There was a lot of misinformation on COVID PCR testing and required paperwork on any website we visited: airline websites, Kenya Ministry of Health (MOH), Trusted Travel, embassy, government, etc., and it was frustrating for everyone. Even when we completed all the paperwork, on a few occasions at immigration and/or the airport they didn’t even ask for it. Certainly, this is not unique to Africa, but it is an area that could be improved for any travel destination across the globe. One thing was constant – everyone asked to see your COVID PCR test for travel. We highly recommend you print your COVID PCR test. Whereas at some locations you can show your COVID test on your mobile device, others actually stamped your test so you could move to immigration. Outside your passport and any country Visa, the below is what we had to provide for COVID test validation, MOH, and Trusted Travel.
Kenya airport & immigration
We needed to show a COVID PCR test, MOH barcode, and Trusted Travel barcode. Mobile devices weren’t an issue at these locations for the barcodes or COVID test, but again we recommend a printed copy just in case. The process was smooth and easy.
Zambia & Zimbabwe airport & immigration
We needed to show a COVID PCR test, and the website said Trusted Travel barcode, but no one checked this barcode. Print your COVID test! When we arrived at Livingstone (Zambia) airport it was interesting that no one was at the immigration point to check any of our paperwork – we walked right in, collected our baggage, and left. However, when we drove from Zambia to Zimbabwe it was a completely different story. Thank goodness we had a representative driving and guiding us on what to do. On the Zambia side, we had 3 buildings to enter to show the following: building 1 – COVID test only and they stamped it; building 2 – temperature check, COVID test and they asked to see our COVID vaccine card; and building 3 – immigration and COVID test. Once we’d walked across Zambia into Zimbabwe, we had to do it all over again on the Zimbabwe side, but only for 2 buildings: building 1 – COVID test; and building 2 – immigration and COVID test.
Kenya COVID restrictions & PCR testing locations
Our 1st COVID appointment was at a location next to Wilson Airport (and our hotel was next to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport). The drive there was approximately 45 min to 1hr with traffic one way; the wait time for your COVID test was ~90 minutes. All the websites indicated it’s US$100 Cash Only. However, they didn’t accept US Cash, only local currency or Visa. On Visa it was only $57 vs. $100 so it was a win. The 2nd COVID test was 5 minutes from our hotel and we were in/out of there (again Visa only). There are several approved PCR testing locations; just pick one close to your hotel so you don’t burn an extra day or night if it’s not needed.
Zimbabwe COVID restrictions & PCR testing
The location was convenient at our hotel, Ilala Lodge. This was US$60, Cash Only vs what is published on websites as US$75.
Normal turn times were as promised everywhere (6–8 hours). If you were in a pitch, some places in Kenya had a rapid test (3–4 hours).