Kenya is generally a straightforward business aircraft operating environment from the perspective of Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance and procedures. However, it’s important to ensure you have all required documentation and applicable visas – including a gen dec stamped by customs from your previous point of departure – on hand.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Passenger clearance
After arrival in Kenya, passengers are transported by vehicle to the main terminal. While your ground handler will provide any arrival/departure cards that need to be filled out and signed, Kenyan authorities prefer that passengers fill out these forms unless there’s a language barrier. If clearance is accomplished via the main terminal, passengers normally clear in the same lines as scheduled commercial passengers. Clearance could take 15 minutes or more during peak arrival periods. Passengers are screened by metal detector while luggage is checked via X-ray. Passports – as well as visas (if required because of nationality) – will be reviewed.
2. VIP lounge CIQ clearance
At some locations in Kenya, passengers have the option of clearing in a private VIP lounge, for an additional fee. Lounge clearance is done in a separate area of the terminal and offers faster clearance with maximum privacy for passengers. Arrangements for expedited clearance in Kenya must be confirmed in advance. Your ground handler will advise on availability of lounge clearance options, as well as associated costs.
3. Onboard clearance
Kenya makes no provision for on-board CIQ clearance, except in cases of approved air ambulance or diplomatic flights. While customs officials will come out to inspect the interior of your aircraft, passenger/crew clearance takes place either in the main terminal with commercial passengers or in a VIP lounge with prior arrangement (if this option is available at your destination). Note that airport authorities may check aircraft documentation. If documents aren’t in order, the aircraft may be grounded until sufficient documentation can be provided.
Crew members, including flight attendants and aviation maintenance technicians, listed on the gen dec do not normally require visas – regardless of nationality. However, most passengers require visas for Kenya, and it’s not possible to obtain visas on arrival except in rare cases. Submitting visas for processing on arrival, however, has potential to delay your arrival process, and they can still be denied. Note that if passengers do not have required visas, and local authorities elect not to process a visa on arrival (which is likely the outcome), the passengers may face immediate deportation from Kenya.
5. Crew clearance
Upon arrival crew members are permitted to open aircraft doors only after the ground handler confirms it’s OK. Crew members do not need to clear CIQ at the same time as passengers and may remain with the aircraft during customs inspection of the interior of the aircraft. After the aircraft has been shut down, crew members will be transported to the main terminal or VIP lounge (if available and pre-arranged) for CIQ clearance.Always have a stamped gen dec on hand from your previous airport. With this stamped gen dec, no crew immigration inspection is required. Crew members will go through metal detector screening and luggage X-ray screening while the ground handler presents a stamped gen dec to immigration authorities. Without a stamped gen dec from the previous airport, crew members must go through immigration screening, via the crew line in the terminal.
6. Documentation requirements
For international general aviation arrivals, it’s important to have the following:
- completed passenger arrival/departure cards
- passports with at least six months’ remaining validity
- passenger visas (depending on nationality)
- complete passenger manifest
- stamped gen dec from the previous port (for crew immigration clearance)
- evidence of yellow fever vaccination when required (i.e., arriving from an endemic region/country)
It’s important to provide CIQ authorities with complete passenger manifests, in advance of arrival, and these manifests should always be carried onboard. While no special manifest form or format is needed for Kenya, it must list all passenger names, nationalities, dates of birth, and passport numbers and expiration dates.
7. Domestic airport operations
International arrivals to Kenya must always be to published Airports of Entry (AOEs). It’s not possible in Kenya to make special arrangements for a non-AOE to become an AOE for your clearance purposes. You’ll need to use an official AOE, for arrival into/departure from the country, before proceeding to/departing from a domestic airfield (for an international leg).
8. Customs and duty fees
Passenger departure taxes are payable when you leave Kenya. Your ground handler usually looks after these payments on the operator’s behalf. But, if this has not been arranged, passengers will need to pay these fees when going through customs checkout on departure. Be aware that Kenya assesses value-added tax of 16% on items brought into the country that are deemed as taxable and beyond the personal duty-free exemption limit for passenger/crew.
9. Quarantine considerations
Kenya is very user-friendly in terms of agricultural regulations and what sort of food items you may import into the country. In general, there are no specific limitations on food items that may be brought into Kenya. It’s recommended, however, to check with your ground handler on what items may or may not be permitted into the country as well as availability of airport facilities for safely storing food and catering while you’re on the ground.
10. Additional reading: Business Aircraft Ops to Kenya – Series Index
- Part 1 – Airport operations
- Part 2 – Ground handling
- Part 3 – Fuel, security, and additional services
- Part 4 – CIQ
- Part 5 – CIQ, documentation, and tech stops
- Part 6 – Permits and slots
- Part 7 – Flight planning, weather, and NOTAMs
- Part 8 – Hotels and local area
Ensure that all navigation charges and passenger departure taxes are settled prior to departure from Kenya. Check, also, that all requirements such as permits, flight plans, and weather briefings are confirmed and all required documentation is onboard. Kenyan authorities do conduct ramp checks, and operators with non-compliant documentation will be subject to operational delays or detainment of the aircraft.