Foreign travel advice

Saudi Arabia

COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice

As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.

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Coronavirus: stay up to date

Cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Saudi Arabia. See information on measures introduced in Saudi Arabia to limit the spread of the virus. Find out how to return to the UK from Saudi Arabia.

See coronavirus travel advice for guidance on international travel.

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising British nationals against all non-essential international travel at this time. Existing advice for Saudi Arabia remains in place:

The FCO advise against all travel to:

  • within 10km of the border with Yemen

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

  • areas between 10km and 80km from the border with Yemen
  • Abha International Airport and its grounds, located in Asir province

If you’re currently in an area where the FCO advise against all but essential travel, you should consider whether you have an essential reason to remain. If you don’t, you should leave the area.

Cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities have announced measures aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, including suspension of international flights, a daily curfew and prohibitions on movement. For full information, see Coronavirus

Currently there are no commercial flights entering or leaving Saudi Arabia. For information about registering your interest for returning to the UK, see Return to the UK

Following the attack on the coalition base at Taji in Iraq on 11 March, and subsequent US airstrikes, tensions may be raised across the region. There is a possibility of an increased threat against Western interests, including against UK citizens. You should remain vigilant and keep up to date with the latest developments, including via the media and this travel advice.

Saudi Arabia has been leading coalition air strikes in Yemen since 2015, following a request for support from President Hadi to deter continued Houthi aggression. Clashes along the Saudi-Yemeni border continue, resulting in both military and civilian casualties.

Missiles, unmanned aerial systems (drones) and water borne IEDs continue to be launched against Saudi Arabia, targeting critical national infrastructure, including aviation interests and oil infrastructure. Many of these have been intercepted and destroyed by Saudi air defence systems.

Attacks against critical national infrastructure are likely. Abha International Airport (Asir province) had been the target of a number of attacks in 2019. Attacks had resulted in injury to civilians and the death of one. On 14 September 2019, Aramco facilities, Abqaiq and Khurais, were hit by drones and missiles.

Attacks may be made on other locations in Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh and Jeddah, and along the Red Sea coast. There have been 7 intercepted missile attacks over Riyadh since the first missile attack on 4 November 2017, the most recent on 28 March 2020. In the event of a missile attack, you should stay indoors, monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities. See Local travel - Saudi Arabia-Yemen border

All visitors, including pilgrims, need a visa to enter Saudi Arabia. See Visas

Saudi Arabia has suspended diplomatic relations with Qatar. All air and sea points of entry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar were cut on 6 June 2017. If you have a query relating to travel plans, contact your airline or tour operator. There are further restrictions on travel and residence affecting Saudi Arabian and Qatar nationals. For more information see this Official Saudi Press Agency announcement and Saudi Arabian government announcement and Saudi Arabian government announcement.

Public demonstrations are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Follow local media and be alert to local and regional developments which might trigger public disturbances. Despite warnings issued by the authorities, demonstrations do take place from time to time. You should avoid protests or demonstrations. See Political situation

Due to security operations within the Qatif region of Eastern Province, British Embassy staff have been advised to travel within the region in daylight hours only. See Local travel

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Saudi Arabia. Attacks can be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Opportunistic attacks on Saudi or western targets are also possible. You should be vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities. See Terrorism

There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation interests. Additional security measures have been in place on flights departing from Saudi Arabia to the UK since March 2017. You should co-operate fully with security officials. Restrictions on carrying large electronic devices in the aircraft cabin on these flights have now been lifted. For more information and advice about what items you can take into the cabin on your flight from Saudi Arabia to the UK, contact your airline or travel company.

Each year around 3.7 million pilgrims participate in the Hajj. If you’re travelling to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj or Umrah, read the information and advice in the Pilgrimage and Health sections of this travel advice.

Consular support is severely limited in parts of Saudi Arabia where we advise against travel, and limited in the areas we advise against all but essential travel. If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in patients from Saudi Arabia continue to be reported to the World Health Organization. For the latest information and advice, see the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.