So after spending around 6 months in Europe (my longest jaunt to my home continent in 6 years), I decided to head back to Hong Kong. But there’s no point in flying over endless countries without seeing them, so I decided on a stop over on route. I’ve been to the Middle East a load of times and written about my visa experiences from Bahrain Jordan, Iran, Iraq and Qatar. This time I headed to Kuwait and I was really excited about this place.
Some Background Information on Kuwait
Kuwait borders Iraq and Saudi Arabia and lies on the Arabian Gulf. Kuwait has a population of over 4 million and they qualified for the 1982 World Cup, getting knocked out in the first round unlike Northern Ireland. Although, the famous Michel Platini did once play for Kuwait (geek fact loyal). Kuwait is oil rich and has a petroleum-based economy, with petroleum and fertilizers being the main export products. The Kuwaiti dinar is the highest valued currency unit in the world, when I went £2.13 UK pounds were equal to 1 Kuwaiti Dinar.
Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP and 94% of export revenues and government income. During the Iran – Iraq war in the 1980s, Kuwait supported Iraq but later refused to forgive the debt owed by Iraq. Kuwait was invaded by Saddam Hussain’s Iraq in 1990 amid rumours Kuwaitis were stealing oil belonging to Iraq. The US and UK coalition forces moved in and defeated the Iraq army in the Gulf War by February 1991. Since then economy has been up and down but Kuwait remains and oil rich, wealthy and safe nation with a proud past.
Getting to Kuwait
Most travellers head to Kuwait by flight. Arriving by boat is an option. Overland is a bit more tricky. The border between Iraq and Kuwait overland is completely blocked by strong electric fences. These have been breached during times of war but the border to Iraq remains closed. Kuwait also borders Saudi Arabia in an area which is largely desert.
There was oddly a neutral zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – an area where both countries (or neither) owned and it acted as a border. This is now divided into a Kuwaiti part and a Saudi Arabian part. Enough of the history and borders – I decided to fly into Kuwait and therefore I was due to arrive at Kuwait International Airport, on the edge of Kuwait City, the capital. I was on a flight with Atlas Jet from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to Kuwait City. This post is all about the Kuwait TOURIST Visa by the way – no business or resident visas.
Arriving in Kuwait City International Airport
Once you arrive at Kuwait City International Airport, head towards immigration. The immigration section and passport checks are before the baggage checks as they are in most international airports. When you see a sign pointing down some stairs for Immigration, ignore it – stay on the same floor and head to the Visa Section. The visa section is upstairs, then once you have the visa you can join the queue for immigration. It was actually a similar process to the visa in Tanzania Airport and in East Timor Dili Airport. I travel on an Irish and a British passport. Both nationalities require a visa for Kuwait.
The Following Nationalities do NOT Need Visas to Visit Kuwait
Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates.
Nationalities That Can Get Visas on Arrival at Kuwait International Airport
USA, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Palestine, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Greece, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Turkey, Vietnam, Finland, Spain, Monaco, Vatican City, Iceland, Austenasia, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Swaziland, Georgia, Bhutan.
* Nationals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen are barred from entering Kuwait due to “difficult security conditions” in those countries. Citizens of Bangladesh are also barred from entering Kuwait. Citizens of Pakistan are only issued issuing family and commercial visas. Additionally entry and transit is refused to Israeli citizens, even if not leaving the aircraft and proceeding by the same flight.
All other nationalities require a visa in advance. These details are correct as of May 2015.
Passports with the Following Stamps or visas will be Denied Entry to Kuwait
Needless to say you must ensure you do NOT have stamps from Israel (or that prove you entered Israel like a Jordan/Egypt stamp) or pre-war Iraq or Iraqi Kurdistan or you will be refused entry to Kuwait.
If you are unsure about how to avoid Israeli stamps on your visit to that country, you can read my tips here and also here.
Getting Your Kuwait Visa at Kuwait International Airport
So you’ve landed and instead of heading to the Immigration and Passport Check you head to the Visa Section. The Visa section in the airport is oddly opposite a cafe and beside a money exchange. If you do not have any Kuwaiti Dinars on arrival, please make sure you get some at this point. You can get Kuwaiti Dinars either by:
– Using the ATMs next to the Visa section
– Exchanging hard currency at the Money Changer (USD, UK Pounds etc.)
To get the visa on a British or Irish passport I needed 3 Kuwaiti Dinars (which is about £7 pounds or $10 US Dollars). I am not sure if it is the same price for other nationalities or not. Payment must be made in Kuwaiti Dinars. But then the confusing part is that despite the fact that the visa costs 3 Kuwaiti Dinars, you have to pay in the equivalent of Kuwaiti stamps rather than banknotes and coins, which is either:
– 3 x 1 Dinar Kuwaiti Stamps or
– 1 x 1 Dinar Kuwaiti Stamp + 1 x 2 Dinar Kuwaiti Stamp.
Machines issuing stamps are located on the left hand side of the visa section. You put bank notes in, press the button and get your stamps. Please note that it doesn’t give you change so you must put in exactly 3 Kuwaiti Dinars. Coins are not accepted.
Then it’s time to queue for the visa. You need to queue and to queue you must pick up a ticket and wait for your number to be called!
While you are waiting for your number to be called, fill in the immigration form which is simple and is one piece of card with two sides. You’ll need to put the hotel name on there. I was staying at the Ibis Salmiya Hotel in Salmiya.
Then your number is called, you hand over your passport, your 3 Kuwaiti Dinar’s worth of stamps, your immigration form and your queue number. They might ask you a few questions. Mine was if this was my first visit to Kuwait which it was. They stamp your passport with a single small entry stamp like this:
You are also handed your visa on an A4 piece of paper which you hold onto. The A4 piece of paper is written entirely in Arabic and contains the two stamps you used to buy the visa and all your details. Retain this piece of paper during your time in Kuwait and you may be asked for it. At all hotels I checked into I was asked for this piece of paper. The top of it looks like this:
The visa also has a separate entry stamp on it like this:
I was given 90 days/3 months on arrival but was only staying for 3 days, so realistically if you wanted you could stay here for 3 months! After getting the visa, head through the immigration where the officers simply check the visa. There is a machine in front of them for a fingerprint scan, but they didn’t ask for my fingerprints. Perhaps they are sometimes used and sometimes not.
You are now ready to explore Kuwait! To get to your hotel, please note that all the taxis have set prices depending on the part of the city you are heading too. Outside the airport terminal is a list. I headed to explore Salmiya first, staying at the Ibis Salmiya. Later I backpacked the main sights of central Kuwait city while staying at the Kuwait Ibis Sharq Central.
23 thoughts on “How to Get a Kuwait Tourist Visa on Arrival at Kuwait International Airport”
That’s interesting about Iraqi Kurdistan! Didn’t know they would refuse you entry if you have been there before.
Ray recently posted…Day of Thunder – My Visit to Daytona International Speedway
Hi Ray, I don’t blame them to be honest, what Iraq did to Kuwait back in the early 90s was horrendous especially after Kuwait supported Iraq in the war against Iran. I don’t think Kuwaitis will particularly be eased by the fact that there is an Iraqi Kurdistan region with Christians living there or not – it’s all Iraq to them. Also please note than nationals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen are barred from entering Kuwait due to “difficult security conditions” in those countries. I travel with 2 passports these days anyway so it’s not an issue for me. Safe travels, Jonny
it seems like you need to visit Kuwait before Iraq. You van a sully take a ferry fro. Iran to Kuwait and maybe onto Bahrain.
Hi Martin, thanks for the comment. Yes there are boats from Kuwait to Iran and Bahrain (and possibly onwards to Abud Dhabi/Doha). I went to Iraq first though, but I travel on multiple passports so the stamps were not an issue for me. Kuwait is a cool place but in all honesty, a few days is enough (admittedly I didnt venture outside the capital nor visit the oil fields). Safe travels, Jonny
That so interesting bt I would like to know how much it costs to get a kuwait visa
Hi Nasasira, thanks for the comment. As mentioned in the article, in May 2015, the visa cost me 3 Kuwaiti Dinars in stamps. Safe travels. Jonny
Thank you for this. It has ur my mind to rest. Can I just ask? What if you are living with a friend do immigration ask for relationship etc.
Hi Anika, thanks for the comment. I backpacked Kuwait in 2015 and wasn’t asked about friends or relationships. Safe travels. Jonny
Hi Jonny, do you remember how much time it took for the whole process (including lining up)? Thanks!
Hi Crystal, Thanks for the message. Yes I think it was no longer than one hour but at that time, Kuwait was not busy. Perhaps when it is busy it will take longer than an hour. Safe travels. Jonny
Hi, just a quick question
Idk if this sounds stupid
But I was born and raised in Denmark and I have a danish passport
But my parents are from Iran.
I did get approval for visa, but is it a chance they would stop me at the airport?
Thank you for sharing your experience and this amazing guidance about Kuwait visa.
Hi Musa, thanks for the comment. I am happy that you enjoyed my post and have fun in Kuwait. Best wishes. Jonny
Hi Setareh, thanks for the comment and sorry for the delay. I was suffering from depression and only now I am checking all comments, meesages and blog emails. I cannot really help much as I am just a tourist like you and not an agency or embassy. I would check with the Danish, Iranian and Kuwaiti Embassies if I were you. But normally having a visa does permit to backpack that country. Stay safe, Jonny