Have you ever thought about spending your next vacation in Rwanda? Have you been finding it a big challenge to cross Rwanda borders? Have you heard about global visa free entry to Rwanda? Traveling to Rwanda for tourism, business or any vacation is no longer a hassle! Starting 1st, January, 2018, visitors from all countries in the world will be accessing Rwanda freely and get their visas upon arrival without any prior formalities, unlike before where it was only African states and a handful of other countries that used to obtain a visa upon arrival. The initiative has been described as a global visa free entry for visitors from any part of the world! This visa is first of its kind in Africa and it was approved by a cabinet meeting chaired by H.E. President Paul Kagame on 8th November 2017. This global visa free entry to Rwanda is entirely meant to increase Rwanda’s openness and accessibility to the globe at large, boost the country’s tourism and investment sector.
The move came when the African Union is in the process of adopting a treaty to liberalize free movement across African continent. This treaty looks at realizing age old ambitions of exposing the continent to the world as one way of increasing opportunities of trade, investment and opportunities for African citizen. To the Rwanda Directorate of Immigration and Emigration, this new development is likely to cause about 1.9% reduction in visa revenues from countries whose nationals won’t pay fees as reciprocal measure. But it is expected that there will be a rise in the general revenues given the corresponding increase in tourism. Looking at the past visa adjustments, there has been a significant increase in tourist arrivals to Rwanda. At a time when Rwanda went a head to give visas upon arrival to all Africans, the number of African citizens which were given visas on arrival at Rwandan entry points rose from 31054 in 2013 to 77377 in 2016. Today, over 350 online applications are received each day and processed within three days. With this new visa regime, travelers on safari to Rwanda will be given a 30 day visa upon arrival. This is beneficial for citizens of all countries in the world but the price will differ based on your nationality.
This global free entry visa will also allow Rwandan citizens from abroad with dual nationality to use their IDs on entry. This will remove visa fees for Rwandans traveling into the country using foreign passports. At first, Rwandan citizens coming into the country using a foreign passport were only given visa free entry on condition that they had a valid Rwandan passport. With this new visa regime, foreign residents in the country can use their resident ID cards for entry. Before, foreigners residing in Rwanda would have to show their passport on entry point to Rwanda.
Based on the bilateral agreements, citizens of the following states will be granted a free 90 day visa to Rwanda; Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, Mauritius, Philippines, Senegal, Guinea, Indonesia, Haiti, Seychelles, Sao Tome and Principe, Benin. East African Community member states will be given a six month visitor pass-renewable up on arrival without any cost. For those traveling from Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, United States, United Kingdom and Germany, the visa will be obtained at $30 up on arrival without prior application.
The Rwandan diplomatic and service passport holders will also not need a visa when traveling to select countries following the initiative by the government to enter into visa waiver agreements and they include Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, India, Morocco, Turkey, Israel and Djibouti. This means such visitors won’t need a visa while visiting Rwanda using diplomatic and service passport. Besides, it also touches the area of visa waiver for specific diplomatic and service passport holders which will take immediate effect. There is a 3 month visa for visitors from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region subject to payment of visa fees. Every year, Rwanda receives over 1.2 million visitors. Whereas the neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, with Zanzibar Island have developed different luxury services aimed at honeymooners, Rwanda will then enjoy a bigger appeal given its spectacular mountain gorillas and protected areas.
Note that visitor’s visa shouldn’t be used for employment and on mutual basis and as well, Rwanda restored payment of visa fee upon arrival to Hong Kong nationals who used to obtain free visas up on arrival. This came after Hong Kong restored visa requirements to Rwandans since 29th April, 2016.
In conclusion, Rwanda is a country of natural wonders especially the rare mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and with a free entry visa regime; you will certainly have a reason to visit Rwanda for your next safari holiday. For visitors who wish to obtain a visa for Rwanda, you can submit your application online or at Rwandan Diplomatic Missions of your respective countries.