Kenya's visa-free travel policy not yet in effect, says KCAA

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) international arrivals in Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has issued a statement clarifying that foreigners coming to Kenya from countries that require visas will still have to apply for them until further notice.

This comes after President William Ruto announced last month that Kenya will be a visa-free country from January 2024, as part of his government’s efforts to embrace globalisation and boost the country’s socio-economic development.

Speaking at the 60th Jamhuri Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi, Ruto said that his administration has decided to abolish visa requirements for all global visitors.

“Beginning January 2024, Kenya will be a visa-free country. It shall no longer be necessary for any person from any corner of the globe to carry the burden of applying for a visa to come to Kenya,” Ruto said.

He added that to implement this new policy, a digital platform has been developed to ensure that all travellers to Kenya will be identified in advance on an electronic platform.

Ruto explained that upon identification, the visitor will obtain an electronic travel authorisation.

However, the KCAA said that the visa-free policy will not take effect immediately, as the government is still in the process of developing and implementing an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system.

The ETA system will enable the government to verify the identity and eligibility of travellers before they arrive in in the country.

ETA system will also enhance the security and efficiency of the immigration process.

“All travellers coming to Kenya from countries that require visas shall continue applying for visas in the usual manner until the government communicates the change program to ETA system,” the KCAA said in a statement on Tuesday, January 2. 

Kenya becomes the second country in Africa to open its borders recently, following Rwanda’s decision to grant visa-free travel to all Africans on November 3, 2023.

Before waiving visa requirements for all nationals, Kenya had also lifted visa restrictions for Indonesian passport holders on August 21, 2023, after bilateral talks between Ruto and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Indonesia joined Senegal and Congo as the countries that Kenya has visa-free agreements with in recent months.

Comoros is also expected to sign a similar agreement with Kenya by the end of the year.