News report | | 14-04-2023 | ±4 minutes reading time

As of now, for a holiday visit to Tanzania (mainland or Zanzibar), most travellers require the national tourist visa, which can be applied for as an e-visa. However, voices have been raised among East African countries to introduce a single visa for tourists that is valid for the entire region.

East African Tourist Visa not yet for Tanzania

Since the introduction of the East African Tourist Visa in 2014, it has been possible to make visits to Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with a single visa. Travellers may stay in these three countries for up to 90 days with this visa. Within this validity period, travellers may cross the borders of the countries as many times as they wish. Tanzania is also part of the East African Community (EAC or OAG), which includes the countries mentioned above, but has not yet joined this joint visa program.

Rwanda is not a direct neighbour of Kenya but does share a visa with this very popular destination in East Africa among travellers. Tanzania is the second-largest economy in the EAC after Kenya and shares a long border with southern Kenya. The countries not only share a border but also a spectacular tourist highlight: the impressive annual circular migration of some 1.5 million wildebeest and some 200,000 zebras.

One East Africa tourist visa

All aforementioned countries already work together politically in conjunction with three other member states of the EAC: Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa and South Sudan. Of the seven total countries within the East African alliance, the initiative for a shared tourist visa with Tanzania would mainly come from Rwanda.

At the moment, Tanzania and Burundi are on the waiting list for admission to a new alliance in the shape of an East African Single Tourist Visa. This possible future visa for East Africa should allow travellers to start moving freely between the participating countries. If Rwanda's attempts succeed, Kenya and Tanzania, among others, the two biggest economic players and, at the same time, the main tourist destinations in the region, will become more closely connected. More than half of all international travellers coming to East Africa in 2022 travelled to the region for tourist purposes. Of these approximately six million tourists, about half arrived in Kenya or Tanzania.

The other member states of the EAC that are not yet part of the joint visa program are Congo-Kinshasa and South Sudan. However, these countries have a significantly less stable security situation, making them unsuitable tourist destinations. As such, it is not yet known what the introduction of a new regional visa for the East African region would mean for these countries.

Rwandan initiative for a single tourist visa

It is not a coincidence that, since January, the smaller Rwanda has taken steps to convince the larger Tanzania to join the joint visa program. If the different national visas for the countries in East Africa are replaced by a single tourist visa for (almost) all countries in East Africa, then this is mainly positive for the smaller EAC countries. With the new visa for multiple countries, tourists who previously only required a Tanzania visa, are now more likely to choose to spend a part of their stay in a neighbouring country as well.

Kenya already a member of joint visa program

In 2014, neighbouring Kenya already joined the existing joint visa program, the East African Tourist Visa. This program is an ideal blueprint for the plans for a new joint visa that is momentarily still in the research phase. The East African Tourist Visa is an addition to the available visas for a visit to Kenya, as this travel authorisation has not replaced the national Kenya visa.

Concrete plans

At this moment, the East Africa Tourist Platform (EATP) is working on concrete research and lobbying plans to put the region on the map as a tourist destination as a whole. The East African Business Council (EABC), a leading regional business body, recommends that EAC member states commit to a joint tourist visa policy by December this year.

In the steps being taken now, not only the joint visa policy but also further integration of the tourist sectors of all EAC countries, including Tanzania, should be considered. These include measures that make it easier for travellers to cross the borders to neighbouring countries by car or to make it possible to visit nature destinations in multiple countries in a single trip.

Applying for the Tanzania visa separately for now

Travellers from the United Kingdom and Ireland travelling to Tanzania or Zanzibar can apply online for an e-visa. Applying for this visa is required. A big advantage of the online visa application is that you can complete it quickly. On average, you will receive the visa within 21 days. Once it is granted, you can use the Tanzania visa for a single trip to Tanzania and/or Zanzibar lasting up to 90 days.

Please note: this news article about the visa for Tanzania is more than one year old. It might contain outdated information and advice, and no rights can therefore be derived from this article. Are you going on a trip soon and do you wish to do know what rules currently apply? Read all about the up-to-date information about the visa for Tanzania.

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