Kenya to Impose Local Health Insurance Requirement for Foreign Visitors

In a significant development, Kenya is set to require all foreign visitors to purchase local health insurance, irrespective of the duration of their stay. This move is poised to have far-reaching implications for both the healthcare industry and the tourism sector in the country. In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve deeper into the rationale behind this requirement, its potential impact on healthcare access and tourism, and how it aligns with the government's broader healthcare agenda.

Health Insurance Requirement for Foreign Visitors

The Need for a Health Insurance Requirement

With over 1.5 million foreign visitors arriving in Kenya each year, the government has recognized the importance of ensuring their access to healthcare services. While the country boasts stunning landscapes and vibrant culture, the absence of adequate healthcare coverage for tourists has been a concern. This new requirement seeks to address this gap and provide visitors with the assurance of timely medical assistance during their stay.

Legislative Developments

The Parliament's National Assembly Health Committee is actively discussing an amendment to the Social Health Insurance Bill in 2023. This proposed amendment could be a game-changer for both the public and private healthcare sectors in Kenya. The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), responsible for administering public health insurance, is expected to benefit significantly from this amendment.

A Step Towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

One of the driving forces behind this proposal is the government's commitment to achieving universal health coverage (UHC), a vision articulated by President William Ruto. By implementing this health insurance requirement, Kenya aims to strengthen its healthcare infrastructure and provide affordable and accessible healthcare services to all its residents, including foreign visitors.

The proposal also includes provisions to safeguard tourists against unforeseen emergencies, such as pandemics. The initial phase of the amendment suggests mandatory membership for foreigners residing in the country for more than one year, ensuring their inclusion in the broader healthcare ecosystem.

International Precedents

Kenya's decision to require health insurance for foreign visitors follows international precedents set by Schengen countries. Schengen countries mandate that travelers purchase travel health insurance to enter any EU or Schengen country. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in denied entry, aligning with laws currently effective in countries like France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Croatia, and Denmark.

Impact on Tourism

Tourism plays a pivotal role in Kenya's economy, attracting millions of visitors every year to explore its diverse landscapes, wildlife, and cultural heritage. In 2021, approximately 1.48 million people visited Kenya, with the majority arriving for tourism purposes. The introduction of mandatory health insurance is expected to have several positive impacts on the tourism sector:

  • Enhanced Visitor Experience: Tourists will have peace of mind knowing that they have access to healthcare services if needed during their stay, making their experience in Kenya more enjoyable.
  • Healthcare for Non-Emergency Situations: The new insurance program will not only cover medical emergencies but also provide treatment for chronic and non-emergency conditions, further enhancing the overall quality of healthcare available to visitors.
  • Economic Boost: By making healthcare services more accessible, Kenya can potentially attract a broader spectrum of tourists, including those seeking long-term stays for various purposes, such as work or retirement.
  • Sustainability: The revenue generated from health insurance premiums can be reinvested into healthcare infrastructure, making the healthcare system more sustainable in the long run.

Legislative Progress and Broader Healthcare Reforms

Apart from the Social Health Insurance Bill, 2023, the Kenyan Parliament is also considering three other critical healthcare Bills: the Digital Health Bill of 2023, the Facility Improvement Financing Bill of 2023, and the Primary Healthcare Bill of 2023. These legislative proposals aim to revamp and improve healthcare services across the country.

Contributions to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF)

To ensure the financial viability of the NHIF and protect residents against the financial issues that have plagued the fund, foreign residents will also be required to contribute to the NHIF. Those who fail to provide proof of payment may lose access to essential government services. Despite increased collections from members, the NHIF has faced challenges in reimbursing hospitals due to a surge in claims and ongoing fraud, resulting in substantial financial losses.

Exploring the Beauty of Kenya

While Kenya's healthcare reforms are making headlines, it's essential not to forget the breathtaking beauty of the country that continues to draw visitors from around the world. Some of the most memorable places tourists should explore include:

  • Masai Mara: Witness the stunning wildlife in their natural habitat in this world-renowned game reserve.
  • Fort Jesus: Explore the historical significance of this UNESCO World Heritage site in Mombasa.
  • Mount Kenya: Embark on an unforgettable trek to the second-highest peak in Africa, offering breathtaking views and unique flora and fauna.
  • Lake Nakuru: Discover the remarkable flamingo population and diverse bird species in this beautiful national park.
  • Watamu: Relax on pristine beaches and explore the vibrant marine life in this coastal town.
  • Laikipia: Experience the tranquility of this region, known for its conservation efforts and unique wildlife encounters.


Kenya's decision to impose a local health insurance requirement for foreign visitors is a significant step towards enhancing healthcare access and promoting tourism in the country. This move aligns with the government's broader agenda of achieving universal health coverage and ensuring the well-being of all residents and visitors alike. 

As the legislative process unfolds and the healthcare infrastructure evolves, Kenya remains a top destination for travelers seeking not only natural beauty but also the assurance of comprehensive healthcare support during their stay.




To obtain a eTA for Kenya

  • Step1: Complete the online application by providing your passport details
  • Step2: Submit payment online using a credit card.
  • Step3: Monitor your email for confirmation of payment and receipt of your eTA, which will be sent electronically.
Get eTA to Kenya

Recent News

Show More