Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia resumes visa on arrival for US, EU visa holders

The kingdom greatly relaxed its visa rules before the pandemic in an effort to boost tourism.
A Saudi Arabian airlines Saudia plane is pictured on the tarmac of the Ataturk Airport on April 4, 2019, in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia removed another coronavirus-related travel measure today. 

Holders of visas for the United States, the United Kingdom and the Schengen area in Europe can receive a 12-month visa on arrival upon entering the kingdom. The measure applies to travelers flying to Saudi Arabia via one of its national airlines — Saudia, Flynas or Flyadeal — the official Saudi Press Agency reported. This rule had been suspended until today due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Restoring the visa-on-arrival program marks the final step in returning Saudi Arabia 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,” said Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb. 

Why it matters: In 2019, Saudi Arabia eased its entry requirements significantly with the purpose of making the kingdom as easily accessible as other tourist spots in the region, such as Dubai. Saudi authorities allowed citizens of the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and other economic powers to enter without a visa

However, Saudi Arabia closed its borders in 2020 in response to the coronavirus.

The kingdom gradually eased restrictions throughout 2021, first resuming international flights and then allowing vaccinated citizens to travel abroad. However, they instituted more travel bans in December due to the emergence of the Omicron variant. 

On March 6, Saudi Arabia removed its vaccination, quarantine and testing requirements to enter, and also scrapped the red list of banned countries. 

Virus-related measures had a severely negative effect on the Saudi economy.

The visa on arrival for holders of American and European visas allows citizens of third countries to enter Saudi Arabia more easily, since they have already been approved for travel to the United States and the EU. 

Today’s decision comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to boost tourism. In February, Emirates airlines signed an agreement with the Saudi Tourism Authority to boost tourism to the kingdom.

The virus situation: Saudi Arabia is only averaging about 100 cases and two deaths a day due to COVID-19. Saudi Arabia’s population is around 35 million. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial