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Please be advised that the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Travel Advice is now available at Ireland.ie/travel. Travel Advice on this webpage is no longer being updated. To ensure you receive the latest Travel Advice for Saudi Arabia, please see Ireland.ie.

Saudi Arabia

If you’re travelling to Saudi Arabia, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact



Security status

High Degree of Caution

General Travel Advice

Irish citizens require a visa to enter Saudi Arabia.

A valid passport is required for travel to Saudi Arabia. Irish passports should have a minimum validity of 6 months. Passport cards cannot be used.

For more information on visas and passports, please see the Additional Information tab.

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are advised to follow the guidance of national and local authorities and stay fully informed of what's going on by monitoring local news and social media.

Citizens can also follow the Embassy on social media on Twitter @IrishEmbRiyadh  to ensure access to relevant updates and alerts.

Emergency Assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Specific emergency numbers in Saudi Arabia are:

  1. Police: 999 or 911
  2. Fire brigade: 999 or 911
  3. Ambulance: 997

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  1. Get comprehensive travel insurance that covers all your planned activities.
  2. Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  3. Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  4. Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Political unrest

While generally safe, conditions in certain areas of Saudi Arabia can deteriorate quickly leading to public disturbances. You should remain informed of local and regional developments that could result in a heightened level of risk.

Public demonstrations are illegal in Saudi Arabia and should be avoided. There is particular localised unrest in the Eastern Province region which can result in spontaneous demonstrations that can turn confrontational leading to violent clashes with security forces.

Saudi-Yemeni border

There is an increased risk of terrorist incidents close to the Saudi-Yemen border.  In response to the request for assistance from the government of President Hadi, Saudi Arabia is leading a military intervention including air strikes, against Houthi rebels across Yemen.

Irish citizens should not travel to areas close to the Saudi-Yemeni border. Irish nationals within 80km of the border should leave the area unless it is essential to remain.


Irish citizens are advised to be extra vigilant and exercise caution when travelling in Saudi Arabia.

While the Saudi authorities are actively pursuing terrorist cells operating in the Kingdom, a serious terrorist threat persists against western targets, religious sites and security forces. The Saudi Ministry of Interior has issued past warnings of possible attacks on oil installations and shopping malls throughout Saudi Arabia.

There have been regular attacks on security forces and on US, Danish and Canadian citizens in Saudi Arabia. There are frequent posts on jihadist websites and social media calling for attacks against Western and other interests in Saudi Arabia including schools, residential compounds, oil workers, military installations, transport and aviation facilities, restaurants, shopping centres and mosques.

You should remain vigilant and alert to your local security environment and take suitable precautions to ensure your personal safety.  If you are resident in Saudi Arabia you should regularly review your security arrangements and the level of protection provided at your residential compound, workplace and children’s schools to ensure they are adequate. 


Travelling near to or photographing military and security installations or other sensitive sites such as palaces and government buildings is illegal.


The overall crime rate is low in Saudi Arabia and is not usually an issue for travellers. However petty crime does occur and you should take normal precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place; 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home;
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business;
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations; and
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.


If you are planning to drive in Saudi Arabia, you should be extremely careful as general driving standards and road conditions are poor with frequent accidents particularly on the main highways.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driving license and international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance;
  • Do not hitchhike;
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked if you’re stopped at traffic lights; and
  • Driving in Saudi Arabia can be difficult, particularly since road signs may be exclusively in Arabic script.

Please note that some cities have implemented automated camera systems to catch red light runners and drivers exceeding the speed limit.  If you incur any fines these will need to be paid before leaving Saudi Arabia.  It is possible to make the payment at the airport but only during normal office hours. 

Hiring a vehicle

If you are hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Taxis/Chauffeur drive cars

Given the relatively low cost, most visitors will use taxis or chauffeur-driven cars. We recommend taxis are pre-booked and you should avoid hailing a taxi on the street or using unofficial drivers at the airport.

Female Travelers

If you are travelling in Saudi Arabia, you should only travel in pre-booked taxis known to be safe and avoid hailing a taxi in the street or accepting a lift from someone you do not know. 

Personal safety

It is recommended that you keep a low profile and be especially vigilant in places popular with foreign nationals such as hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. Make sure that your vehicle is safe at all times and be certain of your destination and direction of travel before departing.

Reporting a crime

If you are a victim of a crime while in Saudi Arabia you should report the incident to the local police immediately. You can also contact the Irish Embassy in Riyadh if you require further assistance.

Maritime safety

Many areas of the Gulf are highly politically sensitive and some are subject to jurisdictional disputes. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected and there have been occasional arrests. There is a risk of piracy in the southern Red Sea and in the Gulf of Aden. 

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country in which Sharia Law is strictly enforced.  You should respect local traditions, customs, law and religion at all times.  You should dress conservatively, be aware of your actions and take care not to offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or other religious festivals or if you are visiting religious areas.

During the month of Ramadan it is forbidden to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours.  This law is strictly enforced.

The public practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal and is considered as  attempting to convert others. Violations may result in imprisonment and/or deportation.

Travel bans and legal disputes

The Saudi authorities may place a travel ban on individuals involved in ongoing commercial, financial or labour disputes, legal cases or investigations, or with outstanding debts (this list is not exhaustive). Private Saudi citizens may also initiate travel bans against foreign citizens for various reasons.

When placed under a travel ban, you cannot exit the country, even if you are an Irish citizen or a dual Irish-Saudi citizen. Such bans are rigidly enforced and can take years, to resolve. Only Saudi Arabian authorities and sponsors can remove travel bans. If you are prevented from leaving the country because of an exit ban, you should seek legal advice immediately. Please also contact the Irish Embassy for consular assistance, which is provided in line with the Consular Assistance Charter.

Illegal drugs

There are strong penalties for possession of or dealing in illegal drugs, including the application of the death penalty.

Forbidden products

Importing and drinking alcohol, pork products and pornographic material is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. The penalties for possession of any of these items are severe.  Electronic devices such as phones, tablets and laptops may be checked by officials.

You should not arrive in Saudi Arabia under the influence of alcohol.

Local culture

Men are expected to dress modestly in full-length trousers and shirts with sleeves, although the sleeves can be short.

Female Travellers

Unaccompanied female travellers may experience unwanted attention or comments in public.

If you are travelling in Saudi Arabia, you should only travel in pre-booked taxis known to be safe and avoid hailing a taxi in the street or accepting a lift from someone you do not know. 

Dress and Behaviour

Local laws, customs and religions should be respected at all times. Visitors should be aware of laws and etiquette, see here.

Men and women should dress modestly in public covering shoulders and knees in public. While the abaya is customary for Saudi women it is not mandatory for female visitors entering Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa.


Homosexual behaviour is illegal in Saudi Arabia. Caution and discretion are advised at all times.

Personal Identification

Foreigners must carry their residency card (Iqama) or their passport with them at all times. Do not surrender your passport.

The Saudi authorities have the right to check identification and this can occur frequently due to the large number of security checkpoints both in the cities and on the roads between cities. 

Dual Nationality

The Saudi authorities do not recognise dual nationality and it is illegal to hold two passports in Saudi Arabia.

Second passports even if it is a second Irish passport will be confiscated or ordered destroyed if discovered by the Saudi authorities.

Getting married

Under Saudi Arabia’s customs, in the event of a marriage to a Saudi national, the family has strong power over the individual. If a woman wants her right of movement or to work guaranteed, she must insist on a premarital settlement, stipulating this right. Such agreements are binding and can be relied on in court to settle any disputes.

Business activity

There are a number of significant differences between the legal systems of Ireland and Saudi Arabia.  Detention without charge is permitted and detainees are not always granted fast access to legal representation.  If you are subject to detention the Embassy and your sponsor will try and assist you as quickly as possible.  But please note this can take time or may take place under very limited conditions. 

Business people involved in commercial disputes with a Saudi company or individual may be prevented from leaving the country until the dispute is resolved (see more information in the above section on “Travel bans and legal disputes”).

Natural Disasters and Climate

Natural disasters and climate


In recent years there have been recurring heavy rains between November and February across Saudi Arabia. This can lead to serious flooding that has resulted in a number of deaths and severe damage to property. Roads may be impassable due to flooding.

During this period you should regularly check local weather forecasts and local media reporting, and to take appropriate precautions.

Additional Information

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)


All visitors need a visa to enter Saudi Arabia.

Irish citizens can apply for a tourist visa on arrival at any of Saudi Arabia’s international airports or online before their trip through the following link:  Visit Saudi Arabia | Visit Saudi Official Tourism Site - Visit Saudi Official Website.

Tourist visas are valid for 360 days from the date of issue. Irish citizens can stay up to a maximum of 90 days in total per visa. Visas cannot be extended and a daily fine will be levied for overstaying a visa. 

Muslim tourists can apply for the tourist visa to perform Umrah. A specific visa is required to perform Hajj. 

Irish citizens planning to travel to Saudi Arabia via the causeway from Bahrain should check the terms of their Saudi visa before travelling.  Anyone planning to apply for a visa should seek advice (e.g from their visa agent, the Saudi Embassy or  employer) about the visa options available to them. Saudi visas may only allow for entry into the country by air and may prevent you from entering across a land border including via the causeway from Bahrain.

Irish citizens resident in Saudi Arabia will need a valid exit or re-entry permit from the Saudi Ministry of Interior to leave and re-enter the country.


We advise you to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. 

Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Saudi Arabia.


The local currency is the Saudi Riyal (SAR).  ATMs are common and major credit cards work here. Although you should check first to ensure that the retailer or restaurant accepts credit cards before purchasing.


Healthcare facilities in major cities are of a very high standard. However, medical facilities in minor towns or small cities are adequate for routine procedures only.


There is no requirement to provide a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or negative PCR or antigen test certificate to enter the Kingdom.

All visitors intending to visit the Kingdom (excluding residents) must have medical insurance that covers the costs of COVID-19 treatment in outpatient clinics, emergencies and hospitals.

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

If you are an Irish citizen and require emergency out of hours assistance you can contact the Duty Officer at +966 550 543 386.

If your call is not answered or you are unable to make a voice call please send a text message with your name, contact information for you and your sponsor and details of your emergency. The Duty Officer will respond to you as soon as possible.

Embassy of Ireland
Diplomatic Quarter
Saudi Arabia

Tel: +966 11 407 1530
Fax: +966 11 488 0927

Sunday to Thursday 09:00-16:00

Contact us