Saudi Arabia opens e-visa for tourists

The option will be available for citizens of the Schengen area, the US and seven other countries

Travelling to Saudi Arabia will soon be easier as the Gulf country has decided to open e-visa to its visitors.

An electronic replacement of the regular visa is expected to ensure a much faster process and will be available to citizens of 34 countries, including the United States and the whole Schengen area.

People from the US, the Schengen zone and other seven countries will soon be able to apply for an e-visa to Saudi Arabia — Andrew V Marcus / Shutterstock Saudi Arabia opens e-visa for tourists
People from the US, the Schengen zone and other seven countries will soon be able to apply for an e-visa to Saudi Arabia — Andrew V Marcus / Shutterstock

The new measure is an attempt by relevant Saudi authorities to boost the country’s travel sectors, as the majority of tourists nowadays consists of religious travellers.

However, the program is not new to the country. The introduction of the e-visa follows a pilot project launched for the event of Formula E, a race of electric-powered cars, that took place in Riyadh this year.

Visitors coming for the race from 80 countries overall were allowed to obtain an electronic visa for the price of $170. Its holders could travel throughout the whole desert country except for the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

“This process was limited to the Formula E. Usually if you apply for a visa it will take some time to get it and you will have to do it through the embassy,” Prince Abdul Aziz, member of the Royal House of Saudi, said regarding the e-visa.

“We did it [the e-visa] hand in hand with the ministry of foreign affairs. We went from a very complicated process to a very simple one.”

The new e-visa will be available to citizens of the 26 countries of the Schengen zone, as well as to travellers from the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.

Saudi authorities haven’t yet revealed further details connected to the e-visa requirements, such as the price, validity, or whether it permits the visitor to enter the holy Arabian cities or not.