Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from date of entry to Kenya or Tanzania and with sufficient blank pages for any visa stamps. If your passport does not meet the requirements, you must renew your passport or obtain a new one prior to obtaining the visa.
Most visitors can purchase a visa from the airport or land border immigration desk upon entry. Alternatively, you can get a visa from an embassy or high commission overseas, but it's easier to get one on arrival. Visas are valid for 3 months from the time of entry and cost $50 (U.S. and Irish citizens pay $100). If you are only transiting through Kenya, say, from a safari in Tanzania or Uganda to the airport in Nairobi, a transit visa valid for 7 days is $20. Visas are paid for in cash (in dollars, British pounds, or euros). In theory, there is a similar transit visa available in Tanzania, though this is not always enforced.
Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have an agreement that you can cross into each and back again without purchasing a new visa, as long as each visa is within its 3-month validity. For example, you can go from Kenya to Uganda, to see the mountain gorillas, and return to Kenya on the visa you acquired on first entry to the country.
Up-to-date requirements can be found at Kenya's Ministry of Home Affairs website (www.homeaffairs.go.ke) and Tanzania's Ministry of Home Affairs website (www.moha.go.tz).
What You Can Bring into Tanzania -- The import and export of firearms, narcotics, and pornography is illegal. The government has the right to charge duties on items brought in intended for resale, but personal items such as jewelry, laptops, and cameras can be brought in duty-free. There are no restrictions on the import or export of foreign currency, but as the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh) is not a hard currency, it cannot be taken in and out of the country. Every visitor aged 18 and older may bring 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or no more than 250g of tobacco, and 1 liter of liquor (or 2L of wine) into Tanzania, duty-free.
What You Can Take Home from Tanzania -- The export of gold, diamonds, or game trophies not obtained from the authorized government departments is prohibited. It is illegal to export elephant ivory, wildlife skins, and sea turtle products.
For information on what you're allowed to bring home, contact one of the following agencies:
U.S. Citizens: U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667; www.cbp.gov).
Canadian Citizens: Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).
U.K. Citizens: HM Customs & Excise, at tel. 0845/010-9000 (from outside the U.K., 020/8929-0152), or consult their website at www.hmce.gov.uk.
Australian Citizens: Australian Customs Service, at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to www.customs.gov.au.
New Zealand Citizens: New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., Box 2218, Wellington (tel. 0800/428-786 or 04/473-6099; www.customs.govt.nz).
Consult your physician ahead of any trip to Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; www.cdc.gov/travel) has details of required and recommended immunizations for international travelers as compiled by the World Health Organization. The CDC also regularly updates its website with news of outbreaks that affect specific areas and destinations; it's worth checking out their travel advisory and following up by consulting your doctor. You will certainly need to take some prophylaxis against malaria, and there are other immunizations that are highly recommended.
Tanzania is endemic for contracting yellow fever, so it is essential you have a yellow fever vaccination; you may be denied entry without one. We also highly recommend immunizing yourself against typhoid, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, rabies, and -- if you're going to be in East Africa for an extended period -- cholera. Booster shots, although not mandatory, are suggested for tetanus-diphtheria, measles-mumps-rubella, polio, and varicella.
Certain immunizations must be administered over a period of time, while others cannot be given at the same time. Consult your doctor at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to your trip, especially since some vaccines require time to take effect. Vaccinations should be recorded and stamped in a yellow international immunization card, which you will be given when your first shots are administered; take this with you whenever you go for booster shots or new immunizations.
If you use any prescription drugs (and, for that matter, contact lenses), be sure to take adequate supplies with you. Also take the original prescription along, as brand names of drugs may be different in drugstores. When it comes to medical needs, do not leave anything to chance, and if you have any specific conditions, consult your physician well ahead of your scheduled departure.
Note: Anyone who has recently undergone surgery (up to 18 months prior to traveling in Africa) should consult their doctor or surgeon to discuss the need for antibacterial drugs to stave off any risk of infection.