What type of visas are available for travel to Saudi Arabia?

The kingdom's new stopover visa means there's a variety of options for tourists planning a visit

Travellers heading to Saudi Arabia have a variety of visa options to choose from. Photo: Unsplash
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Travellers planning a visit to Saudi Arabia have an additional type of visa to consider.

On Tuesday, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a new stopover visa aimed at transit passengers.

Issued electronically, the visa allows travellers to enter the kingdom for up to 96 hours, and welcomes tourists to apply for a free hotel stay.

It's the latest in a series of tourism visas available in Saudi Arabia ever since the country opened its doors to travellers.

Here's what you need to know about each of the different types.

Saudi Arabia's new stopover visa

Saudi Arabia's newest visa is the stopover visa. It is available for passengers flying into the kingdom with Saudia or Flynas from any destination.

Valid for stays of up to 96 hours, travellers booking flights can apply for the visa up to three months in advance and it will be issued immediately.

A photograph is required to apply and the visa is valid for 90 days from the date of its issue. Travellers can only stop over once per trip using the visa and must have at least six months on their passport, plus a confirmed travel ticket to their intended destination, as well as any required entry visas or permits.

Tourists, business travellers and those planning to perform Umrah are eligible to apply, but those travelling for religious reasons must also register on the Nusuk platform.

The visa itself is free of charge, however, a $10 administration and health insurance fee may be applicable, depending on travellers' nationality and country of departure.

After applying for the visa, tourists will also be able to apply for a hotel stay via the Saudia Holidays website. All travellers approved for accommodation will have to present their boarding pass at the hotel reception when they arrive.

eVisas for GCC residents

Residents from any of the GCC countries can apply for this visa, provided their line of work is approved by Saudi authorities — the list features hundreds of occupations and is available to view on the Visit Saudi website.

Travellers must have a residency visa that has been valid for at least three months before applying, must be at least 18 years old and have at least six months validity on their passport.

There's a multiple and single-entry visa available, both of which cost 300 Saudi riyals ($79.9), plus health insurance fees. The single-entry visa is valid for three months and for stays of up to 30 days, while the multiple-entry option is valid for one year from the date of issue and can be used for stays up to 90 days.

Travellers can apply online via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

eVisa and visa on arrival for non-GCC residents

Visitors who live outside the GCC can apply for tourist visas online before travelling, or upon arrival in Saudi Arabia through the visa offices of the immigration department at the airport — eVisas are issued within 30 minutes.

There are 49 countries from where travellers can apply, including Canada, the US, China, Japan, Australia, France, the UK, Russia and Switzerland. The full list of destinations is available on the Saudi Tourism website. Countries with bilateral agreements (USA, UK, South Korea and Japan) can apply for the visit visa through eVisa or get a visa on arrival, or apply through Saudi embassies and consulates.

Travellers need to be 18 years old and hold a passport that is valid for at least six months. The online visa costs 535 Saudi riyals, while the visa on arrival fee is 480 Saudi riyals.

The multiple-entry visa is valid for one year from the date of issue and for stays up to 90 days.

Overstay fees of 100 Saudi riyals apply for each day visitors remain in the country after their tourist visa expires.

Saudi Arabian consulate visa

Consulate visas are available for travel to Saudi Arabia.

Applicants need to provide a number of documents, including proof of accommodation, return tickets for travel, proof of employment, bank statements and more. The visa takes one to two business days to process and all applicants must be at least 18 years old and have six months left on their passport at the time of travel.

Two types of visas are available via the consulate — including a multiple-entry document valid for one year and for stays of up to 90 days, as well as a single-entry visa valid for three months and for stays up to 30 days.

Umrah visa

Visitors holding a standard tourist visa or stopover visa are entitled to perform Umrah during their stay, but there is also a dedicated visa for those who want it.

This can be secured via the online Nusuk application, which also provides information on the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah, the rituals involved in Umrah and packages from specialist tour operators.

In October, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced the extension of the Umrah visa from 30 to 90 days. Pilgrims do not need any other type of tourist visa to continue their travels across the kingdom.

Electronic Umrah visas are available to all citizens and residents of the European Union, the UK and the US, as well as citizens and residents of GCC countries. They will be processed via the app within 24 hours.

Pilgrims hoping to perform Hajj will still need to apply for special visas through their nearest Saudi embassy or consulate.

Scroll through the pictures below for inspiration of what to see and do on a stopover in Saudi Arabia

Updated: February 01, 2023, 1:38 PM