Legal Alert | Update on Changes to Tanzania’s Residence Permit Application Process

In line with Tanzania’s efforts to move immigration-related application processes online, and following the introduction of the online visa application process in December 2018, the Immigration Department recently introduced an online system for residence permit applications and renewals. The new online system requires applicants to sign up and obtain unique login credentials to enable them to submit and track the progress of their application.

Residence permits in Tanzania fall under one of three classes:

  1. Class A: Self-employed foreigners (investors)
  2. Class B: Foreigners working in a company or private institutions
  3. Class C: Other classes of foreigners, including researchers, retired persons, missionaries, students and volunteers.

Similar to the work permit application process, applicants in classes B and C are required to submit their Residence Permit applications before entering Tanzania. However, the Immigration Department does make an exceptions that allows for residence permit applications to be submitted while the applicant is in the country, provided that they have a valid Special Pass. The Special Pass, which is issued by the Immigration Department for a fee of USD 600, is a single-entry pass that allows an applicant to remain in the country while their permit application is being processed. It however does not authorise them to work during this period.

The Immigration Department has also introduced a requirement for applicants to submit a Police Clearance Certificate when applying for a Residence Permit. The process varies slightly depending on whether foreigners are in Tanzania or outside the country at the time of application:

  1. Foreigners residing in Tanzania are required to appear in person at the Forensic Bureau in Dar es Salaam to get their biometrics registered and submit certain supporting documents.
  2. Foreigners residing outside Tanzania have the option to obtain a complete set of certified fingerprints from a police station in their country of residence and have them submitted, along with other supporting documents, to the Officer-in-charge of the Forensic Bureau.

Once the application is approved, a system generated invoice for the payment of the requisite fees is issued to the applicant on the online portal. Upon payment, the applicant receives a Resident Permit Enrollment Notification (RPEN) which is a written invitation for the successful applicant to enter Tanzania and register their biometric details at the Immigration Headquarters in Dar es Salaam within 90 days of arrival. Notably, the issuance of an RPEN does not allow an applicant to start working in Tanzania.

The Immigration Department typically issues a Residence Permit within 5 to 10 working days after an applicant registers their biometrics. Subject to all the correct documents being uploaded to the portal, the entire process for obtaining a Residence Permit normally takes approximately one month.

Further details regarding the eligibility criteria and fees for a Residence Permit application are available on the Immigration Department’s website here.


Should you have any questions regarding this legal alert, please do not hesitate to contact Geofrey Dimoso or Shemane Amin.

Geofrey Dimoso
Shemane Amin


The content of this alert is intended to be of general use only and should not be relied upon without seeking specific legal advice on any matter.