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Emergency Financial Assistance
February 25, 2021

In most countries, the State Department strongly encourages Americans to use commercial services, such as credit card advances, ATMs, or Western Union to deal with financial emergencies.

Americans have a number of available options in Kenya. See available options below:

  • The fastest way to transfer funds in Kenya, is through Western Union.  Western Union in Kenya has branches in all major Kenyan cities.  You will need a valid identity document and the Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) provided to you by the money sender. For your convenience you can use the Western Union website to track the money transfer online.  Call Western Union at 1-800-325-6000 or 4176 or go online and follow their instructions to transfer money using a major credit card.
  • You may also transfer money through the MPESA Global money transfer service from the United States.

If these commercial services are not available to you, the State Department will help transfer money to a U.S. citizen suffering a financial emergency in Kenya.  The Department will establish a trust account in the recipient’s name and send the money overseas.  The Department charges a $30 processing fee.  Remember this service is only for emergencies.

When the State Department receives the funds from family or friends in the States, they authorize the U.S. Embassy in Kenya to disburse the money.  Funds are disbursed only during normal office hours, not during weekends or local holidays when the Embassy is closed.  The U.S. citizen abroad must contact the Consular Section at the Embassy or Consulate to arrange receipt.  The funds are sent to the State Department in dollars, and they are normally disbursed in American dollars.

Whatever method used, be sure to provide the sender’s name, address and telephone number, as well as the recipient’s name and overseas location.  Otherwise, the transfer may be significantly delayed.

Friends or family in the U.S. can visit the State Department’s website which provides step-by-step instructions on how to send money overseas.  A family member may also call the State Department at (202) 647-5225 and speak with the State Department Duty Officer for more information or to clarify the procedure.

WESTERN UNION: Funds sent by Western Union arrive at the State Department within a few hours.  Western Union charges a fee based on the amount sent and these fees can be substantial.  If they do not have a major credit card, they should call the local Western Union agent for instructions.  Tell Western Union to send the money and message to: Overseas Citizens Services (OCS), Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520, code (overseas emergency) and city (DC). The Department of State has a Western Union check writer in the office.  If you send it to any other Western Union office in Washington, it will be significantly delayed.

Call Western Union at 1-800-325-6000 or 4176 or go online and follow their instructions to transfer money using a major credit card.

BANKWIRE: Bank wire transfers can no longer be used to send money to OCS trust.

Other Methods: Cashier’s check or money order are options, however these are the slowest methods and not recommended.

OVERNIGHT MAIL: Send a cashier’s check or money order for the desired amount plus $30 (Department of State fee), made payable to the Department of State, to: Overseas Citizen Services, Department of State, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20520.  Delivery of overnight mail takes 2 to 3 days to reach their office.  The Department of State will then forward the money to the Embassy, and we’ll contact the American when it arrives.

REGULAR MAIL: Regular mail can take three to four weeks to reach the State Department due to on-going irradiation procedures. We strongly discourage this method for emergency use.

If you are destitute in Kenya or Somalia and need more information on a loan to return back home, please click here. Repatriation Loan Program