Rwanda’s new open-door visa regime takes off in March

4 months ago
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The Directorate General of Rwanda Immigration and Emigration has published a new visa regime. Following the visa upon arrival policy, the regime waives visa fees for hundreds of countries.

The update was unveiled on March 10. It takes immediate effect.

In the first place, after President Paul Kagame’s announcement in January, the new regime scraps visa fees for over ninety member states of the African Union, the Commonwealth and the Francophonie for a 30-day stay.

Citizens of the East African Community will not pay entry visa fees while travelling on ordinary, service and diplomatic passports. They shall be issued an entry visa to stay for up to six months.

The update grants another batch of countries a 90-day valid visa free of charge with an ordinary passport. Those countries are Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo and The Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis.

Passengers check-in at Kigali International Airport. Rwanda’s visa openness has promoted the country as a top conference destination. Photo: File.

The list also includes Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, Haiti, Mauritius, Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, Singapore and the State of Qatar.

In the regime, holders of diplomatic and service (official) passports from countries that have entered into a Visa Waiver Agreement with Rwanda or made unilateral decisions shall be allowed a 90-day entry without visa requirements including visa fees.

The countries are Angola, Benin, the People’s Republic of China (including Public Affairs passport), Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia and The Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis.

Other countries are Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, India, the state of Israel, Haiti, Mauritius, Mozambique, Morocco, Namibia, Philippines, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

The immigration office says that citizens of all countries not mentioned above will continue getting a 30-day visa upon arrival without prior application. They will be required to pay a prescribed visa fee.

Rwandans living abroad with dual nationality are exempted from paying visa fees while travelling on foreign passports in possession of a Rwandan Identity Card.

Foreign residents holding valid residence permit with corresponding resident cards will continue to be allowed to use them on entry, including using electronic gates (Automated Passenger Clearance System) at Kigali International Airport.

Children below the age of 16 holding foreign passports with their parents travelling on foreign passports in possession of a Rwandan Identity Card will not be required to pay for an entry visa.

The move is expected to ease access to Rwanda for a significant section of the international community.