The exciting news is that the new Saudi transit visa is a pretty cool idea. It is not a new concept, as many other airlines and countries have done it before, but it is a great way to save money by getting a free Saudi visa, performing Umrah and going on your holiday.
Over the years, Saudi Arabia has done a good job of improving and welcoming visitors into the country. Their vision for 2023 is to actually have 25 million visitors this year, which is impressive, and I know many will be Muslims.
As a part-time resident of Saudi Arabia and someone who has written and paid close attention to everything Umrah I am impressed with the improvements in the country.
Saudi has so many amazing places to visit and explore that offer Islamic heritage as well, and I feel that sometimes Muslim pilgrims miss this opportunity as they concentrate on Makkah and Medinah only.
The Saudi tourist visa which I covered extensively, was a great introduction, but I am truly very excited about the new Saudi transit visa because Saudi Arabia has been a great black horse for great deals over the years. I cover some of the tips and tricks in my DIY Umrah book on how to save on your Saudia flights.
Who is the New Saudi Arabia Transit Visa for?
It is for everyone who is transiting through Saudi Arabia and has booked a ticket with either Saudi Arabia or FlyNas, which is the budget carrier of the country.
I have flown with FlyNas from France, which is a great budget option with good transit times from the UK.
Normally if you transited the country and had a long layover of, let’s say, 12 hours and you wanted to get out of the airport and perform Umrah, you would have needed either an Umrah visa or a Tourist visa.
Now with this new visa, you can issue it for free while actually purchasing your ticket.
How does the Saudi stopover visa works
The concept is pretty easy to navigate, actually, and I have taken all the steps here to show you. There are a few things I am not clear about, which I will explain below, but Saudia has actually made this process so much easier.
They have changed their website, and how they show flights which before has been harder to navigate since, trust me, I have looked at stopovers over the years because it is how I did an Umrah once.
Steps to book a stopover visa with SAUDIA
- Select your international departure and arrival destinations.
- Choose your flights with the most suitable connection time for you, up to a maximum of 96 hours.
- If you do not have a valid document to enter Saudi Arabia, Apply for a stopover visa from the additional services page on the SAUDIA website.
- Make sure to prepare your personal photos on your device according to the required specifications (200 * 200px file size -20kb) before you start filling out the form.
- Pay the fees for the ticket and visa in one step on the SAUDIA website
- After completing the previous steps, you will receive an email with the issued visa and insurance for the duration of your stay in Saudi Arabia.
They also offer FREE accommodation for 24hrs (one night), but I am not very clear on how to issue that and book.
What are the transit visa requirements?
- The residence period is 96 hours, and its validity is 90 days from the date of its issuance.
- The stopover visa is not extendable.
- The number of stopover times allowed for a single visa is one trip, as another stopover visa is required in the event that there are additional trips that require a stopover in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia again.
- Visa fees, electronic service fees, medical fees, and insurance fees for an individual are calculated and prepared according to the visa regulations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Obtaining the electronic stopover visa does not necessarily guarantee entry to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as the documents will be checked by the passport officer to verify the validity of the information that was submitted.
Conditions for granting an electronic transit visa
- Passport with 6 months minimum validity
- A ticket with Saudi Airlines or FlyNas to onward journey.
It has become apparent from the comments and people trying to book the transit visa that it only works if
1. You book your flight within the 90 days requirement
2. You issue your visa at the same time as your flight.
People at the moment cannot issue their visa once their ticket is processed and nobody, Saudia or the Tourist office can help. So keep this in mind if you are planning on using it.
Step-by-Step Issuing Saudi Transit Visa 2023
I, of course, when ahead and did a dummy booking and application process to see how easy it is to issue the visa. Have to say I am impressed.
Initially, it wouldn’t show me the option and let me proceed, but I did use an alternative browser, and it got fixed, so if you have that problem clear your cookies and or try another browser.
Also, the good news is there are some flights from London to Dubai for as little as £360 return in September, which is a very good deal.
1. Step – Go ahead and look for your best flight option
As I mentioned above, they have made this easy by showing you all the available options. Make sure you book a transit in Jeddah (JED) for Umrah and not Riyadh (RUH)
2. Find the layover you want and add your details
Find the flights and times you want and proceed to add your details. After adding your details, you will be taken to a page with seats and extras.
3. Extras- Issue your Transit Visa
There you will go through the process of asking you questions and uploading your digital photo ( which si ok taken on a phone – make sure you resize it and upload it).
I couldn’t go through with this because I already have residence and because I don’t want to create an issue for myself. Also, the passport and expiration are dummies, so they are not real in the photo.
4. Issue the visa
The visa application takes a few minutes and is issued within a few minutes and will be emailed to you. You then proceed to make a booking of your selected flight.
Few Things I am not clear about
The transit visa is valid for 90 days, which means you will have to have booked your flight within those days to issue it on the spot. Now the dummy booking I did was for September, so over six months in advance, and it still let me add it, so I guess it might work. You don’t want to risk it.
Many people book their flights way longer in advance so having this clarified will help.
I didn’t see an option where you can issue the transit visa if you have a ticket with Saudia or Flynas and you just issued the transit visa 90 days prior to your flight.
Another thing is many people book flights via third-party websites like Skyscanner for slightly lower prices. In this case, it says the flight needs to be booked with Saudia and FlyNas, so how would this work unless it is booked via their site?
I can see this benefit since, this way; they don’t pay commissions to third-party providers and streamline the process if they make their prices competitive. There is no need to book but direct.
Also, a clarification on the process for the accommodation would be helpful since it is for 24 hrs but doesn’t explain how it is booked.
Overall I think the Saudi transit visa is a fantastic thing and makes Umrah even cheaper. I am excited to clarify these points and see how it progresses.
I will be updating this article to keep up with new developments, and if you have booked a flight with the transit visa, please let me know the process as well.
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