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Saudi Arabia Immigration Information

NOTE: The information below is just a general guide. Please refer to the relevant embassy/consulate for updated information.

Citizens of the following countries will be issued with a free-of-charge VISIT VISA on entry to the UAE:

Everyone who enters the Kingdom should have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity and the appropriate visa. Unless you are a visitor from a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council -- Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman)country or in transit, all other nationalities require a visa to enter the Kingdom.

Unlike other countries of the GCC, Saudi Arabia does not issue tourist visas nor is it possible for a hotel to sponsor a visitor. Other than the two types of visas which are only available to Muslims, there exist visitor's visas, residence visas or transit visas.

In all cases, a person entering the Kingdom must have a Saudi sponsor, which means an individual or a company to vouch for the individual's conduct while in the country.

Visas can be obtained from the visa department in the Saudi Embassy of the visitor's home country or from Saudi Consulates available in all main cities around the world.

The cost of a visa is generally 200 Saudi Riyals. However, visitors should check with the Saudi Embassy or Consulate.

WARNING: All government business in Saudi Arabia is conducted according to the Islamic calendar. Any Gregorian (western) date you encounter on official documents is there purely for your convenience and is in no way to be construed as official. The official date will be the Islamic one and as the Islamic year is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian one, confusion can -- and often does -- result. For example, a one month visa is valid for an Islamic month, not a Gregorian one. If the visitor stays for a Gregorian month, there is a distinct possibility he will have overstayed his visa by a day or two and he will almost surely encounter difficulties with the authorities when he attempts to leave the Kingdom.

Hajj and Umrah Visas

A hajj visa is one that is issued to a Muslim wishing to take part in the hajj, which occurs during the first half of the twelfth Islamic month. Hajj visas are issued according to a quota system -- one for every 1000 Muslims in a country's population. Generally, it is very difficult -- not to say impossible -- to get a hajj visa outside one's home country.

An umrah visa is issued to any Muslim who wishes to visit and pray in the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah. The Umrah visa is issued at any time other than the actual hajj. In order to obtain an Umrah visa, an application must be made in applicant's home country or in the country in which one holds permanent residence.

If the applicant is not from a Muslim country or does not have a Muslim name, he will be asked to provide an official document listing Islam as his religion. Converts must provide documentary evidence of their conversion from a mosque. An Umrah visa is valid for a week and only for travel to Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah and on the roads linking them. If travel is to be completely by road, one is allowed to travel from the land border where he enters the Kingdom to the Holy Cities.

Visitor's Visas

A visitor's visa, which is in actual fact a business visa, is obtained upon a formal invitation from the company or individual sponsoring the visitor. The invitation will include a visa number and it is primarily a statement that the sponsor has obtained a visa for the visitor and that authority to issue the visa has been sent to the appropriate Saudi embassy.

With the visa number in hand, the individual can go to the embassy BUT as visas are issued only by number and not by name, if one has no number, there is absolutely no point in going to the embassy.

No number, no visa: the rule is simple and is applied to all applicants.

If, on the other hand, the visitor is at the embassy in the morning with his number, he can usually collect his visa in the afternoon.

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