Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Kenya International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kenya for information on U.S.-Kenya relations.
Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Kenya.
All visitors are required to obtain an e-visa before departing for Kenya. If you require a multiple-entry visa, be sure to apply well in advance of travel.
Required for Entry:
Obtain the latest information on visas, as well as any additional details regarding entry requirements, from the Embassy of Kenya, 2249 R Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 387-6101, or the Kenyan Consulates General in Los Angeles and New York City.
Working/Volunteering in Kenya: In December 2018, the Kenyan government announced a new work permit program that requires foreigners to apply for permits and visas from their country of origin. You should submit work permit applications at least 6-8 weeks prior to travel. Once in Kenya, submit a renewal application at least 90 days before your work permit expires.
For additional information on immunizations and detailed country-specific recommendations on vaccinations and other health precautions for travelers to Kenya, visit the CDC’s Travelers’ Health website.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of, Kenya.
You should review the Department of State’s Travel Advisory for Kenya before considering travel to Kenya.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are using increasingly less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
Terrorist threats remain high in Kenya. Terrorist attacks in Kenya have cumulatively resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of people, including foreigners. Attacks have occurred in periods leading up to and during religious holidays and days of national significance. However, an attack is possible at any time. Please note these recent events:
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Regions to Avoid:
Crime: Crime in Kenya is a regular occurrence and Kenyan authorities have limited capacity to deter and investigate such acts.
Forced Marriage is known to occur in Kenya.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) and Cutting (C): This act is known to occur in Kenya. It is a federal crime to perform FGM/C in the United States on any minor younger than 18 years old, punishable by fines and up to five years in prison. It is also a criminal offense knowingly to take a minor younger than 18 years old outside of the United States for the purpose of performing FGM/C (so-called “vacation cutting”).
Sexual Assault is prevalent in Kenya and frequently goes unreported.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Kenya. Scams are often initiated through dating apps, internet postings/profiles, or by unsolicited emails and letters.
Common scams include:
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Report crimes to the local police at 999, 112 or 911, and contact the U.S. Embassy during business hours at +254 (0) 20-363-6451, or after-hours at +254 (0) 20-363-6000.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Kenya has assistance programs for victims of crime sponsored by nongovernmental organizations. These programs include but are not limited to the following:
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The Kenyan Tourism Regulatory Authority has oversight for the country’s tourism sector. The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities vary by region. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. Game parks and related safari tours with well-established operators generally have been reported to be safe.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Customs regulations are strict on importing certain items into or out of Kenya such as antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency, ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products including hides, skins, and teeth.
U.S. citizens have been detained and arrested for attempting to bring contraband into Kenya. Contact the Embassy of Kenya or one of Kenya’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Alcoholic Drinks Control Act of 2010, which regulates when and where alcoholic drinks may be consumed in public, states that a person found by local law enforcement authorities to be intoxicated or disorderly in or near public areas, including some businesses, may be arrested without warrant and brought to court for trial.
More information on this law may be found on Kenya's substance abuse website, NACADA.
Tobacco Control Act 2007 regulates public smoking and the marketing and sale of tobacco products in Kenya. In public places, smoking is allowed only in designated smoking areas.
Currency: You may depart the country with up to 100,000 Kenyan shillings.
Cultural Rehabilitation Centers: Some schools and other facilities acting as cultural rehabilitation centers are operating in Kenya with inadequate or nonexistent licensing and oversight. Reports of minors and young adults being held in these facilities against their will and being physically, sexually, and emotionally abused are common. U.S. citizens are encouraged to thoroughly research these facilities and talk to others who have used them. They should have a plan for an early return if necessary.
Safaris: Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the governing body of Kenya’s national parks, requires all tour operators and safari lodges carry nationally mandated insurance. You should:
Firearms: Import, possession, and use of firearms is governed by the Kenya Firearms Act.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTQI+ Travelers: Kenyan law criminalizes same-sex sexual activity. The Kenyan penal code criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” which is interpreted to prohibit consensual same-sex sexual activity and specifies a maximum penalty of 14 years of imprisonment. A separate statute specifically criminalizes sex between men and specifies a maximum penalty of 21 years of imprisonment. Police have detained persons under these laws, particularly suspected sex workers. LGBTQI+ advocacy organizations, such as the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, have been permitted to register and conduct activities. However, societal discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Travelers with Disabilities: Kenyan law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.The Government of Kenya has not consistently enforced these provisions and implementation has been slow. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, and general infrastructure.
Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Kenya.
Medical services are adequate in Nairobi for most medical conditions and emergencies.
In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in or near the major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu. First responders generally are unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance and carry emergency numbers. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
For emergency services in Kenya, dial 999, 112, or 911.
Ambulance services are:
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance. You may need to call your insurance company or pay and get reimbursed.
Surrogacy: Surrogacy programs in Kenya are unregulated and families have reported difficulties obtaining required legal documentation from Kenyan authorities and taking children out of Kenya; difficulties may increase if a parent is single.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Government of Kenya to ensure the medication is legal in Kenya.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Road Conditions and Safety: Road accidents are a major threat to travelers in Kenya. Roads are poorly maintained and are often bumpy, potholed, and unpaved.
U.S. citizens have been fatally injured in accidents involving long-distance, inter-city buses and local buses and vans called “matatus”. Matatus are commonly known to be the greatest danger to other vehicles and pedestrians. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using matatus.
Injuries and fatalities involving two-wheeled motorcycle taxis, called “boda bodas,” are equally common. Boda bodas often fail to observe basic safety precautions and ignore traffic rules. Inter-city nighttime road travel should be avoided due to the poor road and streetlight conditions and the threat of banditry throughout the country. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using boda bodas.
During the rainy season, some unpaved roads are impassable even with four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance. Travelers are urged to consult with local officials regarding road conditions.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Trains: Most passenger trains are considered unsafe, particularly during rainy seasons, because of the lack of routine maintenance and safety checks. The only approved train route for U.S. government personnel is the Nairobi to Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway. U.S. government personnel can only ride in the first-class cabin to avoid pickpockets and facilitate a rapid exit if necessary.
Aviation Safety Oversight:
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Kenya’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Kenya should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings.