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Kenya passport & visa photo requirements
5 min read
Updated on May 14, 2024

Witnessing the wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara. Walking through the historic ruins of Gedi near Mombasa. All these experiences await you in Kenya, but you must get your Kenya Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) first. Something as simple as a passport photo can significantly impact your application's success.

Getting your passport and visa photos right is key when applying for a Kenya ETA. Some specific standards and requirements can make or break your application. That's precisely why we've put together this handy guide. It's all about giving you the lowdown on everything passport-photo-related to ensure your application sails through without a hitch.

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We're here to ensure every part of your application meets the mark, including those all-important passport photos. With our help, you can focus on the excitement of your upcoming trip, not on the nitty-gritty of paperwork. Let's get your journey to Kenya started on the right foot.

Why getting your photo right matters for your Kenya trip

Kenya has recently launched the ETA, which now replaces the previous Kenya eVisa system. This means almost everyone from another country needs this to get into Kenya.

When applying for a Kenya ETA, you must include a passport photo. Making sure this photo fits the Kenyan government's specifications is critical.

The government in Kenya has laid out clear guidelines for visa photos because they help confirm who you are and make your journey easier. Getting your photo right helps your paperwork move faster, paving the way for quicker approval.

However, failure to meet these photo requirements can introduce several challenges. The biggest problem could be the rejection of your Kenya ETA application, leading to delays, additional costs, and potential stress as you prepare for your journey. In extreme cases, non-compliance could even result in being denied entry upon arrival, significantly disrupting your travel plans.

Guidelines for your Kenya visa photo: ETA application essentials

Here's a quick guide to ensuring your passport photo meets the requirements for your ETA application.


  • Your photo must be 45 mm in height and 35 mm in width.

  • The area from the top of your hair to the bottom of your chin should fill roughly 70% of the photo's height.

Background and appearance

  • Use a solid background in white, one that doesn't have patterns and shadows.

  • Aim for a neutral look with your mouth closed, and avoid smiling.

  • Keep your head straight and face the camera directly.

  • Eyes should be open and visible. If you wear glasses, make sure there's no glare and they don't obscure your eyes. .

  • Wear your everyday clothes, making sure they contrast with the background. Uniforms or themed costumes are not recommended.

Photo quality

  • The photograph should be sharp, well-lit, with natural color tones.

  • The photo should be recent, ideally taken within the past six months, to accurately reflect your current appearance.


  • Headwear is mostly not permitted, except for religious or medical reasons, and mustn't obscure any facial features.

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  • Jewelry is allowed if it doesn't hide any part of your face.

Kenya visa photo requirements: Common mistakes to avoid

Getting your visa photo right is crucial; small details can make a big difference. Here are some common slip-ups to steer clear of to make sure your photo gets the thumbs up:

  • Not the right size: Your photo needs to be 35x45 mm. If it's not, you might have to redo it.

  • Too bright or dim: Make sure your photo isn't washed out with too much light or hidden in shadows. You want even lighting to show your features clearly.

  • Shadows or dark areas: Your whole face should be easy to see. Shadows can hide your features, which isn't good for visa photos.

  • Fuzzy pictures: A clear, focused photo is a must. If it's blurry, it's harder to see your face properly.

  • Wrong accessories: Skip the hats, sunglasses, and big earrings that can block parts of your face.

  • Busy backgrounds: The backdrop for your photo should be simple and one color. Patterns or busy scenes can distract from your face.

  • Making faces: Keep a straight face without smiling, and look straight at the camera with both eyes open.

  • Not facing the camera right: Look straight ahead. Angling your head can mess with how your facial features look in the photo.

  • Old photos: Use a photo taken in the last six months to represent accurately how you look now.

Passport & visa photos for babies

Capturing the perfect passport and visa photos for babies and young children comes with challenges. Yet, it's entirely doable with a bit of preparation and patience.

When taking these photos at home, you only need a good digital camera or a smartphone. The trick is to take plenty of pictures so you have a good selection to choose from, making sure the little ones are comfy and at ease.

For the young travelers who can't yet support their heads, you'll need to provide some support. However, any help—like an adult's hands—must remain out of the frame. A simple way to do this is by laying the baby down on a plain, white surface free from patterns or textures, such as a smooth sheet or poster board. This setup is beneficial for infants who can't sit up, as it allows you to get a clear shot from above, with the baby's face straight and centered.

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When it comes to the little details, like the baby's eyes and expression, there's a bit more flexibility compared to adults. Babies under one don't need to maintain a neutral facial expression. However, for children over a year, try to catch them with their mouths closed and facing the camera. Utilizing soft, natural light can make a big difference in avoiding harsh shadows, especially if the light is indirect. Avoid using a flash or direct artificial lighting.

Dressing the child appropriately is also important; simple clothing without hats or large accessories works best to keep their face visible. Timing the photo shoot when the child is usually most content and alert might help you capture them with their eyes open.

To help you meet official photo standards, consider using an online photo editing service. These platforms let you tweak the photo's size, background, and quality to match specific requirements.

Additional photo requirements and digital specifications

Beyond the primary specifications for Kenyan passport photos, there are a few less obvious but significant details to consider.

If you've undergone a significant change in your appearance recently, like facial surgery or major changes to your face, you'll need to update your photo. Your passport or visa photo must reflect your current appearance to ensure accurate identification.

For those applying online, the format and size of your digital photo are key. Your photo should be in a common format such as .jpg or .png and mustn't exceed 300kB in size. Digital images must meet the same standards of quality and composition as their printed counterparts.

Need more information?

If you've got questions about applying for the Kenya ETA, you can get in touch with our customer support team. Please send us a message on our live chat or at [email protected].

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