Saudia Arabia is now issuing visas following temporary suspension as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst international and sea routes have remained closed since March 15th, except for in exceptional circumstances, travelers can now obtain a visa to use once all borders reopen.
Entry restrictions are just some of the measures that have been taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, curfews and social distancing have also played an important role in controlling the virus and keeping Saudi Arabia safe.
Foreigners with plans to travel to Saudi Arabia once international travel resumes can find out below how to obtain a Saudi Arabia visa and precautions to be taken if traveling to the GCC nation during the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia Visas Now Being Issued
Visas had been temporarily suspended for international travelers from areas of the world worst by COVID-19. However, restrictions are gradually being eased and it is once again possible to apply for a Saudi Arabia visa online from many countries.
The Saudia Arabia eVisa is valid for 365 days from the issue date: foreign citizens have one year to enter the country for the first time.
Travelers who apply now can use the approved visa once international travel returns, for a stay of up to 90 days.
Domestic flights in Saudi Arabia resumed on 31st May, airlines have implemented additional safety procedures such as sterilization and deep cleaning of the cabin between flights. It is hoped that international flights will also begin to operate shortly.
All travelers should check official health regulations before traveling to Saudi Arabia for up to date information on entry restrictions.
Foreigners with doubts regarding their eligibility for visiting the country can call a special helpline on 00966920000890 from outside Saudi Arabia.
Curfew in Saudi Arabia lifted
The issuance of visas and commencement of internal flights is in line with the de-escalation of preventative measures in the kingdom.
A curfew on citizens and residents was lifted at the end of June and economic and commercial activities are returning to normal. Non-essential businesses and attractions may now open and public transportation is in operation.
Residents are still expected to social distance and follow other health guidelines. Face masks must be worn in public places.
Do Travel Restrictions Affect Foreign Nationals Already in Saudi Arabia?
International visitors who are already in Saudi Arabia are not under any obligation to leave the kingdom.
Furthermore, if their visas are about to expire, they will be able to extend their visas for up to 180 days, according to the instructions of Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Bin Nayef Bin Abdulaziz, the country’s Minister of Interior.
Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia during COVID-19
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently issued a statement announcing that all religious visits (Umrah) by overseas pilgrims to the sacred Muslim site of Mecca must be canceled or postponed for the time being.
A dedicated online portal has been set up by the government for affected pilgrims to claim their expenses. Visa fees and service charges will be refunded in their entirety. The refund can be collected at the local Umrah agents in the pilgrim’s country. More information is available by calling 0096692000281 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moreover, GCC citizens are now being banned from entering Mecca and Medina. However, if such nationals have already been in the country for 14 days without showing symptoms, they will be considered exempt from this limitation.
This latter preventative move was made because GCC states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates) all confirmed coronavirus cases within their territories.
Can I take part in Hajj during coronavirus?
Attendance at the popular Hajj pilgrimage is being limited in 2020 in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst participants.
Only Saudi citizens and foreign nationals already in Saudi Arabia are permitted to take part in the pilgrimage, which will be held from Tuesday, July 28th until Sunday, August 2nd.
Under normal circumstances, millions of Muslims complete the Hajj pilgrimage, however, given the current situation fewer people will be admitted.
Overseas pilgrims will have to wait until next year to take part in the important religious trip, one of the 5 pillars of Islam.