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What is the East Africa Tourist Visa? A definitive guide

May 27 • 8312 views • 35 Comments on What is the East Africa Tourist Visa? A definitive guide How to...? Uganda travel tips, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda

What is the East Africa Tourist Visa? Your questions answered…

The idea of a single regional East Africa Tourist Visa is to make it easier and more financially attractive for tourists to visit the whole region. You should be able to visit three countries on a single trip – or so the theory goes. If you enjoy cross-border travel tips and stories, you might enjoy No hurry in Africa – the bus from Kigali to Kampala and The real ‘boda boda’ – Nagawa travels sidesaddle into Kenya.

On this blog you will find details about the different East Africa Tourist Visa application processes for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Although the three countries share a tourist visa, the application processes differ, according to the country where you start your East African travels.

Without an East Africa Tourist Visa, you will currently spend a minimum of $180 to visit the three countries: Kenya ($50) + Rwanda ($30) + Uganda ($100). These fees are ‘single entry’ only, meaning that a return visit to any of these countries means paying the visa fee again. Originally launched in 2014, implementation has been on the slow side but is now being sped up across the region. The East Africa Tourism Visa is commonly available, although a few challenges remain.

“The holder of the East Africa Tourist Visa shall enter from the country that issued the visa and move within the two other countries without applying for another visa or paying for another visa fee.”

Doesn’t that sound good?

East Africa Tourist Visa www.visiteastafrica.org

East Africa Tourist Visa. Enjoy all three countries – Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda – with a single tourist visa www.visiteastafrica.org

  1. Which countries does the East Africa Tourist Visa cover?
  2. How much is the East Africa Tourist Visa?
  3. How long is the East Africa Tourist Visa valid for?
  4. Is there a limit to the number of times you can visit each country?
  5. Can I extend my East Africa Tourist Visa?
  6. Can I work on an East Africa Tourist Visa?
  7. How do I apply for the East Africa Tourist Visa? Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda
  8. What is an Interstate Pass and how do I apply for it?
  9. Which other countries will join the East Africa Tourist Visa?
  10. Do you have any questions about the East Africa Tourist Visa?

I start by sharing the official information.

Scroll further down the page for some practical travel tips on the current situation on the ground. If you have any more information to share, do please put comments at the bottom of this article or message me directly via my contact form. I will then update this page.

Cyanika Uganda Rwanda border

East Africa Tourist Visa signpost welcoming you at the Uganda border with Rwanda. That’s my dad! 🙂

  • Which countries does the East Africa Tourist Visa cover?

Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – with more countries joining in the future.

  • How much is the East Africa Tourist Visa?

100 USD

The EATV is free of charge to foreign residents / expats (with valid work permits) in the three countries: Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Foreign residents and citizens of the three countries need to travel with a valid passport or National ID or Student ID and request an Interstate Pass at the border.

  • How long is the East Africa Tourist Visa valid for?

90 days

  • Is there a limit to the number of times you can visit each country?

No. The East Africa Tourist Visa is a multiple entry visa.

According to Carmen Nibigira, Regional Coordinator, East Africa Tourism Platform, the East Africa Tourist Visa entitles the traveller to 90 days uninterrupted travel in and out of the three participating countries.  NOTE: the East Africa Tourist Visa is only multiple entry only within EAC. Once someone goes out of the zone, they need to apply again.

  • Can I extend my East Africa Tourist Visa?

No. You cannot extend the East Africa Tourist Visa. To get a new EATV, you need to exit the region and apply for a new one, as detailed below.

  • Can I work on an East Africa Tourist Visa?

Official line: “Work is prohibited.”

Sample of an East Africa Tourist Visa

Sample of an East Africa Tourist Visa

  • How to apply for the East Africa Tourist Visa

It’s important to note that the process for purchasing the East Africa Tourist Visa differs according to the country you travel to first.

“For any questions, contact the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Kenya, Republic of Rwanda and Republic of Uganda before you travel.”

  • How do I apply for the East Africa Tourist Visa if I’m entering Kenya first?

If Kenya is your first point of entry, contact your local Kenyan embassy for details on how to purchase your East Africa Tourist Visa before you start your trip. Alternatively, buy your East Africa Tourist Visa upon arrival in Nairobi or Mombasa. Pick up the form when you arrive at the airport and pay in US dollars.

eCitizen is Kenya’s Department of Immigration Services online portal for visa applications. Currently this is for single entry visas and transit visas only (NOT the EATV). According to the website (May 2016) “East Africa Tourist Visa – Coming Soon.”

For further clarification before you travel to Kenya, you might want to call one of these telephone numbers at Kenya’s Immigration Customer Care: visa queries: +254 707 657 945 and general queries: +254 020 2222 022.

In November 2015, a friend flew from London to Nairobi. He had registered with the e-portal to purchase a visa, but could not see the option for purchasing an EATV one. (Even in June 2016, it still is not clear how or where you purchase an East Africa Tourist Visa when arriving in Kenya). My friend took the gamble that he would be able to buy the EATV upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi. Luckily it worked out okay, but he did have to queue up at immigration for a long time to purchase her EATV. It’s not an ideal way to travel – (worrying if you will get a visa or not when you land…)

The Muzungu’s recommendation: since the application process is still unclear, apply for an East Africa Tourist Visa at your nearest Kenyan Embassy, before you travel. (Note: this is an external site so I can’t confirm all the info is uptodate).

  • How do I apply for the East Africa Tourist Visa if I’m entering Rwanda first?

If Rwanda is your first point of entry, use the Rwanda Online Visa Application System to apply for the Class T12 East Africa Tourist Visa. Under “Type of Visa” select “East Africa Tourist Visa.”

Here you will find an online application form and all the guidance necessary to apply for an East Africa Tourist Visa.

The Muzungu’s recommendation: if you have any flexibility in your itinerary, enter the East Africa Tourist Visa zone via Rwanda. They have the simplest application process with the best guidelines.

  • How do I apply for the East Africa Tourist Visa if I’m entering Uganda first?

If Uganda is your first point of entry, you can request your East Africa Tourist Visa at your local Ugandan embassy. (Note: this is an external site so I can’t confirm all the info is uptodate).

You can also purchase your East Africa Tourist Visa in US dollars cash upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, but see note below.

The Uganda Electronic Visa/Permit Application System was launched July 2016. You can use this system for purchasing your East Africa Tourist Visa, apparently. Please read my blog NOW LIVE: apply for Ugandan tourist visas online. (This includes info on Ugandan single entry tourist visas, business visas, transit visas, work permits, dependent’s pass and more).

The Muzungu’s recommendation: At Entebbe International Airport, immigration may insist you provide a copy of ‘an itinerary proving onward travel in East Africa.’ Strictly speaking, this is not a requirement of the East Africa Tourist Visa. However, you are advised to bring an itinerary with you, if you have one, or they may deny you an EATV (and simply issue you with a single entry Uganda tourist visa).

  • What is an Interstate Pass and how do I apply for it?

Citizens of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda can now travel between the three countries with ID cards instead of passports. No visas are needed and there is no charge.

Expatriates with valid work permits can also travel with the ‘Interstate Pass,’ without needing to pay for a visa. Woop, woop!

Advice to nationals, East African residents: use National ID or work permit to travel Kenya, Rwanda Uganda

Advice to nationals and East African residents: use your National ID or expatriate pass (work permit) to travel across Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda FREE of charge

In both cases, nationals and expats are simply given an Interstate Pass document when they show their ID/passport and exit one of the three countries. This is free of charge and issued at the border.

  • Which other countries will join the East Africa Tourist Visa?

Tanzania

It has been announced that Tanzania has joined the East Africa Tourist Visa but there is no information available online (June 2016).

Burundi

Sadly, very few people are travelling to Burundi currently because of the political situation. We hope life in Burundi improves quickly and that we can welcome them to the EATV party before too long.

South Sudan

One day, we hope…

  • The East Africa Tourist Visa. What is the situation on the ground?

(What the tour operators may not tell you)

You can only get the EATV when you FIRST enter the EATV zone, either in advance online (Rwanda) or at an embassy / diplomatic mission / on arrival at the airport (Uganda and Kenya).

There are currently four points of entry for the East Africa Tourist Visa:

  1. Uganda – Entebbe International Airport
  1. Rwanda – Kigali International Airport
  1. Kenya – Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA)
  1. Kenya – Mombasa, Moi International Airport and the Port of Mombasa.

The fact that you can only get an East Africa Tourist Visa when you first enter the EATV countries is a bit of a drawback for some people who may arrive in one country, without having made firm travel plans. It’s quite common for travellers to arrive without an itinerary. Someone may come to Uganda to track the gorillas, for example, and decide they want to travel to the Kenyan coast next.

Visas issued for specific countries can only be used for that particular country.

East Africa Tourist Visa. Uganda to Rwanda border crossing

Having an East Africa Tourist Visa can save you time crossing from Uganda into Rwanda and Kenya. Pictured here at Gatuna, en route to Kigali

Notes from friends and family regarding the East Africa Tourist Visa

In its current form, the EATV is not as flexible as it could be, particularly for backpackers and budget travelers who make up their travel plans as they go along. Currently (June 2016), you would have to pay $100 to enter Uganda, $50 to enter Kenya and then another $100 to return to Uganda to get your flight home.

I know people who have arrived in Uganda on a single country tourist visa but who have then decided they want to travel within East Africa.  My friends’ experience is that when you are travelling by road, the situation is even less clear:

  • Busia border (Uganda / Kenya). You cannot get an EATV when you cross into Kenya by road, nor returning to Rwanda at the same border post.

Remember: At Entebbe International Airport, immigration may ask you to provide a copy of ‘an itinerary proving onward travel in East Africa.’ Strictly speaking, this is not a requirement of the East Africa Tourist Visa. However, you are advised to bring one with you, if you have one.

flags Uganda Rwanda border Gatuna Bradt Rwanda guidebook

Check out the flags at the Uganda Rwanda border at Gatuna. Indispensable: Bradt Rwanda guidebook in hand! Bradt are without doubt the best guidebooks for Rwanda and Uganda

Do you have any questions or feedback on the East Africa Tourist Visa?

Do you have any advice to share? If so, please add your comments below or feel free to contact the Muzungu.

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35 Responses to What is the East Africa Tourist Visa? A definitive guide

  1. Thanks for sharing! We’re heading to Rwanda (entering twice) + Uganda this fall so the EATV seems like a great option!

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi Shannon, thanks for the message. If you are entering East Africa via Rwanda, then you will find that is currently the easiest country in which to get your East Africa Tourist Visa. East Africa looks forward to welcoming you 🙂

  2. […] May 27 › What is the East Africa Tourist Visa? A definitive guide » […]

  3. monica says:

    Hi, I am a backpacker, and I have a question that perhaps you may know the answer to: I understand that the EATV is only valid for 90 days without an extension. If I get individual visas for Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, would I be permitted to stay, for example, in Kenya for 90 days, Uganda for 90 days, and then Rwanda for 30? I’d prefer to have more time available to spend in each country than to save $80.

    Thanks in advance

    • the muzungu says:

      Hello Monica
      Sorry for slow reply, am up country, Kibale Forest to be precise.
      For max no of days per country, go for single country visas, like you suggest.
      However, do ask for 90 days, esp when asking for a Uganda tourist visa as sometimes immigration only want to give 30 days.
      Once in country you can extend the visa if needed. You can extend up to six months in theory, although not always guaranteed.
      Enjoy East Africa!

  4. Vanessa says:

    Hi, thank you for sharing. I have a question.
    I’ve read that it’s possible to leave and reenter the East Africa visa zone, without incurring additional visa charges, provided that the visa still remains within the 90 days period.
    But I thought it was not possible because it’s a single entry tourist visa for that zone.
    Can you confirm this information?
    Thank you very much

    • Antoine says:

      Hi Vanessa and Muzungu!
      I am in the same situation here, purchased an EAT on arrival in Kenya and after gathering informations that confirmed I could leave the EAT zone and re-enter it without having to buy another Vida I went to Tanzania for 3 weeks.
      I arrived yesterday at the Rwanda border and was forced to purchase a single entry visa for Rwanda, according to the immigration officer it is because I left the EAT zone for more than 5 days.
      He told me I could contest this decision at the immigration head office in Rwanda where I am now. The officer there tells me because I exited the zone I had to purchase another visa, he doesn’t say anything about the 5 days stated by his colleague and refuse to show me the terms of the visa where he gets his information from. He just say that as an official this should be enough for me. But obviously it is not as different officers have different versions, and right now the problem isn’t really the $60 spent (me and my girlfriend) but more the $200 we would have to spend when arriving in Uganda in 2 weeks and in Kenya next month for our flight back.
      Here are the visa terms found on internet which I believe prove what Vanessa and I believe:
      Movement of persons: The holder shall also be allowed to move out of the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, and the Republic of Uganda and return without having to pay for another visa. This will only be applicable for the validity period of the visa (90 days from visa approval).

      • the muzungu says:

        Dear Antoine
        Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. Useful information for many other people. I have passed your feedback to Carmen Nibigira, Coordinator for the East Africa Tourism Platform who is very grateful to receive it.
        This is the official response below and thus supercedes any local information you have heard on the ground. (The process of sensitising immigration officials is an ongoing process).
        The STV works only in three countries (Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda).
        It is only used for multiple entry to and from those three countries. If one visits Tanzania and Burundi or outside these three countries and decide to come back, they will have to purchase another visa.
        Once one exits the zone of the three countries, the visa becomes invalid.
        As long as Tanzania and Burundi are out of this, unfortunately some tourists/visitors will be limited on the possibilities which come with a single visa for Destination East Africa.

        • Antoine says:

          Thank you for your help and response, at least we know we didn’t get screwed even if embassies say we did! Wish everyone would have the terms of the visa!
          So it seems only Rwanda is the issue. I entered Uganda and them Kenya without any issue using my “invalid” EAT Visa.
          Also went out again to Tanzania from Kenya and re-entered Kenya without any issue.
          Not sure why the confusion but we are relieved to save so many $$$ we thought we would have to spend!

          • the muzungu says:

            Happy to help.
            And glad you have saved money.
            The terms of the visa are circulating slowly. It’s very helpful to have feedback from like visitors from yourself so I do appreciate you sharing your latest update with everyone.
            Can you confirm what you mean by ‘went out again to Tanzania from Kenya and re-entered Kenya without any issue.’ Which visa did you reenter Kenya on?

          • Antoine says:

            Hey again!
            Of course this is why you made this super helpful page and I’m happy to share my experience!
            I meant I came out of Kenya and re-entered with my East African TouristVisa , they didn’t seem to care I went out of the EAT zone.
            I understand the rules of the visa and also that since It doesn’t seem all immigrations have the specific written details of the visa it gets confusing. Some Rwandan officicer said you could exit for 5 days, most others said you cannot, but at the end of the day for us it was just lucky or not! We had to buy twice a single entry for Rwanda but after that, even though we’ve exited the zone 2 more times, Ugandan and Kenyan immigration let us in with our EAT visa

          • the muzungu says:

            Thanks very much Antoine for sharing your feedback, very helpful. I have passed on your comments to the East Africa Tourism Platform so they can continue to guide immigration officers on correct implementation of the EATV. Mpola, mpola “slowly by slowly” as we say…

  5. Tenzin says:

    Hey,I had a question.My EATV expires on 16th August,and I leave Uganda on 22nd august.So that’s 6 more days extra,do I need to apply for a new one at the immigration office,or do I have any other options cause I don’t wanna pay another 100 USD for 6 days.
    Thank you.

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi Tenzin,
      You can’t extend an East Africa Tourist Visa.
      I double checked with my immigration advisor and he confirmed you should buy a single entry Uganda tourist visa, now reduced to $50. Buy this at Immigration Office (Internal Affairs) Jinja Road, Kampala. When you overstay a visa, they may charge you up to $100 / day. Ow.

  6. Martha says:

    Hi, The Muzungu

    Thank you for taking the time to write this information.
    I woold like to ask you about ‘an itinerary proving onward travel in East Africa.’ when you enter thru Uganda. What is an accepted itinerary? flight booking from kampala to nairobi, for example? or it has to be an itinerary emitted by a travel agency?

    Thank you very much for your help.

    Martha

    • the muzungu says:

      Hello Martha, “thanks for the appreciation” as we say in Uganda.
      With the new online system for all visa applications, you should be able to get your visa approval letter for an East Africa Tourist Visa / or Uganda tourist visa, without having to prove onward travel plans. However, ‘asking for proof of onward travel’ is just one of Uganda immigration’s house rules it would seem, and not applied in every case.
      You certainly don’t NEED to have a proper itinerary from a tour company, although obviously that would be good proof. Proof of a plane ticket to Rwanda or Kenya, or a lodge or hotel reservation there would be fine as well. Hopefully you will sale through immigration without any questions. My advice to carry some kind of proof of onward travel is based on friend and family experiences in March 2016. I understand from other travellers that it is becoming easier to get the East Africa Tourist Visa in Uganda without too much hassle. Hope that helps (a bit!)

  7. […] May 27 › What is the East Africa Tourist Visa? A definitive guide » […]

  8. Rachael says:

    Hello All! I will be entering Rwanda by way of transit in Niarobi Kenya. Will I also need a transit permit in Kenya? Will I need a transit permit prior to arrival?

  9. Laurel says:

    Hi,

    I am flying from Nairobi to Kigali with a stop in Bujumbura (Kenya Airways 5th freedom flight). Does this count as leaving the zone?

    • the muzungu says:

      A. Are you in transit?
      B. Or are you spending time in Bujumbura?
      I imagine the answer is:
      A. Your actual destination is Rwanda so you’re not really leaving the EATV zone
      B. To leave the airport you would have to pass through Burundi immigration control and you are therefore exiting the EATV zone.
      I’m sure KQ can advise

  10. Ginneen says:

    Hi! So glad I found this page – but still a little unclear. Here’s my plan
    1) US to JKIA staying in Kenya then on to Uganda back to Kenya/Nairobi. I know all this is covered by the EATV – Correct?

    2)back to JKIA to fly to Tanzania – Landing at JRO do I have to purchase a Tanzanian Visa at the airport? Do you know how much?

    3)Finally, I will go back to JRO and fly to JKIA only to catch my flight back to the US. Will I have to purchase a Kenya Visa to catch my flight to US? I will not be leaving the airport.

    Thanks so much for any insight you can give.

  11. ginneen says:

    Another question:

    I’m thinking that when I purchase my visa at the Tanzania airport upon arrival there, that I would automatically be allowed re-entry back into Kenya….so no need to get anymore visas since at that point I will be on the way back to U.S. and not leaving the airport.

  12. Daniel says:

    I am wondering what sort of documentation is needed to be uploaded where the Rwandan online application asks for a ‘letter of invitation.’ Is this just for the fun of it? What on earth might they want included there?

    Thank you!

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi Daniel, if you’re traveling with a tour operator, you can submit your tour itinerary, with dates and their company info. If you’re visiting a project or staying with friends or family in Rwanda, ask if they can write a letter outlining where they live, the dates the invitation covers, their address and contacts.

  13. Kishen says:

    Hi there, Thanks for this helpful page! I’m wondering if you’d ever heard of the issuance of the visa taking longer than three days. I applied in late May and I haven’t heard anything back – just ‘status – received.” Mine is an Indian passport. Is this typical, or is something the matter?

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi Kishen, it is peak season now so visa approvals will take longer. You can try contacting the immigration site /country where you applied, in case they are waiting for a document from you…

      • Kishen says:

        Hmm, Thanks. I have tried contacting Rwanda via email, via phone. Multiple times on each. No replies or anything. Its now been a month. I’ll probably just go to Uganda instead, since that’s on arrival, but I’m pretty frustrated that Rwanda took my $100 dollars and cant even give me the visa/tell me my status/reject me. I know you can’t help with this, but I know this page is popular so I’m posting it here so that people like me can be aware that the “3 day processing” might not apply to them.

        • the muzungu says:

          Hi Kishen, sorry to hear about the problems you have been having. I imagine there must be a backlog of these applications right now considering we are now in peak season. In Uganda we advise people to leave one month to get their visa approval letter.
          I really appreciate you sharing your feedback with me and my blog readers. Sorry I can’t help – still Rwanda’s loss seems to be Uganda’s gain on this occasion! 🙂 Safe travels

  14. Daniel says:

    My wife and I are planning to Visit Kenya and Uganda in August. I visit kenya first and then to Uganda by Road. We have to come back to Nairobi to get our return flight to India. I spoke to Kenya High Commission in New Delhi for a EATV, but they say that they are not offering it at this point of time and have asked me to apply from Uganda embassy. To my question that Kenya is my entry point, they said it doesn’t matter. In other words, i can get a EATV from Uganda and enter through Kenya. Does this work? If yes, can i apply for EATV online on Uganda evisa Portal? Thank you.

    • the muzungu says:

      I can confirm that you have to apply for the EATV from the country where you will first enter the EATV zone. This is what East Africa Tourism Platform tell all visitors. In your case this will be Kenya so you should apply via the KENYA immigration portal and then select the EATV option…
      (In my experience, some of the High Commissions are not up to speed on visa advice).

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