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Kenya

If you’re travelling to Kenya, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Kenya.

We advise against all but essential travel to:

  • Areas within 75km of the Kenyan-Somali border.
  • Garissa County.
  • Lamu County and Archipelago.
  • Tana River county north of the Tana river.
  • Within 15km of the coast from the Tana River down to Malindi. This area does not include Malindi, Watamu or Malindi airstrip
  • The Eastleigh area of Nairobi.
  • Low-income areas of Nairobi, including all township or slum areas, where crime levels are high.

Latest Travel Alert

The Kenyan Government introduced a curfew in Mandera County in November 2016. The curfew requires that people remain in-doors from 1830hrs to 0630hrs and its enforcement has been extended until March 2017. The areas affected include Mandera town, and the towns of Omar Jillo, Arabia, Fino, Lafey Kotulo, Elwak and all other areas within 20kms of the Somali border.

All Irish citizens should exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant at all times in public places throughout Kenya. There is an ongoing and serious risk of terrorist attacks - particularly in those areas highlighted above.

The main risks to Irish citizens in Kenya are road traffic accidents, crime and terrorism.

There is a high risk of terrorism throughout Kenya and we advise against all but essential travel to certain areas.

Criminality is prevalent in major urban centres and Irish citizens should store valuables in a safe place or keep them out of sight in vehicles. If you are the victim of a crime in Kenya please report the matter to the nearest police station.

Avoid lengthy overland journeys by road. Do not travel after dark. Ensure that when travelling by road your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. Ensure driver and travel company have a good safety record.

Emergency Assistance

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Kenya before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Kenya by dialling 999.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

 

Safety and security

Political Unrest

Elections will be held in Kenya in 2017 and voter registration and candidate selection has begun in many areas. There have been outbreaks of violence accompanying elections in Kenya, most notably in 2007, where there were violent incidences throughout Kenya which claimed many lives. Irish citizens in Kenya are advised to avoid large political gatherings and protests which may turn violent and to monitor the Embassy travel advice.

Outbreaks of violence between tribal groups can also occur from time-to-time particularly in Western and North Western Kenya. Irish citizens are advised to monitor the Embassy travel advice.

Terrorism

There is a high risk of terrorist incidents within Kenya. A Somali terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, has carried out a large number of terrorist attacks in Kenya in recent years which have targeted military, police and civilians and resulted in major loss of life. Most terrorist activity has centred on the North Eastern part of Kenya and the coastal area, but major attacks have taken place in Nairobi in the past and there is a risk of terrorist attacks throughout Kenya. Irish citizens are advised to remain vigilant in public places and on public transport, and to follow the advice of the local authorities.

Crime

Street crime is common in major urban centres in Kenya and perpetrators are often armed. Irish citizens should keep valuables out of sight in vehicles and while on foot, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Most hotels have in-room safes which can be used to store valuables. You should be aware of your surroundings at all times while on foot or in a vehicle, but especially after dark. If you are a victim of a crime then we advise that you cooperate with all demands to avoid the risk of injury and report the matter to the nearest police station.

Driving

Road conditions and driving practices in Kenya can be hazardous, even in major urban centres. We strongly advise against undertaking long overland journeys, especially at night. If using a hire car or vehicle, you should ensure the roadworthiness of the vehicle and the reliability of the driver, before departure.

An international driving licence is required for overseas visitors.

Public Transport

Most public transport in Kenya is operated by private licenced operators. Vehicles can be in poor condition and accidents are common, which can result in serious injuries fatalities.

Pick-pocketing and theft on public transport is common. Pay close attention to belongings at bus stations and on vehicles.

Border regions

Avoid non-essential travel within 75km of the Kenya-Somalia border due to the very high risk of terrorist activity in the region.

There is a risk of inter-tribal tensions at the northern borders of Kenya.

 

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Individuals are required by law to carry ID on them at all times and police may request evidence of this. Kenyan identification documents or passports should be carried at all times. A copy of the data page of your passport should be left in a safe place, separate from your passport.

Possession of ivory in any form is a crime in Kenya and can result in a large fine or imprisonment. This is an offence of strict liability, which means that there is no defence which can be offered.

Caution is advised in the purchase of land or engaging in business ventures in Kenya as fraud is very common. Title deeds/certificates of ownership should be closely examined and verified with the authorities before any transaction takes place. Commercial disputes can take many years to resolve before the courts.

Health

Vaccination or prophylaxis for certain diseases is advised for Kenya, including malaria. Please consult your doctor well in advance of travel for advice on health care. A yellow health passport is required when travelling from some neighbouring countries and will be inspected on arrival in Kenya.

Pharmacies and medical centres are accessible in most parts of Kenya but the quality of medical care can vary. Ensure that you have an adequate supply of any prescription medications with you if travelling outside of the main urban centres.

Water quality can be poor in Kenya and outbreaks of waterborne diseases can occur.  Ensure that drinking water is safe before consumption.

Additional information

Money

The currency in Kenya is Kenya Shilling and it is used for most transactions. Prices for hotels and safaris are usually quoted in US dollars but can also be paid in Kenya Shillings. US dollars are generally not accepted elsewhere.

ATM machines and currency exchange offices are widely available.

Visas

Irish passport holders require a visa to travel to Kenya. Please check with the closest Kenyan Embassy to you for details.

Dual nationality

Kenyan citizens must register their second nationality with the government. Please check with the closest Kenyan Embassy to you for details.