Foreign travel advice


Warning FCDO advises against all but essential travel to parts of Kenya.

Safety and security


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Kenya

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Kenya.

Beware there is a heightened threat of terrorism across Kenya. Attacks could target Westerners, including British nationals. These could occur at any time including religious events, public holidays or celebrations. Attacks are indiscriminate and could occur in places frequented by foreigners, including tourists, such as, but not limited to:

  • hotels
  • bars
  • restaurants
  • nightclubs
  • sporting events
  • supermarkets
  • shopping centres
  • beaches
  • safari parks
  • commercial and government buildings
  • places of worship

You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and where possible avoid regular patterns of movement and travel during daylight hours. You should consider whether there are effective local security arrangements in place (for example, bag searches, physical security, guards).

The main terrorist threat is from extremists linked to Al Shabaab – an Al Qaeda affiliated militant group in Somalia. Al Shabaab has issued threats and carried out attacks against Kenya, in part, due to Kenyan military intervention in Somalia.

Recent significant attacks affecting British nationals include:

  • in 2020 Al Shabaab conducted an attack on a military airstrip in Lamu County, killing 3 people
  • in 2019 there was an attack at the hotel and commercial complex at 14 Riverside in Nairobi, resulting in injuries and loss of life

There is some evidence of growing support for Daesh (formerly ISIL) in Kenya. On 4 January 2024 Daesh published a statement calling for a new global campaign of terrorism including a specific focus on western and Jewish targets. This statement and the ongoing conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories could increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks which affect British Nationals.

Travellers to Lamu Island and Manda Island should be particularly vigilant given the close proximity of these islands to the Lamu County mainland. You should only travel to the islands by air to Lamu airport (a civilian airport on Manda Island), and not by road. The only commercial option for air travel to or form Lamu Island and Manda Island is through Lamu airport.


There is a high threat of terrorist kidnapping across Kenya. You should be alert to the heightened threat of terrorist kidnapping targeting Westerners, including British nationals, who are viewed as legitimate targets. Westerners have been the target of kidnaps in northern counties bordering Somalia and coastal counties. Further kidnaps are very likely.  

The long-standing policy of the British government policy is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners builds the capability of terrorist groups and finances their activities. This can, in turn, increase the risk of further hostage-taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) makes payments to terrorists illegal.

Political situation

There have been deaths and injuries at anti-government political demonstrations in recent months. Avoid political gatherings and large crowds, and follow local media coverage.


There are frequent incidents of violent crime including mugging, armed robbery and carjacking, particularly in the large cities. In Nairobi, the risk of these crimes is higher in Eastleigh, Central Business District, Mathare, Kibera and slum areas, but this risk remains high across the city, in the surrounding areas and elsewhere in the country.

In Mombasa, the risk is higher in the Old Town and on and around the Likoni Ferry (which links Mombasa to the southern resorts).

Although uncommon, violent crimes have resulted in the deaths of British nationals, including during daylight hours.

Avoid walking alone in isolated areas, including in daylight. You might be directly targeted by criminals so be aware of your surroundings and make sure people know where you are and when you are due to return.

Crime rates are often higher around the Christmas and new year period so take particular precautions at this time of year.

Protecting your belongings

Bag snatching is common in bus stations, railway stations and airports. Be vigilant at all times and take into account any security advice given by your hotel, employer or your hosts. If you’re attacked, do not resist. Avoid carrying large sums of money or wearing expensive jewellery.


Be aware of thieves posing as police officers and private security guards. Always ask for identification.

Drink and food spiking

Do not accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged.

Attacks and sexual assault

Sexual assaults are rare, but do happen, and can affect both male and female travellers.

In an emergency, contact the emergency services on 999 or 112.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

You must carry ID with you at all times. A copy of your passport is normally acceptable, but police officers may insist on seeing the original document.

Dress code

The coastal areas of Kenya are mainly Muslim. There is no strict dress code. Out of courtesy you should dress conservatively away from tourist resorts and hotels – particularly in Mombasa, during Ramadan or if you visit religious areas or buildings.

Smoking and e-cigarette bans

It is illegal to smoke in any public place in Kenya, except in designated smoking areas. If you smoke in a prohibited place, you can face a fine of up to 50,000 Kenyan shillings or up to 6 months’ imprisonment.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

If you use or traffic illegal drugs in Kenya, you can get a heavy fine and prison sentence. The penalty for possession is up to 10 years in prison. Individuals found to be trafficking illegal drugs can face life imprisonment.

Using cameras in secure areas

It is illegal to take photographs of official buildings, including embassies, or at airports. You could be arrested if caught.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex activity is illegal and not tolerated in Kenya’s conservative society. Showing affection in public could lead to arrest and imprisonment.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Wildlife, animal products and souvenirs

It is illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade any of its parts without a licence. Those caught purchasing or trafficking banned goods may face a fine or prison sentence. 

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Game reserves and national parks

Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free. If you’re visiting game reserves, use reputable tour operators and arrive at your destination in daylight hours. Do not purchase safari tours from touts. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.

There are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Swimming in rivers and lakes is illegal in national parks and is best avoided elsewhere due the dangers from wildlife and waterborne diseases.

Hiking and mountaineering

You may be required to hire a local guide when hiking in Kenya. Be conscious of the risk posed by wildlife and do not approach wild animals.

Altitude sickness is a risk when hiking in high-altitude areas, including on Mount Kenya.

Make sure your travel insurance covers all your planned activities.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Kenya, see information on driving abroad.

You need either a 1968 international driving permit (IDP) or a UK driving licence to drive in Kenya. The 1949 IDP is not accepted any more. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence in Kenya for up to 3 months. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence.

If you’re staying longer or living in Kenya, you’ll need to get a Kenyan driving licence.

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as driving experience, age and holding an IDP. Only hire vehicles from reputable companies.

Road conditions and driving standards are often poor. Always drive with windows closed and doors locked. When driving outside of cities and in remote areas, consider driving in convoy. Avoid driving at night if possible.

Bus travel

There have been serious accidents involving long-distance buses and minibuses (‘matatus’). The accidents are often caused by poor maintenance and speeding. Often minibuses are uninsured. Check operators’ safety standards.

There are frequent minibus hijackings and robberies.

Driving fines

On-the-spot fines from traffic police are common but illegal. If a traffic police officer stops you, ask them to follow the legal process. The officer should issue you with a ‘receipt for cash bond’. This paperwork tells you when and where you need to attend court to answer the charge against you.

Air travel

If you charter a private aircraft, check with the company about the condition of the aircraft and runways. If the company has no safety pilot, find another company that does.

Rail travel

Passenger trains run between Nairobi and Mombasa. Take care of your belongings while on the train and at railway stations. If you leave your compartment, take your valuables with you.

Sea travel

Piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remain a significant threat.

For more information see piracy and armed robbery at sea.

Remote areas

Monitor local media and take care in all remote areas. The Kenya Tourism Federation Safety and Communication Center provides tourist advice and emergency help.

Extreme weather and natural disasters 


Kenya lies on an active fault and tremors occur from time to time. The last significant earthquake to affect the region was of magnitude 5.2 in 2007.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.