Saudi Arabia has updated its entry rules to make the country more accessible to visitors.
A new decree signed by the country’s Minister of Tourism allows GCC residents to apply for e-visas through the dedicated online portal, www.visitsaudi.com/visa, and makes it easier for travellers from the UK, the US and the EU to enter the kingdom.
“Tourism bridges cultures and connects communities, it provides opportunities and uplifts neighbourhoods, and I am proud to lead the ministry as we build this future together,” said Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism.
New entry rules for GCC travellers
In order to be eligible for an e-visa, visitors must have a residence visa issued by a GCC country with validity of at least three months, and a passport that is valid for more than six months. Applicants must also be employed in specific occupations, which are listed on the portal.
Single-entry visas are valid for three months and multiple-entry visas last for one year. The single-entry option allows travellers to stay in Saudi Arabia for a maximum of one month, while there is a 90-day length of stay for multiple-entry visas. Applicants cannot specify which option they want — this will be decided on a case by case basis by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This e-visa allows holders to perform Umrah outside of Hajj season, as declared by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Pilgrims hoping to perform Hajj will still need to apply for special visas through their nearest Saudi embassy or consulate.
For children under the age of 18, parents are required to apply for their e-visa first and then reapply for minors. The cost per application is 300 Saudi riyals ($80), plus the cost of valid health insurance.
Other countries eligible for eVisas
Rules for US, UK and EU travellers
As part of Saudi Arabia’s new entry rules, residents of the US, the UK and the EU can apply for a visa on arrival. Applicants must hold a permanent residence permit from the US, the UK or an EU country, and a passport that is valid for more than six months. Visas will be granted on arrival at all of Saudi Arabia’s air, sea and land ports.
The cost per application is 300 Saudi riyals, plus the cost of valid health insurance. Again, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will decide on a case by case basis whether to grant single or multiple-entry visas. Validity and duration of stay is the same as for GCC visitors.
Holders of US, UK or Schengen visas, whether for business or tourist purposes, can also enter Saudi Arabia without needing to apply in advance, as long as the visa has already been used at least once and has an entry stamp from the issuing country.
As with GCC visitors, this visa allows holders to perform Umrah outside of Hajj season.
Visas issued by embassies
All other nationalities must acquire their visa through their nearest Saudi embassy. In order to apply, potential visitors must supply proof of accommodation, a return ticket, proof of employment, a flight itinerary, complete personal information, including a home address and a bank statement as proof of financial solvency.