Traveling to Saudi Arabia

traveling to SA
Updated 2020-04-17 10:07

Saudi Arabia was known as very selective in its acceptance of visitors. In 2019, the country has opened up for tourists and many of the strict rules for expats working and living here, and for the visitors, were abolished.

If you are going to visit Saudi Arabia, you will be invited into the country under one of the many visa allowances, depending on the character of your travel. Keep in mind that you cannot use tourists visas for other purposes but tourism and visiting friends/ family.

The majority of foreigners travelling to Saudi Arabia are still driven by business reasons or employment opportunities. With the economy rapidly developing companies, schools and ventures are seeking talent globally, offering expats attractive contracts to live and work in Saudi Arabia.

Many foreigners also have the ability to travel to Saudi Arabia for the Muslim pilgrimage to visit the holy sites.

Types of visas for Saudi Arabia

When looking to travel to Saudi Arabia, one of the following visas may apply to your stay:

  • Business Visa
  • Work or Residence Visa
  • Transit Visa
  • Family Visit Visa
  • Student Visa
  • Visa Extension
  • Service Visa
  • Religious Visa
  • Tourist Visa

Recently, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National heritage announced that UK, US and Schengen passport holders will obtain their tourist visas on arrival.


Visas for both long and short stays in the country need to be authorised by the Ministry of Interior.

Except for the tourist visa which can be obtained on arrival, online or via your local embassy (depending on your nationality), the rest of the visa applications must be initiated by someone or a company in Saudi Arabia. Once you have secured either an invitation and/or contract to come to Saudi Arabia, an application will be created at the Ministry of Interior and sent to the Saudi Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

Visa application process in Saudi Arabia

It is important to know that the application process for foreigners differs for each country. You are, therefore, advised to check the specific application requirements for your home country.

All visa applications for Saudi Arabia include similar requirements. You will have to complete a comprehensive health evaluation and submit all the results with your application. This includes an HIV test that is mandatory for all applicants.

A recent police clearance report of less than 6 months will also be requested in the application process. All religious beliefs need to be clearly stated in the application process. Note that any stamps of Israel visits in your passport will automatically deny you a visa.

Religious pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will have authorised access to Medina and Mecca. Note that these are considered as sacred places and are prohibited to non-Muslims.

In regards to your passport's validity requirement, it should be confirmed with the Saudi representation in your home country.

If you have a sponsorship or guarantee letter to travel to Saudi Arabia, you are advised to request your sponsor to specify the maximum of days you are authorised to stay in the country. In fact, the visa validity period starts as of the date of issuance of the visa.


While travelling to Saudi Arabia, you are strictly forbidden from carrying the following products: pornographic materials, alcoholic beverages, pork and all related products, prohibited drugs, firearms, explosives, and knives, religious objects other than the Islamic ones. Also, any medication must be accompanied by a prescription.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Customs

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