People seem surprised when they see Saudi Arabia on the list of countries to visit for tourism. Why not? Saudi has many fascinating historical sights that are worth visiting. Besides, with the introduction of alternative tourist visa types, Saudi has thrown its doors wide to the world, allowing tourists to roam the country freely and discover the magic of Saudi.
Every year, Saudi opens its doors to millions of Muslims visiting the country for Umrah and Hajj. Recently in 2019, as part of its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has begun to welcome other international visitors, allowing tourism as a source of national revenue. This is a positive step, considering the massive plunge in oil prices worldwide.
This article will teach about the Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa – Requirements, Application, and Fees. There are countries whose citizens can travel to Saudi visa-free. Are you a citizen of one such country? Find out more.
About Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a country in Southwest Asia that shares borders with the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. With a population of over 35 million people, Saudi is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudis are Muslims who take pride in the practice of Wahhābism – a form of Islam that interprets the Koran literally. Although Arabic is the official language of the Saudis, English is a compulsory second language taught in schools.
About Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa
The Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa is issued to foreign nationals who want to enter the country for tourism. Everyone is eligible for a Saudi Tourist Visa except Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the UAE. Citizens of these countries can visit with only their ID cards. However, citizens of some countries are eligible for an electronic visa or visa on arrival, while others must apply at a Saudi Embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
Types of Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa
There are three types of Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa:
Visa on Arrival
Regular Tourist Visa
Saudi Arabia Electronic Visa (eVisa)
Saudi Arabia has made it possible for citizens of about 49 countries to obtain a tourist visa to the country through a completely online application process. The eVisa is granted to citizens of the following countries:
- China (including Hong Kong and Macau)
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
Citizens of countries not on this list must apply for a tourist visa at a Saudi Arabia embassy or consulate.
Requirements for a Saudi Arabia eVisa
Apart from being a citizen of any of the above-listed countries, you must fulfill the following conditions
1. You must be at least 18 years old. If you are below this age, you must travel in the company of an adult.
2. You must have a valid email address.
3. Your passport must be valid for at least six months.
How to apply for a Saudi Arabia eVisa
It would be best to have a strong internet connection to apply for a Saudi Arabia eVisa. However, the process of application is quite simple. Although you must not upload any document, you must provide correct passport information and answers to several questions. This is important because, at the port of entry, you may be asked further questions, and if your responses do not correspond with what you answered earlier during the application stage, you will be denied entry.
1. Visit the Saudi Arabia eVisa application website
2. Click on “Apply Now”
3. Fill out the application for the Saudi Arabia eVisa
4. Pay the eVisa fee
5. Wait for the eVisa to be processed. This should take about 30 minutes.
6. Print out the eVisa as soon as you receive it. You will present it at the Saudi airport once you get into the country.
Saudi Arabia Visa on Arrival (VoA)
Foreign nationals from eVisa-eligible countries can obtain the Visa on Arrival in Saudi Arabia. But it is only for those not patient enough to make the online application. In this case, they can obtain a visa at any of Saudi Arabia’s entry points.
Who is eligible for a Saudi Visa on Arrival (VoA)?
Citizens of countries eligible for the eVisa also qualify for the Visa on Arrival. In addition to the eVisa list, holders of Schengen visas, US visas, or UK visas can also get a Visa on Arrival in Saudi Arabia.
Requirements for the Saudi Visa on Arrival
Here are the requirements for a Saudi Visa on Arrival
1. applicant must be from one of the eVisa eligible countries
2. applicant must hold a USA, UK, or Schengen Visa.
3. visa must be valid
4. visa type must be either tourist or business
5. visa must have been used at least once and must have the stamp of the issuing country
6. applicant must enter Saudi Arabia with any of the country’s national carriers – SAUDIA, Flynas, or Flyadeal
How to get a Saudi Visa on Arrival (VoA)
As soon as you arrive at a Saudi port of entry, you must go through Saudi immigration to start the process
1. Obtain the visa application form, fill out and hand it over to the officers at the border, along with any additional document
2. Pay the visa fee
3. Wait for the visa
Saudi Regular Tourist Visa
Citizens of countries not eligible for the eVisa or VoA must obtain a regular Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa to visit the country. For this purpose, they must visit a Saudi Arabia embassy or consulate in their country of residence to apply for a tourist visa.
Requirements for a regular Saudi Tourist Visa
Here are the general requirements for a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia:
1. A Saudi Arabia Visa Application Form
2. Recent passport-size photos
3. Proof of sufficient funds
4. Return flight ticket
5. Proof of accommodation
6. Your valid passport
7. Any other additional document
How to apply for a regular Saudi tourist visa
Here’s how to apply for a Saudi Tourist Visa
1. Visit a Saudi Arabia embassy or consulate in your country of residence and submit your application form and other supporting documents. Here’s a list of Saudi Arabia Embassies and Consulates.
2. You may be required to appear in person or send them by email or through an approved travel agency
3. Once you submit the completed application form, you will wait for the application to be processed
4. Pick up your visa once it is ready. This may take a few days, depending on the embassy or consulate.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the visa fees for a Saudi Arabia tourist visa?
A Saudi eVisa costs SAR 440, which is about US$ 117. However, this amount is not a fixed price; additional fees apply.
The regular tourist visa fee depends on the country you are applying from and the payment method.
What is the validity period of a Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa?
A Saudi Tourist Visa is valid for one year in 90 days. This means you can only stay in the country for 90 days even though you have a visa stamped for one year. Because it is a multiple-entry visa, you can only stay in the country for at most 180 days in a year, but each visit must not exceed 90 days.
What is the processing period of a Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa?
An eVisa for Saudi takes about 30 minutes or more to process, a regular visa takes about two to five days, and a visa on arrival is instant.
What are the differences between the eVisa, the VoA, and the regular tourist visa for Saudi Arabia?
Firstly, Saudi’s eVisa is processed entirely online, the VoA is obtained at a Saudi International Airport, and the regular Saudi Tourist Visa is obtained at the embassy or consulate. Also, processing times differ.
Secondly, Processing times for the visa types differ. For example, while the eVisa and VoA are obtained less than an hour from the start, a regular tourist visa takes about 2 to 5 days to process.
Thirdly, applying for a visa on arrival is riskier because you would never know if your application has been approved until you arrive in Saudi. However, with an eVisa or a regular tourist visa, you are informed about the status of your application in advance.
Does Saudi Arabia welcome tourists?
Yes, Saudi Arabia is a warm and welcoming country. Although cultural differences prohibit the type of carefree life that tourists crave, this does not make the country less fascinating to foreign nationals. Instead, it adds to the charm of Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, tourists find solace in the beautiful tourist destinations of the provinces, one of which is Al-Qara Hill, where the weather becomes warm in the winter and cool in the summer!
No alcohol, short clothes, and kissing are some things you should not do in Saudi Arabia. Before you travel, get a handbook for tourists in Saudi. Ignorance is not an excuse for flouting the public decency laws.
To be fair to Saudi, the country is slowly undergoing social reforms as a giant step towards improving the standard of living for locals and visitors. But that does not mean that Saudi laws should be taken for granted. If you are ready to keep these laws, get a Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa today.
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