How to obtain a visa

You can enter Kuwait without a visa if you’re a GCC national or an expatriate with authorised residence in another GCC state.

All other visitors require visas, which must be organised in advance. The Kuwaiti government’s insistence on this is understandable in view of the country’s troubled recent history.

In order to obtain a visa, you require a sponsor, which is normally your employer if you’re working. If you’re visiting for a holiday or business, the hotel where you’re staying can act as your sponsor. To request this service, you must send your travel itinerary and passport details by fax a few weeks in advance of your stay. Ensure that confirmation has been given and that your visa will be left at your point of entry before you depart. A small fee will be added to your hotel bill for this service. Additionally, your hotel might be able to obtain short extensions to your stay, provided they’re sure of your itinerary during the stay. The hotel is responsible for you during your time in the country. If you’re taking up work in Kuwait, your sponsor will normally arrange the necessary visas and permits for you.

Most visas and permits consist of passport stamps, so that immigration authorities can easily check that you have the necessary authorisation when you enter or leave the country. There are costs associated with the various visas and permits, but in the case of foreign workers these are normally met by your employer. Note that the prices quoted below should be taken as a guide only, as they’re subject to change, as are the conditions and requirements; the relevant state’s embassy or consulate can provide you with the current information.

Visitor Visa

Valid for three or six months, these are obtained from Kuwaiti embassies and consulates or via a Kuwaiti sponsor, who will apply to the Ministry of the Interior in Kuwait. Hotels also arrange visas for their guests (see above). A three-month visa costs around $45 (£30), a six-month visa around $72 (£48). Multiple entry visas may be issued upon application to Kuwaiti embassies and consulates; these are usually granted for the purpose of repeat business trips. They cost around $100 (£66) for six months, $110 (£75) for a year, $150 (£100) for two years and $120 (£180) for five years.

Residence Visa

If you’re going to work in Kuwait, you need a residence visa. First, you must obtain an NOC, which is provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour following application by your sponsor. If making arrangements prior to entry, your next step is to submit the NOC to the Ministry of the Interior. If you arrive on a visitor visa (see above), your sponsor will apply for an NOC and on receipt of this will apply directly to the Ministry of the Interior for your residence visa. When you receive approval for the visa, you must leave the country and return, with your NOC (although this requirement is sometimes waived); your residence visa will be issued shortly afterwards. A medical examination is required, including an HIV/AIDS test. Once you’ve obtained your a residence visa, you will be issued with a ‘Civil ID’ card, which must be carried at all times. As in the other Gulf states, your sponsor normally takes care of these administrative matters, leaving you simply to follow instructions.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.

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