Travelers wishing to go from Uganda to Kenya or vice versa have two options: air or land travel. They can cross the border at a designated checkpoint for either option. The Kenya-Uganda border is frequented by many people, including citizens of both countries and backpackers touring Africa.
Various crossing points are available for land-based travelers to cross between the two East African states. However, not all of these points can be used with a Kenya eVisa.
If you plan to travel by land and cross the border between Kenya and Uganda, this guide provides all the essential information you need.
There are five official border points along the Kenya-Uganda border that allow travelers to cross from one country to the other.
Each crossing has its own unique features, such as differing operating hours, visa requirements, and customs regulations. It is important for travelers to be aware of these differences and plan accordingly to ensure a smooth and hassle-free border crossing experience.
Except for Lokitanyala, all of the towns along the Kenya-Uganda border are located in the southern half of the frontier, as seen on a map.
The major border crossings are located at Busia and Malaba, which are situated on the main roads connecting the two countries. Additionally, a train crossing operated by Rift Valley Railways is available at Malaba.
Both Busia and Malaba crossings are fully equipped to handle large numbers of travelers and process digital documents. They are the only land border posts between Kenya and Uganda that are capable of doing so, and are the only authorized crossing points where a Kenya eVisa is accepted.
The border between Uganda and Kenya spans an impressive distance of 772 kilometers, featuring a total of five crossing points. Three of these points are located in small towns that primarily serve the needs of locals who cross the border for work or to visit family.
In contrast, the remaining two crossing points are situated in the relatively large towns of Busia and Malaba. These two points are crucial gateways for the transportation of goods and people, and as such, thousands of trucks traverse these towns every day, stopping at the border for customs clearance.
In addition to the heavy cargo transportation, various bus routes also pass through these towns, providing convenient transportation options for passengers traveling across the border.
The Busia border crossing stands out as the primary land checkpoint for goods and travelers who traverse between Kenya and Uganda.
Over the past few years, the facilities have undergone significant upgrades, transforming it into a one-stop border crossing that links Busia, Kenya, and Busia, Uganda.
Located in Busia County, Kenya, the town of Busia is strategically positioned along the direct route connecting Kampala and Nairobi via Kimisu. Many travelers prefer to take a direct bus between the two capital cities, which typically takes around 12 to 13 hours. Some bus companies even include a complimentary meal in the price of the journey, making it a comfortable and convenient travel option.
The border town of Malaba, situated between Tororo, Uganda to the east and Busia, Kenya to the south, ranks as the second busiest crossing point between Kenya and Uganda. This checkpoint is especially convenient for those traveling from Uganda to Eldoret.
Spanning approximately 1 kilometer, the border area boasts a significant width between the Kenyan and Ugandan border posts. Travelers can traverse this distance on foot or by boda-boda, a type of bicycle taxi commonly used in East Africa.
Several regular bus services operate from Kampala, offering direct travel to Eldoret through the Malaba border crossing. Additionally, matatus, or minibuses, provide transportation options from Malaba to Nairobi in Kenya and to Kampala in Uganda.
Traversing the land border from Uganda to Kenya is a relatively straightforward process, as long as you possess the correct documentation and permission to enter the country.
You can opt to cross the border by driving your vehicle or by taking one of the numerous bus services that run between the two nations.
Upon reaching the border, all bus passengers must disembark and cross the border on foot or via boda-boda while officials inspect the bus.
Border control officers will request to see your passport and visa, along with other pertinent travel documents, to verify your eligibility to cross into Kenya.
Crossing the border between Kenya and Uganda is possible through the checkpoints located in Busia and Malaba, which operate 24/7 under normal circumstances. However, during emergencies and crises like the COVID-19 pandemic that occurred between 2019 and 2021, the border may be closed periodically.
Therefore, it is essential to confirm the border's status before planning a trip during such uncertain times. It is advisable to check when the Kenya-Uganda border is scheduled to reopen to avoid inconvenience.
In summary, while Busia and Malaba border crossing points are open around the clock, travelers must stay informed about border closures during emergencies and plan accordingly.
When crossing the border between Kenya and Uganda, there are several documents that travelers are required to present at the ports of entry. These documents are necessary for identification, verification, and record-keeping purposes. Here are some of the essential documents needed when entering Uganda or Kenya:
Visitors from overseas who meet the requirements for a Kenyan eVisa can opt for the convenient online application process, saving them from the hassle of visiting an embassy in person. This option is particularly beneficial for those who do not have an embassy in their country of residence.
For nationals of East African Community (EAC) member states, there is no need for a visa to enter Kenya or Uganda. Additionally, they have the option to use their national ID card instead of a passport for entry into either country. This makes traveling between Kenya and Uganda more accessible and more convenient for EAC nationals. It's worth noting, however, that some other nationalities may also be exempt from kenya visa requirements or eligible for visa-on-arrival. It's essential to confirm visa requirements before traveling to avoid any inconvenience at the border.
The EAC countries are:
Prior to visiting Kenya, travelers should confirm the necessary vaccinations required for entry into the country and ensure that they are up-to-date with their immunizations. This is particularly important as some vaccines take time to become effective and may require multiple doses.
Some of the vaccinations recommended for travelers to Kenya include hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and rabies. Malaria is also prevalent in many parts of Kenya, and travelers are advised to take preventive medication and use insect repellents to avoid mosquito bites.
Buses are a convenient mode of transportation for traveling between Kampala and Nairobi, and they offer a comfortable option, especially if you book a VIP seat. The cost of a bus ticket can vary between 2300 to 3400 Kenyan shillings, which is roughly USD $20-30.
To avoid any issues when crossing the border, travelers should double-check that they have all the necessary documentation, such as a valid passport, visa, and yellow fever vaccination certificate. Without these documents, they may be denied entry at the border.
It's also important to ensure that you have the necessary visas for any other countries you plan to visit. A visa for Kenya may not cover entry to Tanzania or other neighboring countries, for example.
When crossing the border, it's advisable to keep all your valuable belongings on your person and not to leave them on the bus. This is to avoid any loss or theft of your belongings during the border crossing process.
It's also recommended to allow enough time for the crossing, as the process can sometimes take longer than expected, especially during peak travel times. By following these tips, travelers can have a smooth and hassle-free experience crossing the Kenya-Uganda border.