Visa policy of Saudi Arabia

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Visitors to Saudi Arabia must obtain a visa in advance unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries. Saudi Arabia does not currently issue tourist visas.

All visitors must hold a passport valid for six months.[1] In 2019 and in the framework of Saudi Seasons tourism activities, Saudi Arabia launched an online visa platform where applicants can receive a visa to attend Jeddah Season within three minutes, provided that they must buy a ticket for one of the activities.[2]

Visa policy map[edit]

Visa policy of Saudi Arabia
  Saudi Arabia
  Visa-free
  Visa required
  Admission refused

Visa exemption[edit]

Citizens of the following four countries do not require a visa to visit Saudi Arabia and may use national ID Cards to enter the country:[3]

Visa exemption also applies to holders of diplomatic and official passports of France.

Admission refusal[edit]

Following the severance of diplomatic ties on 5 June 2017, citizens of  Qatar are refused admission. Qatari citizens were given fourteen days to leave the country. Previously, citizens of the country did not require a visa to visit Saudi Arabia.[4][5] Qataris are now only allowed to do Hajj. [6]

Citizens of  Israel are refused admission and transit.

Any person with a passport containing any Israeli visa or stamp, or stamps from Egypt or Jordan border crossings suggesting travel into or out of Israel may be refused entry.

Hajj visas[edit]

A special visa category exists for pilgrims coming to Saudi Arabia on the Hajj. Applications are encouraged to be done via licensed travel agents and are being accepted between Mid-Shawwal and 25th Dhual-Qa'dah.[7]

Muslim female passengers arriving to perform Umrah[8] or Hajj must either be accompanied by an immediate male family member such as a father, brother, husband, or son, who must be aged 18 years or older; or be over 45 years of age and travelling within a group of female passengers of the same age, who are accompanied by a group leader until their departure.

Reform plans[edit]

In December 2013 Saudi Arabia announced its intention to begin issuing tourist visas for the first time in its history. Council of Ministers entrusted the Supreme Commission for Tourism and Antiquities with visa issuing on the basis of certain regulations approved by the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.[9] A limited tourist visa programme was cancelled in March 2014.[10] In December 2014 the Saudi Arabian authorities reiterated that tourist visas will not be reintroduced. However, in April 2016, former Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef announced that plans to start issuing tourist visas as part of Vision 2030, which aims to diversify Saudi economy and leading it away from an oil dependent economy. Saudi Arabia has welcomed Uber and Six Flags parks in its initial steps towards amplifying the tourism sector.[11] In November 2017 it was announced that Saudi Arabia would begin issuing tourist visas and online application in 2018.[12]

In January 2018 it was announced that the following nationalities will be eligible for electronic tourist visas:[13]

Women under 30 will have to be accompanied and foreign non-Muslim visitors will not be allowed to travel to the City of Mecca and the City Centre of Medina.

Full rules were expected to be published by the end of March 2018.[14] In March 2018 the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage announced that the bylaws were ready for adoption and that they would be published by the end of the first quarter of 2018.[15][16]

On September 25, 2018, the General Sports Authority announced the "Sharek International Events Visa" (SIEV), an electronic visa issued concurrently with the purchase of a ticket for qualifying special sporting events, concerts or cultural festivals through sharek.sa.[17][18] The "Sharek" visa allows visitors to enter Saudi Arabia in order to attend the event and its validity ranges from a few days before and after the event itself. Applicants will be able to obtain single-entry, single-exit 30-day visas online for 640 riyals ($170.65) and enter from any port of entry. It was reported by the UAE news agency WAM that the Kingdom is set to open the eVisa system to general visitors holding passports from the United States, all Schengen (EU) countries, Australia, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore with more countries to be added later.[19]

On 2 March 2019, Saudi Arabia announced a new visa category that will be issued for foreign visitors to attend sport, entertainment and business events in the country.[20]

On March 5, 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Saudi officials plan to allow citizens of the U.S., much of Europe, Japan and China either visa-free access to the kingdom for tourism or a visa on arrival by the end of [2019]," according to people involved in the effort to introduce these visa reforms. "The effort is meant to make visiting Saudi Arabia about as easy as traveling to neighboring Arab tourist hot spots such as Dubai."[21][22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Visas for Saudi Arabia
  2. ^ "Saudi visa in three minutes for visitors to Jeddah Season events". Arab News. 2019-06-10. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  3. ^ "Country information (visa section)". Timatic. International Air Transport Association (IATA) through Olympic Air. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/saudi-uae-bahrain-egypt-cut-ties-with-qatar-over-terrorism-1.2038481
  6. ^ https://www.thenational.ae/world/gcc/saudi-arabia-offers-visas-on-arrival-for-qatari-hajj-pilgrims-1.758511
  7. ^ "Hajj Visa". www.saudia.com. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  8. ^ Gannon, Martin Joseph; Baxter, Ian W. F.; Collinson, Elaine; Curran, Ross; Farrington, Thomas; Glasgow, Steven; Godsman, Elliot M.; Gori, Keith; Jack, Gordon R. A. (2017-06-11). "Travelling for Umrah: destination attributes, destination image, and post-travel intentions". The Service Industries Journal. 37 (7–8): 448–465. doi:10.1080/02642069.2017.1333601. ISSN 0264-2069.
  9. ^ Tourist visas to be introduced
  10. ^ Saudi suspends tourist visa scheme
  11. ^ No tourist visas for foreigners
  12. ^ Saudi Arabia to introduce tourist visas and online application in 2018
  13. ^ Saudi to issue electronic tourist visas for some foreign citizens in coming weeks
  14. ^ "Saudi Arabia to announce tourist visa regulations within two months".
  15. ^ SCTH: Bylaws for tourist visas complete
  16. ^ SCTH: Tourist visa details and regulations will be announced soon
  17. ^ "General Sports Authority on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  18. ^ Editorial, Reuters. "Saudi Arabia to offer visitor visa for special events from December". U.S. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  19. ^ "Saudi to open e-visa service to tourists". Gulf Business. 2018-12-18. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  20. ^ "Saudi Arabia steps up tourism push with new visas". Arab News. 2019-03-02. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  21. ^ "Cloistered Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Aims to Ease Entry for Tourists". Wall Street Journal. 2019-03-05. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  22. ^ "Saudi Arabia set to offer visa-free entry to travelers from U.S. and other countries". MarketWatch. 2019-03-05. Retrieved 2019-03-13.

External links[edit]