Saudi Arabia will allow vaccinated residents to travel abroad and return if they do not enter or pass through certain countries, its authorities have said.
Travellers and residents who have been inoculated must "ensure they have a valid visa before entering the kingdom and cannot be travelling indirectly or directly to places marked unsafe by the ministry," a source from Jawazat (General Directorate of Passports) in Jeddah told The National.
Since the ban on travel last year, residents have been allowed to leave the country but not return, even though flights resumed from August.
Flights were shut down again earlier this year due to an increase in coronavirus cases in the kingdom.
Residents are choosing to travel to safer destinations such as Dubai and Bahrain, as opposed to countries on the list of suspended destinations, to avoid being banned from the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia reopened its borders for those who had been vaccinated on May 17. More than 78,740 Saudi citizens travelled abroad that day and more than 40,000 did so on May 18, passport authorities said.
"We receive updates every 48 hours from the ministry. All our updates go directly to our website where people can check the requirements of the country they wish to travel to every two days," a source from Saudia airlines told The National.
“We have had a lot of bookings from residents over the past week, who are travelling to nearby [destinations] like Bahrain and Dubai instead of going back to home countries like India, which is on the list of suspended countries due to the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases.”
Saudi citizens are required to obtain travel insurance, valid for 30 days, a day before their departure, according to the Council of Co-operative Health Insurance.
This will cover healthcare costs related to the coronavirus. The passport authorities have urged those travelling to the kingdom, including Gulf Cooperation Council citizens and new visa holders, to register their proof of vaccination electronically before their arrival via the Muqeem vaccine registration page.
“The obligation to register vaccines electronically on the site contributes to reducing the waiting period at the entry points,” they said.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation also issued a circular to all airlines operating flights to Saudi Arabia, calling on them to register data on vaccinated passengers, including non-Saudis and those travelling from safe countries.
The Interior Ministry last week reinstated a ban on nationals travelling directly or indirectly to 13 countries without permission.
Travel to Afghanistan, Armenia, Belarus, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen is banned.