Foreign nationals who wish to travel to Kenya with firearms will not be surprised to learn that bringing guns into the country is highly restricted and obtaining permission to do so can be difficult, but not impossible.
Kenya’s gun control laws are strict. Hunting was outlawed in 1978 and use of firearms is rarely tolerated even in self-defense. This leaves few legitimate reasons why anyone should need a gun.
In the unusual circumstance that an international traveler needed to bring a gun into the country (for example, as part of their job), they would need to have the proper firearms permit in addition to their other paperwork, such as their Kenya eVisa.
Kenya Firearms Laws for Foreigners
Traveling internationally with firearms is usually prohibited for most passengers and Kenya is no exception.
The Kenya Firearms Act lays out the regulations for the import, possession, and use of guns in the country.
Importing any type of firearm, including sporting guns, is forbidden without an import permit that specifically grants authorization to transport this kind of weapon. The terms of the permit must be strictly adhered to.
While in Kenya, possession of firearms is illegal without a firearms certificate. This can be very difficult to obtain for individuals outside the police and military, although it may be granted if the applicant can prove that a gun is necessary for their job or another activity.
Firearms must not be carried in public and should not be discharged except in strictly authorized situations, in accordance with Kenya’s local laws and regulations.
Can You Go to Prison for Firearms in Kenya?
The punishment for breaking Kenyan firearms laws usually results in a prison sentence.
Those who violate the Kenya Firearms Act, such as being caught in possession of an unauthorized gun, may be sentenced to imprisonment from one year to life.
Even possession of ammunition carries a minimum of 7 years’ jail time.
How to Get a Permit for Firearms as a Foreign National in Kenya
Firearms ownership in Kenya is regulated by the Firearms Licensing Board, also known as the Firearms Bureau. The Chief Licensing Officer is appointed by the Commissioner of Police to oversee the granting of firearms permits.
In order to obtain a permit for guns and ammunition, travelers must apply to the Firearms Bureau in Kenya.
First, a written application must be made via the Kenyan embassy in the individual’s country of origin. Foreign nationals will be provided with a firearm application form for Kenya, which must be filled out.
Relevant supporting documents must be attached, including the following:
- Police clearance
- Medical report proving the individual is fit to hold a firearm
- Recent passport-sized photographs (x4)
- Proof of address
- Proof of date of birth (e.g. copy of passport or birth certificate)
- Gun permit already held in country of origin (if applicable)
Who Can Obtain Permission for a Firearm in Kenya?
Firearms and ammunition permits for Kenya are difficult to obtain. They are only granted to applicants who can justify that they need a weapon for a legal purpose.
International travelers may be given authorization to bring a firearm to Kenya and carry it while in the country if they:
- Require firearms for their job (e.g. police officer)
- Require firearms for a legal sporting activity
- Are transiting through Kenya to another country that permits hunting (e.g. Tanzania)
- Are part of an authorized mission to a dangerous area and require firearms for protection
If granted permission to bring a firearm into Kenya and/or be in possession of a gun while in the country, it is important to remember that this is not transferable — under no circumstances should the traveler give their weapon to another person.
Arriving in Kenya with a Firearm as a Visitor
Upon arrival in the country, border authorities will inspect the firearm and the import permit as well as the traveler’s other documentation. It is important that everything is in order, complying with Kenya’s customs regulations, as breaches of protocol with regards to firearms can have serious repercussions.
The traveler should therefore ensure that they have the correct visa for their trip. For short-term stays, visitors from most countries can complete a simple Kenya eVisa application form online to obtain an electronic visa. This makes both applying and entering the country quick and convenient.
Once the documents have been verified, the authorities will register the serial number of the weapon(s) and ammunition and the purpose for which the individual will be using them.
Restrictions of Firearms in Kenya for Travelers
Relatively few travelers are granted firearms permits for Kenya, since there are few legal reasons to carry a weapon in the country.
In addition, there are certain restrictions on the types of guns in Kenya that are allowed.
Firearms import permits prohibit the following:
- The importation of shotguns with a barrel of less than 18 inches in length or an overall length of less than 26 inches
- The transfer of weapons from one person to another
- Carrying a weapon in public
- Use of a firearm for any purpose other than those specified in the permit
Once the trip is over and the activity for which firearms were required has concluded, the traveler must take their weapon(s) and any unused ammunition back out of Kenyan territory.