Saudi Arabia launches tourist eVisa for GCC residents
On September 1st, 2022, the Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, announced his signature on a Ministerial Decree created to facilitate and expand tourism in the country. The new measures mainly benefit residents of other countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
From now on, residents of these countries who want to visit Saudi Arabia will be able to apply for an electronic visa online prior to their trip.
Before this decree, residents of GCC countries who wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia were required to provide their personal information, flight itinerary, return tickets, financial solvency documents, proof of accommodation, and proof of employment at their nearest Saudi embassy.
Now, all they need to do is enter Saudi Arabia’s e-visa website, upload the required documents, and pay the fees (300 SAR plus health insurance costs). After that, if they are approved, they will receive their electronic visa directly by e-mail. If they are refused the e-visa, the fees won’t be reimbursed.
There are only a few conditions: the applicant’s residency documents must have a validity of at least 3 months, their passport needs to have a validity of at least 6 months, and their occupation must be among the eligible occupations listed in the portal. If the applicant is a child under 18 years old, a parent must apply for the electronic visa first (this is mandatory).
Provided that they meet all the requirements, successful applicants will be able to travel to Saudi Arabia for tourism purposes and to attend the umrah, outside of the Hajj season.
Successful applicants can also bring their first-degree relatives with them if these relatives apply for an e-visa as well. However, these family members will only be able to enter the country if they are accompanied by the main applicant.
The electronic visa can be valid for single or multiple entries, depending on the case. An electronic visa for a single entry last 3 months and visas for multiple entries last up to one year.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will decide which electronic visa is appropriate for the applicant. Based on this decision, authorities will grant foreign travelers permission to stay in the country for 30 days (if they choose a single-entry e-visa for the traveler) or 90 days (if they opt for a visa valid for multiple entries).
The Ministerial Decree also enables residents of the UK, US, and the EU to apply for a visa on arrival in Saudi Arabia. Holders of a valid tourist or business visa from the UK, US, or any Schengen country could already apply for a visa on arrival in Saudi Arabia if they had used their visas at least once to arrive in the country granting the visa. This option continues to be available for them.
Citizens of other countries can visit Saudi Arabia for tourism purposes through an electronic visa if they are from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Andorra, Iceland, Monaco, Ukraine, Russia, Montenegro, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, or the European Union. All of these countries are also eligible for a 12-month tourism visa on arrival in Saudi Arabia.