Saudi Arabia travel advice

Latest updates: Natural disasters and climate – added information on heat waves

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Risk level

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.

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.

 

'’Out of bounds’’ zones - Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to within 20 km of the following areas due to government-declared ''out of bounds’’ zones:

  • the border with Iraq
  • the towns of Hafr al Batin and Khafji

 

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.

 

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.

 

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Safety and security

Borders

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.

  • Exercise extreme caution if you are travelling to or within other parts of southwestern Saudi Arabia
  • Airports in the area may be closed with little or no notice. Verify your travel plans before leaving for the airport

Northern Saudi border

The Saudi authorities have declared “out of bounds” zones within 20 km of:

  • the border with Iraq
  • the towns of Hafr al Batin and Khafji in Eastern Province

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.

Qatif

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.

If you must travel to Al Awamiya and Al Musawara suburbs of Qatif, exercise extreme caution and follow the instructions of local authorities.

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 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:

  • don’t get close to or touch them
  • move away from them immediately
  • contact local authorities

Terrorism

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:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

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

  • Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places
  • Be particularly vigilant during religious holidays and public celebrations. Terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks

Kidnapping

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

Demonstrations

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.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Hajj

The next Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is expected to take place from June 14 to 19, 2024. Traffic in Mecca peaks during Eid al-Adha.

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 travel agent for information on available services and support.

Useful links

Crime

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

  • Don’t show signs of affluence
  • Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times

Women’s safety

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

Advice for women travellers

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.

  • Exercise extreme caution when driving
  • Don’t drive off-road unless you are in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles and with an experienced guide
  • Ensure you are well prepared with a sufficient supply of gas, water and food, and a cell or satellite phone
  • Leave your travel itinerary with a relative or friend

Driving risks

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

Taxis

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 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

Air travel

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

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

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 the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

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

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

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 foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Tourist visa: required 
Business visa: required 
Student visa: required 
Working visa: required

All visa applications, with the exception of applications for tourist visas, must be sponsored by a Saudi citizen, a travel agency, or an organization.

Overstaying your visa will result in heavy fines, and you will be unable to exit the country until the fine has been paid.

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 a maximum of 90 days in total per visa. You cannot extend a visa. Muslim tourists can perform Umrah with any type of visa. 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.

Pilgrimage

You must present a valid Hajj visa if you travel to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage. This visa is only valid for travel to 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 Hajj must travel with a travel agency that is accredited with the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

Women of all ages may travel without a mahram (male guardian, such as a brother, father or husband) to perform Hajj or Umrah. A notarized letter of no objection from the husband, son or brother is no longer required.

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.

Useful links

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.

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children.

Yellow fever

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

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Outbreak Monitoring

Meningococcal disease cases linked to Umrah travel to Saudi Arabia

There have been reported cases of meningococcal disease linked to Umrah travel to Saudi Arabia.

If you are considering travel to Saudi Arabia for the purposes of Umrah, make sure you are vaccinated with a quadrivalent (ACYW) meningococcal vaccine before travelling, as required by Saudi Arabia. Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before travel to discuss vaccination, and to get personalized health advice and other recommendations.

Health requirements (moh.gov.sa)

Immediately seek medical attention if you, your child, or another close contact develops symptoms of meningococcal disease. This can include sudden fever, drowsiness, irritability, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and a skin rash that spreads rapidly.

Symptoms of invasive meningococcal disease 

Routine vaccines

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

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

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

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.

Risk

  • 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.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

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.

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

 

Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Measles

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.

Hepatitis B

 Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Malaria

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.
 
There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination. 

Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving. 
 
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times: 
• Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin. 
• Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows.
• Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area. 
• Wear permethrin-treated clothing. 
 
If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living. 

Hajj and Umrah vaccination entry requirements

There are vaccination entry requirements in place for travellers entering Saudi Arabia for Umrah, Hajj or for seasonal work in Hajj zones.

These include vaccinations for COVID-19, polio, meningococcal meningitis, and yellow fever. Before travelling, make sure you meet all requirements for participating in Hajj or Umrah.

For more information, visit the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health’s page for Hajj and Umrah health regulations.

Hajj and Umrah Health Regulations - Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (external)

Large numbers of people in small areas can enable the spread of infectious diseases and increase the risk of injury. Take the time to prepare for your trip and know how to reduce the risks.

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Rabies

In this destination, rabies may be present in some wildlife species, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. 

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who will be working directly with wildlife. 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Typhoid

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 of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Chikungunya

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a 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.

Dengue
  • In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • 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.
Rift Valley fever

Rift Valley fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can be fatal. It is spread to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, from the bite of an infected mosquito, or eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from insect bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock, and unpasteurized dairy. There is no vaccine available for Rift Valley fever.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)

Cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) have been reported in this destination. The risk to travellers is low; MERS is primarily spread through contact with camels or camel-based products (raw milk, meat, urine). It can also spread through close contact, such as when caring for an infected person. 

Avoid contact with animals (especially camels), camel-based products, and wash your hands frequently.

Prevention of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)

MERS symptoms range from mild and flu-like to more severe pneumonia-like symptoms, and can result in death.

There is no vaccine or medication that protects against MERS.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

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.

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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.

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.

Drugs and alcohol

Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession and consumption of alcohol,  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.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Religious proselytism

It's illegal to:

  • engage in religious proselytizing
  • criticize Islam
  • practise any religion other than Islam in public spaces

Be cautious when discussing religious issues.

Ramadan

In 2024, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 10.

In public, between sunrise and sunset, refrain from:

  • drinking
  • eating
  • smoking

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.

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.

  • If you’re stopped by the Mutawa, cooperate and ask them for their credentials. Offer to accompany them to the nearest police station
  • Don’t hand over identification documents
  • Inform your sponsors if the police retain your documents

2SLGBTQI+ 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.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Saudi Arabia.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Identification

Local authorities may ask you to show identification at any time.

  • Carry identification documents, including your residency permit (iqama) or entry visa, at all times
  • Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a photocopy for identification purposes

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.

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.

Common-law unions

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

Extramarital relations

Extramartial relations are illegal and subject to severe punishment, including the death penalty.

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Saudi Arabia by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Saudi Arabia to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children's Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country's judicial affairs.

Useful links

Royal family

Criticizing the royal family is illegal.

Be cautious when discussing political issues.

Pork Products

It’s prohibited to import and consume pork-based products.

Photography

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.

Imports and exports

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.

Work week

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.

Driving

You must carry an international driving permit.

International Driving Permit

Women are now legally allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

Accidents

If you’re involved in an accident:

  • don’t disturb the scene until the traffic patrol arrives
  • don’t make any financial arrangement with the other drivers
  • immediately contact your visa sponsor and the Canadian embassy in Riyadh or the Consulate of Canada in Jeddah

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.

Money

The currency is the Saudi riyal (SAR).

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Natural disasters and climate

Heat waves

Saudi Arabia faces extreme heat, especially in the summer between June and August, with temperatures well above 40°C. 

Know the symptoms of dehydration and heatstroke, which can both be fatal. 

During heat waves:

  • stay hydrated
  • avoid sun exposure
  • monitor weather reports

Sun and heat safety tips for travellers

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.

  • Exercise caution
  • Monitor local news and weather reports
  • Follow the advice of local authorities

Sand storms

The weather is very dry and hot from May to October. Sand storms and dust storms may occur during the summer months.

Shamals, sand-laden winds from the northern deserts, occur most frequently in early summer and can blow at significant speeds for days, creating difficult driving conditions. These storms can also cause respiratory problems, which can be fatal for some people.

If a dust storm is occurring:

  • stay indoors
  • keep windows closed
  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
  • monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

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

Consular assistance

Riyadh - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressDiplomatic Quarter, P.O. Box 94321, Riyadh, 11693, Saudi ArabiaPostal AddressP.O. Box 94321, Riyadh, 11693, Saudi ArabiaTelephone966 (11) 202-3288Fax966 (11) 488-0137, 482-5670Emailryadh-cs@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-Saudi-ArabiaTwitter@CanEmbSAOther social mediaCanada in KSA
Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia
Consular district

Bahrain, Oman, Yemen

Appointment Book your appointment online
Jeddah - Honorary consul of Canada
Street AddressAli Reza Tower, 12th Floor, Medinah Road, Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaPostal AddressP.O. Box 9484, Jeddah, 21413, Saudi Arabia, Saudi ArabiaTelephone966 (12) 653-0434Fax966 (12) 653-0538Emailcanada.consulate.jeddah@mattarest.comInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-Saudi-ArabiaTwitter@CanEmbSAOther social mediaCanada in KSA
Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia
Appointment Book your appointment online

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

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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