Visas in Saudi Arabia

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Updated 2022-02-24 08:37

Until September 2019, Saudi Arabia was officially a closed country. Tourists were allowed to visit it, only occasionally, when events were occurring. Today, after a major change in its visa policy, tourist visas are available all year round, and nationals from 51 countries can apply online or even receive their visa on arrival. The rest has to proceed via the embassies. You cannot use the tourist visa for other purposes but tourism. If you wish to move to Saudi Arabia, you will have to apply for the appropriate visa. Here is a list of available visas and related procedures.

If you want to relocate to Saudi Arabia, the most important and mandatory step is obtaining a visa. All foreign visitors, except for GCC nationals, require some type of visa to enter and stay in the country. According to your specific condition and reasons for your trip to Saudi Arabia, you will probably need a visa.

Types of visas in Saudi Arabia

There are different types of visas available in Saudi Arabia:

  • Work visa
  • Resident visa
  • Transit visa
  • Diplomatic mission visa
  • Special visa
  • Extended return visa
  • Trade visit visa
  • Government visit visa
  • Temporary work visa
  • Accompanying visa
  • Missions and organizations visit visa
  • Personal visit visa
  • Work visit visa
  • Family visit visa
  • Religious visit visa
  • Business visa.
  • Tourist visa ( Since September 2019)

Good to know:

Since January 2020, the General Authority of Civil Aviation - GACA, has directed the national carriers to abide by the decision to allow entry into the Kingdom for holders of Schengen, US and UK visas, under certain conditions.

If you intend to move to Saudi Arabia, whether to work or settle there, it is best to inquire about all travel conditions and formalities beforehand.

Registration in Saudi Arabia

Enjazit is the official web portal that all prospective visa-obtaining visitors must be registered to before applying. This website is where the request and status of the visa application can be tracked.

It's helpful to note that mostly all Saudi Embassies worldwide require you to use an appointed visa processing office for applications.

Visa application procedures in Saudi Arabia

You will most likely use a visa processing office to submit your application to the embassy. They will guide you through the process for a fee (which should be reimbursed by your Saudi employer, if applicable), simplifying the whole procedure.

All applications have certain required documentation; make sure to check that your application is complete upon submission to avoid visa denial. Regardless of the visa you are applying for, you will have to produce the following documents:

  • Your original passport (valid for 6 months following your return date with 2 free pages face-to-face or front/back, and without any visa or stamp of Israeli origin)
  • 2 colour original passport-size photos (scanned photos will not be accepted)
  • The original of the duly filled and signed visa application form in which you are required to specify your religion (you can choose between Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, etc. Atheists' application will be rejected by the Saudi consulate or embassy in your home country)

Applying for a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia

The application process and requirements for obtaining a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia differ depending on your country of origin. Currently, there are two main types of tourist visas that travelers can apply for: E-visa and Consulate Visa

To apply for an E-Visa to Saudi Arabia, you need to be a resident of one of the following countries:

(America): Canada and the United States

(Asia): Brunei, China (Hong Kong, Taipei, Macau), Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan

(Oceania): Australia and New Zealand

(Europe): Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom

You can obtain your E-Visa on arrival if you arrive at one of these ports of entry:

  • King Khalid International Airport (Riyadh)
  • King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (Jeddah)
  • King Fahad International Airport (Dammam)
  • Prince Mohammed bin Abdul-Aziz International Airport (Madinah)
  • King Fahad Causeway
  • Or Al Bathaa Land Port

Important:

Make sure to check with your Saudi Arabia embassy or consulate if you qualify for a visa on arrival prior to making your travel plans.

US and Schengen visa holders may receive their visas upon arrival at the above-mentioned ports of entry under the condition that their US or Schengen visa has been used at least once.

If you don't come from one of the countries listed above, you will need to apply for a visa via the Saudi Arabia embassy or consulate in your home country.

To apply for a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia via a consulate or embassy, you will generally need to provide the following documents:

  • A duly filled in application form;
  • A passport valid for at least six more months from the date of application;
  • Health insurance purchased from Saudi Arabia: you will see the list of options for local health insurance providers once your Enjaz form (an online application for a Saudi visa) has been processed;
  • Proof of accommodation for the duration of your stay: hotel or residence;
  • Visa fees (around $123 including insurance);
  • Roundtrip ticket and travel itinerary;
  • Proof of employment;
  • A bank statement to prove your financial solvency;
  • Personal information including your current home address.

Note that additional documents may also be requested.

A tourist visa to Saudi Arabia is typically valid for up to one year and will grant you a maximum of 90 days of stay in the country. Visas are granted for both single and multiple entries.

For information on the latest travel regulations and COVID-19 related restrictions for entering Saudi Arabia, check out Traveling to Saudi Arabia.

Applying for a work visa to Saudi Arabia

If you plan to work in Saudi Arabia, you will need to apply for a residence permit, also known as Iqama.

The Iqama is the national residency permit for foreigners living and working in Saudi Arabia. It is a registered permit by the Saudi Ministry of Labour and Social development that accounts for a foreigner's presence in the country.

Upon successful application, you will be issued an Iqama card, which will be your primary identification throughout your stay in Saudi Arabia. The Iqama card will include information like your legal name, date of birth, job title and more.

You will need a local sponsor, your employer, to apply for an Iqama. First, your employer will need to submit an application with the Ministry of Labour and Social development to receive a permit to sponsor a foreign worker. Once they receive it, they will be able to apply for a Visa Authorisation number and a Power of Attorney.

Next, when you arrive in Saudi Arabia, your employer will have 90 days to apply for an Iqama visa for you.

You will typically need the following documents in your Iqama application process:

  • 4 original colour identity photos (scanned photos will not be accepted)
  • A signed employment contract
  • Your complete medical examinations records
  • Your original criminal record
  • Certified copies of your last diplomas
  • An invitation issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • A copy of your children's health record (if they are going to accompany you)

Medical records should include:

  • A good health medical certificate
  • A BCG vaccination certificate or a certificate of non-contamination by tuberculosis
  • A blood test for hepatitis B, C, and HIV (conducted not more than three months before)

Once you receive your Iqama, you will be able to apply for Iqamas for your dependents. Their Iqamas will be tied to yours and have the same expiration date.

Applying for a business visa to Saudi Arabia

If you are traveling to Saudi Arabia on business, you will need to apply for a business visa.

A business visit visa lets you operate business transactions with a Saudi company and allows for a stay of up to 90 days. To apply for a business visa, you will typically need to go through a Saudi Arabia consulate or embassy in your home country and provide the following:

  • Original passport (valid for at least six months)
  • Filled in business visa application
  • Invitation letter from a Saudi company or employment verification letter
  • Paid visa fees

Applying for a student visa to Saudi Arabia

While most Saudi Nationals choose to study abroad, there are also options for international students wishing to study in the country. To come to Saudi Arabia as a student, you will need to apply for a student visa via a Saudi Arabia consulate or embassy in your home country. In most cases, you will be asked to provide the following documents:

  • Passport valid for no less than six months
  • A filled-in online application at https://enjazit.com.sa/
  • Original birth certificate
  • Original high school diploma one copy.
  • Three copies of a medical report including all laboratory results. Note that your medical report must be issued by a licensed physician and certify that you are free of all contagious diseases. Your physician must sign all copies of your medical report and indicate their license number and address. The medical report you present must not be over three months old.
  • Three passport-sized colored photos on white background
  • Police report, issued within six months prior to the date of application.

Applying for a religious visa to Saudi Arabia

If you are coming to Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage, you will need to apply for a religious visa. These are granted to Muslims who want to perform Umrah or Hajj (forms of pilgrimage) and are traveling to Makkah and Madinah. If you want to arrange pilgrimage travels, you will need to book your hajj trip through a Saudi government–approved hajj travel agent.

Applying for a transit visa to Saudi Arabia

The transit visa in Saudi Arabia has several conditions. If you are travelling with Saudi Airlines, you can spend 18 hours in the country. Other airline companies will provide you with an 8-hour stay without a transit visa. Please note that in the second case, you will have to submit documents regarding your final destination, including a visa if applicable.

If you are travelling with another airline company, you will have to apply for a transit visa to be able to spend between 8 and 18 hours in the country. In addition to the general documents required, you will also have to produce your airline tickets.

The visa application in Saudi Arabia can be quite costly and time-consuming. The fees and procedures length usually vary according to your home country. Thus, you are advised to inquire well in advance on all related formalities before proceeding.

Good to know:

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman do not require a visa to visit Saudi Arabia.

Useful links:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs — Visas

Saudi embassies worldwide

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.