Review of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration (Amendment) Regulations, 2023

President William Ruto on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 during the Jamhuri Day Celebrations stated that Kenya is the home of humanity and everyone across the world should be allowed to visit. In his words the head of State had this to say:

“It is with great pleasure, as President of this extraordinary country, to make a historic announcement of the decision of the Government of Kenya. Beginning January 2024, Kenya will be a visa-free country. It shall no longer be necessary for any person from any corner of the globe to carry the burden of applying for a visa to come to Kenya”.

True to his words, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration via legal notice number 1 dated 2nd January 2024 published as Special Issue 1 Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 1, gazetted the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration (Amendment) Regulations, 2023 which amends the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Regulations, 2012 (Principal Regulations) and provide as follows:

  1. The Principal Regulations are amended in Regulation 8 (3), by deleting the word “visa” and substituting thereof the words “Electronic Travel Authorization.”
  2. The amendment to the Principal Regulations further requires the following:
  3. The Director-General and CEO Immigration Services to establish an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system to facilitate prescreening of Travelers entering the Kenya.
  4. Each person intending to travel into the country must apply to the Director for Electronic Travel Authorization through the electronic portal and be in possession of the Authorization before embarkment.
  5. The application referred to in (ii) above to be made in Form 22 and should include: biographical information, travel itinerary and any other information relating to the application that the Director may require.
  6. Each carrier (aircraft) coming into the country must not onboard a passenger who does not hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization.
  7. The Captain in charge of a carrier shall be responsible for ensuring that each passenger on board the aircraft holds a valid Electronic Travel Authorization.
  8. Any carrier that brings into Kenya a person who does not hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization shall return that passenger to his or her last port of call or country of origin.
  9. The owner or a person in charge of carrier who conveys a passenger without a valid Electronic Travel Authorization shall be liable to the surcharge of Kenya shillings One Million (Ksh.1,000,000.00) for every passenger and in default of payment of the surcharge the carrier shall be liable to detention at own cost.
  10. Possession of an Electronic Travel Authorization shall not constitute final authority to enter the country.
  11. Each carrier entering Kenya or its operator or agent must submit Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) to the Director in the manner set out in the Tenth Schedule, or an interface control document, within the timeframe specified in the Thirteenth Schedule.

NOTE: The Tenth Schedule provide for:

  1. Advance Passenger Information (API) Data Elements Relating to Flight i.e., Flight identification, scheduled departure date, scheduled departure time, scheduled arrival date, scheduled arrival time, last place or port of call of aircraft, place or port of initial arrival of aircraft, subsequent place or port of call within the country and number of passengers.
  2. Advance Passenger Information Data Elements Relating to Passenger or Crew Member on Board i.e., Official travel document number, issuing State or organization of the official travel document, official travel document type, expiration date of official travel document, surname and given names, nationality, date of birth, gender, seating information, baggage information, visa number, issue date of visa, place of issuance of visa, other document number used for travel, type of other document used for travel and Primary residence (country of primary residence, address, city, state, province, county, postal code).
  3. Passenger Name Record (PNR) Data Elements i.e., Any collected Advance Passenger Information data (including name on passport, date of birth, sex, nationality, passport number) Among other information.

The Thirteen Schedule provide for timeframe for provision of advance passenger information data:

  1. API relating to flight:Updated API file before departure of aircraft.
  2. PNR Data: To be provided 24 hours before the scheduled flight departure time and if no PNR data is available 24 hours before the scheduled flight departure time, not later than 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure time, where that data becomes available.

The Kenya Citizenship and Immigration (Amendment) Regulations, 2023 further requires the processing of Advance Passenger Information or Passenger Name Record data to be done in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act, 2019.

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