Until recently, Saudi Arabia was one of the most closed countries on the planet: only pilgrims, diplomats and businessmen could visit it. The richest state with colossal oil reserves carefully guarded its borders, but in 2016 the prices for “black gold” fell sharply, and the government decided to develop tourism.
According to wholevehicles, Ultra-modern resorts are being set up on the Red Sea, a whole city of entertainment is growing in the vicinity of Riyadh, it remains only to simplify the visa policy. And on September 27, 2019, the curtain finally lifted: citizens of 51 countries of the world, including Russians, got the opportunity to apply for an electronic tourist visa and see the nature and architecture of the ancient kingdom with their own eyes.
Tourist visa to Saudi Arabia: general information
|Do they give multivisa?||give for 1 year|
|Term of receipt||30 minutes from submission|
|Validity limit||6 months from the start of the trip|
- The cost of a regular visa: 440 SAR
Types of visas
To visit Saudi Arabia, the following types of visas are issued:
- transit, allowing you to stay in the territory for 3 days;
- pilgrimage, valid during the Hajj period (available for participants in group religious tours, applications are recommended to be submitted through licensed travel agents);
- worker, issued with an invitation from the host organization;
- business for entrepreneurs establishing business contacts with local companies;
- at the invitation of relatives living in Saudi Arabia;
- e-tourist for citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and other countries from the list.
Applying for a visa yourself
The procedure for obtaining an electronic tourist visa is simplified to the maximum. To get started, you need to go to website (in English), read up-to-date information and register an account. Confirmation will be sent by e-mail (if the letter is not received within 15 minutes, it is better to specify a different address), it has a link for validation. After going through it, you can start filling out the questionnaire – the whole process takes no more than half an hour.
Israeli citizens are not allowed into Saudi Arabia, but the presence of an Israeli stamp in the passport no longer prevents visiting this country.
The questionnaire must contain standard information: name, date of birth, address of residence, etc. It is important to fill in everything accurately, because at the border the data will be strictly checked against the passport. The expected date of the visit to the country, information about the hotel (booking confirmation is not required), medical insurance (attached to the questionnaire automatically, you just need to tick the appropriate box) are also required.
At the end, you will have to read the declaration of compliance with local laws (no drugs, alcohol and indecent behavior), confirm your consent and send the questionnaire for consideration.
You will need to attach a photo to the application form: a standard visa photo, full face, on a light background, with an open face, without accessories interfering with identification. It should be square (200×200 pixels) and weigh no more than 100 KB, so you will most likely have to use a graphics editor to crop and compress.
Terms of registration and validity of visas
Completed questionnaires are checked and reviewed quickly – an average of 5-30 minutes during working hours. After that, an e-visa letter comes to the e-mail: all that remains is to print it out and present it at the border along with a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry.
A tourist visa does not give non-Muslims the right to visit Mecca and Medina, as well as work in the country.
The validity of a visa depends on its type: a single entry allows you to stay in the kingdom for a maximum of 1 month, a multiple entry – up to 90 days a year (during one visit or in total for several trips).
The e-Tourist Visa costs SAR 440, including a base fee of SAR 300 and a health insurance fee of SAR 140. Payment is made online immediately after filling out the questionnaire, in case of refusal, the money is not returned. If the visa expires and the foreigner is still in the country, 100 SAR will be charged for each extra day.
Entry with children
The minimum age of applicants is 18 years old, younger travelers are only allowed if accompanied by a guardian. Formally, it is enough for children under 14 to be entered in the passport of their father or mother, but it is better to play it safe and issue a separate “foreigner” for the child. If a young tourist enters with one of the parents, a notarized consent of the second is required, if with an outside escort, the consent of both and a power of attorney.
Registration of non-tourist visas
Until recently, the most common type of visas remained pilgrimage, designed for pilgrims arriving on the Hajj to holy places. Applications from Muslims are submitted through licensed travel agents 90 days before the start of the Hajj, you can join an organized group by presenting a passport, a completed application form and 2 photographs 4×6 cm in size.
Female pilgrims must be accompanied by a male relative: father, brother, husband or adult son. Muslim women over 45 are allowed to travel in women’s groups, but with the constant presence of a male guide.
If you have to transfer at one of the airports in Saudi Arabia, and the interval between flights is more than 6, but less than 18 hours, you can travel to the city without a visa. The decision on admission is made by immigration officers who strictly evaluate the appearance of a foreigner (no open clothes, piercings and tattoos) and his behavior (the slightest hint of disrespect or, moreover, alcohol intoxication – and they will not be released from the airport). Holders of tourist visas no longer need the company of a man, but they will most likely not be allowed to walk around the city alone without a visa.
Before leaving the airport, visa-free passengers take away their passport, issuing a temporary certificate in return.
A transit visa is valid for 20 days, 3 of which can be spent in the kingdom. You need to issue it at the embassy, from the documents – a passport (valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry) with a visa of the state of destination (if required), a questionnaire filled out in block letters in Russian, English or Arabic, air tickets along the entire route and 2 color photos.