Commencing 1st September 2022 the Kingdom has reopened the Saudi Arabian Visa on Arrival program originally launched in 2019, shortly before the pandemic that changed travel for everyone. Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia Ahmed Al Khateeb announced his signature on a Ministerial Decree that makes tourism travel to Saudi Arabia easier, quicker and much more accessible. The Ministerial Decree eliminates the requirement to attend the applicant’s residence country’s Saudi Arabian Embassy and submitting his original passport before entering the Kingdom, increasing the numbers of potential travelers through a simplified process and allowing spontaneity in travel.
“Restoring the Visa on Arrival program marks the final step in returning Saudi to a pre-pandemic level of openness and makes it one of the most accessible destinations in the world for leisure, business and religious travel,” said Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of STA. “This decision by the government will further support the many thousands of people who depend on tourism for their livelihoods while welcoming the world back to the destination with the warm hospitality for which the Saudi people are renowned.”
Citizens of any country eligible for the e-visa program, which was introduced in 2019, may also receive a visa on arrival, regardless of the airline they are travelling with. Both e-Visas and Saudi Visas on Arrival refer to tourism-related activities (sightseeing, exploring, visiting friends etc) and Umrah (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, excluding Hajj season).
Who Qualifies for the Saudi Visa On Arrival
If you are a citizen of the countries below, you are eligible to apply for a Saudi Arabia Visa on Arrival:
- San Marino
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- South Korea
- The United States
- New Zealand
Besides the above listed countries also holders of a valid tourist or business visas from the UK, US or one of the Schengen Agreement countries continue to be able to apply for a Saudi Visa on Arrival.
Lastly, residents of the above countries (US, UK, and EU) can gain a Saudi Arabia Visa on Arrival. These can be BRP (Biometric Residency Permit) card holders, IRL (Indefinite Leave to Remain) holders, residents on Student Visas or Work Visas. It I important to note that also their first-degree relatives can accompany them to their travel and obtain the Saudi Visa on Arrival.
Saudi Visa on Arrival Process and Requirements
- Obtaining a Saudi Visa on Arrival is possible regardless of the mode of transportation. The Saudi Visa on Arrival can be issued at Saudi air, land and sea ports.
- Underaged applicants could obtain the Saudi Visa on Arrival as long as they are accompanied by an adult guardian.
- At the time of the application, all applicants must have a minimum of 6months validity on their passports.
For travelers who hold USA, United Kingdom or Schengen visas, additionally the following must apply in order to obtain a Saudi Visa on Arrival:
- The visa must be valid.
- It is either a tourist or a business.
- The visa has been used at least once and the passport carries an entry stamp from the issuing country.
Saudi Arabia Visa on Arrival Important Information
- Saudi Visa on Arrival eligibility pre-checks are conducted by the airline before boarding flights to Saudi Arabia.
- In most cases the process should not take more than 5 – 30 minutes depending on the case.
- Keep in mind that to obtain the Saudi Visa on Arrival you will not require a return ticket or accommodation bookings (yet you will be asked to state a KSA address is). For UK, US and Schengen area residents it is not required to provide hard copies or their residency permits or visas, yet soft copies are advisable.
- The applicant’s religion is irrelevant.
- Refund in case of rejection is not possible. Visa fees are non-refundable.
- In the case of an applicant overstaying his Saudi Visa on Arrival there will be a SAR100 penalty for each day of overstay.
How much does a Saudi Visa on Arrival cost?
The Saudi Visa on Arrival costs SAR 300. Visitors must also obtain medical insurance (that includes COVID-19 treatment coverage) for SAR 180 including tax, bringing the total fees to SAR 480. The fees can be paid via international credit and debit cards or MADA alone.
How long is a Saudi Visa on Arrival valid for?
As per visitsaudi.com, at the moment Saudi Visas on Arrival can be:
- 12 months valid visa with multiple entries and maximum of 90days of consecutive stay on each trip
- 3 months valid visa with single entry and stay for up to 30days
Yet note, that which of the above validities will be granted in not up to the applicant but rather a decision made by the local authorities (MoFA) at the time of the application. The applicant might request the wished validity, but it will be only at the discretion of the Immigration Officers.
What is the differences between Saudi Visa on Arrival and Saudi eVisa
As per Saudia’s website, a Saudi eVisa is valid for one-year with multiple entries, allowing tourists to spend up to 90 days in the country on each visit when a Saudi Visa on Arrival could be a 3month single entry with 30 days of stay or a 1year multiple entry visa with up to 90 days of stay in each visa.
An eVisa is obtained in advance of the travel by completing an easy application form on visitsaudi.com when a Saudi Visa on Arrival is obtained when entering the Kingdom.
The cost for the tourist Saudi eVisa is SAR 535 SAR when the cost for the tourist Saudi Visa on Arrival is SAR 480 SAR. Both include charges in regard to health insurance during the whole length of stay in the Kingdom.
For all other nationalities
Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to visitors from all over the world. Therefore, even if someone is not eligible for an eVisa or a Saudi Visa on Arrival, he or she could still apply for a Tourist Visa from his local Embassy or Consulate.
Below you can see a brief description of the relevant requirements:
- Minimum age of applicants is 18 years old when minor must be accompanied by a guardian.
- Applicant’s passport must have a minimum of 6months validity on their passport
- Documents required include:
- Proof of accommodation (hotel bookings etc.)
- Flight itinerary including a return ticket
- Proof of employment
- Financial solvency/Bank statement showing sufficient funds
- Complete personal information including home address.
Keep in mind:
- A Saudi sponsor is not required for this visa type.
- For the visa to be issued please allow 2-3 business days in most cases.