The Ministry of Interior has issued an update on the development of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to facilitate visa-free visits as directed by President William Ruto.
In a statement dated Sunday, January 7, the authority highlighted a number of changes introduced to the ETA which has received a total of 9,787 applications.
For instance, all travellers to Kenya will enjoy reduced fees from Ksh7,756 ($50) charged as part of visa application to just Ksh4,653 ($30). Only travellers from the East African Community (EAC) countries will be exempted from the fee.
The country will also benefit from the collection of advanced data from all travellers to ringfence Kenya’s security and other strategic interests.
A photo of a UK student Visa
Before ETA, citizens from 51 countries enjoyed visa-free entry to Kenya, while travellers from 155 other countries were subject to a visa application process at a cost Ksh7,756.
“Previously, travellers from 51 countries were not required to fill out any forms on personal and relevant travel details. There was therefore no means of obtaining data to inform critical decisions and plans around security, infrastructure and insurance needs,” read the statement in part.
“With the introduction of the ETA, we now have comprehensive data on all visitors, significantly improving our ability to ensure the safety and well-being of both our visitors and citizens.”
Interior Principal Secretary Julius Bitok also revealed that the ETA reduces the application wait time from 14 days for visas to just 72 hours for the ETA.
He also indicated that the Ministry will introduce a 24-hour service desk dedicated to ETA to guarantee a seamless experience.
From the 9,787 applications, officials managing the authorisation have already processed 4,046 while the others are undergoing review on a priority basis.
At the beginning of the year, the Ministry postponed President William Ruto’s directive on Visa-free entries to Kenya pending the development of the ETA.
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), at the time, explained that the system was yet to be finalised. The Head of State had directed that the visa-free entry process kick off in January 2024.
For now, a majority of travellers to Kenya will still be required to apply for a Visa through Kenyan embassies, as has been the norm.
The first batch of Visa-free foreigners, however, landed in Kenya four days after the programme was scheduled to start.
Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julis Bitok addressing different State Agencies at Syokimau, Machakos County on November 8, 2023.
STATE DEPARTMENT FOR IMMIGRATION & CITIZEN SERVICES