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Country Information

Saudi Arabia

Country Information

Saudi Arabia
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Last Updated: September 26, 2016

The State Department warns U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to Saudi Arabia due to continuing threats from terrorist groups and the threat of ballistic missile attacks on civilian targets by rebel forces in Yemen. This Travel Warnin

The State Department warns U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to Saudi Arabia due to continuing threats from terrorist groups and the threat of ballistic missile attacks on civilian targets by rebel forces in Yemen. This Travel Warning supersedes the previous version issued on March 29, 2017. 

Terrorist threats persist throughout Saudi Arabia, including in major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dhahran, and attacks can occur without warning anywhere in the country. Terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its affiliates have targeted both Saudi and Western government interests, mosques and other religious sites (both Sunni and Shia), and places frequented by U.S. citizens and other Westerners.  On October 7, a terrorist attacked a Saudi government installation in Jeddah.  Since May, sectarian issues in the Qatif region in the Eastern Province resulted in several attacks against Saudi forces conducting security operations there.  

Saudi security forces continue to vigorously counter terrorist activities, having successfully disrupted multiple terrorist attacks and killed or detained several high-profile ISIS members.  On June 23, Saudi authorities announced they had foiled an attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a security operation.  On September 11, Saudi authorities announced the arrest of several suspects in possession of suicide belts and materials for construction of improvised explosive devices intended for use in an attack on the Ministry of Defense in Riyadh.

Violence from the ongoing conflict in Yemen continues to spill over into Saudi Arabia.  In the past year, rebels have fired several long-range missiles into Saudi Arabia capable of reaching the vicinities of Riyadh and Jeddah, and they have publicly stated their intent to continue doing so.  The most recent attack on November 4 resulted in debris falling near King Khalid International Airport north of Riyadh. 

Yemeni forces also routinely fire artillery at Saudi border towns and launch cross-border attacks against Saudi military personnel.  U.S. government personnel and their families are prohibited from traveling to any area within 50 miles of the Saudi-Yemeni border, including the cities of Jizan and Najran.  As a result, the U.S. Mission’s ability to provide consular assistance in this region is limited, and U.S. citizens should not travel to this area.

Due to security concerns, U.S. government personnel and their families are also restricted from traveling to: 

  • Qatif and its suburbs, in the Eastern Province
  • Hofuf and its suburbs, in the Al-Ahsa governorate

U.S. citizens should avoid travel to these areas. 

Read the Department of State Travel Warning for Yemen before considering travel near the Yemen frontier. 

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Saudi Arabia Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia located at Abdullah Ibn Huthafah Al-Sahmi Street, Diplomatic Quarter, at +966 11 488 3800, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.  The after-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +966 11 488 3800.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
... [READ MORE]
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Valid Passport. 

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Required for certain visa classes

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

More than 16,000 USD must be declared. Customs details are here.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

More than 16,000 USD must be declared. Customs details are here.

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Riyadh

Abdullah Ibn Hudhafah As Sahmi Street
Roundabout no. 9, Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (11) 488-3800

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (11) 488-3800

Fax: (966) (11) 488-7670

The normal work week in Saudi Arabia is Sunday through Thursday.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Dhahran
Between KFUPM and King Abdulaziz Airbase,
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (13) 330-3200

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (13) 330-3200 

Fax: (966) (13) 330-6816

U.S. Consulate General Jeddah
Falasteen Street intersecting with Al-Andalus Street,
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (12) 667-0080

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (12) 667-0080

Fax: (966) (12) 669-3098

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Destination Description

Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Saudi Arabia for information on U.S. – Saudi Arabia relations

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

See the Embassy of Saudi Arabia’s website for visa information.

Saudi Requirements:

  • Final exit or exit/reentry visas are required to leave Saudi Arabia.
  • You will not be allowed to leave the country without a visa, even if you are an American citizen.

Further information can be found on the website of the U.S. Mission in Saudi Arabia.

Do not enter the country on a Saudi Laissez Passer (temporary travel document), or you may encounter difficulty leaving the Kingdom. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens enter Saudi Arabia on a Saudi passport or a U.S. passport and Saudi visa, but not a Laissez Passer.

To facilitate travel into the Kingdom, Saudi embassies sometimes issue a Laissez Passer for presumed Saudi citizens, such as children of a Saudi parent or parents who were married outside of Saudi Arabia; however, the traveler must then obtain a Saudi passport before leaving.

Saudi nationality is not conferred quickly or easily, and the processing time for a Saudi passport in these cases has often been six months or more. Obtaining a U.S. passport at the Embassy will not help, as you will not be able to leave Saudi Arabia without a visa.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize dual nationality. At times, Saudi authorities have confiscated the U.S. passports of U.S-Saudi dual nationals applying for Saudi citizenship. If this happens to you or someone you know, report the incident to the U.S. Embassy. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship.

Length of Stay:
If you overstay your visa, you face fines, detention, and/or deportation.

Upon arrival, confirm your permitted length of stay with Saudi immigration authorities. Dates are calculated in accordance with the Hijri calendar, which is significantly different from the Gregorian calendar. Resolving such errors can take several weeks.

The U.S. Embassy is unable to intercede, reduce fines, or prevent incarceration if you violate Saudi law.

Travel Bans: When placed under a travel ban, you cannot exit the country, even if you are a U.S. citizen. Travel bans are rigidly enforced and can take months or even years to resolve. Only Saudi Arabian authorities and sponsors can remove travel bans.

The government may issue travel bans on people who are:

  • charged with criminal offenses
  • under investigation
  • involved in financial or labor disputes/have unpaid debts

Private citizens may also initiate travel bans against other private citizens for various reasons.

Yemen Travel:
We strongly advise U.S. citizens against travel to Yemen. For U.S. citizens departing Yemen we strongly discourage departing via the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border because it can be dangerous and U.S. citizens who attempt to do so are routinely detained or turned away by Saudi authorities.  See our Yemen Crisis webpage for further information.

Residency Permits: If you are seeking residency in Saudi Arabia, make sure you have all required legal documents authenticated before arriving. The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh cannot provide this service.

You should have all U.S. issued documents authenticated by the Department of State Office of Authentications (202-485-8000), and attested by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington D.C.

Work Visas: If you plan on working in Saudi Arabia, you must obtain a work visa before you arrive. If you work on another visa type, you risk financial penalties and deportation.

HIV/AIDS: To obtain work and residence permits, you are required to obtain a medical report or physical examination confirming that you are free from contagious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. If you test positive for HIV/AIDS, you will not be allowed to work in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has not imposed HIV/AIDS travel restrictions on other categories of travelers.  Please inquire directly with the Embassy of Saudi Arabia before you travel.

Vaccinations: Visitors to Saudi Arabia should check vaccination requirements at the Saudi Ministry of Health website.


Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

The Department of State urges you to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia. See the travel warning here. There continue to be reports of threats against U.S. citizens and other Westerners, as well as locations frequented by them. ISIL and AQAP continue to encourage individual acts of terrorism in the Kingdom.

Furthermore, continuing violence in neighboring countries such as Yemen has a potential to spill over into Saudi Arabia.

U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling within 50 miles of the border with Yemen, which includes the cities of Jizan and Najran, without permission from Embassy security officials. U.S. government personnel are similarly restricted from traveling to the city of Qatif in the Eastern Province and its surrounding suburbs, including Awamiyah, and to the town of Hofuf and its surrounding suburbs in the Al Hasa Governorate due to violent episodes that have occurred there in the past. Please take this into consideration when planning your travels within Saudi Arabia.

You can find additional details relating to safety and security in our travel warning and the website of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh.

Crime: Crime in Saudi Arabia has increased over recent years, but remains at levels far below most major metropolitan areas in the United States.

  • You should be aware of your surroundings, keep valuables out of sight and secure, and travel with a companion, if possible.  
  • Saudi citizens who perceive that a foreigner is not observing conservative standards of conduct or dress have been known to harass, pursue, or assault that person.  
  • Saudi Arabian police have detained potential witnesses to crimes without charges or access to legal counsel. 
  • Saudi authorities have temporarily confiscated the personal effects of detained potential witnesses.  
  • Even when released from detention, witnesses to criminal incidents may be prohibited from leaving the country until investigation of the incident is complete.

See the websites of the Department of State and the FBI for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime, you should contact the local police at “999” and contact the Embassy or one of our two Consulates in Dhahran or Jeddah.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care.
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police.
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms.
  • provide a list of local attorneys.
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution.
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home.
  • replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulates for assistance.

For Further Information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, imprisoned, subject to physical punishments, or even executed. Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession, and consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs in Saudi Arabia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, public floggings, and/or deportation. The penalty for drug trafficking is death.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. In the case of dual nationals, the Saudi Government may recognize only the nationality of the document used to enter the Kingdom. Suspects may be detained without charges or legal counsel, and with limited access to a consular officer, for months during the investigative stage of criminal cases. See our webpage for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers: Islam is the official religion of the country and pervades all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia. 

  • Saudi authorities do not permit criticism of Islam, religious figures, or the royal family.
  • The government prohibits the public practice of religions other than Islam. Non-Muslims suspected of violating these restrictions have been jailed. Church services in private homes have been raided, and participants have been jailed.
  • Muslims who do not adhere to the strict interpretations of Islam prevalent in much of Saudi Arabia frequently encounter societal discrimination and constraints on worship.
  • Public display of non-Islamic religious articles, such as crosses and Bibles, is not permitted.
  • Non-Muslims are forbidden to travel to Makkah (Mecca) and Medina, the cities where two of Islam’s holiest mosques are located.

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations, even when they are consensual, are criminalized in Saudi Arabia. Violations of Saudi laws governing perceived expressions of, or support for, same sex sexual relations, including on social media, may be subject to severe punishment. Potential penalties include fines, jail time, or death. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is generally found in the United States. The Basic Law does not prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and there is no legislation requiring public accessibility. Newer commercial and government buildings, however, often include such access. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, there are numerous government-sponsored centers for people with disabilities. Note that Saudi Arabia has extremely limited infrastructure to care for those with mental disabilities.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Residents and Travelers: Women must be met by their sponsor upon arrival according to Saudi Arabia’s regulations. Women who are traveling alone and are not met by sponsors have experienced delays before being allowed to enter the country or to continue on other flights.

Married women, including non-Saudis, require their husband's permission to depart the country, while unmarried women and children require the permission of their father or male guardian.

A mother’s consent will not suffice: minor children must have their father’s permission in order to leave the Kingdom. Children visiting their fathers in Saudi Arabia, even when there is a custody agreement, may be prevented from leaving unless the father consents. This is true even if the child is a U.S. citizen. The U.S. Embassy cannot obtain exit visas for the departure of minor children without their father's permission.

A regulation enacted in 2008 requires Saudi men to sign a document giving irrevocable permission to their foreign wives and the children born of their union to travel in and out of the country without restrictions. In practice, authorities rarely require this document and it is not retroactive when signed. Even with such documentation, foreign spouses and their children may still have difficulty leaving Saudi Arabia freely.

Foreign mothers of Saudi children, regardless of marital status, may apply for five-year permanent residency permits without the need for a sponsor. To do so, they must prove maternity and that they are (or were) legally married to Saudi citizens. If a foreigner and a Saudi living in Saudi Arabia divorce, the Saudi courts rarely grant permission for the foreign parent to leave the country with the children born during the marriage, even if he or she has been granted physical custody.

Also see our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Employment: The Arabic text of a contract governs employment and business arrangements under Saudi law. Verbal assurances or side letters are not binding under Saudi law. In the event of any contract dispute, Saudi authorities refer to the written contract.

  • It is common practice for sponsors to demand that residents working in Saudi Arabia surrender their passports while in the Kingdom. Although this practice is technically illegal, sponsors are rarely, if ever, punished by the Saudi authorities for doing so.
  • Sponsors have wide latitude and responsibilities for employees and family members under their sponsorship, including obtaining residence permits for the employee and for any family members. 
  • All residents should be issued a Saudi residence permit (Iqama) for identification and are recommended to carry it at all times. 
  • The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in Saudi Arabia cannot sponsor private U.S. citizens for Saudi visas.
  • Since the Saudi sponsor generally holds the employee's passport and controls the issuance of exit permits, U.S. citizens cannot leave Saudi Arabia in the event of a labor or business dispute, which could take months or years to resolve.
  • To change employers within the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia requires the written permission of the original sponsoring employer.  
  • The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates General cannot adjudicate labor or business disputes, nor can we provide translation or legal services.
  • U.S. consular officers can provide lists of local attorneys to help U.S. citizens settle business disputes, but ultimate responsibility for the resolution of disputes through the Saudi legal system, and payment for those services, lies with the parties involved.

Customs:

  • Saudi customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the importation of such banned items as alcohol, weapons, and any item that is held to be contrary to the tenets of Islam (such as pork, anything considered pornographic under strict Islamic principles, and religious materials).
  • Imported and domestic audiovisual media and reading matter are censored.
  • Christmas and other holiday decorations, fashion magazines, and "suggestive" videos may be confiscated and the owner subject to penalties and fines.
  • Electronic devices may be subject to inspection upon entry or exit. Please see our Customs Information.

Importing Animals: The Saudi Ministry of Agriculture must approve all pets imported into Saudi Arabia. 

  • Cats and dogs entering Saudi Arabia require a Veterinary Health Certificate and a dated letter from the veterinary private practitioner addressed to the Director of Customs, Saudi Arabia.
  • The certificate must indicate that the animal was examined and is free from disease, and confirm that rabies and other vaccines are current.  Information on the name, breed, sex, color, and age of the animal must also be stated.

Teaching English in Saudi Arabia: English teachers comprise a large and growing segment of the U.S. expatriate population in Saudi Arabia. In the past few years, several teachers have complained about rapid dismissals and restrictions on their movement. Teachers should make sure they obtain the appropriate work visa prior to coming to Saudi Arabia. Business visas do not grant the applicant the right to work or to reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Employers of English teachers frequently issue short-term, single-entry work visas that coincide with a 90-day “probation” window, during which time the employee or employer can freely end the working relationship. Foreign employees must leave the country soon after dismissal or face deportation proceedings. Dismissed employees have little, if any, recourse or grounds for appeal. Further information can be found in our Guide to Teaching English in Saudi Arabia.

Standards of Conduct and Religious Police: Norms for public behavior in Saudi Arabia are extremely conservative, and the religious police, referred to colloquially as the Mutawwa or Al-Hay’a, are charged with enforcing these standards.

  • Mutawwa are required to carry special identification and usually are accompanied by uniformed police. 
  • If a police officer is present, Mutawwa have the power to take individuals to a police station or Mutawwa office.
  • An individual must, if requested, hand over his or her residence permit (Iqama) or other identification to the police officer.
  • U.S. citizens who are involved in an incident with the Mutawwa should report the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or the U.S. Consulates General in Jeddah or Dhahran.

The Saudi government does not permit photography of governmental facilities such as military bases and government buildings. It is also sensitive to photography that may be perceived as portraying the country in an unfavorable light. This policy can include photos of mosques, impoverished areas, the local population, and traditional souks (markets). You should not take anyone’s picture without clear consent, and never take a picture of a woman or a place where women congregate. Be aware of local sensitivities whenever you are taking pictures in public.

In most areas of Saudi Arabia, and particularly in Riyadh and the central part of the Kingdom, women wear a full-length black covering known as an abaya, and cover their heads. Women who choose not to conform to this dress code face a risk of confrontation by Mutawwa and possible detention/arrest. Men should also dress conservatively, and not wear shorts in public or go without a shirt.

Many areas of life in Saudi Arabia are segregated by sex to ensure that unrelated men and women have no possibility of mingling (a punishable crime). Some Mutawwa try to enforce this by asking for proof that a couple is married or related. Women who are arrested for socializing with a man who is not a relative may be charged with prostitution. Some restaurants, particularly fast-food outlets, refuse to serve women who are not accompanied by a close male relative. In addition, some restaurants or cafes do not have a "family section" in which women are permitted to eat.  Men not accompanied by a close female family member must stay out of family sections, and cannot use services (such as registers at supermarkets) designated as “family”. These restrictions are not always posted. This is more common in Riyadh and the more conservative central region known as the Nejd.

Dancing, playing music, and showing movies in public are forbidden.

The Hajj and Umrah: Please review the Department of State’s Hajj Fact Sheet for useful information on traveling to perform the Hajj or Umrah. 

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Health

Medical care varies greatly in quality, and high profile cases of medical malpractice and errors have occurred. Consult your regular physician if you are considering serious medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure the medication is legal in Saudi Arabia.  Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

For health-related information on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), formerly called “novel coronavirus,” visit the CDC’s MERS-CoV webpage

Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information, go to:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Driving in Saudi Arabia is extremely hazardous due to excessive speeding, aggressive driving, lax enforcement of traffic regulations and a high volume of traffic.

With a valid visitor visa and U.S. driver’s license, male visitors may drive a rental car. To drive vehicles other than rental cars, a Saudi driver’s license and appropriate car registration is required. Police may detain you if you cannot produce these documents.

See the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior website for further information.

Traffic Laws

  • Temporary male visitors may drive using their U.S. driver's license, though it may be advisable to also obtain an international driver’s license.
  • Foreign men employed in Saudi Arabia must obtain a local driver's license from the Department of Traffic Police.

  • Women are not allowed to drive or ride motorcycles, bicycles, or any other type of vehicle on public roads.

  • A valid foreign or international driver’s license can be used for either a year or until the expiration date, whichever is closer.

  • In the event of a traffic accident resulting in personal injury, everyone involved (if not seriously injured) may be taken to the local police station.

  • All drivers, regardless of fault, are likely to be held for several days until responsibility is determined and any reparations paid.

  • U.S. citizens involved in a serious accident resulting in injury or death should immediately contact their sponsors and the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate.

  • Residents should update their personal details through one of the methods available here to receive SMS notifications once a traffic ticket is issued.

  • Delay in payment of any ticket might result in doubling of the ticket amount.

  • Travelers will need to pay any fines issued through this system before leaving the country; this may be possible at the airport but only during regular Saudi office hours.

Public Transportation

  • Only use established taxi companies, such as those offering cabs with meters. Taxis are available throughout major cities, in particular at hotels and may be telephoned or summoned via smartphone app to pick up passengers at other locations.

  • Avoid sitting in the front seat of a taxi, do not travel to unfamiliar areas, and do not enter taxis with unknown passengers.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Saudi Arabia's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Saudi Arabia's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page

Aviation Security Enhancements: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in consultation with relevant Departments and Agencies, has determined it is prudent to enhance security, to include airport security procedures for passengers departing from 10 airports, including King Abdul-Azziz and King Khalid International Airports, to the United States. These enhancements will require that all personal electronic devices (PED) larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage. For more information, please contact your air carrier or visit the Department of Homeland Security website.  

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Riyadh

Abdullah Ibn Hudhafah As Sahmi Street
Roundabout no. 9, Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (11) 488-3800

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (11) 488-3800

Fax: (966) (11) 488-7670

The normal work week in Saudi Arabia is Sunday through Thursday.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Dhahran
Between KFUPM and King Abdulaziz Airbase,
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (13) 330-3200

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (13) 330-3200 

Fax: (966) (13) 330-6816

U.S. Consulate General Jeddah
Falasteen Street intersecting with Al-Andalus Street,
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (12) 667-0080

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (12) 667-0080

Fax: (966) (12) 669-3098

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General Information

For information concerning travel to Saudi Arabia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between Saudi Arabia and the United States concerning international parental child abduction. 

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Saudi Arabia and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children's Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children's Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website
Email: AskCI@state.gov

Parental child abduction may be considered a crime in Saudi Arabia depending on the circumstances surrounding the child's removal.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney in Saudi Arabia to determine if their particular case qualifies as a crime under Saudi Arabian law.

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Possible Solutions - Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Saudi Arabia and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children's Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.   Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Saudi Arabia for information and possible assistance.

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Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children's Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Saudi Arabia are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney.The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The Child Protection Section, a department of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Social Affairs, plays a role based on Sharia law in mediating family dispute cases involving children.  Parents may contact the Child Protection Section by telephone at +966-1-477-8888 (ext 1559) or by email at mosa@mosa.gov.sa.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Saudi Arabia is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoptio(Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).

Adoption in Saudi Arabia is illegal and strictly forbidden. There is no Saudi Arabian adoption authority.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

Please visit the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for more information on travelling to Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Embassy Riyadh's website for information on consular services.

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Who Can Adopt
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Who Can Be Adopted
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How to Adopt
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Traveling Abroad
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After Adoption
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Contact Information
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Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 60 Months
B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1 None Multiple 3 Months
C-1/D N/A N/A N/A
C-2 None Multiple 3 Months
C-3 None Multiple 3 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 24 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 24 Months
G-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-3 None Multiple 24 Months
G-4 None Multiple 24 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 3 Months
H-1B $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
H-1C $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2A $800.00 N/A N/A 3
H-2B $800.00 N/A N/A 3
H-2R $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
H-3 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
H-4 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months
I $7.00 Multiple 24 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 24 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 24 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months
L-2 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months
M-1 None Multiple 24 Months
M-2 None Multiple 24 Months
N-8 None Multiple 12 Months
N-9 None Multiple 12 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
O-2 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
O-3 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
P-1 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
P-2 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
P-3 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
P-4 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months
Q-1 6 $50.00 One 3 Months 3
R-1 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months
R-2 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 60 Months
V-2 None Multiple 60 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 60 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available at time of birth. For persons born prior to 1968 in the western (Jeddah) and eastern (Dhahran) provinces and 1980 in the central (Riyadh) province birth certificates are not available. In lieu of birth certificates the nationality card (Tabiya) should be used.

Death Certificate

Please check back for update.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriages and divorces are conducted in accordance with Sharia (Islamic) law. Sharia courts issue marriage and divorce certificates. Authenticated copies of the certificate are available, provided the requester presents to the court a copy of the original document. If a copy of the original document cannot be presented, the court can only state it has confirmed details of the marriage or divorce based on its records.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update

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Identity Card

Please check back for update

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Police clearances are available for Saudi citizens and resident third country nationals. Saudi citizens currently residing overseas must return in person to process the police clearance.

Saudi citizens and third country nationals residing in the Kingdom process the police clearances by first obtaining a police clearance request letter from U.S. Embassy Riyadh, U.S. Consulate General Jeddah, or U.S. Consulate General Dhahran. This police clearance request letter, signed by a consular officer, must be attested by the Saudi Ministry of Affairs (current fee is SR30). The applicant must then appear personally with a passport-sized photograph and a national ID or residency permit at the regional Criminal Investigation Department for fingerprinting. Fingerprinting for women is done in a separate room. The police clearance should be available for collection after a week or two.

Police clearances are available for Saudi nationals residing outside of the Kingdom. The expatriate Saudi citizen obtains the police clearance by returning to the Kingdom and obtaining a police clearance request letter from U.S. Embassy Riyadh, U.S. Consulate General Jeddah, or U.S. Consulate General Dhahran. This police clearance request letter, signed by a consular officer, must be attested by the Saudi Ministry of Affairs (current fee is SR30). The applicant must then appear personally with the attested police clearance request letter, a passport-sized photograph and a national ID at the Regional Criminal Investigation Department for fingerprinting. Fingerprinting for women is done in a separate room. The police clearance should be available for collection after a week or two.

Police clearances are unavailable for third country nationals who no longer reside in the Kingdom.

The optimal time to conduct these procedures at the police stations is 10:00 Saturdays-Wednesdays.

 

Police Certificates

Available

Fees:  SR30

The notice should include the case number and the applicant's name.

Upon receipt of the requested police letter, applicants should go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office (MFA) for authentication and then to the police station in their district for processing. The MFA will charge SAR 30 for authentication.

Document Name:

Issuing Authority:

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:

Registration Criteria:  Police clearances are available for Saudi citizens and resident third country nationals. Saudi citizens currently residing overseas must return in person to process the police clearance.


Procedure for Obtaining:
           

 A Saudi Police Certificate is required for all applicants over 16 years of age. In order to obtain the police certificate for immigration purposes, applicants will need to obtain a letter addressed to the Saudi authorities from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or U.S. Consulates General in Dhahran or Jeddah.

Applicants will need to bring their Saudi resident permits and the notice from NVC or KCC (for Diversity Visa applicants) or from the US Embassy requesting the police clearance. The notice should include the case number and the applicant's name.

Upon receipt of the requested police letter, applicants should go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office for authentication and then to the police station in their district for processing.

Applicants may request a letter from the appropriate U.S. Mission office as follows:

U.S. Embassy Riyadh: During public service hours – Sundays- Thursday from 1:30pm-3:30pm (except U.S. or Saudi holidays). Applicants may make an appointment by sending an email to RiyadhIV@state.gov.

U.S. Consulate General Dhahran: During public service hours - Sunday- Thursday, 1:00-3:30PM (except U.S. or Saudi  holidays). Applicants may make an appointment for notarial service at: https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=dhr&appcode=1/

U.S. Consulate General Jeddah: During public service hours - Sunday- Thursday, 1:00–3:00pm (except U.S. or Saudi holidays). Applicants may make an appointment for notarial service at: https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=JDD&appcode=1  

Police certificates are valid for one year only.

Certified Copies Available:

Alternate Documents:

Exceptions:  Police clearances are unavailable for third country nationals who no longer reside in the Kingdom.

Comments:  The optimal time to conduct these procedures at the police stations is 10:00 Saturdays-Wednesdays.

Police clearances from Riyadh are now processed electronically.

 

Prison Records

Unavailable.

Military Records

Unavailable.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Please check back for update

Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Embassy)

Unit 61307,
APO AE 09803-1307

Visa Services

Riyadh provides Immigrant Visa services for all of Saudi Arabia. Nonimmigrant Visa Services are provided as shown below:

Location Areas Serviced (NIV)

Riyadh

  • Al Hudud Ash Shamaliyah (Northern Frontier)
  • Al Jawf
  • Al Qasim
  • Al Qurayyat
  • Ar Riyadh
  • Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province)
  • Ha'il

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 342-3800 (202) 944-3126 (202) 944-3113

Houston, TX (713) 785-5577 (713) 785-1163

Los Angeles, CA (310) 479-6000 (310) 479-2752

New York, NY (212) 752-2740 (212) 688-2719

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Riyadh
Abdullah Ibn Hudhafah As Sahmi Street
Roundabout no. 9, Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Telephone
+(966) (11) 488-3800
Emergency
+(966) (11) 488-3800
Fax
(966) (11) 488-7670
Saudi Arabia Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Saudi Arabia
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Valid Passport. 

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Required for certain visa classes

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

More than 16,000 USD must be declared. Customs details are here.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

More than 16,000 USD must be declared. Customs details are here.

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Riyadh

Abdullah Ibn Hudhafah As Sahmi Street
Roundabout no. 9, Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (11) 488-3800

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (11) 488-3800

Fax: (966) (11) 488-7670

The normal work week in Saudi Arabia is Sunday through Thursday.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Dhahran
Between KFUPM and King Abdulaziz Airbase,
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (13) 330-3200

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (13) 330-3200 

Fax: (966) (13) 330-6816

U.S. Consulate General Jeddah
Falasteen Street intersecting with Al-Andalus Street,
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (12) 667-0080

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (12) 667-0080

Fax: (966) (12) 669-3098

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Destination Description

Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Saudi Arabia for information on U.S. – Saudi Arabia relations

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

See the Embassy of Saudi Arabia’s website for visa information.

Saudi Requirements:

  • Final exit or exit/reentry visas are required to leave Saudi Arabia.
  • You will not be allowed to leave the country without a visa, even if you are an American citizen.

Further information can be found on the website of the U.S. Mission in Saudi Arabia.

Do not enter the country on a Saudi Laissez Passer (temporary travel document), or you may encounter difficulty leaving the Kingdom. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens enter Saudi Arabia on a Saudi passport or a U.S. passport and Saudi visa, but not a Laissez Passer.

To facilitate travel into the Kingdom, Saudi embassies sometimes issue a Laissez Passer for presumed Saudi citizens, such as children of a Saudi parent or parents who were married outside of Saudi Arabia; however, the traveler must then obtain a Saudi passport before leaving.

Saudi nationality is not conferred quickly or easily, and the processing time for a Saudi passport in these cases has often been six months or more. Obtaining a U.S. passport at the Embassy will not help, as you will not be able to leave Saudi Arabia without a visa.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize dual nationality. At times, Saudi authorities have confiscated the U.S. passports of U.S-Saudi dual nationals applying for Saudi citizenship. If this happens to you or someone you know, report the incident to the U.S. Embassy. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship.

Length of Stay:
If you overstay your visa, you face fines, detention, and/or deportation.

Upon arrival, confirm your permitted length of stay with Saudi immigration authorities. Dates are calculated in accordance with the Hijri calendar, which is significantly different from the Gregorian calendar. Resolving such errors can take several weeks.

The U.S. Embassy is unable to intercede, reduce fines, or prevent incarceration if you violate Saudi law.

Travel Bans: When placed under a travel ban, you cannot exit the country, even if you are a U.S. citizen. Travel bans are rigidly enforced and can take months or even years to resolve. Only Saudi Arabian authorities and sponsors can remove travel bans.

The government may issue travel bans on people who are:

  • charged with criminal offenses
  • under investigation
  • involved in financial or labor disputes/have unpaid debts

Private citizens may also initiate travel bans against other private citizens for various reasons.

Yemen Travel:
We strongly advise U.S. citizens against travel to Yemen. For U.S. citizens departing Yemen we strongly discourage departing via the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border because it can be dangerous and U.S. citizens who attempt to do so are routinely detained or turned away by Saudi authorities.  See our Yemen Crisis webpage for further information.

Residency Permits: If you are seeking residency in Saudi Arabia, make sure you have all required legal documents authenticated before arriving. The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh cannot provide this service.

You should have all U.S. issued documents authenticated by the Department of State Office of Authentications (202-485-8000), and attested by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington D.C.

Work Visas: If you plan on working in Saudi Arabia, you must obtain a work visa before you arrive. If you work on another visa type, you risk financial penalties and deportation.

HIV/AIDS: To obtain work and residence permits, you are required to obtain a medical report or physical examination confirming that you are free from contagious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. If you test positive for HIV/AIDS, you will not be allowed to work in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has not imposed HIV/AIDS travel restrictions on other categories of travelers.  Please inquire directly with the Embassy of Saudi Arabia before you travel.

Vaccinations: Visitors to Saudi Arabia should check vaccination requirements at the Saudi Ministry of Health website.


Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

The Department of State urges you to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia. See the travel warning here. There continue to be reports of threats against U.S. citizens and other Westerners, as well as locations frequented by them. ISIL and AQAP continue to encourage individual acts of terrorism in the Kingdom.

Furthermore, continuing violence in neighboring countries such as Yemen has a potential to spill over into Saudi Arabia.

U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling within 50 miles of the border with Yemen, which includes the cities of Jizan and Najran, without permission from Embassy security officials. U.S. government personnel are similarly restricted from traveling to the city of Qatif in the Eastern Province and its surrounding suburbs, including Awamiyah, and to the town of Hofuf and its surrounding suburbs in the Al Hasa Governorate due to violent episodes that have occurred there in the past. Please take this into consideration when planning your travels within Saudi Arabia.

You can find additional details relating to safety and security in our travel warning and the website of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh.

Crime: Crime in Saudi Arabia has increased over recent years, but remains at levels far below most major metropolitan areas in the United States.

  • You should be aware of your surroundings, keep valuables out of sight and secure, and travel with a companion, if possible.  
  • Saudi citizens who perceive that a foreigner is not observing conservative standards of conduct or dress have been known to harass, pursue, or assault that person.  
  • Saudi Arabian police have detained potential witnesses to crimes without charges or access to legal counsel. 
  • Saudi authorities have temporarily confiscated the personal effects of detained potential witnesses.  
  • Even when released from detention, witnesses to criminal incidents may be prohibited from leaving the country until investigation of the incident is complete.

See the websites of the Department of State and the FBI for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime, you should contact the local police at “999” and contact the Embassy or one of our two Consulates in Dhahran or Jeddah.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care.
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police.
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms.
  • provide a list of local attorneys.
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution.
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home.
  • replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulates for assistance.

For Further Information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, imprisoned, subject to physical punishments, or even executed. Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession, and consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs in Saudi Arabia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, public floggings, and/or deportation. The penalty for drug trafficking is death.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. In the case of dual nationals, the Saudi Government may recognize only the nationality of the document used to enter the Kingdom. Suspects may be detained without charges or legal counsel, and with limited access to a consular officer, for months during the investigative stage of criminal cases. See our webpage for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers: Islam is the official religion of the country and pervades all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia. 

  • Saudi authorities do not permit criticism of Islam, religious figures, or the royal family.
  • The government prohibits the public practice of religions other than Islam. Non-Muslims suspected of violating these restrictions have been jailed. Church services in private homes have been raided, and participants have been jailed.
  • Muslims who do not adhere to the strict interpretations of Islam prevalent in much of Saudi Arabia frequently encounter societal discrimination and constraints on worship.
  • Public display of non-Islamic religious articles, such as crosses and Bibles, is not permitted.
  • Non-Muslims are forbidden to travel to Makkah (Mecca) and Medina, the cities where two of Islam’s holiest mosques are located.

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations, even when they are consensual, are criminalized in Saudi Arabia. Violations of Saudi laws governing perceived expressions of, or support for, same sex sexual relations, including on social media, may be subject to severe punishment. Potential penalties include fines, jail time, or death. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is generally found in the United States. The Basic Law does not prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and there is no legislation requiring public accessibility. Newer commercial and government buildings, however, often include such access. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, there are numerous government-sponsored centers for people with disabilities. Note that Saudi Arabia has extremely limited infrastructure to care for those with mental disabilities.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Residents and Travelers: Women must be met by their sponsor upon arrival according to Saudi Arabia’s regulations. Women who are traveling alone and are not met by sponsors have experienced delays before being allowed to enter the country or to continue on other flights.

Married women, including non-Saudis, require their husband's permission to depart the country, while unmarried women and children require the permission of their father or male guardian.

A mother’s consent will not suffice: minor children must have their father’s permission in order to leave the Kingdom. Children visiting their fathers in Saudi Arabia, even when there is a custody agreement, may be prevented from leaving unless the father consents. This is true even if the child is a U.S. citizen. The U.S. Embassy cannot obtain exit visas for the departure of minor children without their father's permission.

A regulation enacted in 2008 requires Saudi men to sign a document giving irrevocable permission to their foreign wives and the children born of their union to travel in and out of the country without restrictions. In practice, authorities rarely require this document and it is not retroactive when signed. Even with such documentation, foreign spouses and their children may still have difficulty leaving Saudi Arabia freely.

Foreign mothers of Saudi children, regardless of marital status, may apply for five-year permanent residency permits without the need for a sponsor. To do so, they must prove maternity and that they are (or were) legally married to Saudi citizens. If a foreigner and a Saudi living in Saudi Arabia divorce, the Saudi courts rarely grant permission for the foreign parent to leave the country with the children born during the marriage, even if he or she has been granted physical custody.

Also see our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Employment: The Arabic text of a contract governs employment and business arrangements under Saudi law. Verbal assurances or side letters are not binding under Saudi law. In the event of any contract dispute, Saudi authorities refer to the written contract.

  • It is common practice for sponsors to demand that residents working in Saudi Arabia surrender their passports while in the Kingdom. Although this practice is technically illegal, sponsors are rarely, if ever, punished by the Saudi authorities for doing so.
  • Sponsors have wide latitude and responsibilities for employees and family members under their sponsorship, including obtaining residence permits for the employee and for any family members. 
  • All residents should be issued a Saudi residence permit (Iqama) for identification and are recommended to carry it at all times. 
  • The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in Saudi Arabia cannot sponsor private U.S. citizens for Saudi visas.
  • Since the Saudi sponsor generally holds the employee's passport and controls the issuance of exit permits, U.S. citizens cannot leave Saudi Arabia in the event of a labor or business dispute, which could take months or years to resolve.
  • To change employers within the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia requires the written permission of the original sponsoring employer.  
  • The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates General cannot adjudicate labor or business disputes, nor can we provide translation or legal services.
  • U.S. consular officers can provide lists of local attorneys to help U.S. citizens settle business disputes, but ultimate responsibility for the resolution of disputes through the Saudi legal system, and payment for those services, lies with the parties involved.

Customs:

  • Saudi customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the importation of such banned items as alcohol, weapons, and any item that is held to be contrary to the tenets of Islam (such as pork, anything considered pornographic under strict Islamic principles, and religious materials).
  • Imported and domestic audiovisual media and reading matter are censored.
  • Christmas and other holiday decorations, fashion magazines, and "suggestive" videos may be confiscated and the owner subject to penalties and fines.
  • Electronic devices may be subject to inspection upon entry or exit. Please see our Customs Information.

Importing Animals: The Saudi Ministry of Agriculture must approve all pets imported into Saudi Arabia. 

  • Cats and dogs entering Saudi Arabia require a Veterinary Health Certificate and a dated letter from the veterinary private practitioner addressed to the Director of Customs, Saudi Arabia.
  • The certificate must indicate that the animal was examined and is free from disease, and confirm that rabies and other vaccines are current.  Information on the name, breed, sex, color, and age of the animal must also be stated.

Teaching English in Saudi Arabia: English teachers comprise a large and growing segment of the U.S. expatriate population in Saudi Arabia. In the past few years, several teachers have complained about rapid dismissals and restrictions on their movement. Teachers should make sure they obtain the appropriate work visa prior to coming to Saudi Arabia. Business visas do not grant the applicant the right to work or to reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Employers of English teachers frequently issue short-term, single-entry work visas that coincide with a 90-day “probation” window, during which time the employee or employer can freely end the working relationship. Foreign employees must leave the country soon after dismissal or face deportation proceedings. Dismissed employees have little, if any, recourse or grounds for appeal. Further information can be found in our Guide to Teaching English in Saudi Arabia.

Standards of Conduct and Religious Police: Norms for public behavior in Saudi Arabia are extremely conservative, and the religious police, referred to colloquially as the Mutawwa or Al-Hay’a, are charged with enforcing these standards.

  • Mutawwa are required to carry special identification and usually are accompanied by uniformed police. 
  • If a police officer is present, Mutawwa have the power to take individuals to a police station or Mutawwa office.
  • An individual must, if requested, hand over his or her residence permit (Iqama) or other identification to the police officer.
  • U.S. citizens who are involved in an incident with the Mutawwa should report the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or the U.S. Consulates General in Jeddah or Dhahran.

The Saudi government does not permit photography of governmental facilities such as military bases and government buildings. It is also sensitive to photography that may be perceived as portraying the country in an unfavorable light. This policy can include photos of mosques, impoverished areas, the local population, and traditional souks (markets). You should not take anyone’s picture without clear consent, and never take a picture of a woman or a place where women congregate. Be aware of local sensitivities whenever you are taking pictures in public.

In most areas of Saudi Arabia, and particularly in Riyadh and the central part of the Kingdom, women wear a full-length black covering known as an abaya, and cover their heads. Women who choose not to conform to this dress code face a risk of confrontation by Mutawwa and possible detention/arrest. Men should also dress conservatively, and not wear shorts in public or go without a shirt.

Many areas of life in Saudi Arabia are segregated by sex to ensure that unrelated men and women have no possibility of mingling (a punishable crime). Some Mutawwa try to enforce this by asking for proof that a couple is married or related. Women who are arrested for socializing with a man who is not a relative may be charged with prostitution. Some restaurants, particularly fast-food outlets, refuse to serve women who are not accompanied by a close male relative. In addition, some restaurants or cafes do not have a "family section" in which women are permitted to eat.  Men not accompanied by a close female family member must stay out of family sections, and cannot use services (such as registers at supermarkets) designated as “family”. These restrictions are not always posted. This is more common in Riyadh and the more conservative central region known as the Nejd.

Dancing, playing music, and showing movies in public are forbidden.

The Hajj and Umrah: Please review the Department of State’s Hajj Fact Sheet for useful information on traveling to perform the Hajj or Umrah. 

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Health

Medical care varies greatly in quality, and high profile cases of medical malpractice and errors have occurred. Consult your regular physician if you are considering serious medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure the medication is legal in Saudi Arabia.  Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

For health-related information on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), formerly called “novel coronavirus,” visit the CDC’s MERS-CoV webpage

Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information, go to:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Driving in Saudi Arabia is extremely hazardous due to excessive speeding, aggressive driving, lax enforcement of traffic regulations and a high volume of traffic.

With a valid visitor visa and U.S. driver’s license, male visitors may drive a rental car. To drive vehicles other than rental cars, a Saudi driver’s license and appropriate car registration is required. Police may detain you if you cannot produce these documents.

See the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior website for further information.

Traffic Laws

  • Temporary male visitors may drive using their U.S. driver's license, though it may be advisable to also obtain an international driver’s license.
  • Foreign men employed in Saudi Arabia must obtain a local driver's license from the Department of Traffic Police.

  • Women are not allowed to drive or ride motorcycles, bicycles, or any other type of vehicle on public roads.

  • A valid foreign or international driver’s license can be used for either a year or until the expiration date, whichever is closer.

  • In the event of a traffic accident resulting in personal injury, everyone involved (if not seriously injured) may be taken to the local police station.

  • All drivers, regardless of fault, are likely to be held for several days until responsibility is determined and any reparations paid.

  • U.S. citizens involved in a serious accident resulting in injury or death should immediately contact their sponsors and the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate.

  • Residents should update their personal details through one of the methods available here to receive SMS notifications once a traffic ticket is issued.

  • Delay in payment of any ticket might result in doubling of the ticket amount.

  • Travelers will need to pay any fines issued through this system before leaving the country; this may be possible at the airport but only during regular Saudi office hours.

Public Transportation

  • Only use established taxi companies, such as those offering cabs with meters. Taxis are available throughout major cities, in particular at hotels and may be telephoned or summoned via smartphone app to pick up passengers at other locations.

  • Avoid sitting in the front seat of a taxi, do not travel to unfamiliar areas, and do not enter taxis with unknown passengers.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Saudi Arabia's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Saudi Arabia's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page

Aviation Security Enhancements: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in consultation with relevant Departments and Agencies, has determined it is prudent to enhance security, to include airport security procedures for passengers departing from 10 airports, including King Abdul-Azziz and King Khalid International Airports, to the United States. These enhancements will require that all personal electronic devices (PED) larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage. For more information, please contact your air carrier or visit the Department of Homeland Security website.  

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Riyadh

Abdullah Ibn Hudhafah As Sahmi Street
Roundabout no. 9, Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (11) 488-3800

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (11) 488-3800

Fax: (966) (11) 488-7670

The normal work week in Saudi Arabia is Sunday through Thursday.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Dhahran
Between KFUPM and King Abdulaziz Airbase,
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (13) 330-3200

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (13) 330-3200 

Fax: (966) (13) 330-6816

U.S. Consulate General Jeddah
Falasteen Street intersecting with Al-Andalus Street,
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +(966) (12) 667-0080

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(966) (12) 667-0080

Fax: (966) (12) 669-3098

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General Information

For information concerning travel to Saudi Arabia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between Saudi Arabia and the United States concerning international parental child abduction. 

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Saudi Arabia and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children's Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children's Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website
Email: AskCI@state.gov

Parental child abduction may be considered a crime in Saudi Arabia depending on the circumstances surrounding the child's removal.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney in Saudi Arabia to determine if their particular case qualifies as a crime under Saudi Arabian law.

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Possible Solutions - Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Saudi Arabia and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children's Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.   Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Saudi Arabia for information and possible assistance.

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Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children's Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Saudi Arabia are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney.The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The Child Protection Section, a department of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Social Affairs, plays a role based on Sharia law in mediating family dispute cases involving children.  Parents may contact the Child Protection Section by telephone at +966-1-477-8888 (ext 1559) or by email at mosa@mosa.gov.sa.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Saudi Arabia is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoptio(Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).

Adoption in Saudi Arabia is illegal and strictly forbidden. There is no Saudi Arabian adoption authority.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

Please visit the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for more information on travelling to Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Embassy Riyadh's website for information on consular services.

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Who Can Adopt
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Who Can Be Adopted
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How to Adopt
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Traveling Abroad
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After Adoption
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Contact Information
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Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 60 Months
B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1 None Multiple 3 Months
C-1/D N/A N/A N/A
C-2 None Multiple 3 Months
C-3 None Multiple 3 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 24 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 24 Months
G-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-3 None Multiple 24 Months
G-4 None Multiple 24 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 3 Months
H-1B $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
H-1C $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2A $800.00 N/A N/A 3
H-2B $800.00 N/A N/A 3
H-2R $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
H-3 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
H-4 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months
I $7.00 Multiple 24 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 24 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 24 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months
L-2 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months
M-1 None Multiple 24 Months
M-2 None Multiple 24 Months
N-8 None Multiple 12 Months
N-9 None Multiple 12 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
O-2 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
O-3 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
P-1 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
P-2 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
P-3 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months 3
P-4 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months
Q-1 6 $50.00 One 3 Months 3
R-1 $800.00 Multiple 24 Months
R-2 $150.00 Multiple 24 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 60 Months
V-2 None Multiple 60 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 60 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available at time of birth. For persons born prior to 1968 in the western (Jeddah) and eastern (Dhahran) provinces and 1980 in the central (Riyadh) province birth certificates are not available. In lieu of birth certificates the nationality card (Tabiya) should be used.

Death Certificate

Please check back for update.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriages and divorces are conducted in accordance with Sharia (Islamic) law. Sharia courts issue marriage and divorce certificates. Authenticated copies of the certificate are available, provided the requester presents to the court a copy of the original document. If a copy of the original document cannot be presented, the court can only state it has confirmed details of the marriage or divorce based on its records.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update

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Identity Card

Please check back for update

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Police clearances are available for Saudi citizens and resident third country nationals. Saudi citizens currently residing overseas must return in person to process the police clearance.

Saudi citizens and third country nationals residing in the Kingdom process the police clearances by first obtaining a police clearance request letter from U.S. Embassy Riyadh, U.S. Consulate General Jeddah, or U.S. Consulate General Dhahran. This police clearance request letter, signed by a consular officer, must be attested by the Saudi Ministry of Affairs (current fee is SR30). The applicant must then appear personally with a passport-sized photograph and a national ID or residency permit at the regional Criminal Investigation Department for fingerprinting. Fingerprinting for women is done in a separate room. The police clearance should be available for collection after a week or two.

Police clearances are available for Saudi nationals residing outside of the Kingdom. The expatriate Saudi citizen obtains the police clearance by returning to the Kingdom and obtaining a police clearance request letter from U.S. Embassy Riyadh, U.S. Consulate General Jeddah, or U.S. Consulate General Dhahran. This police clearance request letter, signed by a consular officer, must be attested by the Saudi Ministry of Affairs (current fee is SR30). The applicant must then appear personally with the attested police clearance request letter, a passport-sized photograph and a national ID at the Regional Criminal Investigation Department for fingerprinting. Fingerprinting for women is done in a separate room. The police clearance should be available for collection after a week or two.

Police clearances are unavailable for third country nationals who no longer reside in the Kingdom.

The optimal time to conduct these procedures at the police stations is 10:00 Saturdays-Wednesdays.

 

Police Certificates

Available

Fees:  SR30

The notice should include the case number and the applicant's name.

Upon receipt of the requested police letter, applicants should go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office (MFA) for authentication and then to the police station in their district for processing. The MFA will charge SAR 30 for authentication.

Document Name:

Issuing Authority:

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:

Registration Criteria:  Police clearances are available for Saudi citizens and resident third country nationals. Saudi citizens currently residing overseas must return in person to process the police clearance.


Procedure for Obtaining:
           

 A Saudi Police Certificate is required for all applicants over 16 years of age. In order to obtain the police certificate for immigration purposes, applicants will need to obtain a letter addressed to the Saudi authorities from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or U.S. Consulates General in Dhahran or Jeddah.

Applicants will need to bring their Saudi resident permits and the notice from NVC or KCC (for Diversity Visa applicants) or from the US Embassy requesting the police clearance. The notice should include the case number and the applicant's name.

Upon receipt of the requested police letter, applicants should go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office for authentication and then to the police station in their district for processing.

Applicants may request a letter from the appropriate U.S. Mission office as follows:

U.S. Embassy Riyadh: During public service hours – Sundays- Thursday from 1:30pm-3:30pm (except U.S. or Saudi holidays). Applicants may make an appointment by sending an email to RiyadhIV@state.gov.

U.S. Consulate General Dhahran: During public service hours - Sunday- Thursday, 1:00-3:30PM (except U.S. or Saudi  holidays). Applicants may make an appointment for notarial service at: https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=dhr&appcode=1/

U.S. Consulate General Jeddah: During public service hours - Sunday- Thursday, 1:00–3:00pm (except U.S. or Saudi holidays). Applicants may make an appointment for notarial service at: https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=JDD&appcode=1  

Police certificates are valid for one year only.

Certified Copies Available:

Alternate Documents:

Exceptions:  Police clearances are unavailable for third country nationals who no longer reside in the Kingdom.

Comments:  The optimal time to conduct these procedures at the police stations is 10:00 Saturdays-Wednesdays.

Police clearances from Riyadh are now processed electronically.

 

Prison Records

Unavailable.

Military Records

Unavailable.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Please check back for update

Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Embassy)

Unit 61307,
APO AE 09803-1307

Visa Services

Riyadh provides Immigrant Visa services for all of Saudi Arabia. Nonimmigrant Visa Services are provided as shown below:

Location Areas Serviced (NIV)

Riyadh

  • Al Hudud Ash Shamaliyah (Northern Frontier)
  • Al Jawf
  • Al Qasim
  • Al Qurayyat
  • Ar Riyadh
  • Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province)
  • Ha'il

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 342-3800 (202) 944-3126 (202) 944-3113

Houston, TX (713) 785-5577 (713) 785-1163

Los Angeles, CA (310) 479-6000 (310) 479-2752

New York, NY (212) 752-2740 (212) 688-2719

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Riyadh
Abdullah Ibn Hudhafah As Sahmi Street
Roundabout no. 9, Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Telephone
+(966) (11) 488-3800
Emergency
+(966) (11) 488-3800
Fax
(966) (11) 488-7670
Saudi Arabia Country Map

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Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.