What you need to know when crossing East Africa Community trade border posts

By Tom Biegon

The three East African countries, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have consistently committed to expanding trade by facilitating free movement of people across the borders.

This has been greatly improved with the introduction of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) where processing of travel documents are done in a centralized location hence improved efficiency and revenue collection. KenTrade, being a key stakeholder in documentation has presence in the three key land borders-Namanga, Busia and Malaba.

The three countries have almost similar requirements to cross to their countries. It is important to have proper documentation so as to reduce the time at the crossing point.

In Uganda and Tanzania, a Kenyan crossing needs to have the following documents:

  • National Identification card to Uganda and temporary passport in Tanzania
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate
  • If driving, a Car logbook and valid driving license
  • Valid insurance.
  • Negative Covid-19 certificate not less than 14 days old

 In case the car is not yours, you need a valid power of attorney document from the owner of the car.

As for money, you can change cash at any of the border points. Avoid carrying lots of cash and confirm from your bank if the debit cards are working. Also important to note is that driving a car with foreign number plates attracts more attention from the Ugandan and Tanzanian police who are in most towns. Expect to be stopped at every checkpoint and ensure you have with you a fire extinguisher that is not expired, a first aid kit and two stable reflectors. The police are rather strict with these items and you better be safe to avoid inconveniences

The Kenya-Uganda and Kenya-Tanzania border is occupied by communities who are related culturally or as a family. So in order to facilitate their free movement within the border villages, one is allowed to cross to either side as long as it is within 15 kilometres from the border point.

The cost of living varies between the three EAC states. Uganda and Tanzania are generally cheaper for food and clothing, while other services like phone airtime and data costs are more expensive than Kenya.

On Security, Tanzania and Uganda are generally safer than Kenya. It is good to avoid walking at night as a foreigner. On Health care systems, good facilities in Tanzania and Uganda are mostly available in major towns only. So to avoid inconveniences, ensure that you get any necessary medical checkup before travelling.

At  the Namanga, Busia, Malaba and Lunga Lunga OSBP passengers, cargo and vehicles stop just once to process border crossing formalities in order to exit one partner state and enter the other. All procedures and processing of documentation for goods and passengers are carried out in a single clearance hall for exit and entry.

The writer is the KenTrade Customer Service Assistant and regional representative based at Busia Kenya border One Stop Border Post



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