Foreign travel advice

Saudi Arabia

Important COVID-19 travel guidance

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted.

This advice is being kept under constant review. Travel disruption is still possible and national control measures may be brought in with little notice, so check our travel guidance.

Summary

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The following advice for Saudi Arabia remains in place:

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all travel to:

  • within 10km of the border with Yemen

The FCDO 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 FCDO 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.

Travel to Saudi Arabia is subject to entry restrictions

  • International flights and sea routes were suspended on 15 March. Restrictions have also been placed on some land border crossings. You should keep up to date with information from your airline or tour operator on the impact on any existing travel plans.
  • From 15 September 2020, certain categories of expatriates holding valid visas (exit/entry, business, residence/Iqama and visit) are allowed to enter and exit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Travellers arriving into Saudi Arabia must provide a negative PCR test certificate issued from a verified laboratory.
  • The use of national identity cards (instead of passports) for travel to and from Saudi Arabia has been temporarily suspended.
  • Entry to Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa from significantly affected countries has been temporarily suspended.
  • Entry to Saudi Arabia for the purpose of Umrah has also been temporarily suspended.

See Entry requirements for more information before you plan to travel.

Return travel to the UK is subject to self-isolation requirements

If you’re returning to the UK, you will need to:

  • provide your journey and contact details
  • self-isolate for 14 days

Check the guidance on entering or returning to the UK.

Check our advice on foreign travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and sign up for email alerts for this travel advice.

If you’re planning travel to Saudi Arabia, find out what you need to know about coronavirus there in the Coronavirus section.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.

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, resulting 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 9 intercepted missile attacks over Riyadh since the first missile attack on 4 November 2017, the most recent on 10 September 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. On 11 November 2019, a terrorist carried out a knife attack on artists performing on stage during Riyadh Season Festival, injuring four people. 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.

On 22 June 2020, the Saudi authorities announced that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, pilgrims from outside the Kingdom would not be permitted to enter Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj in 2020. Hajj rites were only performed by a very limited number of pilgrims who already reside in the Kingdom. A temporary suspension on Umrah remains in place. For more information and advice, see the Pilgrimage and Health sections.

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.