Rwanda Visa Guide

Rwanda visa guide

There’s a lot to experience in Rwanda. From gorilla trekking and lakeside relaxation, to cultural experiences, and so much more. It’s no surprise so many would love to visit, work, and live here.

But before you embark on your Rwandan adventure, you need to get a Rwanda visa. It’s a simple process; Rwanda allows for visa applications on arrival or online.

In this guide, I’ll provide all the information you need to figure out which Rwanda visa or residence permit is best for you.

Applying for a Rwandan Visa

You can apply for a Rwandan visa when you get into the country, or you can apply online before you get here.

For both applications, the basic requirements are a copy of your passport with at least six months of validity remaining and supporting information on your visits, such as an application form, details of hotel booking or address, and contact details of your host, and a return or onward ticket.

Applying for a Rwanda Visa on Arrival (VoA)

You can apply for a visa on arrival at land borders and the Kigali International Airport. This option is available to citizens of every country.

The Rwanda VoA is only valid for up to 30 days.

The visas you can apply for upon arrival include tourism visa, transit visa, and East Africa Tourist Visa.

It is a great option if your travel plans to Rwanda are abrupt and you don’t have enough time to apply beforehand.

The challenge is that you will more than likely have to queue in long lines, and the entire process can be slow.

Applying for a Rwanda Visa Online (e-Visa)

You can apply for an e-visa if you want to apply for a Rwanda visa in advance.

With an e-visa you can stay in Rwanda for as long as 90 days.

You will need to log on to Irembo, an online portal where you can access government public services, including visa and permit applications from the immigration department. 

Once you’ve registered on the visa application:

  • Click on either APPLY AND PAY ONLINE or APPLY AND PAY ON ARRIVAL.
  • Input your identifying information.
  • Enter your trip information, including travel dates, information on where you will be staying, and your proposed entry point. You are also required to provide details about the purpose of visiting Rwanda.
  • Upload a copy of your passport, photo, invitation letter (details of your trip), and supporting documents. Confirmation will be emailed to you.

Types of Rwandan Visas

There are several types of Rwandan visas you can apply for, depending on why and for how long you intend to travel to Rwanda. These include:

  • Tourist Visa
  • Single Entry 30 Day Visa
  • 90 Day Multiple Entry Visa
  • 72 Hour Transit Visa
  • Conference Visa
  • Business Visa
  • 6-month Visa for EAC Citizens 
  •  East Africa Tourist Visa (EATV)
  • Work Visas 
  • Student Visas

Tourist Visa

This visa is issued to you if you are visiting Rwanda for holiday, sightseeing, social or recreational, or other short-term reasons other than work purposes. 

You can apply for this visa on arrival at the border post, online, at the immigration and emigration office, or at the office of a diplomatic mission of Rwanda in your resident country.

You can apply for a single entry or multiple entry tourist visa.

The tourist visa costs USD 50 for single entry and free of charge for nationals of countries with which Rwanda has a visa waiver arrangement. Multiple entry tourist visa costs USD 70.

It is valid for 30 days for a single entry or 90 days for multiple entries.

Single Entry 30 Day Visa

You can apply for this visa if you are visiting Rwanda for any purpose other than work. The visa is valid for 30 days.

You can also apply for this visa if you want to enter Rwanda to find work and obtain the appropriate visa.

A single-entry visa costs USD 50.

You will need to apply for an extension should you wish to stay longer than 30 days.

Extending Your 30 Day Visa

You can apply for an extension of your 30 Day Visa while the initial visas remain valid.

However, there’s a five-day grace period allowed after your visa has expired where you can depart or renew your visa without a penalty. Longer than that, you will be penalised, and your visa extension may be denied.

All visa extension applications are made at the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kacyiru district in Kigali.

For extensions, you’ll need to bring the appropriate form – which you can download online – a passport-sized photo, your passport, and a letter addressed to the Director of Immigration explaining why you require an extension.

Extensions take five days to issue, and costs vary

Visa Fee Waived

In 2020, the government waived Rwandan visa fees for some visitors entering the country for any valid reason other than employment.

If you are African, or a citizen of Commonwealth nations or the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), you can enter Rwanda without paying visa fees.

90 Day Multiple Entry Visa

You can apply for the 90 Day Multiple Entry Visa if you are travelling for tourism or visiting family members.

Apply for this visa upon arrival at the border post, online, at the immigration and emigration office, or the office of a diplomatic mission of Rwanda in your country of residence.

You are not authorised to work in the country with this visa.

While applying, you must have enough funds to support yourself during your stay, and you may be required to show proof of sufficient funds when you arrive.

This visa costs USD 70.

72 Hour Transit Visa

If you are coming through Rwanda for 72 hours or less and are looking to explore Rwanda before departing for a different destination, you should apply for this visa.

A transit visa costs 30 USD.

If you are catching a connecting flight and will stay within the airport, you don’t need to apply for this visa.

You will need to provide a valid passport and an onward ticket when applying for this visa.

Conference Visa

This visa is issued to you if you enter Rwanda for a conference, meeting, workshop, or any other related activity.

You can apply for the visa upon arrival at the border post, online, at the Directorate General, at the office of a diplomatic mission of Rwanda in your home country.

A single-entry conference visa costs 30 USD and is valid for 30 days.

Business Visa

There are two types of business visas you can apply for:

  • Business Survey
  •  Itinerant Business

Business Survey

This visa is issued to you if you are a foreign prospective investor, entrepreneur, or trader visiting Rwanda to explore available business opportunities.

You can apply for it at the office of a diplomatic mission of Rwanda in your home country or at the immigration and emigration office.

It is valid for 90 days and is renewable only once.

It costs USD 50 for a single entry and USD 70 for multiple entries.

 Itinerant Business

Suppose you’re a foreign investor, board member, or representative of a multinational company that does not reside in Rwanda but has significant business activities in the country and regularly visits your business activities. In that case, this is the visa for you.

This visa can be obtained at the directorate general of Immigration and Emigration headquarters.

You can apply for multiple entries on this visa.

It costs USD 200 and is valid for two to ten years. It’s also renewable, and you can apply for an extension if you need to.

6-month Visa for EAC Citizens 

If you are a citizen of East African Community Partner States Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan, you can get a visa on arrival that allows you to stay in the country for up to six months.

The visa is free of charge.

However, you’re not allowed to work or conduct business on this visa. You need to apply for a different visa or permits for these activities.

East Africa Tourist Visa (EATV)

If you plan to visit Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda, it’s advisable to get the East African Tourist Visa.

This is a joint tourist visa that entitles holders to travel to and within Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda for tourism.

If your first entry is in Rwanda, you can apply for it online, but your East African Visa should be applied upon your arrival in either port of entry if you are entering from Kenya or Uganda.

You can apply for a multiple entry EATV, and it can be extended in exceptional circumstances.

This visa costs 100 USD.

Student Visas

A student visa is a permit that allows an eligible non-citizen to enter and stay in a country to study full-time or part-time in a tertiary educational institution.

Rwanda requires students to obtain an N1 Student Pass issued by the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (RDGIE).

You will need to have a passport with a minimum validity of one year from the date of arrival and sufficient funds to meet the cost of your stay in Rwanda before you can ask for a student visa at the immigration of Rwanda.

You do not need to request a visa before coming to Rwanda, but you will need to do so as soon as you get into the country.

Processing takes 3-4 days. Once approved, you will receive a stamp on your passport as proof.

It is valid for one year and renewable until the last year of your studies.

Applying for Rwanda Residency and Work Permits

The Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration issues two residence permits: Temporary residence permits and permanent residence permits.

Once you arrive in the country, a grace period of 15 days is given to you before you need to apply for a residence permit. Staying in the country without the required permit will attract penalties as stipulated by the law.

 You will need Diploma certificates, Police Clearance, Marriage certificate, and Birth Certificate depending on the permit you’re applying for. All these documents need to be translated into English or French.

Where required, the police clearance certificate should be the original copy.

East African Citizens do not pay for resident permits.

Rwanda Permanent Resident Permits

If you have stayed in Rwanda for a considerable amount of time and would like to live here permanently, you can apply for permanent residency. Applications are made online on the Irembo platform.

Resident Exceeding 10 Years

This is for you if you have been legally residing in Rwanda for an aggregate of ten years.

This is a permanent permit.

Your dependents can also apply for residency when you have this permit.

Requirements are:

  • Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months
  • Photo with white background
  • Visa/permit application form
  • Application letter
  • Payment of 300.000 Frw
  •  Non-clearance of government dues as may be requested by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration.
  • Bank statement from any bank in Rwanda

Spouse

You can apply for this permit if you are married to a permanent residence permit holder.

Requirements are:

  • Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months
  • Photo with white background
  •  Visa/permit application form
  •  Application letter
  • Copy of marriage certificate
  • Copy of the principal applicant’s permanent residence permit
  •  Half of the fee of the principal applicant

If you wish to work with this permit, you need to seek approval from the Director General of Immigration and Emigration.

Children

This permit is issued to an offspring of a permanent residence permit holder, who has reached twenty-five years of age.

Requirements are:

  •  Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months
  • Photo with white background
  • Visa/permit application form
  • Application letter
  • Copy of the principal applicant’s permanent residence permit
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Half of the fee of the principal applicant ·

If you wish to work with this permit, you need to seek approval from the Director General of Immigration and Emigration.

Rwanda Work Permits

Work permits fall under temporary resident permits. You can apply for several work permits depending on the nature of the work.

Once you have a work permit, you can change employers during the validity of your work permit. You are, however, required to inform the office of the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in writing.

You will also be required to present a resignation letter or termination letter from the previous employer while renewing the permit you already have.

Applications for work permits are made online on the Irembo platform.

Examples of work permits you can apply for include:

  • Prescribed Professionals
  • Government or Parastatal Employee
  • International Organization Staff
  • Employees of International NGOs
  • Approved Religious Activities
  •  Persons with Assured Income

Prescribed Professionals

You can apply for this permit if you are self-employed with a prescribed profession.

Once approved, the permit is valid for two years and is renewable upon application.

Requirements for the application are:

  • Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months
  • Application letter
  • Visa/Permit form
  •  Photo with white background
  • Certificate of membership to a registered professional body
  •  Police clearance certificate from the country of residence for the previous six months
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae
  • Payment of 150.000 Frw

Government or Parastatal Employee

This permit is issued to you if you are employed on a contract basis by the Government of Rwanda. This includes those serving in tertiary institutions of learning, parastatal, or providing technical assistance under a bilateral agreement between Rwanda and another country or an international organization.

Under this permit, your dependents can apply for residency as well.

Requirements for the application are:

  • Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months
  • Contract with the government or parastatal institution
  • Certified academic certificates
  • Visa/Permit form
  •  Photo with white background
  • Application letter from employer
  • Payment of 150.000 Frw or free depending on the agreement
  • Police clearance certificate from the country of residence for the previous six months
  • Curriculum Vitae.

The permit is valid for two years with a possibility of extensions

International Organization Staff

This permit is issued to a foreign staff working in an international or regional organization.

Under this permit, dependents can apply for residency as well.

Requirements for the application are:

  • Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months
  • Photo with white background
  • Visa/permit application form
  • Certified academic certificates
  •  Police clearance certificate from the country of residence for the previous six months
  • Payment of 150.000 Frw
  • Recommendation letter from the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation

 Validity for the permit is determined upon application. The permit can be renewed upon application.

Employee of International NGO

 This permit is issued to a foreigner who works in an International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Rwanda.

Under this permit, your dependents can apply for residency as well.

Requirements for the application are:

  • Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months
  • Photo with white background
  • Visa/permit application form
  • Application letter from the organization
  •  Copy of employment contract
  • Copy of NGO registration certificate issued by Rwanda Governance Board (RGB)
  •  Certified academic certificates 
  • Payment of 150.000 Frw
  • Police clearance certificate from the country of residence for the previous six months
  • Detailed curriculum vitae 

The permit is valid for two years and is renewable upon application.

Journalist or Media Representative

This permit is issued to a foreign journalist or foreign media representative who holds an accreditation from the competent Rwandan authorities.

Requirements for the application are:

  • Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months. 
  •  Photo with white background
  • Application letter from employer
  • Visa/permit application form
  • Accreditation from the competent Rwandan Authorities
  • Payment of 150.000 Frw
  • Copy of employment contract
  • Police clearance certificate from the country of residence for the previous six months
  •  Detailed curriculum vitae

The permit is valid for two years and is renewable upon application. 

Approved Religious Activities

This permit is issued to a foreigner ordained and engaged in approved religious activities in Rwanda.

Requirements for the application are:

  •  Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months 
  • Photo with white background
  •  Visa/permit application form
  • Recommendation letter from the legal representative of the organization
  • Organization/church registration certificate issued by Rwanda Governance Board (RGB)
  • Mission order
  • Ordination certificate
  • Payment of 150.000 Frw
  • Police clearance certificate from the country of residence for the previous six months
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae

The permit is valid for two years and is renewable.

Persons with Assured Income

This permit is issued to a person with an assured income, including a retired person who does not intend to be employed in Rwanda. The Directorate General determines if you are eligible.

You are not allowed to work with this permit.

Requirements for the application are:

  •  Any genuine acceptable travel document valid not less than 6 months 
  • Application letter
  •  Photo with white background
  • Visa/permit application form
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae
  •  Bank statement from any bank in Rwanda
  • Proof of source of income
  • Police clearance certificate from the country of residence for the previous six months
  • Payment of 150.000 Frw

The Bottom Line

Finally, over the years, working, living, and visiting Rwanda has become easier. There are numerous different types of visas and permits you can easily apply for, and I hope the information above gives you an idea of where to start.

Have you applied for a Rwandan visa or permit? How was the experience? If there is any helpful information we may have missed, please share in the comments below.

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