Tanzanian and Kenyan visas

Visas for Tanzania

It’s a question that we still get asked a lot: I am climbing Kilimanjaro, so do I need a visa for Tanzania? And if so, how do I get one?

The simple answer to the first question is: yes, very probably. You probably will need a Tanzanian visa to enter the country.

There are quite a few countries who do not require a visa.  Click on this link for a list of countries that do NOT require a visa for Tanzania

The list looks long but the countries on it are, on the whole, rather small. This list also consists largely (but not exclusively) of those countries that are Tanzania’s immediate or near neighbours. The majority of people, therefore, are required to get a visa. 

How much does a Tanzanian visa cost?

Visitors from most countries (including pretty much every country in Europe, as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand) must pay US$50 for their visa.

Visitors from the United States, however, must fork out US$100 for a multiple-entry visa.

A visa is typically valid for 90 days from the date of issue (and not the day you arrive in Tanzania, though I have to say some airport officials don’t seem to recognize this). It used to be the case that, unless you were coming from a country without Tanzanian representation, officially you had to buy your visa at the consulate/embassy beforehand. That law was never really enforced, however, .

Should you buy your visa in advance or at the airport?

Most people can buy their Tanzanian visa at the airport on arrival. Only citizens of the following countries cannot: 

Afghanistan, Azerbaijan. Bangladesh, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Palestine, Senegal, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Refugees and Stateless individuals.

The question is – should you buy your visa in advance, or wait until your plane touches down on Tanzanian soil, and pick it up then?

Well, we used to recommend that people pick up their visas at the airport on arrival. The process was quick and, as long as you got off your flight fairly rapidly and headed straight for the visa window in the Arrivals Hall, the queues weren’t too bad either.

Furthermore, one of the main reasons that we recommended picking your visa up at the airport was because the online visa-buying system installed by Tanzania was terrible. Unreliable, clunky, inefficient – it would ask you a huge ream of questions, and if you paused for more than a minute to answer one (because, for example, you were looking for your passport number), the system would freeze and you would have to start again.

These days, however, the online visa portal for Tanzania is much more efficient and we recommend that most people buy their visa beforehand. 

The portal to buy your visa can be found here: Tanzanian online visa application

Can I buy my visa at any airport or border crossing?

The short answer is: no. You can pick up a visa only at one of the following border controls:

  • Dar es Salaam International Airport
  • Kilimanjaro International Airport
  • Zanzibar International Airport
  • The Namanga and (so we’ve been told) Tarakea border crossings between Tanzania and Kenya. The Namanga crossing is the one that lies between Nairobi and Arusha; so if you’ve flown to Nairobi and are planning on taking a bus to Tanzania, this is the point where you’ll cross the border. 

(With the upgrading of the road between Marangu and the border crossing at Loitokitok, by the start of Kilimanjaro’s Rongai Route, there is some hope that this too will become an official crossing point. But for the moment, though a few adventurers – after some pretty intense negotiations – are getting through, this crossing remains officially closed to Westerners.)

Why do we recommend the online system?

  • Because it seems like a fairly straightforward, trouble-free process now.
  • Because it doesn’t cost you any extra to buy your visa by this method.
  • And because, as we say above, officially you should have a visa before you arrive. I think that the airports were happy to continue selling visas to visitors at the airport because, secretly, they recognised that the online system was rubbish. But with the improvements in that system, it’s no longer a hassle to pick up a visa in advance – so there’s a chance the Tanzanians will, one day, just stop issuing visas at the airport.

Note that, whatever method you use to buy your visa, you must have at least six months left on your passport. 

One other thing: in addition to a visa, you may also require a certificate that proves you’ve had an inoculation against yellow fever. To find out if you need one of these too, please follow this link to our yellow fever inoculation for Tanzania page.

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Kenyan visas

Remember that, if flying in and out of Kenya you will need a Kenyan visa too (typically around US$50 for UK citizens, though a transit visa is cheaper). If you plan to fly to Kenya and cross into Tanzania from there, you can return to Kenya using the same single-entry Kenyan visa you arrived with providing your visit to Tanzania lasted for less than two weeks, and that your Kenyan visa has not expired.

Apparently, you can do this only once (ie it acts as a double-entry visa, not a multiple-entry one), or so we were told at the Kenyan border the last time we did this. Otherwise, you will need to buy a multiple-entry visa, which typically costs double the single-entry.

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