The Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia has introduced electronic visas in place of visa stickers in twelve countries including Pakistan.
The move comes as part of the ongoing efforts to “automate procedures and boost the quality of consular services provided by the ministry,” and “develop the mechanism of issuing work, residency and visit visas.”
In a statement issued by the Saudi General Aviation Authority, it is said that a new system of issuing e-visa with QR codes has been introduced in the Kingdom’s missions in Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Indonesia, and Egypt.
As part of the fresh regulations, visa holders of the United States, United Kingdom, and the Schengen region can get e-visa service in a seamless manner without any delay.
Moreover, permanent residents of any European Union (EU), the UK, and the US can also avail themselves of this instant e-visa service. The authorities have also allowed permanent residence holders to have their first-degree relatives access to the Kingdom via an upon-arrival visa at any air, land, and sea ports.
An exception has been made for individuals holding valid tourism or business visas from the US, UK, or any of the Schengen states. However, this exception is applicable only if the visa has been utilized at least once to enter the country that issued it.
The Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia issued a statement affirming the objectives of this initiative, stating, “In order to complete the process of facilitating procedures and providing an integrated tourism experience, the Kingdom allows holders of visas of the United States, the European Union (Schengen), and the United Kingdom, as well as their residents, to issue a tourist visa electronically and immediately through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) website.”
It is important to note that tourists holding these visas are not permitted to undertake Hajj or Umrah during the pilgrimage season, as clarified by the Ministry.
Saudi Arabia has been revamping its visa system to facilitate tourists. This recent development follows the kingdom’s announcement in February of a transit visa for passengers flying with Saudi Arabian carriers, including Flynas and Saudia, who have a stopover in the Kingdom.
With these progressive steps, Saudi Arabia aims to streamline visa procedures, encourage international tourism, and showcase its diverse attractions and cultural heritage to the world. The introduction of the e-visa service is set to open doors to new opportunities for travelers and foster closer connections between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the globe.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been recently revamping the visa procedures and easing visa rules, attracting more tourists and foreign businesses.
It also comes amid talk of a possible unified regional Schengen-style visa among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.