Before you arrive

2 min read
01 Jan 2024

Kigali can be a very affordable place to live, but make sure you have savings for initial expenses. It’s recommended that you arrange to rent a room in a shared house while you search for a more permanent place. Check out or the Facebook groups Expats in Rwanda and Living in Kigali for leads. Pick up a map from before arriving as it’s the most accurate map of the city and packed with information useful for newcomers. A yellow fever vaccine is required and you’ll need it for international travel within the region. Malaria is more common in the countryside than in Kigali and many foreigners choose to forgo antimalarial medication, but check with your doctor for advice on this and other vaccines. All residence permits require a police certificate from your country of residence for the previous six months and some visas require notarized copies of academic certificates, so be sure to bring these.

Visas and Work Permits

Rwanda prides itself on its openness and offers a progressive and forward-thinking visa program. Citizens from every nation in the world are entitled to a thirty-day visa on arrival, which is free for citizens of the African Union, Commonwealth and Francophonie member states. Visa rules change often, so check 

for the latest information and to start your application for either a temporary or permanent residence permit. Most foreigners apply for a temporary permit, of which there are over twenty categories. If you want to travel among Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, the East African Tourist Visa is an excellent option, but it doesn’t allow you to work. 


Health insurance isn’t mandatory in Rwanda and many foreigners staying for shorter stays will take out travel insurance and call it a day. For those who want more extensive coverage or who are staying for longer, taking out a local policy is a good idea. UAP is a popular choice among foreigners – the company offers every type of insurance policy you could think of, including individual and family medical coverage and vehicle and liability insurance. You can get a quote at Outpatient services in Rwanda are very affordable, which is worth keeping in mind when choosing a plan. No local health insurance provider will offer repatriation of a body, though many will fly you to Kenya or South Africa for treatment of serious injuries and illness. Those coming to Rwanda as employees should negotiate health insurance coverage with their employer. Car insurance is mandatory here but home and business insurance are less commonly used.

Main photo by Michael Muli