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Getting here and advice about your stay

Entry requirements

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months beyond the date you intend to leave Saudi Arabia.

Visas

All visitors, including pilgrims, need a visa to enter Saudi Arabia. Visa applications must first be notified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at: http://www.mofa.gov.sa/sites/mofaen/pages/default.aspx in Riyadh. You should apply for a visa through visa agencies accredited to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. If you overstay your visa you will be fined and deported.

If you are transiting through Saudi Arabia, you may need a transit visa if the connecting time between your flights is more than 12 hours. Once the ticket is issued, you should confirm with your airline or travel agency if you need a transit visa. You should be able to apply for a transit visa through your airline, travel agency or through an established agent via the visa section of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London, at: http://embassies.mofa.gov.sa/sites/uk/EN/Pages/default.aspx.

The Saudi authorities have announced that all Muslims not holding Hajj visas will not be permitted to enter Saudi Arabia via Jeddah or Madina airports during Hajj. The only exceptions are those holding Saudi residency permits. These rules do not apply to entry via Saudi Arabia’s other international airports.

If you are a non-Muslim visitor travelling to these destinations, you may be asked to explain the purpose of your trip or asked to show evidence of an appointment before being allowed to board a flight to Jeddah. For further detailed advice on visa requirements for Hajj and Umrah, contact the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London, at: http://embassies.mofa.gov.sa/sites/uk/EN/Pages/default.aspx.

British residents in Saudi Arabia will need a valid exit or re-entry permit from the Saudi Ministry of Interior to leave the country.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/191/saudi-arabia#Vaccine_recommendations.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Saudi Arabia or for transiting through Saudi Arabia. However, ETDs are accepted for exit from Saudi Arabia.

Previous travel to Israel

You may be refused entry to Saudi Arabia if your passport contains evidence of previous travel to Israel or indicates Israel as your birthplace.

Female travellers

If you are a female visitor or resident you must be met by your sponsor on arrival. Otherwise you may face delays before being allowed to enter the country or to continue on other flights.

Foreign women married to Saudi nationals must have permission from their husband to leave Saudi Arabia.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Safety and security

Public demonstrations

Public demonstrations are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Follow local media and be alert to local and regional developments which might trigger public disturbances. You should avoid public gatherings or demonstrations. Despite warnings issued by the authorities, demonstrations do take place from time to time, mainly in the Shia communities in the Qatif area of the Eastern Province, including Al Musawara village in Al-Awamiya, and Al Hasa. Violent clashes have occurred between demonstrators and security forces.

Saudi Arabia-Yemen border

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to within 10 km of the border with Yemen, and against all but essential travel between 10 km and 80 km of this border. If you are currently in an area to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel, you should consider whether you have an essential reason to remain. If you do not, you should leave the area.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading coalition air strikes in Yemen following the request for support from President Hadi to deter continued Houthi aggression. Clashes along the Saudi-Yemeni border continue, resulting in both military and civilian casualties.

Since the coalition action there began, ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial systems (drones) have periodically been fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen. Most of these have been intercepted and destroyed by Saudi air defence systems, but there have been a small number of casualties and three fatalities. Military facilities in Najran, Asir and Jazan Provinces are likely to continue to be targeted but attacks may be made on other locations in Saudi Arabia too, including Riyadh and Jeddah, and in the Red Sea. 

In the event of an incident, you should stay indoors, monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Airports near the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border have been closed temporarily from time to time. You should check with your airline before travelling to airports near the border.

Crime

The crime rate in Saudi Arabia is low, but take particular care when travelling outside towns and cities.

Road travel

Where possible, keep to major roads. When travelling to more rural areas, take precautions such as travelling in convoy and during daylight.

Standards of driving are poor and there are a high number of serious accidents. You should wear seatbelts at all times. Distances between cities are large and emergency services can take some time to get to any accidents or emergencies.

Some Saudi cities have implemented an automated traffic system. You will need to pay any fines issued through this system before leaving the country. You can pay at the airport but only during regular Saudi office hours.

Sea travel

Oil infrastructure remains a possible terrorist target. Shipping serving the oil installations should make sure SSPs are implemented fully and robustly while operating in the area. All ships should maintain a high state of vigilance while in Saudi Arabian ports, and report anything suspicious to the authorities. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb areas may be at increased risk of maritime attack from pirates. For more information and advice, see the UK Government’s piracy and armed robbery at sea page at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sea-river-and-piracy-safety.

Flooding

Heavy rains can cause flooding between November and February. During this period you should check weather forecasts in the two English language newspapers (Arab News and Saudi Gazette) and follow any advice issued by the Civil Defence.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]

Terrorism

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Saudi Arabia. The main threat is from Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Opportunistic attacks on Saudi or western targets are also possible. You should be vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities.

The Saudi security forces have successfully disrupted a number of attack plots, but the scale of extremist activity is significant and attacks continue to take place.

Be especially vigilant during periods of religious significance (including the holy month of Ramadan) and public holidays; terrorist groups sometimes call for attacks at these times.

There are posts on jihadist websites and social media encouraging attacks against British, western and other interests, including teachers, schools, oil workers, residential compounds, military, transport and aviation interests, as well as crowded places, including restaurants, hotels, shopping centres and mosques. Further attacks are likely.

If you are living in Saudi Arabia, you should regularly review and make sure you are satisfied with the security measures provided by the management and local authorities at the residential compound where you live, the place where you work and the school where your children study.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack, at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reduce-your-risk-from-terrorism-while-abroad.

 

Health

Visit your GP around four-to-six weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.

Check the latest country-specific information and advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries and by NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx.

Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/.

Healthcare facilities in major cities in Saudi Arabia are of a high standard. Most towns have a health centre or basic hospital. Serious cases may mean a transfer by ambulance or by air to hospitals in a major city that might be some distance away. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Contagious diseases spread quickly, particularly during Hajj and Ramadan. Flu, colds and respiratory problems are very common. Bring basic medicines with you and consume adequate liquids and salts. During the period of Hajj and Umrah, pilgrims must have a valid certificate of vaccination against the ACWY strains of meningitis. See the NaTHNaC factsheet at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/19/hajj-and-umrah for further information.

Cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in patients from Saudi Arabia have been reported to the World Health Organization. For the latest information and advice, see the NaTHNaC website at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/news/237/mers-cov-update-travelhealthpro-country-pages.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 997 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]

  

Insurance

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. See the FCO Foreign Travel Insurance guidance at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-insurance.

FCO travel advice

If you are travelling to Saudi Arabia for business, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website has travel advice to help you prepare for your visit overseas and to stay safe and secure while you are there.

For up-to-the-minute advice please visit the FCO Travel section pages on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/saudi-arabia.

 


 

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