Saudi Arabia to Announce New Tourist Visa Scheme
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the introduction of a new tourist visa scheme for GCC residents who will now be eligible for the e-Visa application.
Moreover, the country also introduced the visa-on-arrival facility for residents of the UK, US, and EU.
The primary objective of launching a new visa scheme for these residents is to boost the Saudi tourism sector, which is expected to generate 10 percent of GDP by the year 2030.
In March 2022, the country lifted all travel restrictions implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors arriving in Saudi Arabia no longer need to provide vaccination proof or negative test reports to enter the Kingdom. The country also removed the red list of countries, the institutional quarantine, and social distancing rules.
The introduction of a new visa scheme is a significant step toward reviving the pre-pandemic tourism life in the country.
Tourist Visa Scheme for GCC residents
According to the latest announcement of a new visa scheme, residents of GCC are now able to apply for a Saudi Arabia visa online if they wish to visit the country for tourism purposes or perform Umrah. Residents of all GCC countries no longer need to spend long hours on in-person embassy visits to obtain a visa.
Saudi Arabia e-Visa is issued exclusively as a tourist visa enabling visiting the country for sightseeing or family and friends reunions as well as making the pilgrimage to Mecca, i.e., performing Umrah.
The visa remains valid for 1 year from the date of issue and functions as a multiple-entry permit so its holder can enter and re-enter the Kingdom numerous times, staying 90 days in total, either during one 90-day visit or spread through a few shorter stays.
Requirements for Saudi e-Visa Online application
To obtain Saudi eVisa, GCC residents must follow a few requirements, including:
- the GCC resident must perform the profession which is listed among eligible occupations
- must possess the residency document valid for 3 months
- must hold a passport valid for at least 6 months
- application for underage travelers must be made by their parents
Visa on arrival for residents of the UK, US, and EU
Along with the announcement of the new visa scheme for GCC residents, the Kingdom's authorities also opened the visa-on-arrival facility for residents of the United Kingdom, the United States, and member countries of the European Union.
A resident of the UK, US, or EU must hold a valid tourist or business visa to be able to apply for the VOA. Moreover, the visa must have been used at least once to enter the country granting the visa.
Under the new Ministerial Decree, many potential visitors no longer need to attend the nearest Saudi Embassy before arriving in the Kingdom. Moreover, citizens of all countries eligible for Saudi e-Visa are also allowed to obtain a visa on arrival regardless of the airline operating their flights to Saudi.
Restoring the visa-on-arrival program marks the final step in returning Saudi to a pre-pandemic level of openness and makes it one of the most accessible destinations in the world for leisure, business, and religious travel, said Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of STA.