Exercise a high degree of caution in Kenya due to the high threat of terrorist attack and high level of crime. Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
Do not travel to the border regions with Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia due to the threat of attacks by armed groups, kidnapping, armed banditry, and violent tribal and clan disputes. This area includes all of Mandera and Garissa counties, the part of Wajir county extending from the town of Wajir eastwards to the border, and the area north of Pate Island in Lamu county.
Reconsider your need to travel to Mombasa, coastal parts of Kilifi and Tana River counties and Lamu county south of Pate Island due to the high threat of violence and terrorist attack.
Reconsider your need to travel along the A2 highway from Isiolo to Moyale due to sporadic violent clashes that have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries.
- Following Kenya's presidential elections in October 2017, there is potential for unrest, particularly in the western region. Monitor local and international media. Avoid all demonstrations and protests.
- After a series of attacks since the beginning of May 2017, the Kenyan Government has instituted an overnight curfew from 6.30pm to 6.30am in Mandera, Garissa, Lamu and Tana River counties. This curfew excludes the Islands of Lamu, Manda and Pate. See
Safety and security.
- Many terrorist incidents have occurred in Kenya in recent years, resulting in a large number of deaths and injuries. The Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab continues to threaten to attack the interests of countries which, like Kenya, are contributing forces to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). See
Safety and security.
- In September and October 2017, gun attacks in Kwale county on Kenya's South Coast resulted in fatalities.
- Kenyan authorities have upgraded security measures across Kenya. There are enhanced security checks at all airports.
- Following extensive drought, there has been an increase in incursions and associated violence by herders onto private ranches and wildlife conservancies in central and northern Kenya. See
Safety and security.
- Take care in Kenya's national parks and conservancies. Serious security incidents are rare, but in June 2017 tourists were robbed at gunpoint in the Samburu National Reserve north of Nairobi. See
Safety and security.
- Violent crime against Westerners, including armed carjacking and home invasion, occurs frequently in and around Nairobi. Home invasions in Nairobi targeting the foreign community have resulted in the deaths of householders, including several Australians. See
Safety and security.
- Take particular care in the Nairobi suburbs of Buruburu, Eastleigh, Kasarani, Kibera, Mathare, Pangani, South B and South C due to the threat of violent incidents. See
Safety and security.
- There is an ongoing threat of kidnap to westerners in Kenya, including residents, tourists, journalists and humanitarian workers. The threat is particularly high in the regions bordering Somalia. See
Safety and security.
Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
You need a visa to travel to Kenya. Kenya has an
e-visa portal for tourists and visitors.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the
Kenyan High Commission for up-to-date information.
Foreign residents are required to carry their current Alien ID card at all times. You could be fined or jailed for failing to present proof of registration.
To work in the charity sector, you need a valid work permit issued through the Charity Register. Working or volunteering with a tourist visa or without a visa is not permitted and can result in fines and or jail.
Kenya is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for
yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. See
Health. Get vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to Kenya. If you're arriving in Kenya from a country infected with yellow fever, you need a valid yellow fever certificate to be allowed entry.
Some airlines may require you to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of Kenya. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the
Department of Health.
Kenyan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations on the temporary importation or export from Kenya of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, ivory and currency.
Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.
Safety and security
Exercise heightened vigilance due to the threat of terrorist attack. Attacks could occur at any time. You could be caught up in attacks directed at others.
The terrorist group Al-Shabaab continues to threaten attacks against Kenya and other countries that have contributed forces to AMISOM.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided at venues. Kenyan authorities have encouraged extra vigilance against possible terrorist attacks on public places. Attacks could be indiscriminate and target Kenyan institutions as well as places where expatriates and foreigners gather.
Possible terrorist targets frequented by westerners include western embassies, UN premises, hotels, airports, shopping areas, markets, bars, sports bars and nightclubs, restaurants and cafes, tourist resorts (including beach resorts and beaches), safari lodges, international schools, churches and other places of worship, commercial airlines and other places frequented by foreigners.
Other possible targets include Kenyan Government buildings, transport hubs and infrastructure, and refugee camps near the Kenya-Somalia border where western aid workers may be targeted.
Terrorist acts could include suicide bombings, kidnappings, roadside IED attacks, attacks on civil aviation and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports.
Exercise particular vigilance if attending sporting events including football matches. Avoid public venues, such as sports bars, nightclubs and restaurants that broadcast sporting events, particularly international events, as well as public transportation to these events.
Evaluate your personal security situation in light of the continuing terrorist threat. Exercise heightened vigilance in public places and closely monitor the local media for information affecting your safety and security.
Exercise caution in the lead-up to and during all religious festivals, including Christmas, Easter and Ramadan, and days of national significance as militants have used such occasions to mount attacks.
If an attack occurs, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so, and follow the instructions of local authorities. Don't stay in an affected area or gather in a group following an attack or if you're evacuated from a building for security reasons (such as a bomb threat).
A major terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in the Westlands district of Nairobi in September 2013 resulted in 67 deaths, including one Australian. Kenyan authorities implemented heightened security arrangements at public places in response to the incident.
Several terrorist attacks have occurred since the Westgate attack, resulting in a large number of deaths and injuries:
- In September and October 2017, gun attacks in Kwale county on Kenya's South Coast resulted in fatalities.
- Since the beginning of May 2017, more than 60 people, mainly security officers, have been killed in a series of attacks in Lamu, Mandera and Garissa counties.
- On 27 October 2016, an assailant attacked a guard at the US Embassy in Nairobi in what was likely a terrorism-related incident.
- On 25 October 2016, an attack on a guesthouse in Mandera town killed at least 12 people.
- On 11 September 2016, an attack on Mombasa Central Police Station resulted in the deaths of three attackers.
Kenyan authorities remain at a high state of alert. Further attacks are possible.
Nairobi suburbs of Buruburu, Eastleigh, Kasarani, Kibera, Mathare, Pangani, South B and South C: Take particular care in these areas of Nairobi due the threat of violent incidents.
Advice to Australian officials: Due to security concerns, staff at the Australian High Commission in Nairobi have been advised to exercise greater vigilance. Security measures have been increased, particularly for travel to Kenyan Government buildings, the CBD, and to Mombasa and outskirts. You should do the same.
Mombasa, Lamu, Tana River and Kilifi counties:
Reconsider your need to travel to Mombasa, coastal Tana River and Kilifi counties and all of Lamu county due to the high threat of ongoing violence and terrorist attack. This area extends approximately 65 kilometres inland in Tana River county, and 20 kilometres inland in Kilifi county. There have been multiple attacks in mainland areas of Lamu county since mid-2017. The Kenyan security forces have increased their presence in the affected areas. In mid-2014, violence in Lamu and Tana River counties on the Kenyan coast caused a large number of deaths and injuries.
After a series of attacks since the beginning of May 2017, the Kenyan Government instituted a curfew from 6.30pm to 6.30am in Mandera, Garissa, Lamu and Tana River counties. This curfew excludes the Islands of Lamu, Manda and Pate.
Border regions: Do not travel to Kenya’s border regions with Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan because of the extreme threat of kidnapping, terrorism and violent conflict. The border region with Somalia includes all of Mandera and Garissa counties and that part of Wajir country extending from the town of Wajir eastwards to the border.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information:
Terrorist threat worldwide
There is an ongoing threat of kidnapping of westerners in Kenya. This threat is particularly high in areas close to the border with Somalia and northern coastal regions of Lamu county.
Threats to humanitarian workers: Humanitarian workers and journalists in border areas may be targeted for kidnapping. Armed groups from Somalia have previously kidnapped western aid workers working in the Somalia border region.
Threats to tourists and residents: Tourists and residents in coastal resorts and towns in eastern Kenya have been kidnapped by armed groups based in Somalia in the past. Do not travel to areas along the Kenyan coast north of Pate Island in Lamu county.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place.
Civil unrest and political tension
Following presidential elections in October 2017, there is potential for unrest in Kenya, particularly in the western region. Monitor local and international media. Avoid all demonstrations and protests.
Large demonstrations sometimes occur in Kenya in response to international events and political developments. Demonstrations over high food prices, alleged corruption, controversial media and tax legislation have resulted in violence and arrests in the past.
There have been sporadic outbreaks of violence across Kenya in recent years, though these usually take place away from areas frequented by tourists. Riots and clashes have occurred in Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu and other urban centres.
A2 Highway from Isiolo to Moyale:
Reconsider your need to travel along the A2 highway from Isiolo to Moyale, due to sporadic violent clashes which have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries. If you choose to travel along this road, be extremely careful.
The level of crime in Kenya is high. Avoid walking after dark and remain alert at all times. If you're attacked, don't resist. Be aware of your surroundings and remain conscious of the high risk of crime at all times.
Crimes targeting the foreign community in Nairobi: In Nairobi, violent crime occurs frequently against Westerners, including armed carjacking, kidnapping for ransom and home invasion. A number of home invasions in Nairobi targeting the foreign community have resulted in the deaths of householders, including several Australians. If you're living in Kenya, invest in strong personal security measures and regularly review your personal security arrangements. Anecdotal evidence suggests that foreigners are increasingly being targeted in private homes, tourist areas and while travelling by road. A number of incidents have occurred at night where criminals lay in wait outside residential security gates. Be particularly alert when waiting in a vehicle while gates are being opened.
Nairobi suburbs of Buruburu, Eastleigh, Kasarani, Kibera, Mathare, Pangani, South B and South C: Take particular care in these areas of Nairobi due to the high levels of violent crime.
Violent robbery, car-jacking and kidnapping throughout Kenya: The risk of armed banditry, violent robbery, carjacking and kidnapping has increased in recent years. Crimes of this nature are common in Kenya's urban centres, beach resorts, northern Kenya, the northern Rift Valley and coastal regions north of Malindi. If you travel to remote areas or border regions, you could be the target of attacks or kidnappings. The incidence of crime generally rises during the holiday periods.
Ranch invasions: Following extensive drought, there has been an increase in violent incursions by herders against private ranches and wildlife conservancies in central and northern Kenya. The herders have often been armed and the incursions have resulted in violence against property, wildlife and, in some cases, landowners. Tourists have not been the target of these attacks, but a dual British/Kenyan landowner was killed on his property on 4 March 2017 and a Swiss national was shot on 23 April 2017. The Kenyan government has extra police and enhanced security in the area. If you're travelling to the region, check with your tour operator about conditions on the ground.
Other crimes: Muggings and armed robberies are common, though victims are generally not harmed if they don't resist. Jewellery and bag-snatching from open vehicle windows frequently occur while motorists are either stopped at traffic lights or in heavy traffic. Avoid displaying expensive items that can easily be stolen, including jewellery and watches, when travelling or in public. When driving, ensure your windows are up, doors are locked and valuables are out of sight.
Groups of motorcyclists have been known to target pedestrians for bag-snatching and motorists for carjacking. If you are attacked, do not resist.
Due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, if you are a victim of violent crime, including rape, seek immediate medical assistance.
Scams, where criminals try to extort money from travellers using fake police, hotel and government identification, are common. Always ask for identification in order to establish bona fides.
Confrontations between police and criminal suspects occur regularly. Bystanders have been wounded or killed as a result of indiscriminate gunfire in crowded areas. Remain alert at all times.
National parks and game reserves: Serious security incidents in Kenya’s national parks and conservancies are rare. However, crime does occur. Take care in these areas. On 10 June 2017, tourists were robbed at gunpoint in the Samburu National Reserve north of Nairobi.
Visitors to the Ngong Forest Reserve and Ngong Hills should get an armed escort from the
Kenyan Wildlife Services (KWS) because of the risk of robbery. The
Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) can provide advice on reputable travel firms and guides.
North, north-eastern and western Kenya: Banditry, cattle rustling and ethnic clashes have caused sporadic violence in north and north-eastern Kenya and in the Mount Elgon region of western Kenya. You could be caught up in violence directed at others. Seek advice from police and travel in convoys or with police escorts if visiting these regions.
Borders with Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia: Do not to travel to the border regions with Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia because of the extremely dangerous security situation. Localised incidents of violence, such as armed banditry, violent cattle rustling and counter raids, are common along the Kenya-Ethiopia border and Kenya-South Sudan border.
Borders with Uganda and Tanzania: There have been reports of banditry and robbery at unauthorised border crossing points on the borders with Uganda and Tanzania and along the road from Nairobi to the Tanzania border.
Money and valuables
The local currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). Australian currency is not accepted in Kenya.
ATMs that accept international cards are widely available in Nairobi and major towns. Travellers cheques are accepted at large banks and foreign exchanges but not widely accepted in hotels.
Take care when making payments with credit card or using ATMs. Card skimming incidents are increasing. Only use ATMs at large shopping centres or a banking facility and pay attention to the machine, for example, by looking out for abnormalities. When you make a purchase, ensure your card is visible at all times.
Airport security arrangements
Enhanced security checks are in place at Kenyan airports. Arrive one hour ahead of the normal time (i.e. at least three hours before scheduled international flight times) to complete security formalities.
Driving in Kenya is dangerous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles and insufficient street lighting. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you're six times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Kenya than in Australia.
If travelling by road, confirm local security conditions beforehand. Avoid travel at night on major highways in and out of Nairobi and on rural roads.
Road safety and driving
When travelling at night to and from Nairobi’s airports (JKIA and Wilson), always use a reputable tour or taxi company. Use radio taxis and only from official taxi stands or via callout.
Bus terminals and other gathering areas for public and private transport have been the target of terrorist and criminal attacks in recent years. They remain vulnerable to attack. Be particularly careful in these locations. Public transport (primarily buses and minivans – known locally as ‘matutus’) is dangerous, as driving standards are poor and roads and vehicles are inadequately maintained.
Theft is common on trains and in some cases passengers’ belongings have been taken from their compartments.
The safety standards of transport and tour operators, including for adventure activities such as diving, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Recommended safety precautions and maintenance standards may not be followed. Safety equipment may not be provided.
If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment before booking. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
There have been attacks by pirates against all forms of shipping to the immediate north of Kenya around Somalia's waters and the Gulf of Aden. Somali pirates, using motherships, have attacked shipping further than 1,000 nautical miles (1,850 kilometres) from the coast of Somalia.
The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Kenya.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for drug offences can be severe and include lengthy jail terms.
Carrying and using drugs
Homosexual acts between men are illegal and penalties include up to 14 years imprisonment. Same sex relationships and public displays of affection are frowned upon by some members of the community, and may lead to harassment by the public and/or police. More information:
You can be fined, deported or jailed for working or volunteering in Kenya without a valid work permit.
It's against the law to destroy Kenyan currency.
Smoking in public places is banned. You could face a substantial fine and or jail for up to six months if caught smoking outside designated smoking areas.
It's illegal to photograph some official buildings. Seek advice before taking any photos.
Possession of ivory, even in the form of jewellery purchased outside of Kenya, is strictly prohibited. Offenders can be arrested, given heavy fines or both.
Distributing religious material in public without a licence is illegal.
Some Australian laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- forced marriage
- female genital mutilation
- money laundering
Staying within the law
There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Kenya, particularly in coastal and rural areas. Take care not to offend.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between early May and early June 2019. During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.
More information: Ramadan bulletin
Information for dual nationals
The 2010 Kenyan constitution recognises dual nationality. However, this portion of the law has not yet been fully enacted. The ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Kenyan dual nationals who are arrested or detained may be limited. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.
Take out comprehensive
travel insurance before you depart to cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and aren't included in your policy
- that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.
Physical and mental health
Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up and discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
The standard of medical facilities throughout Kenya varies. Medical facilities are adequate in urban areas, but may be extremely limited elsewhere. Public and private facilities will require either an up-front deposit, a guarantee of payment or confirmation of medical insurance before commencing treatment. In remote areas, medical evacuation to a major city is sometimes the only option for medical emergencies. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
A decompression chamber is located at the Kenyan Naval Base in Mombasa.
Kenya is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, preventable by vaccination. Vaccinate against yellow fever before travelling to Kenya. See
Entry and exit for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. More information: Yellow fever (Department of Health)
Malaria is endemic throughout the year in Kenya, except in Nairobi and at altitudes above 2,500m. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, filariasis and African sleeping sickness Trypanosomiasis) also occur. Take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof, including with treated mosquito nets. Consider taking prophylaxis against malaria.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, meningococcal, measles, cholera and tuberculosis) are also prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Boil drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Don't swim in fresh water. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Outbreaks of polio have occurred in Kenya. Complete a primary course of polio vaccinations and a booster dose (if needed) before travelling, as per the
Australian Immunisation Handbook. If you're unsure of your polio vaccination status, check with your doctor or travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks before you travel.
The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Kenya is very high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
There are two rainy seasons, from October to November and March to June, when flash flooding and mudslides are common. Roads may be impassable during these times.
Northern and eastern Kenya are currently experiencing a severe drought. There may be disruption to essential services. Expect delays when travelling in these areas.
Kenya is subject to earthquakes. It lies on a fault line and tremors occur infrequently. Volcanic and seismic activity can also occur near Mt Elgon, on the Kenya-Uganda border.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.
If a natural disaster occurs, pay attention to warnings issued and follow the advice of local authorities.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, tour operator, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Emergency phone numbers
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
A Safety and Communication Centre operated by the
Kenya Tourism Federation provides tourist advice and help in an emergency. Contact the Centre on +254 20 800100 or by email to
Tourism services and products
For complaints about tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can’t do to help you overseas. For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Nairobi.
Australian High Commission, Nairobi
Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road)
Phone: +254 20 427 7100
Fax: +254 20 427 7139
Australia in East Africa
High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you're unable to contact the High Commission in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.