Customs in Rwanda has one particular peculiarity: a total ban on bringing plastic bags into the country. While this is enormously progressive (and was designed to stop the disfiguring of the countryside), it’s not enforced with any great rigor and suitcases are rarely searched. Otherwise, customs in Rwanda is fairly relaxed.
Nearly all visitors require a visa for Rwanda, and while certain nationalities can get one on arrival, many others will have to get one in advance.
If you’ve arrived on a T2 visa and need to extend it, you must do so at Rwanda Immigration in Kigali’s Kacyiru district, about 7km northeast of the city centre near the American Embassy. Bring the appropriate form (available online), a passport-sized photo, your passport, a letter of introduction or a letter addressed to the Director of Immigration explaining why you require a visa, and RFr30,000. Extensions take five days to issue. V1 visas cannot be extended.
Almost everyone now requires a visa to enter Rwanda. Citizens of Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and the US can automatically receive visas on arrival at Kigali International airport and all land borders (US$30). All other passport holders must obtain a visa before entering the country at the Rwandan embassy in their country of residence. These visas (called class T2) cost US$50, are valid for 90 days and are good for multiple entries within that time.
If Rwanda isn’t represented in your country then you need to register online at Rwanda Immigration (www.migration.gov.rw) before you travel. The website is a little confusing, but once you’ve submitted the online form you’ll receive your letter of entitlement within three days. Present this letter at the border along with the US$30 fee to obtain a single-entry, 30-day visa (called a V1 visa). Multiple entry V1 visas are US$60. It is no longer possible to obtain a visa on arrival without first obtaining the aforementioned letter of entitlement. Although the online form asks you to attach a letter of invitation, this is not a compulsory prerequisite and it’s fine to skip this section.
East Africa Tourist Visa
Rwanda is one of the countries covered by the East Africa Tourist Visa and for those also visiting Kenya and Uganda on the same trip it is a cheaper alternative. The visa costs US$100, is valid for 90 days and is multiple entry – it is available upon arrival or from embassies abroad. If acquiring the visa before travel, your first port-of-call must be the country through which you applied for the visa.
The East Africa Tourist Visa allows entry to Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. Applications should be made in advance with the country to be entered first. For Rwanda, applications can be made with the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration or at any Rwandan Embassy or Diplomatic Mission, or online. Once an online application is approved, the visa can be collected upon arrival at Kigali (Kanombe) International Airport. Cost is US$100 and vaolidity is 90 days.