Kenya’s electronic visa (eVisa) will become a compulsory entry requirement for all travelers who require a visa starting in January 2021.
The Kenya eVisa system was launched in 2015 and is currently available to nationals of around 140 different countries. The online platform allows eligible travelers to obtain permission to enter the African state much quicker and easier than applying at an embassy or consulate.
According to a statement issued by Kenya’s Ministry of Interior, the eVisa system will be the only way to obtain a visa from 1 January 2021. This means that all travelers who are not visa-exempt will have to apply online for a Kenya eVisa before boarding a flight to the country.
100% Shift to the Kenya eVisa
The Kenyan government has put its focus into developing e-services in recent years, with the eVisa platform being launched in 2015. The digitalization of services will increase efficiency and security, while making them easier to access for users.
The electronic visa for Kenya has been an example of this success, with many foreign visitors opting to use the platform due to its simplicity and the fact that it eliminates the need to go to a Kenyan embassy or consulate.
Until now, the eVisa has not been available to nationals of all countries, but starting in January 2021, the platform will be expanded to allow 100% of visitors to obtain their visa for Kenya online.
According to Alicent Odipo, Senior Deputy Director of Immigration Services, “All passengers from countries that require a visa to enter Kenya shall be required to obtain e-Visa before boarding an aircraft.”
Alternative Kenya Visas to Be Discontinued
While the eVisa has provided the easiest way to gain travel authorization for Kenya, the country has, until now, also operated visa on arrival facilities, allowing travelers to go through the application process at the border.
There are also a number of countries whose citizens currently cannot apply online and must apply at an embassy or consulate to obtain a visa.
The new change in Kenya’s visa policy means that visa on arrival services will no longer be available after 1 January 2021 and most, if not all visas, will be obtained exclusively online.
Nationals of countries who previously had to apply for a tourist visa at a diplomatic mission will now use the Kenya eVisa system.
However, it is currently unknown whether long-term visas and permits will be available online or if it will still be necessary to go to an embassy.
Advantages of the Kenya eVisa
The electronic visa for Kenya comes with a number of advantages over traditional visas and visas on arrival.
The streamlined system has been lauded for creating a faster and easier application process.
The online nature of the Kenya eVisa means that foreign nationals no longer have to spend time, money, and effort going to an embassy and going through a lengthier application. They simply need an internet connection, allowing them to apply from their homes, offices, or on their phone or mobile device.
Applications are quickly processed and, once approved, the eVisa is sent by email for the traveler to print.
Completing a simple application online beforehand also allows travelers to troubleshoot any potential issues in good time, rather than running the risk of arriving at the border only to have their visa on arrival application rejected.
Due to these factors, the eVisa is regarded as the superior option for travelers and this is one of the main reasons it is now replacing other visa application methods.
Kenya’s Shift Towards e-Services
The decision to fully implement the Kenya eVisa for all travelers comes along with a push to upgrade various services to take advantage of digital technology.
Kenyans at home and abroad are encouraged to obtain a new electronic passport (e-passport) before the deadline of March 2021. The old generation of passports is being phased out in favor of new East African Community passports, which contain biometric data.
Hand-in-hand with the new biometric passports come e-gates and similar technology at airports. Together, these measures will help to improve security at the country’s borders.