Kenya is practically synonymous with the idea of a safari. There is no shortage of land graced with unique and exciting animals to see, landscapes to enjoy, and culture to soak in. Planning your actual trip, safaris and adventures already leaves you with quite a lot on your plate. Which means it is helpful to get some of the more administrative details out of the way as quickly as possible, such as obtaining the visas on time.

The Kenya visa application process can be relatively straight forward , but there are a few details that might help your application be processed as quickly as possible.

The application form

Make sure to have a majority of the passport, travel, and contact information at hand. The first step will be the contact details. If you are doing a group application, this step only needs to be filled in once, which is handy so you don’t have to fill the same information again over and over. If you are not living in the same house, this is not an issue, as long as every traveller on the form is from the same country.

You will also be asked to fill in your expected date of arrival. Do not worry if your date of arrival changes, the Kenya visa is valid from the moment it is approved, so your actual arrival date can vary. You then have to fill in information about your first night in Kenya, and where you will stay. You will eventually need to provide documents about this as well. After this, you will need to fill in the passport details of all of the travellers. There will also be questions about the occupation and marital status of each traveller, and finally info about any previous trips to Kenya or other travel in the last 3 months.

After the form has been filled out, you will be asked to provide several documents. The documents required can get a bit confusing, so here is a breakdown of all of the documents required for the application.

Passport photo, a “Passport Photo”, and a photo of the passport

A passport photo

You will need a valid photograph of yourself and a photograph of your passport. You can use an official passport photo of yourself or of each traveller, or a well-taken selfie will also do. As long as that selfie is from the shoulders up, clear, and the background is relatively neutral. It does not have to be an official white background, but steer clear of busy wall papers, large paintings, etc. Also try to wear something that appears as clothing on your shoulders, although not an official rule, having overly bare shoulders in a photo of this nature might cause a delay in approval. No sunglasses or hats as accessories, but if you wear prescription glasses, and you wear a head covering regularly, you can still have them in the photograph.

A “passport photo”

You will also need to provide a photo of your passport. So, basically another “passport photo”. This means either a high quality photograph or a scan of the information-based pages of your passport. Either way, watch out for reflections blurring out important information. The image might look clear and crisp, but if there is a bright reflection compromising important information, then it might lead to delays in approval, emails requiring you to resend the photo, or at worst, a rejection. Also make sure that the image is cropped in a way that no important info is missing. Leave a good space between the edge of the photo and the information. Remember to include the machine-readable portion of the document, which is at the bottom of the information page with the “<<<” markings.

Some passports have the signature of the traveller on the same page, but other passports have the signature on the page above. If your passport contains the signature on the same page as all of the information (as is the case with British passports), then you only need to crop the image of the main page. However, for some passports (including Irish passports) the signature is on the page above the passport information. In these cases, it is wise to include both pages on the image. The application page only allows for one image upload in this spot, so basically one image of both pages. You can easily crop a photo or scan on the application form usually.

A photo of the passport

Lastly, you will be asked to provide a photo of the front page of your passport. To some this might sound straightforward, but it has caused quite a bit of confusion (especially if the traveller’s first language is not English). What this means is literally a photo of the cover of your passport booklet. Usually this is the cover with the emblem of your passport country. The back of the passport is not needed (although in the case of random background checks, some immigration authorities have requested this). You can upload a clear, crisp image of the emblem cover of your passport.

Your Booking Confirmation/Place of Stay

The final upload required for your application is a document showing information about where you will be staying. If you are staying in a hotel, Airbnb, or any type of online accommodation booking method, then a straightforward copy of the booking confirmation is more than adequate. This section also only allows for 1 page of an upload. Therefore, cropping might be necessary. The traveller’s name, the address and name of the accommodation, and the date of arrival are important to include in the upload. If you do not have a booking confirmation, then a letter from the organization with the aforementioned details is also sufficient. This is common among local safari tours.

If you are staying with friends or family, then there is a bit more necessary. You must provide a letter of invitation with the same information, the traveller(s) names, the date of arrival, the fact that they are being invited, and the signature, address and information of the person inviting them. This person is also to provide a copy of their Kenyan passport or Kenyan Foreigner card to prove that they reside (at least partially) in Kenya.

If these documents are provided as follows, there is a good likelihood that there will be no issues with your Kenya visa application. Of course, that can never be fully guaranteed. There is always a chance of a background check, administrative backlog, or even federal holidays and long weekends. While Kenyan visas are approved relatively quickly, there is always a chance that they might take a bit longer, but hopefully having a more clear understanding of the rules above will help in making the application go as smoothly as possible.

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