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Travellers can now apply for an instant visa to visit Saudi Arabia if they have a valid visa for the United States, United Kingdom or the Schengen zone. Permanent residents from any European Union country can also apply for the instant e-visa. Permanent residence holders may also provide their immediate relatives with an on-arrival visa to Saudi Arabia at seaports, some airports, and land border checkpoints.
What You Need to Know About the Saudi Arabia E-visa for US, UK and Schengen Visa Holders
Travellers with a valid tourism or business visa from the US, UK, or one of the Schengen states have been granted the exception as long as the visa was used at least once to enter the issuing country.
Visa applications will be exclusively online, thus doing away with the paper-based documentation or physical visits to the embassies or consulates. This will make visa applications quicker and more efficient for international travellers. When the e-visa is approved, it will be emailed to you via the email you provided during the application.
“In order to complete the process of facilitating procedures and providing an integrated tourism experience; The Kingdom allows holders of visas of the United States, the European Union (Schengen) and the United Kingdom, and their residents, to issue a tourist visa electronically and immediately through the @KSAMOFA website,” a statement from the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia reads.
Nonetheless, the Ministry of Tourism clarified that the e-visas system does not permit their holders to perform the Hajj or Umrah during the pilgrimage season.
“The preceding step is consistent with MT’s efforts to facilitate entry to the Kingdom for individuals who wish to visit it, allowing them to enjoy tourism destinations, participate in tourism events, and gain insights into the Kingdom’s heritage and historical depth,” the Tourism Ministry statement proceeded.
“In line with its efforts to facilitate procedures and provide a comprehensive tourism experience, KSA allows holders of visas from the US, UK and Schengen Area, as well as their residents, to obtain a tourist e-visa in no time via the @KSAmofaEN website”, the Saudi Tourism Ministry tweeted on June 12, 2023.
The kingdom introduced a new transit visa in February for travellers booked on Saudi Arabian airlines—Saudia Airlines or Flynas—with a layover in the nation as part of its attempts to increase tourism.
What Is Visa Validity?
The instant on-arrival visa is valid for three months and is issued free of charge. The visa is a multiple-entry visa, meaning you can use it for more than one trip to the kingdom.
For each entry, you are allowed 90 days and a total of 180 days during its validity. The instant Saudi e-visa is valid for one year from the date of issue. You can therefore apply for the visa up to 90 days before your intended travel date.
When you apply for the instant e-visa, you will be issued a mandatory insurance policy linked to the e-visa. Travel insurance is a compulsory requirement to enter Saudi Arabia.
Why Was The Instant E-visa Launched?
Because of the splendid tourist destinations like AlUla, Riyadh, and Jeddah, as well as the annual holy pilgrimage that Muslims all over the world make to Mecca, Saudi Arabia is among the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the world as of 2019.
The launch of the instant e-visa is a step toward actualizing Saudi’s vision of having 100 million tourists per year by 2030. This is according to a report by Al Arabiya, an international Arabic news television channel.
The program is set to serve as a major boost for the country’s tourism sector and make a remarkable milestone in Saudi’s efforts to stimulate tourism and facilitate international travel.
Other Recent Saudi Arabia Visa Policy Changes
The instant e-visa for UK, US and Schengen states is not the first e-visa launch, but only the latest visa policy change Saudi Arabia has done.
Back in 2019, Saudi Arabia launched their first online visa platform for 50 countries enabling international travellers to obtain tourist visas for the kingdom. This was the first implementation of Saudi’s Vision 2030 initiative.
The list of nationals eligible for e-visa was also expanded to include the residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.
In Early May, the kingdom announced the introduction of QR codes as opposed to the traditional visa stickers for seven countries; India, Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, the Philippines and the UAE.
Saudi Arabia has also made changes by introducing a stopover visa for travellers transiting through the kingdom. The transit visa is valid for up to 96 hours, so you can leave the airport and explore the country so long as you don’t exceed the validity hours.