Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE enjoy a range of exclusive perks when they travel. These perks can vary from waived visa fees and fast-tracked immigration processes. ‘
Keep reading to know more about the specific benefits that GCC travellers can enjoy in different parts of the world, making their travel experiences smoother, more enjoyable, and more affordable.
Free movement within the GCC countries
The GCC is composed of six countries. An agreement is in place which permits residents of GCC member countries to travel within these nations without the need to apply for a visa through a consular post (with Qatar being the only exception). Typically, GCC residents need a valid passport and a GCC residence permit with at least six months of validity. When travelling to other GCC countries, some GCC residents may only be eligible for a visa-on-arrival if their GCC residence permit was issued at least three months before travel and will still be valid for at least six months upon arrival.
For residents of GCC countries, traveling within the region is generally convenient. For instance, one of the countries in the GCC is the UAE, a beloved destination for leisure and business travel. As a GCC traveler, it is effortless for you to visit this holiday hotspot since the process of applying for a visa to the UAE is quite simple. Additionally, the process for UAE visa status check is also quite seamless.
All GCC residents are eligible for Saudi Tourist Visa
Ahmed al-Khateeb, the Saudi Arabia Tourism Minister, on 9 March 2023, announced that GCC residents can obtain Saudi tourist visa, regardless of their profession. The visa application process has been made more convenient, straightforward, and simplified for GCC residents.
The visa type offered includes both single and multiple entries, and interested GCC residents can visit the eVisa page and furnish the necessary information and documents. Apart from the visa cost of USD 80 (300 SAR), the applicants are required to pay for health insurance. Once the application is approved, the eVisa will be delivered to the applicant via email.
Visa exemption to the UK
Citizens of the GCC nations have the privilege of being exempted from UK visa requirements for visits of up to six months. However, before travelling to the UK, they must first obtain an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW). The EVW application process is relatively simple and can be completed online in just a few minutes.
Once the EVW is approved, it is digitally linked to the GCC passport of the traveller, making the process of entering the UK much more convenient. This process effectively allows GCC nationals to enter the UK without a visa, and it grants them visa-free access to the country for a period of up to six months.
Proposed visa-free travel to Europe
The European Union is currently in talks with the GCC countries regarding the possibility of removing Schengen Area visa requirements. At present, only the United Arab Emirates is exempt from visa requirements. If negotiations are successful, travellers from Kuwait and Qatar with biometric passports will not need to apply for a visa to travel to France for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
Visa-free travel for tourism, business, and family purposes will be permitted. Under the proposal, travellers will be required to register for the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which is set to become operational in 2024. If the European visa requirements for the GCC countries are lifted, travellers from these countries will be eligible for ETIAS and will no longer need to apply for a visa to travel to France or other Schengen nations. Instead, they will be required to register for ETIAS before their departure.