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Saudi Arabia

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Latest updates: The Health tab was updated - travel health notices (Public Health Agency of Canada).

Risk level(s)

COVID-19 – Global travel advisory

Effective date: March 13, 2020

Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.

This advisory overrides other risk levels on this page, with the exception of any risk levels for countries or regions where we advise to avoid all travel.

More about the Global travel advisory

Saudi Arabia - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Saudi Arabia due to the threat of terrorist attacks and security incidents.

Areas within 80 km of the border with Yemen - Avoid all travel

Avoid all travel to areas within 80 km of the border with Yemen, due to rocket, missile and mortar attacks on Saudi population centres near the border.

Safety and security situation

Abha International Airport - Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to the Abha International Airport, in Asir Province, due to the risk of missile and drone attacks.

Safety and security situation

Al Qatif and its suburbs - Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to Qatif and surrounding suburbs, such as Al Awamiya, in Eastern Province. Ongoing tensions between Saudi security forces and local militants create potential for unrest.

Safety and security situation

Safety and security

COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions

Preventative measures and restrictions are in place. You must wear a face covering in public.

If you violate the restrictions, you could be fined for endangering public health.


Border with Yemen

Armed groups in Yemen regularly target Saudi interests near the border in retaliation for Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen. Houthi militias regularly launch rockets, missiles and mortars at Saudi population centres near the border.

Risk level(s)

Border with Qatar

On June 5, 2017, the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen announced the severing of diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Land and sea borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar are closed, which could cause disruption to regional travel and the movement of cargo. Some airlines suspended flights to and from Qatar. Additional measures could further affect transportation.

Northern Saudi border

The Saudi authorities have declared an “out of bounds” zone of 20 km from:

Violations are punishable by up to 30 months in prison and a SAR 25,000 fine.

Direct access to land border crossings remains available and signs are being placed in areas where vehicles are allowed to cross. Consult local authorities before attempting to cross a land border through this area.


From May to September, 2017, clashes between Saudi security forces and activists and militants have caused casualties in Al Awamiya in the Qatif region of Eastern Province. Although the situation has calmed, tensions remain high and there is a heavy security presence in the area.

Al Awamiya and Al Musawara

Civil unrest and armed clashes may occur. Saudi forces may impose curfews with little or no notice.

Risk level(s)

Missile strikes and drones

Missiles and drones have been launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, most of which have been intercepted and destroyed by Saudi air defence systems. The majority of these events occur close to the Yemen border, however some have occurred in cities such as Riyadh, Abha, Yanbu as well as in parts of the Eastern Province. Urban areas, military, oil and public facilities, such as airports, may be targeted by these missiles and drones. These events are expected to continue to occur and the situation remains unpredictable. Given the significant range of recent strikes Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf are at risk.

Missile and drone interceptions may cause scattered debris or fragments. Seek shelter during these events, stay away from doors and windows and follow the instructions of local authorities.

If you encounter debris or fragments:


There is a threat of terrorism. Attacks have occurred throughout the country. Latest large-scale attacks have targeted the Shia minority in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia’s security forces and places of worship where large groups gather. Further attacks cannot be ruled out.

Targets could include:

Heightened security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced on short notice.


There is a threat of kidnapping in Saudi Arabia. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.


Demonstrations are illegal in Saudi Arabia. They occur predominantly in Shia communities in the Qatif area of Eastern Province. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Security forces quickly prevent demonstrations from forming or gathering momentum.

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)


The next Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is expected to take place from July 17 to 22, 2021. Millions of Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage, causing overcrowding at ritual sites and transportation disruptions.

Traffic during Hajj

Traffic in Mecca peaks during Eid, which is expected to occur from July 19 to 24, 2021.

Religious sites during Hajj

There are safety risks at religious sites due to overcrowding. Pilgrims have been killed or injured in stampedes. The sites are far from the Canadian embassy. Contact your Hajj travel agent for information on available services and support.

Information on entry requirements during the pilgrimage


The crime rate is low. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, especially in crowded areas and at holy sites.

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.

Safe-travel guide for women

Road safety

Roads in larger cities are generally well maintained. Roads in rural areas are less developed, poorly lit and range from pavement to sand or gravel.

Driving risks

Poor driving habits, disregard for traffic laws and road markings, and excessive speed are common and cause fatal accidents.


Only use pre-arranged, licensed taxis. Avoid shared or unregistered taxis.

Marine transportation

Exercise caution if travelling by sea, including for recreational purposes, in the Persian Gulf, particularly around the disputed islands of Abu Musa and Tunbs. Iran and the United Arab Emirates each claim sovereignty over the islands.

Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.

Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

General safety information

Entry/exit requirements

COVID-19 - Entry and transit requirements

Travellers on a tourist visa are not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia, although those with Saudi residency are permitted to enter. However, certain visitors may be allowed entry if they can prove the essential nature of their travel or if they meet specific criteria.

It is your responsibility to verify this information with the appropriate foreign diplomatic office and to ask if you may be allowed entry, based on your individual circumstances and your itinerary.

Local authorities may impose additional requirements without notice and your travel plans could be severely disrupted. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to your travel plans.

Foreign diplomatic offices in Canada – Global Affairs Canada

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the Saudi Arabian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.


Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Saudi Arabia.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.

Useful links


You must obtain a visa to visit Saudi Arabia. Overstaying your visa will result in large fines. All visa applications, with the exception of applications for tourist visas, must be sponsored by a Saudi citizen, a travel agency or an organization.

Tourist visa: Required 
Business visa: Required 
Student visa: Required 
Working visa: Required


Tourist visa

You can obtain a tourist visa online before your trip or upon arrival at the airport. The tourist visa allows for multiple entries and is valid for one year. You can stay up to 90 days per entry, but cannot stay in Saudi Arabia longer than 180 days per year. Muslim tourists can apply for the tourist visa to perform Umrah. A specific visa is required to perform Hajj.        

Apply for a tourist visa online -  Visit Saudi Arabia

Obtaining a visa

You can obtain a visa at an agency authorized by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to Canada in Ottawa. If you reside in a foreign country, you may obtain a visa from the nearest Saudi embassy or consulate.

Women entering Saudi Arabia

Women must be met by their sponsors at the port of arrival or risk being denied entry. This does not apply to women entering the country on a tourist visa.


Pilgrims must present a valid Hajj or Umra visa. These visas are only valid for travel in the vicinities of Jeddah, Mecca and Medina, and for travel between these cities. Non-Muslims are forbidden from travelling to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Pilgrims performing Umra and Hajj must travel with a travel agency that is accredited with the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Female pilgrims under the age of 45 must be accompanied by a mahram (a close male relative). Female pilgrims over the age of 45 may travel unaccompanied by a mahram but with a travel agency, provided they submit a letter stating that their mahram, or someone who could be considered their mahram, authorizes their travel.

In the period preceding and during the Hajj pilgrimage, Muslim visitors with a valid Hajj visa will be allowed to board flights to Jeddah, Medina and Taif. Muslim travellers with business or visit visas must enter through any other entry point.

Entry and exit permits

Holders of residency permits

If you have a resident permit (iqama), you can’t leave the country without obtaining an exit (or exit/re-entry visa if you intend to return to Saudi Arabia) from the Saudi Ministry of Interior. You must have your sponsor’s approval to obtain these visas.

Single-entry visa

Single-entry visa holders don’t need an exit permit.

Outstanding fees for dependents

Prior to exit, expatriates who have outstanding fees for dependents may be required to pay at the point of exit prior to departure if they have an exit re-entry visa, or on renewal of their exit re-entry visa.

Regional travel

Canadians have been denied entry into Saudi Arabia because their passports bore an Israeli visa, an Israeli border stamp or an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel. Such a stamp would indicate the traveller visited Israel prior to coming to Saudi Arabia.

Health entry requirements

You must produce a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test certificate and proof of a criminal background check if you intend to work in Saudi Arabia.

You may have to produce proof of polio vaccination.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Children and travel

Learn about travel with children.


Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Outbreak Monitoring



In March 2020, Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended permission to perform Umrah (normally year-round), due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pilgrimage typically draws large numbers of pilgrims from across the world each year.

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to gradually allow pilgrims, including visitors from outside of the country, to perform Umrah at limited capacity during the pandemic.

The government of Canada currently advises Canadians against non-essential travel to Saudi Arabia.

There is an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia. Please read the travel health notice: Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Large crowds in small areas can increase your risk of getting sick or injured. Pilgrims performing Umrah are at increased risk of exposure to infectious diseases such as COVID-19, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), diphtheria, cholera, measles, and influenza.

For more information on Canada's COVID-19 travel restrictions, exemptions, and advice, please visit our website.


Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.


Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

Meningococcal disease, Hajj and Umrah requirement

Adults and children over 2 years old arriving in Saudi Arabia for Umrah, Hajj or for seasonal work in Hajj zones, are required to submit a valid vaccination certificate with a quadrivalent (ACYW) meningococcal vaccine administered no less than 10 days prior to the planned arrival to Saudi Arabia.

For more information, visit the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health's page for 2019/1440H-Hajj and Umrah Health Regulations.

Polio, Hajj and Umrah requirement

Travellers entering Saudi Arabia for Umrah, Hajj or for seasonal work in Hajj zones from countries with active transmission of wild or vaccine-derived polio virus or from countries at risk of polio reintroduction are required to submit a valid polio vaccination certificate.

For more information, visit the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health's page for 2019/1440H-Hajj and Umrah Health Regulations.

Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.


  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.


  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.

About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.


Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasismalaria, Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus, and Zika virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

  • In this country, dengue fever is a risk to travellers year-round.  It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, global numbers have been steeply rising again.
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.




Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)

Cases of locally-acquired Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) have been reported in this country.

MERS is a viral respiratory disease caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).Some people infected with MERS-CoV experience no symptoms, while others may experience mild flu-like or more severe pneumonia-like symptoms. Some cases can result in death.

Eat and drink safely, and avoid close contact with animals, especially camels. If you must visit a farm or market, make sure you practise good hygiene and wash your hands before and after contact with animals. There is currently no vaccine to protect against MERS.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Medical services and facilities

Modern medical care is available in large cities. Adequate medical services are available in smaller cities. Immediate cash payment may be required.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

Laws and culture

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

Legal process

The Saudi judicial system is based on Sharia (Islamic law). The legal process may be slow and cumbersome. Those suspected of, and witnesses to offences may be held for lengthy periods without access to legal counsel or consular officials. If access is granted, it may be severely limited by Saudi authorities. Seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Work week

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.


You must carry an international driving permit.

More about the International Driving Permit

Women are now legally allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.


If you’re involved in an accident:

In a traffic accident resulting in personal injury, regardless of fault, drivers may be held for several days until responsibility is determined and restitution is made. If severe injuries or death occur, compensation may need to be paid to the victim’s family for the injuries or loss of life.

Automated ticketing system

Some Saudi cities have implemented an automated traffic ticketing system. All fines issued through this system must be paid before leaving the country. Payment can be made at the airport during regular Saudi office hours.

Illegal or restricted activities

Drugs, alcohol and pork

Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession and consumption of alcohol, pork, illegal drugs or products containing their ingredients are severe.

Saudi authorities practice zero tolerance and make no distinction between alcohol and soft or hard drugs. Drug offenders may be sentenced to corporeal punishment or death.

Royal family

Criticizing the royal family is illegal.

Religion, and politics

Religious proselytizing is not permitted. Criticizing Islam is illegal.

Be cautious when discussing political and religious issues.

Common-law unions

Common-law relationships are illegal and are subject to severe punishment, including the death penalty.

Adultery and prostitution

Adultery and prostitution are illegal and subject to severe punishment, including the death penalty.


It’s forbidden to photograph official buildings (e.g. government, military institutions) and holy sites. Seek permission prior to photographing individuals.

Prohibited activities and censorship

Dancing and music are prohibited.

Imported and domestic audio-visual media and reading materials are censored in Saudi Arabia.

LGBTQ2 travellers

The laws of Saudi Arabia prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Further, it is illegal to be transgender. Those convicted may face the death penalty.

LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Saudi Arabia.

General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad

Dress and behaviour

The country’s customs, laws and regulations adhere to Islamic practices and beliefs. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions in order to avoid offending local sensitivities, especially in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and in mosques.

Dress code

Women should observe the strict Saudi dress code and wear conservative and loose-fitting clothes, including a full-length cloak (abaya) and a head scarf. Men should not wear shorts in public or go without a shirt. Seek guidance concerning acceptable clothing before your arrival.

Public spaces

Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands, in public.

Women aren’t allowed to associate with men in public unless the women are accompanied by other family members. A woman can be charged with prostitution if she’s found associating with a man who is not a relative.

Restaurants can have two sections: one for men only, and the family section where families, accompanied females and unaccompanied females are served.

During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2021, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around April 12.

Practising any religion other than Islam in public spaces is illegal.

Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice

The Mutawa, also known as the religious police, have harassed, pursued and assaulted foreigners they believe disregard strict Saudi standards of conduct and dress. Often, they will simply instruct women to cover their hair. The Mutawa carry special identification and are typically accompanied by a uniformed police officer.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Saudi Arabia.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of Saudi Arabia, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

General information for travellers with dual citizenship

Marriage between a foreign woman and a Saudi man

A Saudi man who wishes to marry a foreign woman must obtain permission from Saudi authorities. He must also sign a document that gives irrevocable permission to his wife and the children born of their union to enter and exit the country without restrictions. This law has been in effect since 2008, and is not retroactive. Regardless, the foreign spouse and their children may still have difficulty leaving Saudi Arabia.

Travel bans

Authorities may place a legal travel ban on individuals involved in ongoing legal cases or investigations, or who have outstanding debts. Saudi citizens are also permitted to place travel bans on individuals.

Import and export

Airport authorities will thoroughly examine all electronic devices entering or leaving Saudi Arabia. Pirated or explicit materials will be confiscated. You may be detained or deported if you don’t comply. If deported, you’ll be barred from re-entering Saudi Arabia.

The importation of any item that is held to be contrary to the tenets of Islam, such as pornographic materials, drugs, alcohol and weapons, is prohibited.


The currency is the Saudi riyal (SAR). ATMs are widely available.

Natural disasters and climate

Heavy rains

Although Saudi Arabia is one of the driest countries in the world, heavy rains occur occasionally between the months of November and February and can cause major flooding. This can severely affect overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services.

Sand storms

Sand-laden winds from the northern deserts (shamals) occur most frequent in early summer and can blow at significant speeds for days, creating difficult driving conditions.


Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 999
  • medical assistance: 997
  • firefighters: 998
  • general security: 989

Consular assistance

To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Embassy of Canada in Riyadh and the Consulate of Canada in Jeddah are limiting in-person services. Only those with a pre-approved appointment will be granted access to the grounds. If you need consular assistance, contact the Embassy or the Consulate by email or telephone.

Riyadh - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressDiplomatic Quarter, Riyadh, Saudi ArabiaPostal AddressP.O. Box 94321, Riyadh, 11693, Saudi ArabiaTelephone966 (11) 202-3200Fax966 (11) 488-1997EmailRYADHCS@international.gc.caInternetwww.saudiarabia.gc.caServicesPassport Services AvailableTwitter@CanEmbSA
Jeddah - Consulate of Canada
Street AddressAli Reza Tower, 12th Floor, Medinah Road, Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaPostal AddressP.O. Box 9484, Jeddah, 21413, Saudi ArabiaTelephone966 (12) 653-0597 / 966 (12) 653-0434Fax966 (12) 653-0538Emailcanada.consulate.jeddah@mattarest.comInternetwww.saudiarabia.gc.caTwitter@CanEmbSA

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Riyadh and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.

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