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Updated February 2024

Embarking on a journey to the United Kingdom is now more accessible than ever for Saudi Arabian citizens, as the UK has streamlined its entry procedures. With the relaxation of various entry requirements, including the simplification of the UK passenger locator form and the removal of certain testing and quarantine prerequisites, traveling to the UK has become a smoother process.

In this article, Wego delves into the essential details of the UK tourist visa application for Saudi citizens, providing insights into the application process, required documents, and associated costs. Explore the comprehensive guide to ensure a seamless and enjoyable travel experience to the United Kingdom.

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Starting from 1 February, Saudi citizens have the option of obtaining an instant e-visa for the UK, also known as ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation), allowing them to visit the country for up to two years. The UK has implemented a novel system that will facilitate the issuance of visas to Saudis within a few hours, providing a two-year validity period.

The ETA visa, which replaces the current “EVW visa”, will take effect on 22 February, with applications open from 1st February. The new visa offers a validity period of up to two years, permits multiple entries, and comes with a nominal fee of GBP 10.

Do Saudi residents need a tourist visa to the UK?

According to the announcement made by Britain’s Home Office, Gulf Corporation Council nations, including Saudi Arabia, will be able to travel to the United Kingdom visa-free, making them the first batch of countries to benefit from the new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) visa scheme. The ETA scheme is mainly being introduced to improve UK border control measures and optimise entry and exit processes as part of a wider “permission to travel” policy.

With this scheme, Saudi citizens just have to complete an online waiver each time they pay a visit to the UK. They are not required to obtain a visa prior to their departure. They can stay up to 6 months with this visa waiver for tourism, business, study or medical treatment.

Saudi citizens can still apply for a standard visitor visa as an alternative to obtaining a visa waiver.

You can refer to our article on UK Tourist Visa: How to Apply for Standard Visitor Visa to the UK? for more information.

UK Tourist Visa: How to Apply for Standard Visitor Visa to the UK?


Short-term standard visitor visa

Residents from Saudi Arabia can apply for the Standard Visitor Visa to visit the UK as a Standard Visitor for tourism, business, study (courses up to 6 months) and other permitted activities, including:

  • for tourism, for example on a holiday or vacation
  • to see your family or friends
  • to volunteer for up to 30 days with a registered charity
  • to pass through the UK to another country (‘in transit’)
  • for certain business activities.
  • to take part in a school exchange programme.
  • to do a recreational course of up to 30 days.
  • to study, do a placement or take an exam
  • as an academic, senior doctor or dentist
  • for medical reasons

You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months. However, you might be able to apply to stay for longer in certain circumstances, such as for medical treatment purposes.

Long-term standard visitor visa

Residents from Saudi Arabia can also apply for a long-term Standard Visitor Visa that lasts 2, 5 or 10 years if they need to visit the UK regularly over a longer period. You can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit. If you’re under 18 years old when you apply, your long-term Standard Visitor visa will only be valid for up to 6 months after you turn 18. You cannot get a refund on the fee.

The UK tourist visa from Saudi Arabia requirements

The following are some of the requirements that have to be met while applying for a Standard Visitor Visa or the UK Tourist Visa in Saudi Arabia:

  • a passport or travel document to enter the UK that should be valid for the whole of your stay in the UK. Additionally, there must be a blank page in your passport for your Standard Visitor visa.
  • you must be able to show that:
    • you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
    • you’re able to support yourself and your dependents during your trip (or have funding from someone else to support you)
    • you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey (or have funding from someone else to pay for the journey)
    • you’ll not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home
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Please note that you may need to meet extra eligibility requirements if you’re visiting the UK:

  • to study, do a placement or take an exam
  • as an academic, senior doctor or dentist
  • for medical reasons

When to apply for a UK tourist visa from Saudi Arabia?

Saudi residents who require a Standard Visitor visa or UK Tourist Visa must apply online before they travel to the UK and attend an appointment at a visa application centre. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

The UK tourist visa application process

There are a few steps to follow when applying for the UK Standard Visitor Visa or the UK Tourist Visa in Saudi Arabia:

Complete the online application form

If you need a visa, you must apply online before you travel to the UK. Usually, the UK visa online application form contains questions on personal information as:

  • your name & surname.
  • nationality.
  • country of residence.
  • marital status.
  • personal number.
  • passport number.
  • reason for wishing to enter the UK.
  • other information about your application.

Collect the required documents

As a part of your UK visa application, you should submit some mandatory required documents to support your case.

You must provide a passport or travel document. Your passport should be valid for the whole of your stay in the UK and must contain a blank page for your visa. You’ll be told what other documents and information to provide when you apply online.

You’ll need to provide the following information in your online application:

  • the dates you’re planning to travel to the UK
  • where you’ll be staying during your visit
  • how much you think your trip will cost
  • your current home address and how long you’ve lived there
  • your parents’ names and dates of birth (if known)
  • how much you earn in a year (if you have an income)
  • details of any criminal, civil or immigration offences you may have committed

Depending on your circumstances, you might also need to provide:

  • details of your travel history for the past 10 years
  • your employer’s address and telephone number
  • your partner’s name, date of birth and passport number
  • the name and address of anyone paying for your trip
  • the name, address and passport number of any family members you have in the UK
  • a certificate proving that you’ve had tuberculosis (TB) test if you’re visiting for more than 6 months

You need to provide additional documents if you’re visiting the UK:

  • to study
  • as an academic
  • for medical reasons

Please note that you must provide certified translations of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.

Pay your fees

To complete your application you’ll need to pay for your visa, and for the healthcare surcharge, if applicable, after applying. Once you’ve paid your fees, you’ll be given a reference number that starts with GWF. Please make sure to take note of this, as it will be helpful regarding any changes to your visa application or appointment.

Schedule a UK visa appointment

After completing and paying for the visa application online, you’ll be directed to the VFS Global website to book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre. The Visa Application Centre will capture your biometric data (fingerprints and photographs).

Furthermore, you will also have the opportunity to select additional, optional services from VFS Global, to make your application process faster and easier.

Upload your supporting documents

You can submit all the documents required to support your application online. However, in case of not have a scanner at home or in case of any help is required, you can scan the documents at the Visa Application Centre with their Document Scanning Assistance option. In most cases, a fee applies for this service.

You can read the Visa Application Centre’s guidelines for supporting documents here.

Visit the visa application centre

Visit your UK VFS Visa application centre in Saudi Arabia and take all required documents with you on the day of your appointment:

  • aim to arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment time.
  • you must attend the appointment for your visa application. You cannot send someone in your place.
  • please bring your valid passport or travel document with at least one page that is blank on both sides.
  • at the Visa Application Centre, you will need to submit your fingerprints and photograph. This is known as biometric information. A digital finger scanner collects images of all 10 digits, and you will have a digital photo taken. The digital fingerprint scanner uses no inks, liquids or chemicals and will not mark your skin.
  • your digital photograph must be taken with a full face and without sunglasses or tinted spectacles, or head covering unless it is worn for religious or medical reasons.
  • your face should be clearly visible with no hair across the eyes.
  • ensure your fingertips are free from any forms of decoration, cuts, abrasions or other markings as these may affect your ability to provide acceptable finger scans.
  • if you are applying for a visa on behalf of a child under 5 years old, they must also attend an appointment and have their digital photograph taken, but they don’t have to provide their fingerprint information.
  • children under 16 years old need to be accompanied by an adult (18+) and this cannot be a member of VFS Global staff.
  • without biometric information, your visa application will not be processed.
  • you can upload your documents yourself after booking your appointment, or bring your supporting documents and use our Document Scanning Assistance service at the Visa Application Centre (fee applies).
  • if you have purchased, or plan to use our Document Scanning Assistance service, bring the originals or good-quality copies of your supporting documents to the Visa Application Centre.

The UK tourist visa from Saudi Arabia tracking

You’ll get an email or a letter containing the decision on your application. This will explain what you need to do next.

Alternatively, you can refer to our article on the UK Visa Check 2023: How to Check your UK Visa Progress and Status? to get more information regarding the UK Tourist Visa tracking process.

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