Dubai: Saudi Arabia has rapidly developed its tourism sector and expanded its visa categories. This includes the eVisa for tourism, which is available to visitors from 49 countries.
Besides the new tourist visas, Saudi Arabia also has visas specifically for families, job seekers, investors and individuals seeking medical treatment in the country.
Visitors can apply for this visa through the eVisa platform for tourists - visa.visitsaudi.com or through the official visa portal from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) - visa.mofa.gov.sa.
Before applying for the visa, it is important to ensure your passport is valid for six months. Otherwise, you will not be eligible.
According to the country's official unified government service portal - www.my.gov.sa, there are six visit visa types in Saudi Arabia.
So, if you are visiting family or coming to the country for a business trip, here is a rundown of the visas available for tourists and visitors in Saudi Arabia.
1. Transit visa
The transit visa allows individuals to pass through Saudi Arabia and is applicable for short stays of over 12 hours.
As per my.gov.sa, the transit visa application is an e-service, allowing the applicants to enter their data in the MOFA e-portal - visa.mofa.gov.sa, to obtain the Saudi Transit Visa. It is available to applicants of any nationality.
Estimated cost: SR300 (Dh293). This includes health insurance, which is mandatory for tourists in Saudi Arabia.
2. Tourist visa
In the past few years, Saudi Arabia has made it easier for tourists to visit the country through their eVisa platform. This online portal allows applicants to apply for a visa and get it issued within minutes. Tourist visas are divided into three categories:
A. eVisa or visa on arrival for tourists:
For the tourist, eVisa and visa on arrival is only granted to three specific groups:
• Visitors travelling from 49 eligible countries.
• Permanent residents of the United States, United Kingdom and European Union (EU).
• Holders of tourist or business visas from the UK, US or Schengen Area.
To learn more about how you can apply for this visa, click here.
Estimated cost: SR480 (Dh469). This includes health insurance, which is mandatory for tourists in Saudi Arabia.
B. eVisa for GCC residents:
Residents of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are also eligible for a Saudi eVisa. However, only certain occupations can apply for eVisa.
GCC residents will have to apply for the visa through the eVisa platform visa.mofa.gov.sa
For an in-depth guide on how to apply for the Saudi eVisa for GCC residents, click here.
Estimated cost: SR300 Saudi riyals (Dh293), along with the health insurance fee.
C. Consulate visa
If you are not eligible for the Saudi eVisa, you can apply for a Saudi tourist visa through the Saudi mission in your home country.
According to Saudi Arabia's official tourism platform – visitsaudi.com – individuals must provide extra documents such as proof of accommodation in Saudi Arabia, a return ticket booking, proof of their employment and a current bank statement.
Estimated cost: Around SR460 (Dh449) – however, this is an estimated cost, and you may have to pay extra charges depending on your duration of stay, as it affects your health insurance cost, too.
The single-entry tourist visa is valid for three months from the date of issuance, and the permissible period of stay is 30 days.
The multiple-entry tourist visa is valid for one year from the date of issuance, and the permissible period of stay is 90 days.
3. Family visit visa
If you want to visit a family member living in Saudi Arabia, you can apply for a Family Visit Visa. For this visa, a family member residing in Saudi Arabia will have to sponsor your trip and they will send a visa application request to MOFA, through their visa portal – mofa.gov.sa. This visa is specifically for first-degree relatives like parents, wives or children.
Estimated cost: SR200 (Dh195)
4. Work Visit Visa
Saudi Arabia's MOFA also issues a work visit visa, and it is divided into two categories:
• Individual visits
• Sectors and Organisations visits
This visa has certain conditions that you need to meet, such as having an original letter from a Saudi company providing the applicant's sponsorship or a certified and notarised copy of the applicant's university degree/diploma authenticated by Saudi authorities.
However, the pre-requisites for the visa may differ according to the application details, and you may be asked to provide extra documents by MOFA to verify your credentials.
Estimated cost: SR300 (Dh293).
5. Business Visit Visa
This visa is for visitors who want to visit Saudi Arabia for business purposes. However, for this visa, a Saudi company or institution will have to invite you and sponsor your visa. According to my.gov.sa, this visa is granted to specific professional qualifications. The application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, according to MOFA.
Estimated cost: SR500 (Dh488)
6. Medical Treatment Visa
Visitors seeking medical treatment in Saudi hospitals will need to apply for a medical treatment visa, which MOFA issues. One of the main conditions for this visa is to have an official letter from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health.
Estimated cost: SR200 (Dh195)
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