Saudi Arabia at a Glance
Visa Information for Saudi ArabiaFotolia
Once you’ve cleared the visa process, your Saudi Arabian adventure can begin!
Everyone with the intention of travelling to Saudi Arabia needs to request a visa first. Please note that in order to be granted a visa, you need to be in possession of a passport valid for at least six months (or the entire period of your stay, whichever is longer) with two blank visa pages facing each other. Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, so you should avoid carrying two passports with you at any time, as one of them will be confiscated if discovered.
Visa applications should be addressed to the nearest Saudi Embassy or Consulate in your legal country of residence. You can check the website of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs for contact details of all Saudi diplomatic missions abroad. In order to be granted a visa you need to fulfill certain requirements, which vary according to the purpose of your visit and possibly your nationality. Your Saudi Embassy or Consulate will be able to provide you with detailed information. Please also note that if your passport in any way indicates that you have recently visited Israel, you may be refused a visa to Saudi Arabia.
There are various types of visas available to people wishing to visit Saudi Arabia, some of which are listed below. At the time of writing, however, visas were only granted to Muslim pilgrims, business, academic or diplomatic visitors and their family members. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not issue tourist visas for leisure travelers.
Types of Visa
The following visa categories apply for Saudi Arabia:
- Business Visit Visa
- Diplomatic and Official Visa
- Employment Visa
- Family Visit Visa
- Government Visit Visa
- Residence Visa
- Student Visa
- Transit Visa
- Temporary Work Visa
- Hajj Visa
- Umrah Visa
Please note that a normal visa doesn’t give you the right to exit and re-enter the country at your own will. In order to leave the country without losing the right to enter again, you need a special visa for multiple entries. You should never overstay your visa!
For a short business visit as a representative for your company, a sales representative, an investor, or similar purposes, you can apply for a Business Visa. In addition to your passport, you usually need one recent passport-size full-face color photograph with a white background and a completed application form, which should be available at your nearest Saudi Embassy or Consulate.
It is important that you get a visa request number first, which can be done by visiting the website of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and following the link to the Enjaz website. Enjaz is an IT service provider which handles visa applications in the first instance and issues every approved applicant a so-called E number. The E number must be included in your visa application.
You will also be asked to produce one or both of the following documents: a letter from your employer stating your position in the company, the purpose and duration of your visit, which needs to be certified by the relevant chamber of commerce in your country of residence, and/or an invitation from your Saudi business partner. Please note that a fee applies for every visa request. It normally has to be paid via Enjaz or a registered visa office.
The above-mentioned Business Visa does not give you the right to work or reside in Saudi Arabia. In order to take up work, you need an Employment Visa. The requirements for an Employment Visa are similar to those for a Business Visa, generally with the following additions:
- a letter from your Saudi employer (or sponsor, if not the same) consolidated by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- a signed copy of your employment contract
- notarized certificates of your academic and/or professional qualifications
- an up-to-date police report including any criminal records
- one to three copies of your official medical report, including HIV test results, issued by a licensed physician
Expats on long-term assignments need to have their Employment Visa extended to a Residence Permit (iqama), usually valid for one or two years.