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14 Sep 2021
BY Eustache Ngoga , Rehema Nakirya Ssemyalo , Anthony Gakuru AND Pooja Rehal

The East African Tourist Visa: an easy and cost effective way to visit Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda

The East African Tourist Visa (“EATV”) is an electronic travel permit for those travelling to and within Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda for tourism purposes. The EATV was introduced in 2014 as a joint initiative between these three partnering countries to boost regional travel and create opportunities for tourists to explore the diverse and exciting locations in East Africa. 

The EATV makes travelling to the East Africa Region easier and financially more attractive, allowing any individual to visit all three participating countries in a single trip. The visa is a multi-entry, so there is no limit to the number of times a traveller could visit each of the three participating countries.

Having a common visa also means that that the three participating states can jointly market their tourism attractiveness and collectively showcase a single product to consumers and potential travellers. With this comes renewed opportunities and cross border collaboration. 

Although the EATV experienced slow implementation initially, the participating nations intend to speed up the process post the COVID-19 pandemic to increase the ease of travel.

A traveller may acquire the EATV:

  • on arrival to any of the three participating countries;
  • by applying at the respective country’s local embassy/diplomatic offices before travelling; or
  • by applying online (such as via the countries’ official websites to make bio-metric submissions).

Despite sharing a common tourist visa, the application processes differ according to the country from where you begin your travels. As such, it is important to consult the respective consulate office for information on application procedures and the requisite documents for submission.  

Below, we look at specific requirements and issues unique to each of the three participating countries:

Kenya

As of January 2021, Kenya has discontinued the issuance of visas on arrival. This means that travellers, unless they are visa exempt, must apply for and obtain the EATV online before they arrive in Kenya. The EATV is valid for three months from the date of issue and has a standard cost of USD101 on application. The requirements for obtaining the EATV are as follows:

general requirements

  • valid travel document of not less than six months
  • a return ticket
  • clear passport biodata page
  • clear coloured passport-sized photograph with the following criteria:
    • must not be a photograph of or scan of the photo in the applicant’s passport;
    • must be taken within the past six months, showing the applicant’s current appearance;
    • must show the applicant’s full face, front view with a plain white or off-white background;
    • must be taken in everyday street attire. Uniforms should not be worn except religious attire that is worn daily;
    • the applicant must not wear a hat or headgear that obscures the hair or hairline;
    • if the applicant typically wears prescription glasses, a hearing device, wig or similar articles, they should wear these for the picture; and
    • dark glasses or non-prescription glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable unless required for medical reasons, in which case a medical certificate may be required.

requirements for tourist visits

  • travel itinerary
  • hotel bookings

requirements for business visits

  • invitation letter from the company/invitation letter for business visit
  • copies of registration documents of the company

 

requirements for family visits

  • invitation letters from family
  • copy of identity card, passport, alien card or entry permit of the host

Rwanda

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic being declared in March 2020, Rwanda did not change the existing the EATV requirements.

The EATV is issued upon arrival at the border post, online, at the office of a diplomatic mission of Rwanda in the applicant’s country of residence or at any other place as may be determined by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration.

The visa applicant must present any genuine acceptable travel document that is valid for no less than six months and is required to pay USD100. The EATV is valid for three months non-renewable except under exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Directorate of Immigration and Emigration. The holder of the EATV is not allowed to work in Rwanda.

In addition, irrespective of the type of visa applied for, the applicant may be required to present evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay in Rwanda. Evidence for such funds may be requested online, at the Rwandan foreign mission or at the entry point.

Uganda

A person desiring an EATV must apply for it individually, and the application cannot be dependent on an existing EATV.

The EATV costs USD100 and once granted, is valid for a period of 90 days and cannot be extended. The holder of the EATV is not permitted to work or engage in any gainful business while in Uganda.

The documents required for the EATV application in Uganda include:

  • copy of the applicant’s passport (valid for not less than six months from the time of the visa application);
  • yellow fever vaccination card;
  • copy of the travel itinerary;
  • passport picture of the applicant; and
  • copy of the applicant’s return air ticket.

For more information on the EATV, please contact:

 

Rehema Nakirya Ssemyalo

ENSafrica Uganda | Executive

rssemyalo@ENSafrica.com

+256 772 506 802

 

Anthony Gakuru

ENSafrica Kenya | Senior Associate

agakuru@ENSafrica.com

+254 721 560 080

 

Pooja Rehal

ENSafrica Kenya | Associate

prehal@ENSafrica.com

+254 728 610 789

 

Eustache Ngoga

ENSafrica Rwanda | Senior Associate

engoga@ENSafrica.com

+250 732 300 512