Getting here and advice about your stay
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Kenya. Make sure you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival.
You need a visa to enter Kenya. You can either get a visa on arrival at the airport, or before you travel. To minimise time spent queuing at the airport, get a visa before you travel. You can apply for single entry and transit visas on the Kenyan eVisas website: www.evisa.go.ke/evisa.html. For other types of visa, apply at the nearest Kenyan High Commission or Embassy. For more information on different types of visas see the website of the Kenya High Commission: www.kenyahighcom.org.uk/visas-2
UK emergency travel documents
UK emergency travel documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Kenya. ETDs must be valid for six months.
Yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. This requirement is being increasingly strictly enforced. Check with the World Health Organization (WHO) for the latest list of countries: www.who.int/ith/2015-ith-annex1.pdf?ua=1
If you are coming to live and work in Kenya, you should be aware that there can be delays in obtaining work permits. It is illegal to work without a permit. This also applies to voluntary work and the self-employed.
ATMs are widely available in Nairobi and the main towns and credit cards are widely accepted. It is unlikely you will be able to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish banknotes in Kenya.
[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]
Local laws and customs
The coastal areas are predominantly Muslim. Although there are no strict dress codes, you should dress conservatively away from the tourist resorts and hotels, especially in Mombasa town, during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27th May and finish on 25th June. See the FCO’s ‘Travelling during Ramadan’ guidance: www.gov.uk/guidance/travelling-during-ramadan
Smoking in all public places (except designated areas) is prohibited throughout Kenya. This applies to areas like hotel grounds, lounge areas and entrances. Smoking outdoors in any public street or on the beach is not banned, but check first and if in doubt do not light up. Offenders can be fined up to 3 million Kenya shillings or imprisoned for up to three years.
The use and trafficking of illegal Class A drugs in Kenya carries heavy fines and jail sentences. The penalty for possession is ten years in prison.
Taking photographs of official buildings, including Embassies, can lead to detention. If in any doubt, do not photograph or film around them. Photography is also prohibited at airports.
You must get permission to carry any kind of firearm before you enter the country.
It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency.
Homosexual activity is illegal. Public displays of homosexuality like holding hands or kissing in public places could lead to arrest and imprisonment.
You must carry a form of ID with you at all times. A copy of your passport is normally acceptable, but recently some police officers have been insisting on the original document.
It is illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade any of its parts without a licence. Kenya is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) under which there is a ban on the international commercial trade in ivory. Those caught purchasing or trafficking banned goods will be prosecuted and receive prison sentences and/or fines.
[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]
Safety and security
Bag snatching is common in transport hubs like bus stations, railway stations and airports. Mugging, kidnapping, car-jacking and armed robbery occur regularly, particularly in Nairobi, Mombasa and other large cities. Foreigners are not generally targeted, but incidents of violent crime have resulted in the death of several British nationals in recent years. Crime rates are higher in slum areas of Nairobi, the Old Town of Mombasa and on and around the Likoni Ferry (which links Mombasa and the southern resorts).
You should be vigilant at all times and follow any security advice given by your employer or your hosts. Avoid walking around after dark, especially in isolated areas like empty beaches. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and do not wear expensive watches, jewellery or items of sentimental value. You must carry a form of ID with you at all times. A copy of your passport is normally acceptable, but recently some police officers have been insisting on the original document.
Beware of thieves posing as police officers or private security guards. Always ask to see identification. Do not accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged.
Only stay in tourist camps with good perimeter security. If in any doubt, seek advice from your tour operator or the Kenya Tourism Federation – Tel: + 254 20 800100, or visit: www.ktf.co.ke
If you are involved in any security incident, insist that the British High Commission is informed straight away.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to within 60 km of the Kenya-Somali border; to Garissa County; to the Eastleigh area of Nairobi; to Lamu County and those areas of Tana River County north of the Tana river itself and to within 15 km of the coast from the Tana river down to the Galana (Athi-Galana-Sabaki) river.
The following areas are not covered by the FCO’s advice against all but essential travel: national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies; including the Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru, Mount Kenya, Samburu, Shimba Hills, Tsavo, as well as the beach resorts of Mombasa, Malindi, Kilifi, Watamu and Diani. Mombasa airport (Moi International Airport) and Malindi airport are not included in the area to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel.
For travel between Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Nairobi city you should use the Mombasa road. There is a higher risk of car-jacking on the old airport road (Airport South Road) and Jogoo Road.
The Mombasa road to JKIA can get very busy during rush hours, and check in can take several hours; you should allow plenty of time to get to the airport. A new vehicle security check outside JKIA has also added to journey times.
There were a number of violent incidents that resulted in fatalities in Coast Province in 2013. Although these were mainly against Kenyan police targets, you should take extra care in the coast area and be vigilant, particularly in public places.
Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free. If you visit reserves, use reputable tour operators and arrive at your destination in daylight hours. Do not buy safari tours from touts. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
There are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Bathing in rivers and lakes is forbidden in National Parks and is best avoided elsewhere due to the dangers from both wildlife and water-borne disease.
Rural areas, particularly in the North and North Eastern parts of Kenya, experience cattle rustling, banditry and ethnic clashes. Foreigners are not usually the target of localised violence and banditry, but you should take great care in the north and north east. Monitor local media and take care in all remote areas. Seek local police advice before you set off and travel in convoy of at least two vehicles.
Although the border with Somalia has officially been closed since 2007, crossings take place frequently. Landmines have been used in attacks around Moyale, close to the main A2 road south. Vehicles crossing the Kenya-Ethiopia border at this point should stay on the A2. Avoid staying at the rest house at Sololo – travel directly to Marsabit Town before breaking the journey.
As a result of previous armed clashes in the area of Mount Elgon in western Kenya next to the Ugandan border, a large security presence remains and further incidents are possible. Seek local advice before you set off.
A safety and communication centre operated by the Kenya Tourism Federation gives up to the minute tourist advice as well as providing help in an emergency. You can contact the centre on +254 20 800100 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can drive for up to three months using a UK driving licence. For longer stays, you will need to get a Kenyan driving licence.
Only hire vehicles from reputable companies.
Road conditions and driving standards are often poor. Drive with windows closed and doors locked. When driving outside cities and in remote areas consider driving in convoy. Avoid driving at night wherever possible.
There have been a number of serious accidents involving long-distance buses. Vehicles are often poorly maintained and driven at excessive speed. Check the bus operator’s safety standards.
Though very cheap to use, matatus (minibuses) are notorious for being poorly maintained, badly driven and uninsured. There are frequent reports of matatus being hijacked and passengers being robbed.
On the spot fines are common, but not legal. If stopped by a police officer you should ask for the due process to be followed. The officer should issue you with a ‘receipt for cash bond’, a piece of paper telling you when and where you need to attend court to answer the charge against you.
Passenger trains run between Nairobi and Kisumu and between Nairobi and Mombasa. Doors can only be locked from the inside. Take care of your belongings while on the train and at railway stations. If you leave your compartment, take your valuables with you.
There are some concerns about the lack of security arrangements in place at Wilson Airport in Nairobi. The airport is mainly used for domestic flights, including charters. Be vigilant at all times when transiting airports.
If you plan to charter a private aircraft, check with the company’s safety pilot about the condition of the aircraft and runways to be used. If the company has no safety pilot, find another company that does.
Local rules and regulations prohibit photography at airports. You could be fined or imprisoned.
While there have been no successful piracy attacks since May 2012 off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated high risk area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom.
For more information and advice, see the FCO’s ‘Piracy and armed robbery at sea’ guidance at: www.gov.uk/guidance/sea-river-and-piracy-safety
There is a high threat from terrorism in Kenya. The main threat is from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group in Somalia opposed to the Somali Government. Al Shabaab has issued public threats against Kenya because of its military intervention in Somalia. The Kenyan authorities have increased security to counter potential reprisal attacks by Al Shabaab.
Kenya has a security warning due for Mombasa in Coast Province, and north-eastern Kenya due to terror threats from Somalian terrorists across the border. There have been a number of attacks in recent years, and there were several terrorist threats in Kenya during 2016, mainly in Wajir, Garissa, Lamu and Mandera counties. Further attacks are likely. Methods of attack have included grenades, shootings and bombings, including car bombings. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to within 60 km of the Kenya-Somali border. For more information, visit: www.travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/kenya-travel-warning.html
Several terrorist attacks took place in Garissa County in 2015, including an attack on Garissa University College in April 2015 in which at least 148 people were killed. Attacks also took place on police vehicles on the road between Garissa and Dadaab. In June and July 2014, attacks in Lamu and Tana River counties on the Kenyan coast are reported to have killed at least 85 people. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Six British nationals were killed in the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
Attacks could be indiscriminate in places frequented by foreigners including hotels, bars, restaurants, sports bars and nightclubs, sporting events, supermarkets, shopping centres, coastal areas including beaches, airports, buses, trains and other transport hubs. Places of worship including churches and mosques have also been targeted. Be particularly vigilant in these areas.
Kenyan official buildings like government offices and law enforcement personnel or facilities have been targeted, and Somali Government interests in Kenya may also be targeted. Take extra security precautions if you are travelling to any of these places.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
There is a high threat of kidnapping in the areas within 60 km of the Kenya-Somalia border, in Garissa County and in coastal areas north of Pate Island. Westerners have been the target of kidnaps and further attacks in these areas are likely. Along these border areas there are also frequent incursions by Somali militants operating against Kenyan defence forces.
A number of kidnaps have occurred in Dadaab refugee camp in north east Kenya. British aid workers and others working at or visiting Dadaab refugee camp should satisfy themselves that those arranging their stay at the camp have sufficient security arrangements in place.
The long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]
Kenya lies on an active fault line and tremors occur from time to time. The last significant earth tremor to affect the region was of magnitude 5.2 in 2007.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake. See: www.ready.gov/earthquakes
[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]
Registration with the British High Commission
The LOCATE system is no longer used for registering details of British nationals. You can keep up to date with this travel advice by subscribing to email alerts.
You can also subscribe to a new SMS alert system which the British High Commission use to alert British nationals to real-time incidents relating to safety and security. To subscribe for SMS alerts text ‘regv’ (for visitors) or ‘regp’ (for permanent residents) to +44 7537 404 755.
Read the FCO’s guidance: www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-deal-with-a-crisis-overseas for further information and advice.
[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]
Bribery and corruption
Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.
In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case, it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.
The UK Government takes a very serious view on bribery and corruption, and any UK company considered to be involved in corrupt practices will feel the full weight of the law bear down on them under the UK Bribery Act 2010. The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS, formerly Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – BIS) has published a number of documents on their website. See: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-business-energy-and-industrial-strategy for assistance in this area.
Kenya was ranked 145th out of 176 countries in Transparency International's latest corruption perception index (the UK ranked 10th): www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions
_index_2016. However, despite market reforms, several business surveys reveal that business-government corruption is still widespread and that companies frequently encounter demands for bribes and informal payments in order to ‘get things done’ in Kenya. Foreign companies often find corruption a challenge at the market entry and business start-up stages. The public procurement sector in Kenya suffers too from corruption amongst officials.
The president has been an advocate of tackling Kenya’s culture of corruption within government. Kenya has the necessary legal framework in place to address the problem, but change amongst the political elite is a slow-moving affair.
It is recommended you read the UK Government’s anti-bribery policy advice at: www.gov.uk/anti-bribery-policy, and also see the business anti-corruption portal at: www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/sub-saharan-africa.aspx for more advice and guidance about corruption in Kenya and some basic effective procedures you can establish to protect your company from them.
Terrorism and security
Kenya has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of insecurity incidences over the last four years. Security has primarily been characterised by a surge in the activities of the Somali Islamist group, Al-Shabaab which has succeeded in carrying out numerous attacks on Kenyan soil in reaction to Kenya’s deployment of its troops in Somalia.
However it is important to note that the large majority of these have taken place along the Somalia border, with little impact upon life in the major cities.
Other common forms of insecurity in Kenya include carjacking, armed robbery/burglary, snatching of property and inter/intra-communal conflicts.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates Kenya’s current internet penetration as 54.8% of the population, beating the global average of 40%. As a result, both public and private sectors have been taking their services to cyberspace at a high rate e.g. internet banking, online shopping, integrated mobile banking. Cybercrime has been on the rise as well, often getting more sophisticated over the time (5.4 million attacks in 2014) – resulting in estimated annual losses of $23.3 million, according to Kenya’s Ministry of ICT. In 2015 there was a rise in electronic fraud, mainly of financial institutions. In 2016, only 3% of those committing cybercrime were ever prosecuted and 65% are not even reported. See: www.ict.go.ke for more information. [Source: www.serianu.com / www.knbs.or.ke]
The government has taken certain steps to improve the nation’s cyber security posture, including enactment of the Kenya Information and Communications Act 2014, the formation of the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre (KE-CIRT/CC), the establishment of the National Cyber Security Strategy and the creation of the Computer and Cybercrime Bill in 2016. Others steps include partnership with regional and international cyber security bodies and forums including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the East Africa Communications Organization (EACO).
Legal recourse is slow and expensive in Kenya, with some cynicism about the objectivity of certain executive and judicial branch decisions. Recent major reforms in the judicial system in Kenya have been targeted at addressing these challenges. There are dedicated commercial courts of the status of high courts.
Problems exist particularly in land purchases and large government contracts. Kenya’s public contracting law is not an effective tool to limit government officials from steering contracts to those who offer bribes. Although there are relatively few problems company-to-company, it can be difficult to accurately evaluate the reliability of potential business partners in Kenya based on audited financial statements and official credit ratings.
The delays and legal costs involved have seen the emergence of alternative dispute-resolution methods such as arbitration and mediation. Kenya is a signatory to the 1958 New York Convention and has adopted the UNCITRAL model of arbitration. There is also an active local chapter of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Parties can agree on the criteria that an arbitration tribunal must have so that complex issues are only heard by suitably qualified arbitrators. The Law Society of Kenya also plans to set up an international arbitration centre in Nairobi.
Intellectual property (IP)
Intellectual property rights (IPR), as intangible assets, are a key factor in the competitiveness of your business in the global economy. IPR can protect your innovation from competitors and can also be an important source of cash flow through licensing deals or selling IP. IPR infringement can lead to loss of business, revenue, reputation and competitive advantage unless you take steps to protect your IP both in the UK and abroad.
Kenya is a member of the convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Patent Co-operation Treaty. Kenya’s national IP legislative framework is divided into copyright law, trade mark law, industrial property law and anti-counterfeiting law. Despite there being a robust legal framework and dedicated agencies to protect IPs and counter infringements, Kenya has been a target destination for counterfeit goods entering largely from China. The lack of resources, porous borders and other challenges make enforcement particularly difficult in this region.
Commonly counterfeited products include medicines, automotive parts, electronics, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, music, videos and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). Over the past couple of years, there has been marked change in combating of illicit trade in Kenya. The Anti-Counterfeit Agency has received additional funding to enhance its technical capacity. There are efforts to enhance collaborative efforts among government organs. An illicit trade manual was recently launched to guide all actors in the enforcement chain.
the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) sets international standards for various aspects of IP (see: www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips_01_e.htm);
the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (see: www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/paris);
the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides for a common patent filing system (see: www.wipo.int/pct/en/texts/articles/atoc.htm).
Useful information can also be found at the following:
UK Intellectual Property Office – the UK Government agency providing free and impartial advice on protecting and registering your IP in the UK and abroad. See: www.gov.uk/government/
Protective security advice
The UK Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) also provides protective security advice to businesses. See: www.cpni.gov.uk
[Source: FCO Overseas Business Risk/gov.uk]
Visit your health professional at least four to six weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country-specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website: www.travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries; and by NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx.
Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website: www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/Pages/Healthcareabroad.aspx
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Cholera, malaria and dengue fever occur in Kenya.
You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Do not eat food prepared by unlicensed vendors.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]
FCO travel advice
If you are travelling to Kenya for business, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website has travel advice to help you prepare for your visits overseas and to stay safe and secure while you are there.
For advice please visit the FCO travel section pages on the gov.uk website: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/kenya
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. See FCO foreign travel insurance: www.gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-insurance
Contact FCO travel advice team
This email service only offers information and advice for British nationals planning to travel abroad: email@example.com.
If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the consular assistance team on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
If you are abroad and need emergency help, contact the nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission.
[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]
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