Bahrain at a Glance
Bahrain: Visa Information
Visas for Bahrain: General Info
Unless you are a passport holder of one of the GCC States, you need a visa in order to enter Bahrain. Visas for the Kingdom of Bahrain fall into several different categories, depending on the purpose of the applicant’s visit, the sponsorship requirements, the place of issue and the number of visits required. A visa fee between 5 BHD (tourist) and 100 BHD (work), depending on the type of visa, is payable upon application.
There is a basic distinction between tourist and work visas: Only the latter allows you to take up employment in Bahrain. Another distinction is made between a standard visa, i.e. a stamp in your passport, and an eVisa. Eligibility for an eVisa depends on your nationality, your current place of residence and on the purpose of your visit. Go to the eVisa Website for more information.
When dealing with visas for Bahrain, you will undoubtedly encounter the concept of sponsorship. Visa sponsorship is effectively a method of immigration control used by many Gulf States. With only a few exceptions, a sponsor is vital to the success of your visa application – in fact, the sponsor usually applies for a visa on your behalf. The relationship between sponsor and foreigner is one of mutual good will, as both parties share an obvious interest in things working out. If they don’t, the reputation of the sponsor is damaged and the foreigner has to leave the country.
The sponsor can be an individual, a company or an institution. In most cases, your employer will act as your sponsor. If you don’t have an employer in Bahrain, contact your country’s chamber of commerce in Bahrain. They may be able to either sponsor you or provide you with contact details of trustworthy individuals or companies in your field of employment who may be willing to act as your sponsor.
If you are planning a short fact-finding trip to Bahrain prior to your assignment, a tourist or visit visa should be sufficient. Depending on your nationality, you may be able to obtain your visa upon arrival at the airport in Bahrain, provided you are in possession of a valid passport and a return or onward ticket. This arrangement applies to nationals from the following countries only: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, the USA, and all countries of the EU/EEA. However, Bahraini officials are in the midst of greatly expanding the scope of the visa upon arrival to 102 countries, such as India, Pakistan and South Africa to name but a few, in order to boost tourism. The new regulations are expected to be promulgated by January 2015. Passport holders of the formerly listed countries, plus Brunei, China, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, can also apply for a multiple-entry visit visa directly at their respective Bahrain embassy without the need for a sponsor.
Visitors from all other countries need to pre-arrange their visa through their sponsor – in this case usually a travel agency, the visitor’s embassy or the Directorate of Tourism at the Ministry of Information in Bahrain. You can find a list of registered sponsors on the eVisa website. You need to provide one passport-size photograph and a completed application form.
There are two types of visas which allow you to pursue an economic activity in Bahrain: a Business Visa and a Work Visa. The former is issued to company representatives on business visits to Bahrain. It is valid for a period of 3 months. In order to qualify for a Business Visa, you need a letter of guardianship from your company, a completed application form, your valid passport and one additional passport photograph. For more information, contact your nearest Bahraini Embassy or Consulate.
If you plan on working for a Bahraini or a foreign company in Bahrain, your employer will need to arrange for a valid Work Visa prior to your arrival. This means they need to get a Non-Objection Certificate from the Bahrain Immigration Bureau, provide a copy of your work contract and issue a sponsorship letter stating the particulars of the work contract and the employee’s personal details. In addition, you need to submit the following documentation: your valid passport, one additional passport photograph, and a recent health certificate (incl. HIV test) from an authorized doctor or hospital.
Work Visas are issued by the Labor Market Regulatory Authority. Please note that it is not possible to apply for a Work Visa without a confirmed job offer in Bahrain.
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