Getting your visa – dos and don’ts!
Once you have booked a safari in Kenya, you have to apply for a visa. That is, if you want to be able to actually enter the country…! These days all visa applications have to be done online, through the official website of the Kenyan government.
The good thing is, that you can do this from the comfort of your own home. The downside is that the online application process is a bit complicated, and you must pay proper attention to make sure you do it right. Luckily, with our instructions and the help of our travel consultants 99 percent of the people get their visas in one go – they enter the country without a problem and have the best time of their lives. To make sure you belong to that 99 percent, we wrote down some practical examples of challenges, so you know what to look out for when applying!
Clients who have booked their safari with us, always receive a step-by-step guide to help them navigate the application process, explains Mees Overdevest, director of Africa Safari Trips. Despite this, challenges still arise. “We had a client arriving at the airport, thinking they had their visa while all they had was their proof of payment”, remembers Mees. “And this is indeed confusing – after you apply you get a proof of payment, but no message that says when or how to get your actual visa.”
“Our instructions now indicate that after applying you still need to check if your visa has been granted. There is a special website where you can verify whether your visa has been granted. Then, if indeed your visa was granted, you still need to download it through another process.” Overdevest admits it’s a complicated process with a margin for errors. “But it’s really important you do it right. This one client who arrived with his proof of payment couldn’t enter the country and had to go back home. We had to reschedule his safari completely. It happened only once, but you really don’t want to be this person.”
Travel consultant Ines Illing (German market) had another client with challenges: “And this had costly consequences. This client somehow missed that she needed a visa, so when she wanted to board the plane in Amsterdam she wasn’t allowed. She then quickly searched online and found a website that promised ‘express visa’. She paid 800 euros, but it was a complete scam. There is only ONE official website for Kenyan visa applications and that was definitely not it. Eventually, we connected her to an immigration consultant in Mombasa, and she got her visa and arrived one day late. But together with those 800 euros, it cost her dearly, so you really want to use the correct website.”
Ask our advice!
Jose Beerepoot (Dutch market) is another one of our travel consultants who points out that it’s always good to contact us if the visa application is giving you trouble. “We cannot do the process for you, but we can advise on what to fill out. Once I had a client whose visa got denied, even though they said they followed our instructions. On rare occasions this happens, but they don’t tell you why the visa was denied. Eventually, we advised them to change the address to another hotel, the visa was granted and they had a beautiful safari.”
Our travel consultants point out that good preparation is the key when applying for a visa. “For one make sure you have all the papers necessary at hand before starting the process”, says Jose. “Also the passport-size picture that you have to upload needs to be pretty small – the maximum size allowed is in our instructions, so make sure to check that. Otherwise you have to start all over, and there are quite some questions.”
Ines adds: “Also take into account that this application is in English, which is not easy for some. You might want to use an online translator to make sure you understand the questions. And of course, check that you are using the correct website, and ask us anything you are unsure of. In this case, it’s really better to be safe than sorry!”
Tips and tricks
- Start in time! We advise to do this application at least two months before departure.
- Do this ONLY via the official website of the Kenyan government.
- Read the instructions in our PDF carefully before starting.
- Have all the necessary papers ready before starting the online application.
- Make individual accounts for all people applying (but note that children under 16 don’t need a visa).
- Make sure the passport-size pictures are not too big (maximum 293 kB).
- Have a credit card that can be used in other countries for the payment process.
- Use an online translation program if needed.
- When in doubt: ask our travel consultants for advice!