Who requires a visa?
Required by all except the following:
(a) nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates;
(b) transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft within 18 hours, provided holding valid onward or return documentation, not leaving the airport and making no further landing in Saudi Arabia, except nationals of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria who always require a transit visa.
(c) holders of re-entry permits and ‘Landing Permits’ issued by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see Contact Addresses section).
(a) Holders of an Israeli passport or passports with Israeli stamps in them.
(b) Passengers not complying with Saudi conventions of dress and behaviour, including those who appear to be in a state of intoxication, will be refused entry (see Social Conventions section).
(c) There are special regulations concerning pilgrims entering Saudi Arabia. Contact the Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy) for further information.
What documents will be required?
1. A passport valid for at least six months, with at least two (2) clear visa pages adjacent to each other and a visa are required for entry.
2. One (1) recent passport size color photograph with a white background.
3. A completed application form filled-out with a black ink pen or printed.
4. All visitors to the Kingdom must have a return ticket.
Visas are issued for business and work, to visit close relatives, and for transit and religious visits. Visas for tourism are issued only for approved tour groups following organized itineraries. Airport and seaport visas are not available. All visas require a sponsor, can take several months to process, and must be obtained prior to arrival. In the past, travellers were refused a Saudi visa because their passports reflected travel to Israel or indicated they were born in Israel, although this has not happened recently. Women visitors and residents are required to be met by their sponsor upon arrival. Women traveling alone, who are not met by sponsors, have experienced delays before being allowed to enter the country or to continue on other flights.
Women considering relocating to Saudi Arabia should be keenly aware that women and children residing in Saudi Arabia as members of a Saudi household (including adult women married to Saudi men, adult women who are the unmarried daughters of Saudi fathers, and boys under the age of 21 who are the sons of Saudi fathers) are considered household property and require the permission of the Saudi male head of their household to leave the country. Married women require the permission of their husband to depart the country, while unmarried women and children require the permission of their father or male guardian. Mothers may not be able to obtain permission for the departure of minor children without the father’s agreement. Entering Saudi Arabia on visitor visas normally do not need an exit permit but may be prevented from departing the country if they are involved in a legal dispute. If involved in labor disputes or employment dismissal will not be granted an exit permit prior to court resolution or abandonment of the case by the you. Saudi sponsors have substantial leverage in the negotiations and may block departure or bar future employment in the country.
If a woman is arriving in the Kingdom alone, the sponsor or her husband must receive her at the airport. Every woman must have confirmed accommodation for the duration of her stay in the Kingdom.
Visitors to Saudi Arabia should generally obtain a meningitis vaccination prior to arrival. A medical report or physical examination is required to obtain work and residence permits.
Residents in Saudi Arabia who are departing the country must obtain an exit permit prior to leaving and an exit/reentry permit if they intend to return to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi sponsor’s approval is required for exit permits.
NOTE FOR DUAL NATIONALS: Several travellers of Saudi descent have encountered difficulty leaving the Kingdom after entering on a Laissez Passer, rather than a Saudi or U.S. passport. Saudi missions abroad for new Saudi passport applicants sometimes propose the solution of issuing a Laissez Passer rather than a Saudi passport, but it only leads to difficulties when the traveler wishes to depart the Kingdom to return home. This is because either a Saudi exit visa or a new Saudi passport may take months to obtain.
In particular, American citizens of Saudi descent should be aware that the Saudi government may refuse to recognize a U.S. passport presented by a Saudi passport applicant as valid for travel out of Saudi Arabia, if it was not used to enter Saudi Arabia. Also, American citizens of Saudi descent should understand that Saudi nationality is not confirmed quickly or easily, and documentary requirements encountered in Saudi Arabia may differ from those described by Saudi missions abroad.
We strongly recommend that American citizens who also have Saudi nationality enter Saudi Arabia with either a Saudi passport or U.S. passport and Saudi visa, but not with a Laissez Passer.
BUSINESS CONTRACTS: The written, Arabic text of a contract governs employment and business arrangements under Saudi law. Before signing a contract, companies should obtain an independent translation to ensure a full understanding of the contract’s terms, limits, and agreements. You should not come to work in Saudi Arabia or make a business arrangement without having seen and understood the full, written contract. Verbal assurances or side letters are not binding under Saudi law. In the event of any contract dispute, the Saudi authorities refer to the contract. Since the Saudi sponsor holds the employee’s passport and controls the issuance of exit permits, travellers cannot simply leave Saudi Arabia in the event of a labor or business dispute. A traveller who wishes to break an employment or business contract may have to pay substantial penalties before being allowed to leave Saudi Arabia. To change employers in Saudi Arabia requires the permission of the previous employer, which is discretionary. Saudi courts take seriously their responsibility to adjudicate disputes. This process, which is performed in accordance with Saudi law and customs, may require the hiring of legal counsel, should not be entered into without an Arabic translator, and can take several months.
Time required to issue visa:
At least 24 hours. At least 1 week if applying by post. For information on processing time for all other types of visa, contact the Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy).
What is the cost of a visa?
Family Visit £39; Business and Work £10 if paying at Embassy or SR1000 to be paid by employer in Saudi Arabia; Multiple entry: £96; Residency: £10; Transit: £10; Pilgrim (Ummra) Visa: no charge (2 months).
Note: The Pilgrim (Ummra) visa can only be obtained through an authorised travel agent. Check with Embassy for a full list of appointed agents.
How long is the visa valid for?
The visa stay period starts from the first day of entry into Saudi within the visa’s valid dates.
1: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers arriving within 6 days from countries of which any parts are infected.
2: Vaccination against typhoid is advised.
3: Malaria risk, predominantly in the malignant falciparum form, exists throughout the year in most of the Southern region except the high altitude areas of Asir Province, and the urban areas of the Western Province (Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and Taif). Resistance to chloroquine has been reported. The recommended prophylaxis is chloroquine plus proguanil.
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Embassy contact information:
Please contact the nearest Saudi Arabia embassy for information on what documentation you may require to enter Saudi Arabia.