Ask a COVID-19 Question
Last updated: 02/09/2021
*** Effective Thursday, February 4 the Government of Saudi Arabia announced new restrictions on social gatherings, entertainment activities, sports centers, and dining. In addition, they also mandated the use of the Tawakkalna app for entry to public, including commercial, buildings.
Banning of Certain Activities and Gatherings
As a COVID-19 countermeasure, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced that beginning February 4, it would close all cinemas, indoor entertainment centers, indoor games venues, indoor restaurants and cafes, and gyms and sports centers for the following ten days with the possibility of extending it further. Additionally, the MOI announced that all events and large gatherings would be banned for the next 30 days, with the maximum cap for gatherings reduced to 20 people. Further information is available
Tawakkalna App Mandate for Entry to Public Buildings
All retail establishments and public buildings in Riyadh and other locations are now requiring that individuals use the Tawakkalna app to be admitted into the establishment.
*** Effective February 3, 2021, Saudi Arabia suspended the entry of travelers from the United States and 19 other countries, as well as travelers who have been in the United States or the 19 other countries within 14 days prior to seeking entry into Saudi Arabia. Saudi citizens, diplomats, health practitioners and their families are exempt.
The full list of countries from which travel is suspended is as follows: Argentina, the UAE, Germany, the United States, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India and Japan.
*** Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.
- Saudi Arabia is experiencing sustained community transmission of COVID-19. Information about reported cases in the Kingdom is available on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard in Arabic and in English.
- Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 caseload impacts the ability of the country’s medical system to provide care. The U.S. Mission has received reports from U.S. citizens who have experienced difficulties in accessing care for COVID-19 and other medical conditions.
- The Government of Saudi Arabia requires everyone to wear a face mask in all public venues. Those who fail to comply are subject to a fine of 10,000 Saudi riyals (SAR).
- Most commercial services and activities are currently available, though crowd size is limited to no more than 20. Grocery stores remain well stocked, and restaurants, malls, shops, and private entities are open, though some may only offer limited services.
- On January 13, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education announced students will continue with distance learning until the end of the tenth week of the second term (approximately end of March). The continuation applies to general education and university education as well as technical training.
- The Saudi Government announced the phased resumption of Umrah beginning Sunday, October 4, 2020. More information about the stages can be found here. The CDC does not recommend participation in Umrah at this time.
- Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia? Yes.
- If so, are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes.
- The Saudi Ministry of Health set up Tetamman (تطمن) clinics throughout the Kingdom to test people with symptoms of COVID-19. Saudi citizens and non-Saudi nationals can visit these clinics at any time without an appointment and can receive a COVID-19 test free of charge. The Ministry of Health has also set up Taakad (تأكد) clinics throughout the Kingdom where people can book an appointment for testing. Such advance appointments are available through the Sehhaty app or the Tawakkalna app. Test results will be delivered through the app within 24-72 hours.
- Private hospitals and clinics charge a fee for COVID-19 testing. Cost, delivery method and timing of results also varies. Some facilities can electronically deliver results within 24 hours. A list of private testing sites can be found at: https://covid19.cdc.gov.sa/ar/approved-covid-19-laboratories-ar/private-laboratories-ar/
- The Ministry of Health COVID-19 hotline can be reached by dialing 937 on your local phone.
Waiver Process for CDC Order on Pre-Flight Testing:
- Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited basis when extraordinary emergency travel (like an emergency medical evacuation) must occur to preserve someone’s health and safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel. There are no waivers available for individuals who test positive for COVID-19. Individuals – or air carriers seeking to allow boarding by potentially qualifying individuals – who believe they meet the criteria for a waiver should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and provide the information below. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will then submit the request to the CDC for consideration.
- The following information must be provided for each passenger:
- Name (family name/surname, given name), passport number and country.
- Cell phone number including country code of passenger or head of household if family unit.
- Email address of passenger or head of household if family unit
- U.S. destination address
- Is U.S. destination home address?
- Departure date
- Flight itinerary
- Name of submitting entity if different from passenger.
- Name of company submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- Name of point of contact submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- Phone and email address for POC submitting waiver request on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- Purpose of travel to the U.S. (provide brief explanation of why urgent travel is needed and how travel will contribute to health and safety of passengers(s))
- Justification for testing waiver (e.g. no testing available, impact on health and safety)
- Documentation to support justification for test waiver, if available (e.g. medical records or orders for medical evacuation)
COVID-19 Vaccine Information:
- Has the government of Saudi Arabia approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use? Yes.
- The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.
- Saudi Arabia is currently administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for free to all citizens and residents in the Kingdom, with some delays in the schedule as originally announced. Saudi Arabia has also purchased vaccines from Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson and Johnson. The FDA has only approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
- According to the Saudi Ministry of Health, vaccination priority is being given depending on age, profession, and chronic illnesses / health conditions. For more information, visit the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine website: https://www.moh.gov.sa/en/awarenessplateform/VariousTopics/Pages/COVID-19Vaccine.aspx
- Individuals who wish to sign up for the vaccine can do so on the Sehhaty app.
- Information from the CDC regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
Entry and Exit Requirements:
- Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter Saudi Arabia? No
- On February 3, 2021, The Government temporarily suspended travel from 20 countries, including the United States. Only Saudi Citizens, diplomats, healthcare workers, and their families are permitted to travel to the Kingdom.
- The Saudi Ministry of Interior announced all international passenger flights and land and seaports – including the King Fahd Causeway to Bahrain – will be allowed to return to normal operations May 14.
- Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry to Saudi Arabia? Yes
- Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry in Saudi Arabia? Yes
- The Saudi Government announced that the following e-Services are now available through online platform Muqeem:
- Extending exit – reentry visas for residents outside the Kingdom
- Renewing iqamas for residents outside the Kingdom
- On February 3, 2021, The Government temporarily suspended travel from 20 countries, including the United States.
- The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation issued a downloadable Passenger Guide with detailed guidance for air travelers. For example, a negative COVID test is required within 72 hours before entry to Saudi Arabia for travelers over the age of 8. Please review the guide for detailed requirements and information. Please see quarantine requirements in the below “Quarantine Information” section.
- The Saudi government suspended issuance of tourist and most other categories of visas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For tourist visa related questions, those inside the Kingdom can dial 930, or call +966 920 000 890 to speak to a Saudi official.
- Persons wishing to depart Saudi Arabia are responsible for completing all Saudi exit procedures before arrival at the airport or border crossing.
- U.S. citizens with residence permits (iqamas) need an exit permit to leave the country and can obtain one online if they have an Absher account or with the assistance of their sponsor. Most U.S. citizens who are in Saudi Arabia on visit visas (business or family visit) will not have additional exit requirements but must depart the Kingdom before the expiration of their authorized period of stay. You can request a visa extension via the Ministry of the Interior website or in person through the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat).
- Is a curfew in place? No
- Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? No
- Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? Yes.
- All arriving passengers must complete a health disclaimer form and submit it to health personnel at the airport upon arrival. In addition, they must download and register on the Tawakkalna application and assign a home location through the app. Travelers are instructed to not disable or disconnect the application, not turn off their phone or the app’s GPS, and keep their phone connected to the internet.
- Quarantine requirements for travelers arriving from outside Saudi Arabia, including Saudi citizens and residents, are described and tracked on the Tawakkalna application:
- If travelers arrived from a country where the new variant of COVID-19 is spreading, they must fully adhere to self-quarantine for 14 days and complete two COVID-19 tests: one test within 48 hours of arrival and a second test on the 13th day of quarantine. In this instance, the travelers’ health status will be noted by a purple color on the application. The traveler cannot terminate quarantine until the health condition “no record of infection” appears on the Tawakkalna application.
- All other travelers returning from abroad are required to quarantine for seven days, or quarantine for 48 hours and then complete a COVID-19 test. This will be noted by a blue color on the application. Quarantine may be terminated when the result is negative, and the application shows “no record of infection.”
- If a traveler books a COVID-19 test during their quarantine period, a four-hour mobility permit will be issued two hours before the test. Travelers are instructed not to leave their residence before the permit is issued.
- Are commercial flights operating? Yes.
- Is public transportation operating? Yes.
- Domestic air travel and travel within the country by bus, train, and other means of transportation is functioning.
- Fines for Non-Compliance:
- All persons must adhere to social-distancing regulations and wear masks while in public. Social gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited. Violators of public health measures are subject to fines up to 10,000 SAR.
- Performing Umrah, the year-round Islamic pilgrimage, without proper authorization is a criminal offense. See details on phased Umrah implementation plan above under Country-Specific Information.
- Appointments for routine U.S. passport services, notarial services, and consular report of birth abroad services can be made on our website.
- Most visa services remain suspended. Individuals with questions regarding immigrant visas may contact RiyadhIV@state.gov. Individuals with questions regarding non-immigrant visas may contact DhahranNIV@state.gov, JeddahVisas@state.gov, or RiyadhNIV@state.gov.
- Saudi Ministry of Health (English): https://www.moh.gov.sa/en/Pages/default.aspx
- MOH Twitter account (Arabic): https://twitter.com/saudimoh?lang=en
- Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (English): https://twitter.com/KSAmofaEN
- Information on when to wear a mask (Arabic): https://s.moh.gov.sa/Coronavirus
- Information on COVID19 (Arabic): https://s.moh.gov.sa/Coronavirus
- Information on hand washing (Arabic) https://s.moh.gov.sa/Coronavirus
- Within Saudi Arabia: Ministry of Health has opened a call center available at 937 for questions on Coronavirus.
- COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov
- CDC page on COVID-19
- Travel.state.gov Country Information and Travel Advisory page