BootsnAll Travel Network

Customs and Border Crossings in Tanzania and Kenya

Entering foreign countries can be a fickle, time consuming process. I didn’t have many issues, but it’s also best to be prepared for difficult situations before you go.

Air Arrival into Kenya: I arrived in Nairobi’s international airport via Amsterdam on KLM, at 8:30 p.m. I wanted to have a 7-day transit visa, which costs $20 US. The guy would not give it to me however, and insisted I pay $50 US for a 3 month, single entry visa. I gave up arguing, and paid the money. I had read that you are allowed to have one trip to Uganda or Tanzania on that visa, so I should not have to pay again at the border. I’ll let you know if Lonely Planet is correct. Sean was able to get the man to issue a 7-day visa, and will pay another $20 US at the border when we return in a few weeks.

I was waved through customs in Kenya and did not have anything to declare. I did not see them stop anyone.

Land Arrival in Tanzania: I went with Impala Shuttles from Nairobi to Moshi and booked and paid in advance. On-bus payments are 1,500 shillings to Moshi (around $20 US) and 1,000 to Arusha (around $13 US). They pick up from most nice hotels in Nairobi.

The mini-bus shuttles get packed to the gills and do not have AC, although windows open. Expect your luggage to go on top, so pull out anything valuable before you go. We stopped at a curio/tourist shop shortly before reaching the border and were able to use the bathrooms.

At the border, we disembarked from the shuttle and went into a small building, separate from East Africans, to get our passport stamped. There are a number of Masai women selling jewelry and souvenirs here, as well as some stands with a little bit of fruit, water and nuts. They women are very aggressive and will attempt to put items on you ‘for free’ or ‘as a gift’. If they won’t take the items back, place them on the ground and walk away. They will pick them up.

Re-boarding the bus, we drove a few hundred meters to Kenya. There are very few salesmen here, and it looks like a bus station with all the buses being inspected. We were ushered into boarder control, where our driver took all the non-East African passports and $50 USD for our visa. He brought them to an agent who may or may not have expedited the process. It took about an hour in total to get through the border. I do not think they searched the bags individually.

Tips: Know the most up-to-date visa information if you plan to get it at the border, so you can insist on what you want.
Have exact amounts in dollars or pounds to pay for your visa.
Arrange for airports/shuttle pickups in advance for less hassle.
Do not take any pictures inside the airport, or around government buildings.

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