Getting an East Africa tourist visa was expensive and challenging for a tourist who wanted to visit Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya (in a single safari) in the past. The challenges and costs have been reduced through the introduction of the East African Tourist Visa. It is now possible for an international traveler to visit Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya with just one East African tourist visa. Applying for a multiple entry visa is cheaper than getting individual visas for each of the countries.
What is the East African Tourist Visa?
The East African tourist Visa allows one to visit all countries within East Africa that have agreed to join the system freely and simultaneously for a period of ninety days. With the East African visa, a tourist needs to begin their tour from the country where the visa was issued. The tourist does not need to pay for any return visas to any of the three countries. The East African tourist visa fee is 100 United States Dollars. It is important to note that the East African tourist Visa cannot be extended.
Before the introduction of the single entry visa, tourists would be paying for a visa each time they entered any of the three East African countries at a cost of about $50. This option still exists if you are planning to visit only one of the countries or if you want to get the visa on a short notice. The normal tourist visa can easily be got from any of the border crossings or airports without having to apply in advance.
The East Africa Tourist Visa was introduced in 2014. It was introduced after the presidents of Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda sat down and decided that a single entry visa would help sell East African countries as a single tourist destination. The visa would not only allow easy access to the East African countries but also help improve diplomatic relationships. Unfortunately, Tanzania, South Sudan and Burundi have not yet joined the Single visa system as I write this article. It is only a matter of time before they follow suit.
How to apply for the East African Tourist visa
Applying for the East African visa involves several steps as we shall see in the following chapters. The first step is to submit an application. The application can be made manually or online from the diplomatic or immigration office of any of the countries or their website online (if possible). Some of the countries offer the possibility of applying for the visa at the airport but applying in advance is always recommended. The application process for the East African Tourist visa is easier and faster in Rwanda because you can apply directly through an online form. If you are starting from Uganda or Kenya, you may need to apply for it online or directly from nearest consulate/ embassy.
Eligibility and requirements when applying for the tourist visa.
While filling in the form from the online system, you will be required to upload a scanned copy of colored passport photo. This photo must not be one taken with head scarves on. Photos with glasses, caps and a white background will also be rejected. You will also need an application letter and a proof that you are able to support yourself financially for the entire duration of your safari. They may also ask you to upload the itinerary with details about the activities you will be taking part in. Finally, you may be asked to show your return air ticket so that they are able to record the dates of entry and exit. This is also to avoid cases of illegal migration.
Who is eligible for the East African Tourist visa? If you are a national of any of the three East African countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya), you do not need this particular visa. All you need is your National Identity Card or passport to travel to these countries for as long as six months. The use of National Identity cards to travel to the three East African countries became effective in 2014.
If you are a foreigner and wish to tour two or three of the countries, you may need the visa. It is important to note that the visa is issued for a period of ninety days. You cannot use an East African tourist visa if your intention is to find work. Expatriates or people who are citizens of countries outside East Africa but have lived in the three countries for a while are exempted from moving with the tourist Visa. They are given an inter-state pass which allows them to move to any of the three countries for a period of six months. All they need is a resident permit and passport to cross to any of the three East African countries.
How to Apply for the East African tourist visa
Let us discuss the application process for each of the three East African countries in more detail. The application for the East African tourist Visa needs to be made online or manually. If you intend on filling it manually, you may need to complete the EATV Form 1 and submit it to the consular office of the country you will be starting your tour from. The application can be made before arrival or at any of the points of entry offering the service. You can also apply from any of the diplomatic offices of the three countries.
Acquiring the East African Tourist visa in Uganda
If your first entry point is Uganda, then you can apply for the visa online before showing up or asking for it on arrival at Entebbe international airport. You can apply online for the East African Visa through the Uganda online visa application system. After completing all the information correctly and handing in the required information, you can then print an E-visa which you will then present to immigration authorities at the airport or Uganda border crossing.
The East African Visa can also be acquired from the main border entry points as long as you have all the required documents. Getting the visa directly from the airport is not encourages although it involves less paper work, no passport photos and no documents to mail.
If you are planning to visit only Uganda, you do not need the East African tourist visa. You can just get the ordinary visa at a cost of $50. Please note that you will be required to show your yellow fever vaccination card even if you have your visa approved. For more information about acquiring the East African Visa from Uganda, please visit or contact the nearest Uganda embassy or check their official web page.