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Kenya - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Kenya due to the threat of terrorism and a high crime rate.
Regional advisory - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the following areas:
- areas within 150 km of the Kenya–Somalia border, including all of Garissa and Lamu counties, due to a risk of kidnapping and attacks
- areas within 50 km of the coast, from north of the city of Malindi to the Kenya–Somalia border, due to a risk of kidnapping and attacks
- areas within 100 km of the borders with South Sudan and Ethiopia, due to armed banditry and cross-border violence
Safety and security
Safety and security
Areas bordering Somalia and portion of the Coast region (see Advisory)
Kenya’s border with Somalia is closed, but it is porous and Somali militias and bandit groups have carried out cross-border attacks against foreigners and humanitarian workers in this region. Some incidents involved the use of improvised explosive devices and have resulted in injuries and deaths, including at the Dadaab refugee camp, 80 km from the Somali border. The risk of such attacks in the region remains high.
Disputes between Somali clans also make the region unstable and dangerous. There is an increased military and police presence and frequent roadblocks due to the Government of Kenya’s efforts to limit Somali incursions and gun-running in the border area.
There is also a risk of kidnapping close to the border with Somalia and coastal areas of Lamu County. Groups based in Somalia and northeastern Kenya have targeted humanitarian workers, tourists and residents in the past and deaths have occurred.
Beachfront accommodations on the coastal area are vulnerable to criminal activity, such as armed robbery, break-ins and carjacking.
If you travel to this area, be aware of your surroundings at all times and take appropriate security measures to ensure your safety.
Areas bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia - Avoid all travel (see Advisory)
There is an extreme threat of kidnapping, terrorism and cross-border violence in the areas within 100 km of Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Eastleigh neighbourhood of Nairobi (see Advisory)
Criminal activity remains high in Eastleigh. Police capacity to respond to crime and other incidents is very limited.
Northern and Western Kenya
Some areas located north of the Kitale–Samburu–Garissa line in northern Kenya are considered unsafe. The ongoing threat posed by terrorism is joined by various regional, tribal or clan-based conflicts involving land, cattle and water. Consider using armed escorts when travelling within this region; escorts can often be arranged through local police stations. Avoid venturing away from tourist areas and do not travel after dark.
Tribal conflicts have occurred in the Mount Elgon area of western Kenya. If you decide to travel to that region, remain vigilant at all times and monitor local media.
There is a high crime rate in most regions of Kenya, particularly in major cities such as Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, and at coastal beach resorts. Carjacking, home invasions and kidnappings occur, including during daylight hours and in neighbourhoods normally considered safe. Petty crimes, such as purse-snatchings, pickpocketing and robberies, also occur. Traditionally, crimes increase in the weeks before Christmas.
When you leave your hotel room, ensure that the door is locked and the “do not disturb” sign is displayed. Store your personal belongings in safekeeping facilities. Exercise caution while walking during daylight hours and if travelling after dark. Do not walk outdoors at night, particularly in isolated areas. Avoid showing signs of affluence or carrying large sums of money.
Be aware that there have been incidents of “mob justice” in which a crowd lynches suspected criminals prior to the arrival of police.
Incidents of passport theft have occurred in the departure area of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Currency should not be exchanged in the public areas of the airport. Checked luggage may be pilfered at the airport. Store your valuables in locked hand-luggage. Be aware of your surroundings at all airports.
When confronted by robbers, comply and do not offer resistance.
Nairobi and Mombasa
In Nairobi, exercise extreme caution in informal settlement communities, such as Kasarani, Kibera and Mathare, due to the high level of crime and limited capacity of police to respond to incidents.
The Old Town of Fort Jesus in Mombasa has a similar crime rate to other areas of the city during the day. However, there is a greatly increased risk of criminal activity at night, including robberies, attacks and other street crimes. Crime rates are also high on and around the Likoni Ferry (which links Mombasa and the southern resorts).
On the road
On the road, be especially vigilant when stopped at traffic lights, as bags can be snatched from passenger seats by thieves travelling on scooters or on foot. Keep your windows closed, doors locked and valuables out of reach and sight.
Tourists have been the target of carjacking, robberies and kidnappings while travelling to or from the international airports in Nairobi and Mombasa. When arriving at these airports, you should only use transportation organized by reputable tour companies or well-marked taxis. Be particularly vigilant if you are commuting alone.
National parks, safaris and reserves
Most visits to national parks, game reserves and other popular tourist destinations in Kenya remain incident free. However, foreign tourists, including Canadians, have been victims of crime, sometimes involving violence. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid camping alone or without expert local assistance.
Visitors travelling overland to certain game parks and reserves have been attacked by armed bandits. The route from Malindi to Lamu can also be dangerous. There have been rare reports of attacks or robberies of travellers on the roads between Nairobi and the Amboseli, Masai Mara, Nakuru and Tsavo game parks/reserves and the Mount Kenya/Aberdare area. There have been periodic hijackings, robberies and attempted robberies on the main road between Nairobi and the Tanzanian border, the same road that serves as the route to Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.
There are inherent risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife and avoid exiting vehicles unless it is deemed safe to do by professional guides and wardens. Use only reputable and professional guides or tour operators, and closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
Foreigners have been affected by armed incursions onto private farms and wildlife conservation areas in Baringo and Laikipia counties, resulting from an extended period of drought, tribal issues and political tensions.
The Kenya Tourism Federation operates a 24-hour Safety and Communication Centre, which provides information on tourism and road conditions, and has information about regional assistance in an emergency.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks have occurred in Nairobi; in the coast region, including in Mombasa; and in the country’s northeast, near the border with Somalia. Foreigners have been targeted in some attacks. Further attacks cannot be ruled out.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Stay at hotels that have robust security measures, but keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk.
Fraud occurs frequently in Kenya. Criminals and swindlers have been known to impersonate hotel employees, police officers or government officials to try and get money from tourists. If you are approached by someone claiming to be a government official or police officer and asking for money for an alleged offence, you should ask for an official government receipt.
Police officers are required to identify themselves. There is a complaint process through the Kenyan Police Service to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse.
Learn more about overseas fraud.
Foreigners volunteering with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have sometimes reported incidents of fraud, threats and mistreatment by local personnel.
If you are contemplating volunteering with NGOs in Kenya, you should contact the National Council of NGOs before making any commitment and before departing Canada, to confirm that the organization you wish to work with is legitimate. All NGOs in Kenya are required by law to be registered with the National Council of NGOs, a self-regulating, non-partisan body.
Learn about entry/exit requirements specific to working for an NGO or to do volunteer work.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Women travelling on their own should be vigilant, as harassment and attacks involving sexual assaults, including against foreigners, occur.
Check our safe-travel guide for women for more travel safety information aimed at Canadians.
Major highways are generally in good condition but minor roads are poorly maintained. Excessive speeds, unpredictable driving habits, frequent drunk driving (especially at night) and poorly maintained vehicles pose hazards.
Serious traffic delays are common. Keep this in mind when planning travel by road, as driving at night can be risky due to poor lighting and inadequate signage.
During the rainy season, some unpaved roads become impassable, even with four-wheel drive vehicles. You should drive defensively and always be aware of your surroundings.
The road from Nairobi to Mombasa is congested and can be dangerous for tourists unfamiliar with local driving conditions. You should travel by air or train if possible. Use authorized border crossings when travelling by vehicle between Kenya and Tanzania.
Public transportation is unsafe. Long-distance buses have been involved in serious accidents. Local mini buses (matatus) and motorbike taxis (boda-bodas) are generally poorly maintained, recklessly driven and not adequately insured. Matatu hijackings and incidents of passengers being robbed have occurred.
Use reliable taxi companies, and confirm the fare in advance.
The Madaraka Express Railway line between Nairobi and Mombasa is reliable and safe. Other passenger train lines are not safe and are routinely late.
The Likoni Ferry (from Mombasa to Likoni) is unsafe due to a combination of high crime rates, uncontrolled crowds, limited safety training, frequent breakdowns and inconsistent maintenance. Stampedes and overcrowding on the ferry have resulted in multiple injuries.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
General safety information
Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and in all places. Take appropriate security measures, particularly on roads linking a city centre to residential areas, and refrain from travelling at night.
Never leave your bags unsupervised at a ticket office or a registration desk. Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times, and that your credit and debit cards, cash and any other financial resources are not all kept in the same place.
Monitor local developments, sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and follow the advice in the messages issued through the service.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from Kenyan authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Kenya.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to transit through, visit or work in Kenya.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Work Permit: Required
Transit visa: Required
To avoid problems on arrival, always check visa requirements with the High Commission of Kenya before you travel.
Tourist visas are valid for up to three months. To extend a tourist visa, contact immigration authorities once you are in the country.
You need to obtain a visa if you are transiting Kenya to another destination. Your stay may not exceed 72 hours. If you are connecting to a flight directly without leaving the airport, you do not need a transit visa.
How to obtain a visa
You should obtain a visa in advance through the High Commission for the Republic of Kenya or via the Kenyan Department of Immigration Services’ eVisa website.
Unofficial websites also offer visas but typically charge an additional service fee that is significantly higher than the cost of the actual visa. Official government of Kenya websites have an address that ends with “.go.ke”.
You can also obtain a visa at a Kenyan port of entry.
More information about Kenya’s eVisa - Kenyan Department of Immigration Services
You must pay all visa fees in exact cash and only in U.S. dollars, British pound sterling or euros. You can’t pay for a visa with a credit card.
There is no fee for visas for children under 16 years.
East African tourist visa
The East African Tourist Visa allows for multiple entries to Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.
This visa is valid for 90 days and cannot be extended.
You must obtain this visa from the authorities of the country that is your first entry point. If you plan to begin your trip in Kenya, you must obtain it from the High Commission for the Republic of Kenya or on arrival.
From May 21 until July 21, 2018, Kenya Immigration is holding a mandatory verification of all foreign work permits and re-issuing them in electronic format.
Anyone who has not complied with the new registration by July 21, 2018, even if they hold a previously valid work permit, may be subject to removal from Kenya.
If you hold a valid work permit, contact Kenya Immigration for further instructions. You can also visit Kenya Immigration headquarters (Nyayo House in the Central Business District of Nairobi) with the following documentation:
- work permit
- valid Alien ID card
- Valid official endorsement on passport
- official payment receipt
- Kenya Revenue Authority PIN
Electronic Foreign Nationals Service - Kenyan Department of Immigration Services
Work permits for NGO workers
Canadians planning to work or volunteer (including, temporarily or part-time) in Kenya for any period are required to have a work permit.
The National Council of NGOs can provide assistance in obtaining a work permit for individuals planning to work for a local NGO if contacted in advance.
If an employee moves from one organization to another, the first permit becomes void and the individual must apply for a new permit to work with the subsequent organization.
Consult with the NGO with whom you are planning to volunteer, as well as with the Kenya Immigration Foreign Nationals Services for full information and requirements.
More information about Kenyan work permits - High commission of Kenya
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Spot checks for proof of yellow fever vaccinations are increasingly common in Kenya. Carry a copy of your proof of vaccination with you at all times.
Posted: January 26, 2018
Risk of a Large Outbreak of Meningococcal Disease in Africa
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that countries in Africa's meningitis belt (see country list below) and neighbouring countries are at a high risk for a large outbreak of meningoccocal disease (commonly called meningitis).
There is a high risk of a large outbreak in the area because the strain of meningitis that is currently circulating is a new hyper-invasive strain of serogroup C and there is a shortage of meningitis C-containing vaccine.
If you plan to travel to any country in Africa's meningitis belt or a neighbouring country, it is recommended that you get vaccinated against meningococcal disease with a conjugate serogroup C-containing vaccine.
For more information, see the WHO Situation update on meningitis C epidemic risk.
Countries in Africa's meningitis belt include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and United Republic of Tanzania.
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world.
Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers) or those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings.
There is a risk of polio in this country.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date. Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza, ebola, and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Good medical facilities are available in Nairobi, but health-care standards in other parts of the country vary and can be very limited. Medical facilities may require proof of insurance or up-front payment before starting treatment. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation, in case of illness or injury.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Police and immigration officials have the right to demand proof of residency or valid visas. You should carry identification documents or a copy of your passport with you at all times and cooperate with authorities if you are asked for identification. Failure to present proof of residence or a valid visa to authorities when requested to do so could result in fines or arrest.
Illegal and restricted items
The use, manufacture or importation of plastic bags, including garbage bags and shopping bags, is illegal. Convicted offenders, including tourists, can face very heavy fines (up to USD 40,000), imprisonment for up to two years, or both.
Learn more about the plastic bag ban.
To carry firearms, you must obtain permission from local authorities prior to entering the country. Firearms are strictly forbidden in wildlife reserves and national parks.
Possession of pornographic material is forbidden.
Illegal and restricted activities
Working in Kenya
It is illegal to work or volunteer in Kenya without a valid work permit. Kenyan authorities strictly enforce this law. Convicted offenders could face heavy fines and jail sentences up to five years.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Persons convicted of possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana for personal use, could receive a sentence that ranges between 10 years and life in prison. You could also face fines and jail time if you are convicted of being in a location where there are illegal drugs, even if they are not yours.
Other prohibited activities
Possession of ivory or other banned wildlife items, even if purchased outside of Kenya, is strictly prohibited. Killing, buying, selling or trading any protected wild animal or any of its parts is illegal. Offenders can be arrested and given lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.
Smoking is prohibited in all public places. Convicted offenders could pay heavy fines or face a jail sentence. There are strict restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages and on consuming alcohol in public places.
Photography of government buildings, foreign embassies and missions (including the Canadian High Commission), airports, military facilities or other sensitive locations is prohibited and may lead to arrest or detention.
Kenya’s constitution does not expressly protect the rights of LGBTQ2 persons. The laws of Kenya prohibit certain sexual acts that are deemed to be indecent but are not clearly defined, and a conviction may result
in a lengthy jail sentence. Even though there are few convictions that result from such prosecutions, LGBTQ2 persons are routinely harassed by the police, and societal discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Kenya.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Kenya.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Kenya, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Traffic drives on the left.
While driving, drivers must always carry:
- a valid driver’s licence
- vehicle registration documents
- proof of valid insurance
- a valid vehicle inspection certificate
These documents must be produced on demand by a police officer.
You must be at least 18 years old to drive a private motor vehicle in Kenya.
If you are over 18, you may drive using a Canadian driver’s licence for up to 90 days from the date of entry into Kenya.
An International Driving Permit is accepted, if presented with your original Canadian licence.
Residents of Kenya may apply for a Kenyan driver’s licence with proof of a valid Canadian driver’s licence.
If using a Canadian licence for any of the above cases, it must be in English or a certified translation must accompany it and be presented on demand.
Seat belt use is mandatory.
Private motor vehicles must have 2 emergency triangles. While only required for public service vehicles, your private vehicle should also be equipped with a first aid kit, jumper cables and a fire extinguisher.
While driving, it is not permitted to use a mobile phone or any other communication equipment not permanently fixed to the vehicle.
If you are stopped due to a traffic violation, the police officer may ask you to pay an on-the spot fine. Police, however, are not permitted to accept cash on the spot without issuing an official receipt. If you disagree with the traffic ticket, you have the right to ask for due process. The officer should provide you with information on when and where you can go to be properly charged, and then you may pursue that process.
Exercise common sense and discretion in your dress and behaviour, particularly in the coast region, where the majority of the population is Muslim. You should dress conservatively and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2018, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 15.
The currency is the Kenyan shilling (KES).
Automated banking machines are widely available.
Many banks and hotels exchange foreign currency and you can generally settle hotel bills in U.S. dollars. U.S. dollars are not generally accepted if their issue date is earlier than 2009. It is also possible to convert Kenyan shillings into foreign currency at the airport upon departure.
Credit cards are widely accepted at major hotels, but not always in more remote locations.
M-PESA is a common form of electronic funds transfer accepted across Kenya, including at national parks. National parks do not accept cash and generally accept credit cards, but at times, due to technical difficulties, only payment via M-PESA is accepted.
Travellers who import the equivalent of US$5,000 or more must provide documentation stating the source and purpose of the funds.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Rainy seasons and droughts
Drought is the most prevalent natural hazard in Kenya affecting mainly the eastern, north eastern and coast area, as well as parts of the Rift Valley.
There are normally two rainy seasons in Kenya: from October to November, and from late March to mid-June. Heavy rains have the potential to cause sudden flooding and mudslides throughout the country. Evacuations, casualties and damage to infrastructure can occur. The damage could also affect the provision of essential services. If you reside in or are travelling to affected areas, exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.
Volcanoes and earthquakes
Natural disasters are possible due to regional volcanic and seismic activity. While there have not been any recent incidents, pay careful attention to all warnings issued.
There is no reliable centralized number to reach emergency services. Research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
Nairobi - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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