Nationals from 49 countries, including the United States, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Germany, and Canada can apply for an eVisa for Saudi Arabia from their smartphone, tablet or personal computer.
Saudi eVisa Expands Its Reach
Thanks to its momentous success, Saudi authorities have decided to also offer travelers from non-eligible nationalities who hold visas from the US, the UK, or the Schengen Area an unprecedented opportunity to apply for an eVisa without having to visit an embassy or consulate. Up until September 27th, 2019 —when the kingdom opened its doors to tourism with the launch of the Saudi Arabia Online Visa— visiting the country required lengthy paperwork.
Coined “the instant tourist visa” by media outlets, the eVisa for Saudi Arabia can be easily obtained online by simply filling out a form with the traveler’s personal, passport, and travel information. Qualifying for an eVisa is very easy. In order to do so, citizens will need:
- A current passport issued by one of the Saudi Arabia eVisa eligible countries, with at least 6 months validity remaining past the intended date of arrival in the kingdom
- A valid email address where applicants will receive their eVisa within 3 business days, in most cases
- A credit or debit card to cover Saudi Arabia eVisa fees as well as the Mandatory Insurance Policy issued alongside your electronic visa
- A personal passport-style photograph of the citizen
Foreign visitors holding a Saudi Arabia eVisa will be granted multiple visits to the kingdom with a maximum of 90 days per stay and 180 days total within its one-year validity period.
More International Travelers Now Eligible For Saudi Arabia eVisa
The kingdom expanded the eligibility for the Saudi Arabia eVisa in October 2019. Since then, citizens of other countries holding a valid commercial or tourist visa issued either by the United States, the United Kingdom, or the European Union’s Schengen authorities may also apply online for the eVisa.
This means that travelers with an approved Schengen visa who want to travel to Saudi Arabia, have now become eligible to get the Saudi Arabia eVisa. This opportunity eliminates the need for newly eligible tourists to apply through the longer and more complicated procedure at a Saudi Arabian mission.
Saudi Arabia Diversifies Its Economy
Saudi Arabia boasts endless dunes, deep green mountains, pristine beaches as well as 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Therefore, it is not surprising to witness how enormously successful the eVisa system has turned out to be since it was made available.
The eVisa for Saudi Arabia is just one part of Vision 2030 —an ambitious plan devised by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman— that aims to relieve the country’s income from its heavy dependence on oil exports. This revolutionary initiative intends to secure foreign investment in the kingdom’s tourism industry over the next 10 years.
The country has already welcomed 24,000 international visitors since the eVisa launch at the end of September. Moreover, the Saudi government aspires to draw 100 million annual visits in 2030, up from its current of approximately 40 million.
Other actions within this initiative include billionaire investments in developing the Saudia Arabian entertainment industry, the construction of safari areas, theme parks, motorsports arenas, as well as luxury holiday resorts.
Saudi Arabia Relaxes Rules For Tourists
Since tourism is high on the Crown Prince’s agenda, the eVisa for Saudi Arabia brought along several changes in its social rules in a bid to boost tourism revenue. The following aspects have been modified to welcome tourists into Saudi Arabia:
- International female visitors staying in Saudi Arabia are advised to dress modestly, however, they are no longer required to wear abayas, as local women are
- Unaccompanied foreign women are now allowed to rent hotel rooms without a male guardian to chaperone them
- Couples may now book hotel accommodations together without having to present a marriage certificate
- The previous ban on commercial cinemas has been lifted
- Women can also now attend football matches
Saudi Arabia Visitor Visa for Other Nationalities
Citizens who do not qualify by either carrying a passport issued by an eligible country, or holding a visa for the US, the UK, or the Schengen Area, may still approach a Saudi embassy or consulate to request the appropriate type of visitor visa for Saudi Arabia.
Obtaining a Saudi Arabia visa from a consulate or embassy involves providing the following information:
- A return ticket
- Accommodation booking confirmation in the kingdom
- Financial status
- A street address in your country of residence
- The application form the Saudi mission will provide you
As Ahmad Al-Khateeb, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, stated: “Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country,”. Al-Khateeb also declared that “Generous hospitality is at the heart of Arabian culture and we look forward to showing our guests a very warm welcome. To visitors, we say: be among the first to discover and explore the treasures of Arabia. To investors we say: become part of the fastest-growing tourism sector on earth.”
If you would like to be one of the first international travelers to visit Saudi Arabia as a tourist, make sure to apply for your eVisa at least 3 days prior to your intended date of departure.