bank has over 1,800 employees. These individuals do not require visas to enter Kenya whilst on official AfDB business.     

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