Saudi Arabia has just resumed its visa-on-arrival program for travelers who hold valid visas for the U.S., United Kingdom (U.K.) and European Schengen area. The policy change comes only a couple of weeks after the Middle Eastern nation’s removal of all COVID-related travel restrictions, returning its borders to pre-pandemic levels of openness.
Citizens of any country who hold a visa for one of the above-listed countries and who are flying via Saudi Arabia’s national carriers (Saudia, Flynas or Flyadeal) can now qualify for a 12-month tourism visa upon their arrival in the Kingdom without the need to apply in advance.
International travelers who hold a valid U.S., U.K. or Schengen visa must have used it to enter the issuing country at least once before in order to be eligible for a visa on arrival in Saudi Arabia. Citizens of any country that’s eligible for the e-visa program (introduced in 2019) are also eligible for the visa-on-arrival program, regardless of which airline they’re flying with.
Foreign visitors are also required to purchase COVID-19 insurance for the duration of their trip, which can be obtained at any of the destination’s international airports.
Saudi Arabia announced its abolition of all COVID-era entry restrictions back on March 6. International travelers are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test in order to enter its borders. The so-called “red list” of disallowed countries of origin has been dissolved entirely, and institutional quarantine requirements have also been removed. Domestically, social distancing regulations have been lifted, while face masks are still required only in enclosed public places.
“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,” His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Saudi Tourism Association (STA), said in a statement. “This decision by the government will further support the many thousands of people who depend on tourism for their livelihoods, while welcoming the world back to the destination with the warm hospitality for which the Saudi people are renowned.”
This month also saw the signing of a deal between Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Development Fund (TDF) and Playa Hotels & Resorts that will bring Playa’s all-inclusive concept to the Kingdom’s coasts, including areas along the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, marking the luxury brand’s first launch outside of the Americas.
For more information, visit visitsaudi.com/en.