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Kenya - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Kenya. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the increasing number of terrorist attacks and incidents of crime. Terrorist attacks have occurred in the past in Nairobi, including Eastleigh; along the Coast region, including in Mombasa; and in the country’s northeast. Further attacks remain a possibility.
Areas bordering Somalia and a portion of the Coast region - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the area within 150 km of the Kenya–Somalia border, including all of Lamu and Garissa counties, as well as within 50 km of the coast, from north of Malindi city to the Kenya-Somalia border, due to a risk of kidnapping and attacks.
See Safety and security for more information.
Areas bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the areas within 100 km of the borders with South Sudan and Ethiopia due to armed banditry and cross-border violence.
See Safety and security for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Areas bordering Somalia and a portion of the Coast region (see Advisory)
Although Kenya’s border with Somalia is closed, it is porous and Somali militias and bandit groups have carried out cross-border attacks against foreigners and humanitarian workers in this region. Some of these incidents involved the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) 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. Kenyan efforts to restrict Somali incursions and gun-running have curtailed travel to the northern areas near the Somali border.
On April 2, 2015, an attack against Garissa University College killed at least 140 people and injured many more.
Beachfront accommodations and boats off the coast are particularly vulnerable to attacks. Since June 2014, groups of gunmen have attacked several areas along the coast of Lamu county, killing at least 85 people.
Eastleigh neighbourhood of Nairobi (see Advisory)
There are heightened tensions in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighbourhood, where a series of explosions has occurred since late November 2012. Several people have been killed, and many more have been injured.
There have been occasional reports of violent demonstrations and rioting in Mombasa, including following the killing of a prominent Mombasa cleric on April 1, 2014.
There have also been a number of attacks, possibly linked to terrorist groups, in Mombasa since 2013. Foreigners have been targeted in some of these attacks. Further attacks cannot be ruled out. Remain vigilant at all times, avoid large gatherings, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Since early 2017, a severe drought has been causing population and livestock migrations that have led to an increase in armed incursions by herders on lodges located on private conservation areas and farms in Laikipia, Barindo and in neighbouring counties. Enquire about the level of security provided at the accommodation you plan on renting.
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. Use armed escorts when travelling to or from this region. Armed escorts are available from local police stations and it is advisable to contact them before undertaking any journey. Avoid venturing away from tourist areas and refrain from travelling 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 threat from terrorism throughout Kenya, including in Nairobi and Mombasa. The Kenyan Police has released a statement encouraging heightened vigilance in Nairobi, and the coastal and resort areas of Mombasa and Malindi, due to the threat of terrorist attacks.
Regional terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and al-Shabaab, continue to threaten Western interests and other potential targets in Kenya. Terrorist attacks have occurred in busy public venues, including in places of worship. Since the latter half of 2013, al-Shabaab has demonstrated both the intent and capability to conduct terrorist attacks in the region with increasing frequency and sophistication. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time and could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, such as Western embassies, United Nations’ premises, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels, tourist resorts, safari lodges, international schools, places of worship and airports and other transportation hubs. They could also target areas where government offices are concentrated, such as Nairobi Central Business District. Attacks could take the form of suicide operations, gun and grenade attacks, roadside or vehicle-borne IEDs and attacks on civil aviation or on maritime vessels near Kenyan ports.
Be extremely vigilant in crowded places. Avoid all nightclubs, avoid visiting businesses during peak hours and steer clear of large crowds. Be extremely vigilant when driving on high-volume traffic roads and at intersections near areas frequented by expatriates, especially at peak times.
You should be very cautious if attending sporting events, such as football matches. Avoid public venues such as sports bars, night clubs and restaurants that broadcast these games, as well as public transportation, such as taxis, to and from the events.
Be particularly vigilant during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as militants have used such occasions to mount attacks. Kenyan authorities have warned that al-Shabaab could be planning to carry out attacks in Kenya during Ramadan.
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. There has been a sharp increase in crime in Nairobi since 2014, with carjackings, home invasions and kidnappings occurring even in neighbourhoods normally deemed safe and during daylight hours. Petty crimes, such as purse-snatchings, pick pocketings and robberies, occur.
Exercise extreme caution in the Kibera, Kasarani, Mathare and Eastleigh neighbourhoods of Nairobi.
While the Old Town of Fort Jesus has similar rates of crime to other areas of Mombasa during daylight hours, 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).
Criminals and swindlers have been known to impersonate hotel employees, police officers or government officials. 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. You should absolutely avoid walking or travelling after dark, and exercise caution while walking during daylight hours. Avoid showing signs of affluence or carrying large sums of money. Be aware that cases of “mob justice” are regularly reported, in which crowds lynch suspected criminals prior to the arrival of police.
Tourists have been the target of carjackings, 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.
Cases of passport theft have been reported in the departure area of Jomo Kenyatta International airport (JKIA). Currency should not be exchanged in the public areas of the airport. Checked luggage may be pilfered at the airport. Store valuables in locked hand-luggage. Be aware of your surroundings at all airports.
Demonstrations related to the upcoming 2017 elections have been occurring throughout the country. Demonstrators and security forces have clashed, resulting in casualties. Avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Women travelling on their own should remain particularly vigilant, as attacks involving sexual assaults, including against foreigners, are regularly reported, even though Nairobi has an anti-rape awareness campaign. See Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information for Canadian women.
Foreigners volunteering with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have reported incidents of fraud, threats and mistreatment by local personnel. Volunteers have been left stranded when the illegitimate NGOs they were working for closed.
If you are contemplating volunteer work 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.
See Entry/Exit Requirements for information on work permits required to work for an NGO or to volunteer.
Excessive speeds, unpredictable driving habits and frequent drunk driving (especially at night), lack of adequate street lighting and poorly maintained vehicles pose hazards. Furthermore, road conditions are poor. During the rainy season, some unpaved roads are impassable, even with four-wheel drive vehicles. You should drive defensively, and keep the doors locked and windows closed at all times. The road from Nairobi to Mombasa is congested and can be dangerous for tourists unfamiliar with local driving conditions. You should consider air travel. Use authorized border crossings when travelling by vehicle between Kenya and Tanzania.
Public transportation is unsafe. Long-distance buses have been involved in a number of serious accidents. Matatus are generally poorly maintained, recklessly driven and are often without adequate insurance coverage. Incidents of matatus being hijacked or passengers being robbed have been reported. Use only hotel taxis, and confirm the fare in advance. Passenger trains 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. Over the last few years there has been an increasing number of incidents resulting in multiple injuries as a result of stampedes and overcrowding on the ferry. Travel on the Likoni Ferry should be avoided.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
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.
Tourist facilities are widely available in Nairobi, on the coast, in game parks and in wildlife reserves, but are non-existent in the regions bordering South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.
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 Masai Mara, Amboseli, Nakuru and Tsavo game parks/reserves and the Mount Kenya/Aberdares area. However, there have been periodic hijackings, robberies and attempted robberies on the main road between Nairobi and the Tanzanian border, the road that also 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.
The Kenya Tourism Federation operates the Safety and Communication Centre, which provides the latest information on tourism and road conditions, and assistance in an emergency. You can obtain information by calling the centre in Nairobi at +254 (0) 20-6004-767 or emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in this country. See Overseas Fraud for more information.
General security information
Local authorities are increasingly checking identification papers. Carry your passport with you at all times, and cooperate with authorities should you be questioned.
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. Victims of attacks are advised not to offer resistance. Monitor local developments, register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and follow the messages issued through the service.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from Kenyan authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission for the Republic of Kenya for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
To visit Kenya, Canadians must present a passport, which must be valid for at least six months on arrival. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visiting Kenya. Visas are temporarily available upon arrival at the airport, or can be obtained via the Department of Immigration Services eCitizen website. It is recommended that visas be obtained in advance of arrival through the website. Visas are valid for up to three months and may be extended by contacting immigration authorities once you are in the country.
Tourist visa: Required (see below exception for children)
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
Work Permit: Required
Children aged 16 or less who are travelling to with a parent do not require a visitor’s visa.
In Kenya, anyone engaging in paid or volunteer work must have a valid work permit at all times. The penalties for not doing so can be a fine, jail or deportation, depending on the nature of the offence.
Work permits for NGO workers
The National Council of NGOs can provide assistance to individuals planning to work for a local NGO in obtaining a work permit if contacted in advance. If an employee moves from one organization to another, the first permit becomes void and the individual has to apply for a new permit to work with a subsequent organization.
Further information on work permits can be obtained by contacting the Kenya High Commission in Ottawa.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
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.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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 bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
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 for children, 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.
- 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 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.
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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Smoking is prohibited in all public places. Convicted offenders could pay heavy fines or serve a jail sentence. There are stringent restrictions on the retail of alcoholic beverages and its consumption in public places.
Possession of ivory, even in the form of a jewel purchased outside of Kenya, is strictly prohibited. Offenders can be arrested, given heavy fines or both.
It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency, even in small amounts. Violators may be arrested and fined.
You are forbidden from working or volunteering in Kenya without a valid work permit. For more information on work visas, see Entry/Exit Requirements.
Permission to carry firearms must be obtained from local authorities prior to entering the country. Firearms are strictly forbidden in wildlife reserves and national parks.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Persons convicted of possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, could receive a 10-year prison sentence.
Possession of pornographic material is forbidden.
Photography of official buildings or embassies may lead to detention.
The laws of Kenya prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBT travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Kenya. See Homosexual, bisexual and transgender travel for more information.
Religious proselytizing is not permitted.
Traffic drives on the left.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Kenya. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Kenyan citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Kenyan passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
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 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
Common sense and discretion should be exercised in your dress and behaviour, particularly in the coastal region where the majority of the population is Muslim. You should dress conservatively and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
The currency is the Kenyan shilling (KES). Many banks and hotels exchange foreign currency. Hotel bills are generally settled in U.S. dollars. Credit cards are widely accepted, and traveller’s cheques, preferably in U.S. dollars, may be exchanged at banks, hotels and foreign-exchange offices. Travellers who import the equivalent of US$5,000 or more must provide documentation stating the source and purpose of the funds. It is possible to convert Kenyan shillings into foreign currency at the airport upon departure.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
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 have been reported. 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.
Natural disasters are possible due to regional volcanic activity. Pay careful attention to all warnings issued.
There is no 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. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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