See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kenya for information on U.S. – Kenya relations.
Kenyan Immigration has instituted a strict visa policy whereby all visitors are strongly encouraged to obtain visas by using an online system, though visas are available upon arrival at international ports of entry including Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
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 Warning for Kenya before considering travel to Kenya.
Terrorism: Terrorist threats remain in Kenya, including those aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests, within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and within the northeastern region of the country.
Terrorist attacks have cumulatively resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of people since 2011. Over the last year, most incidents have occurred in the northeastern border region of the country; there have been no major attacks in Nairobi, Mombasa, or other major cities in the last two years.
On September 11, 2016, press accounts noted that three women purportedly attacked a police station in Mombasa with knives and petrol bombs, wounding two Kenyan police officers. On October 27, an assailant with a knife attacked a police officer guarding the U.S. Embassy compound in Nairobi.
Regions to avoid:
The Peace Corps suspended its volunteer activities in 2013 due to security risks. The Peace Corps will continue to assess the security situation in Kenya and return when conditions permit.
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.
Sexual Assault is prevalent in Kenya and frequently goes unreported.
Domestic Violence: The Kenyan government has laws that protect its citizens from domestic violence. You should contact your local police station if you feel unsafe or are a victim of domestic violence.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police station and then contact the U.S. Embassy during business hours at +254-(0)20-363-6451, or after-hours at +254-(0) 20-363-6000 in cases of emergency.
Please remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. 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:
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: You should ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately if you are arrested or detained. See our webpage for further information.
Customs regulations on importing items such as religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency, ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products including hides, skins, and teeth into or out of Kenya are strict.
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.
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 and/or ammunition is governed by the Kenya Firearms Act.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Kenyan law criminalizes same-sex sexual activity.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Although Kenyan law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, the Government of Kenya has not consistently enforced these provisions and implementation has been slow.
Medical services are adequate in Nairobi for most medical conditions and emergencies. Health care outside of major cities (Nairobi, Kisumu, and Mombasa) is very limited.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
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.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Kenya to ensure that the medication is legal in Kenya. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
The Government of Kenya requires proof of yellow fever vaccination for travelers who are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever.
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:
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.
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 night-time road travel should be avoided due to the poor road and street light conditions and the threat of banditry throughout the country.
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.
Passenger trains are considered unsafe, particularly during rainy seasons, because of the lack of routine maintenance and safety checks. The Kenya Railway Service normally operates only two days a week.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
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: Mariners planning travel to Kenya should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at the Maritime Administration (MARAD) website. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website.