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Traveling to Saudi Arabia: Navigating Business Visa Requirements

BusinessTraveling to Saudi Arabia: Navigating Business Visa Requirements

The process of obtaining visas in Saudi Arabia is somewhat complex. While some countries may not require a visa for travelers from certain countries, Saudi Arabia compulsorily requires both a passport and a valid visa, whether you are traveling for business, work, or personal reasons.

The only exceptions are the citizens of countries that are members of The GCC and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. Its members include the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the Sultanate of Oman.

Saudi Arabia issues three types of visas:

  • Employment visas
  • Business visit visas
  • Family visit or residence visas

This guide will focus on Business Visas, as will be required by any person intending to conduct their business in Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi Arabian visa is a sticker/stamp placed in a passport and issued by the Royal Saudi Arabian Embassy. Saudi consulates in each country also issue visas. 

A Business Visa And a Work Visa: Their Difference

A Saudi Arabian business visa is employed to carry out limited business activities with a Saudi sponsor, be it a person or an organization. In theory, the visa limits you from doing activities like business meetings or conducting negotiations.

Individuals may also use their Saudi business visas to provide interim or short-term technical services or management consultancy. The Saudi authorities tolerate this largely.

It is important to understand the difference between a business visa and a work visa. A Saudi business visa allows you to conduct limited business transactions with your Saudi sponsor.

If you need to work in Saudi Arabia, you will need a work visa, also known as an employment visa. The work visa permits its holder to work within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

All foreigners who want to work in Saudi Arabia are subject to the Kingdom’s sponsorship system. This sponsorship gives the employer significant legal authority over those working for them.

For example, an employer can prevent an employee from exiting the Kingdom.

It is illegal to work in Saudi Arabia when your business visa is marked “not permitted to work,” and violating this stipulation can result in deportation, detention, financial penalties, and a ban on returning to the Kingdom.

Be clear that you do not request a business visa when you want a work visa.

Documents Required for a Saudi Arabian Business Visa Application?

The Saudi Arabian government is very particular about the documents required to obtain a business/travel visa. You need to ensure each document presented is appropriate.

Passport

As with traveling to any country, traveling to Saudi Arabia will require a passport valid for six months when applying for the visa. Renew your passport if you have less than six months till the passport expires.

Other requirements are:

The signed passport must contain at least two consecutive blank pages. Single blank pages are not acceptable.

Even if your passport is valid but no longer contains two successive blank pages, your passport will not be accepted due to other visa stamps, and amendment pages do not count. 

Your passport should not be altered, damaged, torn, or separated in any manner.

If your passport shows that you have visited Israel or intend to do so, you will be refused a visa.

On occasion, the Saudi Embassy has declined a visa to nationals of other countries who were born in Israel.

Generally, passports can be dropped off at the Saudi Embassies between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and picked up between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. However, these timings are subject to change without notice, particularly during the month of Ramadan.

Photographs

You are required to submit two recent, identical passport-style photos of 2″ x 2″. These photos must be in color and on photo-quality paper, recent, and taken within the last 90 days.

Photographs printed on computer paper are not accepted. The pictures should not be the same as the ones in your passport.

Other requirements for the photographs:

The head and the entire face must be in the center of the picture.

Do not smile. You must have a neutral expression.

You must remove your glasses for the photos and any non-religious headwear, such as a baseball hat or a visor.

Do not attach any of the photos to your visa application. You cannot use any adhesive material, such as tape, glue, or staples.

Documents Required for Your Visa

Business travel to Saudi Arabia will require you to provide the following documents,

A Business Cover Letter From Employer

All applicants for a Saudi business visa need to submit a business cover letter (BCL) from their employer in their country. 

This business cover letter must be printed on the company letterhead with a complete address and an original signed document indicating the visit’s itinerary date, purpose, and duration.

The company letter needs to confirm the employee’s position in the company, as well as the financial and moral responsibility of the applicant, and list contact details and the address for their visit to Saudi Arabia.

This letter is required to be notarized and addressed to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in that country.

Sponsors Business Registration Form

A Saudi business visa application also requires a copy of the sponsoring Saudi company’s registration form, which is issued by the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

This copy must be stamped and issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudia.

You also need to submit a copy of your company’s business registration in Saudi Arabia and in the country where you are applying from.

Letter of Invitation

A visa application also requires submitting an original invitation issued by the Saudi Foreign Ministry. The company sponsoring your visit to Saudi Arabia must arrange this invitation letter.

Details required in the invitation letter:

  • Addressed directly to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, in the country the visa is being applied from.
  • Must show the Saudi sponsor’s complete address and contact numbers.
  • The letter needs to request the exact number of days for the visa as mentioned in the business introduction letter. 
  • Specify single or multiple entry visa requests.
  • If a government company has issued a Letter of Invitation in Saudi Arabia., you will be required to bring a diplomatic note from the embassy in your country.

Notice of Saudi Laws and Regulations

You are required to fill out and sign a Notice on Saudi Laws and Regulations Form. As part of the requirement of this form, you will need to provide your fingerprints and eye iris pattern images.

The Saudi embassy may additionally request a signed copy of your business contract between your company and the sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia.

Educational Qualifications

A letter detailing the highest level of education you have achieved and the subjects you majored in at the university.

Visa Application Form

The visa application form for Saudi Arabia must be filled out in block (capital) letters and precisely the same way as given on your passport, including your full name.

The application must be filled out using blue or black ink only. It will be rejected if any other color ink is used. The visa application must also contain your cell phone number and email address. 

Keep the following tips in mind:

For the application section on religion, enter Muslim or other. ‘Other’ in this case means non-Muslim.

Also, ensure that you follow the Ministry of Foreign Affairs authorization when choosing single or multiple entries on the form.

If you have traveled to Saudi Arabia previously, check your passport to see if it already contains a valid Saudi Arabian visa. A new visa will not be issued if you already have a valid one.

You must also submit proof of a round-tr