Saudi Arabia released an announcement this week surrounding the expansion of their e-visa scheme. The list of countries where visitors can acquire an e-visa from has been extended to include a majority of Europe and the US.
According to the news released, Saudi Arabia will now allow visa holders from the UK, the US, and the Schengen area, alongside any permanent residents travelling from the UK, the US, and an EU state country.
Previously, travellers from these areas were provided with the option to apply for a visa on arrival. Saudi Arabia originally included this scheme in a plan to drive tourism and reach 100 million visits per year by 2030. Following their initial opening to tourism in 2019, the country has seen a significant rush of visitors.
As an alternative to on-arrival visas, the e-visa can be used for one year on multiple entries to the country. Visitors to Saudi Arabia with an e-visa will be allowed to spend up to 90 days there on their visa over the course of a year.
The visa also allows travellers access to certain activities categorised as tourism. This includes events, family visits, leisure, and Umrah (excluding Hajj), but does not include activities like studying (you can find out more about what kind of visa you might need on the Foreign Travel Advice page).
The destination has launched other schemes alongside the e-visa to help boost tourism. This includes the Nusuk platform which was released in 2022 by the Saudi Tourism Authority and the Pilgrim Experience Programme. This provides both pilgrims and travellers with a gateway for planning their trip to Makkah (Mecca), Madinah, and more.
Saudi Arabia also launched the stopover visa scheme this year. This allowed travellers to remain in the country for up to 96 hours as a stopover to their final destination.
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