Foreign nationals are now entering Kenya without the need for a visa, thanks to President William Ruto’s recent decision to eliminate visa requirements less than a month ago.
These visitors are utilizing an electronic travel authorization system (ETA) to gain entry, a mechanism designed to streamline the pre-screening process for travelers, who must obtain authorization through the electronic portal.
- Foreign nationals can now visit Kenya without a visa using an electronic travel authorisation system (ETA).
- The ETA system allows the government to pre-screen travellers and deny boarding to anyone on the watch list.
- Over 10,000 applications for the ETA have been recorded by the State Department of Immigration since the beginning of the year.
The State Department of Immigration has reported receiving over 10,000 applications for electronic travel authorization, with 4,046 of them already processed, according to Principal Secretary Julius Bitok.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Bitok explained that the new system requires travelers to apply online for electronic travel authorization and pay a $30 processing fee. The 51 countries that previously enjoyed visa-free access to Kenya will be exempt from this policy based on the agreements between the countries.
“As of now, the new visa-free system is operational. We have implemented all necessary measures, collaborated with stakeholders, and engaged partners to establish a visa-free environment for our country,” Bitok declared.
“With the ETA system in place, we now have access to information about every individual entering Kenya. We can cross-check against watch lists, ensuring that those individuals flagged on the watch list are denied boarding from their departure countries,” he added.
Under the updated arrangement, any carrier arriving in the country is prohibited from boarding a passenger without a valid electronic travel authorization. Failure to comply will result in an administrative penalty of $10,000 imposed on the carrier for inaccuracies in advanced passenger information or passenger name records.
The government hopes this visa-free system will double the number of tourists visiting Kenya annually
Bitok revealed that the government hopes the visa-free system will enable the country to double the number of tourists entering the country annually, hence increasing the foreign revenue.
“We expect the numbers to double to over 5 million per year, and on average, if we look at the expenditure by every tourist, we put an average of about $3,500 for the three months they are in Kenya. When you look at the impact of this policy, you realise that we will gain approximately 1.5 trillion from tourism alone,” Bitok explained.