Kenya travel guide
Lions and leopards are just part of the landscape in Kenya, one of East Africa's favourite safari destination. More than 40 national parks and nature reserves are scattered between Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean, covering every imaginable landscape and featuring just about every animal in Africa: from aardvarks to zebras.
As you might expect, wildlife safaris are the lifeblood of Kenyan tourism, and the infrastructure for travellers is impressive. Jeeps, buses and light aircraft fan out daily across the country to safari lodges and tented camps, some simple and rustic, others lavish and opulent. Refreshingly, you can enjoy close encounters with nature even on a budget, with walking safaris run by tribal guides and economic-tented camps that scrimp on creature comforts, but not on creatures.
Most people start their journey in Nairobi, Kenya's capital city, but few linger when there are more attractive cities strung out along the sun-kissed Kenyan coast and dotted around the Great Rift Valley. Whether you pick the interior or the coast (with its beach resorts and Islamic ruins), you can be sure to find a national park or reserve close at hand. Even Nairobi has a national park within the city limits, with zebras and giraffes just a stone's throw from the suburbs.
Kenya is also a great place for cultural encounters, with more than 40 different tribal groups, each following its own unique way of life. The semi-nomadic Maasai tribe, with their multi-coloured, bead-covered adornments, is perhaps the most obvious group, but visiting any tribal village is a fascinating and enlightening experience.
On appearances, Kenya would seem like the perfect holiday destination, but tourism has had its ups and downs in recent years, with political upheaval during elections and a string of high-profile militant attacks in Nairobi and along the coast.
These setbacks have made a noticeable dent in Kenya's tourist industry, yet travellers still flock to the teeming plains of the Maasai Mara and trek the slopes of Mount Kenya, and the biggest decision for most is not whether to go to Kenya, but instead, which wild animal to search for first.
580,367 sq km (224,081 sq miles).
79.2 per sq km.
President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta since 2013.
President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta since 2013.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Kenya on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government of Kenya has confirmed that all persons departing Kenya for a country requiring a negative COVID-19 test as a condition of entry must obtain an RT PCR COVID-19 test and an associated Trusted Travel code, which airlines and Kenya’s Port Health authorities will verify at the airport. Travellers are encouraged to check their destination country’s entry requirements.
For those concerned, after visiting an authorised laboratory to undertake an RT PCR COVID-19 test, travellers will receive a text message from PanaBIOS and an email from the laboratory itself and/or firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to generate a Travel Code at trustedtravel.panabios.org. If the test result meets Kenya’s exit requirements, and the destination country’s entry requirements, a Travel Code will be issued to the traveller.
All Kenyan RT PCR COVID-19 testing laboratories are party to the Trusted Travel system.
Commercial flights are operating to and from Kenya. Check with your travel company for the latest information.
The Kenya-Uganda, Kenya-Somalia and Kenya-Tanzania borders re-opened on 1 August.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Kenya.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities. See International travel for further information.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Renewal of visas
The Kenyan Immigration Department has lifted a COVID-19-related amnesty on visitors who have overstayed their stipulated visiting period. From 14 September, visitors have two weeks to leave Kenya or apply for residency (Permit or Pass) to regularise their stay. To apply for residency, visit the electronic Foreign Nationals Services portal.
Travel in Kenya
A curfew is in effect across Kenya from 10pm to 4am (local time), except in Government-designated COVID-19 hotspot zones. On 29 June, the nationwide curfew was extended for a further 60 days. During curfew hours, everyone must stay at home or indoors, except for essential service workers.
The Counties of Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Kericho, Bomet, Bungoma, Trans-Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori have been designated as a COVID-19 hotspot zone. Until 31 July, the curfew in the hotspot zone will be enforced from 7pm to 4am. The Government is strongly discouraging movements between the hotspot zone and the rest of the country. All public gatherings and in-person meetings of any nature are prohibited within the hotspot zone.
The Government of Kenya has advised that passengers departing the airport during curfew must retain their boarding pass as proof of their arrival time, which will allow for movement to their accommodation. Similarly, evidence of air passengers arriving during curfew will enable access for drivers coming to collect passengers during curfew hours.
You do not need a COVID-19 negative test to board domestic flights within Kenya. However, the Government have introduced a digital domestic travel locator card system, which will generate a QR code to present to Port Health Officials at domestic arrivals.
Travellers can access the digital passenger locator form here or via the “Jitenge” app, downloadable from Google Playstore (Android users only). iPhone users should make sure to use Chrome or Firefox when accessing the form via the URL. Upon submission of the digital locator form, a QR code will be sent to your email address.
For Android users, if you are unable to access the QR code via email, log-in to your Jitenge account and input the phone number used to register, as well as your passport or ID number. Your name will appear, then click on your name and select “Show QR code”. Screenshot the QR code and present this at the Health Desk upon arrival.
For iPhone users unable to access their QR code via email, check your downloads folder or present your phone number and passport number at the Health Desk at arrivals to allow officials to retrieve your QR code.
The Government of Kenya has directed that, in addition to public transport systems, social distancing rules – in the form of capacity restrictions – will also apply when using private vehicles, including taxis. This means five-seater vehicles will only be allowed to carry two passengers in addition to the driver, while seven-seater vehicles will only be allowed four passengers in addition to the driver.
Public places and services
The Government of Kenya has directed that face masks must be worn in public places, except when dining, or when adhering to social distancing in hotels, gardens or on beaches. Public places, tourism and hospitality establishments, travel and tour companies, hotels and other accommodations, and recreation facilities are allowed to operate, provided they comply with Government of Kenya public health protocols, including 1.5 metre social distancing and the night-time curfew of 10pm (local).
On 1 May, the Government of Kenya confirmed that restaurants and eateries may open to customers, provided they comply with Government of Kenya public health protocols including 1.5 metre social distancing and the night-time curfew of 10pm (local). All bars across Kenya are required to close at 7pm (local time).
On 29 June, the suspension of all public and political gatherings was extended for a further 60 days.
Across Kenya, the maximum number of persons permitted to attend meetings or events has been capped at 15, while the number permitted to attend weddings and funerals has been capped at 100, with all in attendance expected to abide by Ministry of Health protocols.
Kenyan citizens have been advised to avoid crowded places and to work remotely where possible.
Healthcare in Kenya
The Government of Kenya has indicated that anyone testing positive for COVID-19, but presenting as asymptomatic or with only mild symptoms, can expect to be directed to self-isolate at home if able to do so. Vulnerable persons will be prioritised for hospital care. Ministry of Health guidance is available.
Pharmacies and other shops selling essential products remain open, though business hours may be affected by the nationwide curfew.
The authorities are conducting random temperature screenings in spaces frequented by the general public. If you show signs or symptoms of coronavirus and are able to self-isolate, you can expect to be directed to do so. If you cannot self-isolate, you can expect to be taken into a State health facility by the Kenyan authorities.
For contact details for doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read our guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
See Health for further details on healthcare in Kenya.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Kenya
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Kenya announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Kenya national vaccine programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Government of Kenya has stated that all foreign nationals resident in Kenya are eligible for vaccination. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Government of Kenya Ministry of Health website and the COVID-19 self-service portal.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad page.
If you’re a British national living in Kenya, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact the British High Commission.
If you are vulnerable with health issues, an older person, or travelling with young children, you can call: +254202844000 or +254 20 287 3000 and follow the options for consular assistance. The numbers are available 24/7.
For more details on measures in Kenya, see the Kenya Ministry of Health website.
You must carry a form of ID with you at all times. A copy of your passport is normally acceptable, but recently some police officers have been insisting on the original document.
Bag snatching is common in transport hubs like bus stations, railway stations and airports. Mugging, kidnapping, car-jacking and armed robbery occur regularly, particularly in Nairobi, Mombasa and other large cities. Although uncommon, incidents of violent crime have resulted in the death of several British nationals. Crime rates are higher in slum areas of Nairobi, the Old Town of Mombasa and on and around the Likoni Ferry (which links Mombasa and the southern resorts). Gun attacks in Kwale County on the south coast resulted in fatalities in September and October 2017.
You should be vigilant at all times and take into account any security advice given by your hotel, employer or your hosts. If you’re attacked, don’t resist. Avoid walking around after dark, especially in isolated areas like empty beaches. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and don’t wear expensive watches, jewellery or items of sentimental value.
Beware of thieves posing as police officers or private Security Guards. Always ask to see identification. Don’t accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged.
Only stay in tourist camps with good perimeter security. If in any doubt, seek advice from your tour operator or the Kenya Tourism Federation (telephone: + 254 20 800100).
If you’re involved in any security incident, insist that the British High Commission is informed straight away.
If you are in Kenya and you need urgent help (for example, you have been attacked, arrested or someone has died), call +44 (0) 20 7008 5000. If you are in the UK and worried about a British national in Kenya, call 020 7008 5000.
You should exercise caution, monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations and political gatherings and, where possible, avoid travelling around areas where demonstrations may take place. This may include large gatherings, universities, political party headquarters, and offices of the electoral commission.
The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border; to Garissa county; to Lamu county (excluding Lamu Island and Manda Island); to areas of Tana River county north of the Tana river itself and to within 15km of the coast from the Tana river down to the Galana (Athi-Galana-Sabaki) river.
If you travel to Lamu Island or Manda Island, you should do so by air to Lamu Airport (a civilian airport on Manda Island) and not by road. The only commercial option for air travel to or from Lamu Island and Manda Island is through Lamu Airport.
For travel between Jomo Kenyatta Airport (JKIA) and Nairobi city you should use the Mombasa road. There is a higher risk of car-jacking on the old airport road (Airport South Road) and Jogoo Road. The Mombasa road to JKIA can get very busy during rush hours, and check-in can take several hours; you should allow plenty of time to get to the airport. A new vehicle security check outside JKIA has also added to journey times.
Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free. If you visit reserves, use reputable tour operators and arrive at your destination in daylight hours. Do not buy safari tours from touts. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
There are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Bathing in rivers and lakes is forbidden in National Parks and is best avoided elsewhere due to the dangers from both wildlife and water-borne disease.
Rural areas, particularly in the north and northeastern parts of Kenya, experience cattle rustling, banditry and ethnic clashes. Foreigners are not usually the target of localised violence and banditry, but you should take great care in the north and northeast.
The central Kenyan county of Laikipia has, in the past, seen incursions by pastoralist cattle herders onto privately held ranches and conservancies, in some cases leading to violence and arson. In March 2017, a British national was murdered on his ranch as he went to investigate damage caused by invaders. You should check the latest situation at your destination before travelling to the region.
Although the border with Somalia has officially been closed since 2007, crossings take place frequently. Landmines have been used in attacks around Moyale, close to the main A2 road south. Vehicles crossing the Kenya-Ethiopia border at this point should stay on the A2. Avoid staying at the rest house at Sololo - travel directly to Marsabit Town before breaking the journey.
As a result of previous armed clashes in the area of Mount Elgon in western Kenya next to the Ugandan border, a large security presence remains and further incidents are possible. Seek local advice before you set off.
Monitor local media and take care in all remote areas. A Safety and Communication Centre operated by the Kenya Tourism Federation gives up to the minute tourist advice as well as providing help in an emergency. You can contact the Centre on +254 20 800100 or by e-mail to: email@example.com
On 1 May the Government of Kenya lifted its ban on travel into or out of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru counties, effective immediately .
You can drive in Kenya with a valid UK driving licence for up to 3 months, or on a valid International Driving Permit. If you’re staying longer or living in Kenya, you’ll need to get a Kenyan driving licence.
If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel. Only hire vehicles from reputable companies.
Road conditions and driving standards are often poor. Drive with windows closed and doors locked. When driving outside cities and in remote areas consider driving in convoy. Avoid driving at night wherever possible.
There have been a number of serious accidents involving long-distance buses. Vehicles are often poorly maintained and driven at excessive speed. Check the bus operator’s safety standards.
Though very cheap to use, matatus (minibuses) are notorious for being poorly maintained, badly driven and uninsured. There are frequent reports of matatus being hijacked and passengers being robbed.
On the spot fines from traffic police are common, but not legal. If stopped by a police officer you should ask for the due process to be followed. The officer should issue you with a ‘receipt for cash bond’, a piece of paper telling you when and where you need to attend court to answer the charge against you.
On 1 May the Government of Kenya lifted its ban on travel into or out of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru counties, effective immediately.
Passenger trains run between Nairobi and Mombasa. Take care of your belongings while on the train and at railway stations. If you leave your compartment, take your valuables with you.
The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Kenya.
A list of incidents and accidents in Kenya can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
Silverstone Air Services have temporarily suspended all scheduled services, effective 12 November 2019. In case of any queries, you should contact the airline directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on +254 709 685 000, +254 740 100 100 or +254 740 300 300.
There are some concerns about the lack of security arrangements in place at Wilson airport in Nairobi. The airport is mainly used for domestic flights, including charters.
If you plan to charter a private aircraft, check with the company about the condition of the aircraft and runways to be used. If the company has no Safety Pilot, find another company that does.
Local rules and regulations prohibit photography at airports. You could be fined or imprisoned.
Be vigilant at all times when transiting airports.
The threat of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom.
Read the Piracy and armed robbery at sea page for more information and advice.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Kenya.
There is a heightened threat of terrorism, including terrorist kidnappings, across Kenya. Attacks, including terrorist kidnappings, could target Westerners, including British nationals. Attacks could occur at any time, including around religious or public holidays. Attacks could be indiscriminate in places frequented by foreigners including hotels, bars, restaurants, sports bars and nightclubs, sporting events, supermarkets, shopping centres, commercial buildings, coastal areas including beaches, government buildings, airports, buses, trains and other transport hubs. Places of worship including churches and mosques have also been targeted. Be particularly vigilant in these areas.
On 8 January 2020 Al Shabaab released a public statement ‘Kenya Must Take Heed’; this states Al Shabaab intent to attack tourists, including those on safari trips. It also references government institutions and military installations as potential attack targets.
On 5 January 2020 Al Shabaab conducted an attack on a military airstrip in Lamu County, killing 3 US personnel. Travellers to Lamu Island and Manda Island should be particularly vigilant given the close proximity of these islands to the Lamu County mainland. Due to the threat of terrorism, if you travel to Lamu Island or Manda Island you should do so by air to Lamu Airport (a civilian airport on Manda Island), and not by road. The only commercial option for air travel to or from Lamu Island and Manda Island is through Lamu Airport.
The main terrorism threat is from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group in Somalia opposed to the Somali government. Al Shabaab has issued public threats against Kenya due to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia. The Kenyan authorities have increased security to counter potential reprisal attacks by Al Shabaab. There is some evidence of growing support for Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) in Kenya.
There have been a number of other terrorist attacks in Kenya in recent years:
- On 15 to 16 January 2019, there was an attack at the hotel and commercial complex at 14 Riverside in Nairobi, resulting in injuries and loss of life. One British national was killed
- Several attacks took place in Garissa County in 2015, including an attack on Garissa University College on 2 April 2015 in which at least 148 people were killed
- In June and July 2014 attacks in Lamu and Tana River Counties on the Kenyan coast are reported to have killed at least 85 people. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks
- Over 60 people including six British nationals were killed in the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
There are frequent attacks in the north-eastern border regions, particularly in Garissa, Lamu and Mandera counties and other areas close to the Somali border, most of which were attributed to Al Shabaab. These have killed members of the Kenyan security forces as well as civilians. The Kenyan security forces have increased their presence in the affected areas. Armed militia groups operate within the Boni Forest and along the border between Garissa County and Somalia. The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to within 60 km of the Kenya-Somali border.
Further attacks are very likely. Methods of attack have included suicide vests, grenades, knife attacks, shootings and bombings, including car bombings, and improvised explosive devices.
Kenyan official buildings such as government offices and law enforcement personnel and facilities have been particular targets. Somali government interests in Kenya may also be targeted. Take extra security precautions if you plan on travelling to any of these places.
The authorities in Kenya have successfully disrupted a number of planned attacks and made a number of arrests in recent years. They have also provided extra protection including in areas near to the Somalia border and on the Kenyan coast.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
There is a high threat of kidnapping across Kenya. You should be alert to the heightened threat of terrorist kidnapping targeting Westerners, including British nationals. Westerners have been the target of kidnaps in northern counties, counties bordering Somalia and coastal counties, and further kidnaps are very likely.
British nationals are viewed as legitimate targets, including those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release. On 12 April 2019 two Cuban doctors were kidnapped in Mandera north-east Kenya. Kenyan police suspect Al-Shabaab were behind the attack. On 20 November 2018, an unknown armed gang attacked a trading centre in Chakama in Kilifi County, and abducted an Italian NGO worker. A number of kidnaps have occurred in Dadaab refugee camps in north east Kenya. British aid workers in Kenya should satisfy themselves that those arranging their stay have sufficient security arrangements in place.
The long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners builds the capability of terrorist groups and finances their activities. This can, in turn, increase the risk of further hostage-taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) makes payments to terrorists illegal.
The coastal areas are predominantly Muslim. Although there are no strict dress codes, you should dress conservatively away from the tourist resorts and hotels, especially in Mombasa town, during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
Smoking in any public place is prohibited throughout Kenya, except in designated smoking areas. Offenders can face a fine or imprisonment. If in doubt, don’t light up.
The use and trafficking of illegal Class A drugs in Kenya carries heavy fines and jail sentences. The penalty for possession is 10 years in prison.
Taking photographs of official buildings, including Embassies, can lead to detention. If in any doubt, don’t photograph or film around them. Photography is also prohibited at airports.
You must get permission to carry any kind of firearm before you enter the country.
Plastic bags have been banned for environmental reasons.
It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency.
Homosexual activity is illegal. Public displays of homosexuality like holding hands or kissing in public places could lead to arrest and imprisonment. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
You must carry a form of ID with you at all times. A copy of your passport is normally acceptable, but recently some police officers have been insisting on the original document.
It is illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade any of its parts without a licence. Kenya is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) under which there’s a ban on the international commercial trade in ivory. Those caught purchasing or trafficking banned goods will be prosecuted and receive prison sentences and/or fines.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus
Entry to Kenya
Effective from 11 June, all flight restrictions between Kenya and the United Kingdom have been lifted.
The Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority announced that the following conditions will now apply to travellers:
- All passengers/crew, irrespective of nationality and residency status, coming to Kenya from the UK via any route of travel must be in possession of a valid COVID-19 negative PCR test certificate conducted within 96 hours before travel. Children under the age of five are exempt from this requirement.
- All passengers/crew irrespective of nationality and residency status coming to Kenya from the UK via any route of travel shall be required to self-isolate for seven days upon arrival and must take a PCR test four days after arrival. Passengers shall submit daily health information, including the results of their day four PCR test, on the Jitenge Platform / App for 14 consecutive days. For more information, please see the ‘Data Collection’ section below.
All negative COVID-19 test results must prove that they have been taken no more than 96 hours before travel to Kenya and be verified digitally through the Trusted Travel Initiative.
If you travel to Kenya you will also need to complete a COVID-19 Travellers Health Surveillance Form.
Full details of the Government of Kenya Protocols which can be found on the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority website.
All travellers arriving in Kenya must complete a COVID-19 Travellers Health Surveillance Form before their arrival, even if only transiting. The online registration form can be found on the “Jitenge” platform, accessible via the following link or the “Jitenge” App (available on the Google Play Store). After submitting the form, travellers will receive a QR code which must be presented to port health officials for them to be allowed to proceed to arrival immigration. Arrivals will then be expected to self-monitor and report daily to the same platform for their first 14 days in Kenya.
Regular entry requirements
You need a visa to enter Kenya. Kenyan entry visas are exclusively issued electronically, with passengers required to obtain their e-visas before departure. You can apply for single entry and transit visas on the e-visas website
For more information, see the website of the Kenyan High Commission in London.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Kenya. Make sure you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Kenya. ETDs must be valid for 6 months.
All ETD applicants are required to obtain an exit stamp from Kenyan Immigration prior to departure.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
You may need a yellow fever certificate when entering Kenya from certain destinations. Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
If you’re coming to live and work in Kenya, you must have a work permit before starting employment. It’s illegal to work without one. This needs to be applied for before coming to Kenya to work. This also applies to voluntary work and the self-employed. You can apply for a work permit at the Department of Immigration Services website. The government of Kenya has recently reiterated the need for all foreign workers in Kenya to have (and carry with them) the necessary work permits and documentation, and has promised swift action against those who do not comply; this includes deportation. Work permits are not always granted; the Government of Kenya is prioritising the availability of high quality jobs for Kenyan nationals, and may not grant a work permit to a British national if the job in question could be done by a Kenyan national.
If you’re already in Kenya, and your application for a work permit is successful, you will be required to hand in your passport to immigration for a permit stamp to be inserted. During this period, you should always carry a certified copy of your passport for identification purposes. A local lawyer can provide this. On 20 April 2018, the government of Kenya announced a shift to e-permits replacing all existing and future work permits. Anyone holding or needing a work permit was required to register for an e-permit at Nyayo House before 21 July 2018. If you’ve missed this deadline, you should seek advice from Nyayo House.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Kenya on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Kenya.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, first deal with the emergency with first aid skills if possible and then move onto the nearest, largest Accident and Emergency department. In Nairobi this is either Nairobi Hospital or the Aga Khan University Hospital.
Other health risks
On 1 August 2018, an outbreak of Ebola was declared in Béni territory, North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On 11 June 2019, the Ugandan government confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in Kasese District in western Uganda. Kenyan authorities have put in place additional screening measures at some airports and border crossings in Kenya for those arriving from affected areas. The latest updates can be found on the WHO website. If travelling in the region, you should check FCDO Travel Advice for the relevant countries.
You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Don’t eat food prepared by unlicensed vendors. See food and water hygiene.
Kenya lies on an active fault line and tremors occur from time to time. The last significant earth tremor to affect the region was of magnitude 5.2 in 2007.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake
The currency of Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES).
ATMs are widely available in Nairobi and the main towns and credit cards are widely accepted. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish banknotes in Kenya.
Kenya is in the process of introducing new banknotes. As of 1 October 2019, the old-style one thousand shillings notes are no longer legal tender.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on +44 20 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.