With the new 2019 tourist visa policy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to the world. As a part of the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 drive, the Saudi Arabian government is keen on expanding its frontiers on all fronts, including tourism. The aim is to strengthen the country’s economic structure and make it resilient through diversification in all sectors, beyond oil production and export.
Earlier Saudi visas were granted only for business, employment and religious pilgrimage purposes (Hajj visa). But now, people across 49 nations can apply for a tourist e-visa, through a fast and easy-to-use online portal. Tourist visas are valid for 360 days from the issuance date, and one can stay in the country for up to 90 days during one visit. The e-visa is a multiple-entry one, but it does not permit tourists to spend more than 180 days in a single year in the Kingdom. Overstaying can lead to fines and immediate deportation.
The UK is included in the list of countries under this e-visa program. Those who belong to a country that is not listed can contact the nearest Saudi Arabia embassy or consulate to obtain a visit visa. If based in the United kingdom, please visit our Saudi Embassy London page.
The different Visa types for Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia grants different types of Saudi visas, apart from the tourist visa. One can apply for these visas with the help of accredited visa agencies of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. The types of visas that Saudi Arabia grants include:
- Saudi Arabia Family Visit Visa: This visa is suitable for those who have family members or friends residing in the KSA or if a family member is employed in a Saudi company on an Saudi work visa. A letter of invitation is needed from your sponsor, verified by the MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The MOFA invite is then sent to the Saudi Embassy in London.
- Saudi Business Visit Visa: This visa is required for attending a business conference, meeting or summit, or to talk about investment opportunities. This visa also requires a MOFA invitation letter, or an invitation letter attested by the Saudi Chamber of Commerce.
- Hajj Visa: To travel to the religious pilgrimage sites of Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah, a Hajj or Umrah visa is needed. Applications for this visa are permitted only during certain periods in a year, and only Muslim visitors can apply for it. Without a Hajj visa, entry to these cities is not permitted, even with a valid tourist visa.
How Long is the Saudi Arabia Visit Visa Valid For
The Saudi online visa is valid for up to 360 days from the date of issuance. However, one can stay for only up to 90 days in one visit. Hajj visas are valid for 30 days. Business visit visas can be valid for between 30 to 60 days, depending on the country of origin and letter of invitation issued by the MOFA-KSA.
Single-entry family visit visas are valid for 30 days, whilst multiple-entry visas are valid for 90 days. With multiple-entry visas, it is possible to re-enter the KSA up to 4 times, and each visit lasting up to 90 days.
How to Check the Saudi Arabia Visit Visa Validity Online
The Enjazit acts as a link between applicants and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). This portal helps you track the status of your visit visa validity. The steps are:
- Visit this direct link
- Change the language from Arabic to English with Google Translate
- Enter the correct information in the boxes on the page, such as passport number, visa type, current nationality and arrival destination.
- Enter the random image code
- Click on ‘Perform the Search’
The system will display all the details of your visit visa, including issuing date and expiry date. If the page shows an error message, it means the visa is yet to be stamped.
You can also check the status of your visa validity through the MOFA website. The steps are:
- Go to the MOFA website
- Scroll down to reach the “Enquiry” section
- In the box titled “searching for”, choose “Application submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”
- Enter your application number
- Enter your national identity number or residence number in the box titled “Record Number”. This can be your Iqama number.
- Enter the randomly generated image icon
- Click on “Inquire”
The above method can be used for checking the validity of the family visit visa online, in case you are a sponsor for your dependents visiting the KSA. A red error message in Arabic means that the visa has not been issued or has expired. In case it has been issued, the system will display the name, nationality, visa number, requester name and expiry date of the visitor.
What Happens if Your Visa Expires past its validity in Saudi Arabia
If your visa expires in Saudi Arabia, you may be liable to pay statutory penalties and could even be held in custody and deported. The authorities can finalise your deportation after the collection of statutory fines, and then issue an exit visa.
If this violation takes place whilst visiting a family member in the KSA, the Ministry of Interior can issue directives against the family member for harbouring you, terminating his Iqama and deporting him as well. You may also face a ban on re-entering Saudi Arabia in the future.
Saudi Arabia Visit Visa Application Closure dates
The MOFA stops issuing family visit visas from the first day of Ramadan, so it is better to apply for a visit visa at least a month before the holy month begins.