Departure to Kuwait City


Passport, Visa & Permits to Kuwait City


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This section is intended for reference only. This guide provides the most current information and guidelines, but we strongly recommend that you contact the nearest embassy and Kuwait's Online Government website for information that pertains to your specific situation.

Passport

You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. The process and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave. Your passport must be valid 6 months beyond your intended stay.

Visa

A visa is a stamp or endorsement placed by officials on a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country. This permission is called 'entry clearance'.

Permits and visas are sometimes difficult to obtain due to the ever changing rules and regulations associated with getting one. The following categories provide information for expats to visit, study, work and settle in Kuwait, but it is in your best interest to check with the nearest Kuwaiti embassy for specific applications.

Identification

Until you have received your government issued Civil I.D. Card, you may want to carry identification documents and appropriate entry and residence visa with you while in Kuwait. Periodically, labor officials do carry out unannounced spot checks on businesses in search of workers employed illegally in Kuwait, and may ask to inspect the passports of all employees.

Visitor Visa

GCC Visitor Visa

Kuwait's Immigration in the Ministry of Interior has decided to authorize GCC (Gulf Corporation Council - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar and Oman) residents (except Iraqi nationals) to enter Kuwait  and will be issued with a tourist visa from the visas counter at Kuwait international airport, valid for three months, provided the following conditions are satisfied:

The profession of the arriving passenger is one of the following: Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, Teacher, Judge, Consultant, Members of Public Prosecution, University Teacher, Journalist, Press & Media Staff, Pilot, System Analyst, Pharmacist, Computer Programmer, Manager, Businessman, Diplomatic Corps, Owners, Managers & Representative of Commercial Companies & Establishments and University Graduates.

Additionally:

  1. Passenger should be holding a valid passport and GCC residence permit valid for more than six month from the date of travel to Kuwait.
  2. Passenger should not be black listed in Kuwait.
  3. Passenger should hold an onward/return ticket.
  4. Passenger should register their address in Kuwait when applying for the visa.

Non-GCC Visitor Visa

Nationals of the following countries shall be granted an entry visas to Kuwait upon their arrival to Kuwait International airport:

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United States of America
  • United Kingdom
  • Vatican City

Additionally:

  1. All passengers must hold an onward/return ticket.
  2. Kuwait Immigration authorities shall reserve the right to refuse entry of any person into the country without explanation.
  3. Passenger should not be black listed in Kuwait.
  4. Passengers' passport must be valid for an additional than six months beyond the date of travel to Kuwait.
  5. Passenger should register their address in Kuwait when applying for the visa.

Acquiring a Visa at the Kuwait Aiport

If you need a visa on arrival at the airport, look for the 'Visa Issuing' desks. You will be issued a queue ticket as your passport is examined and copied. At this time, you should fill out a visa entry form, and wait for your number to be called. You will be issued an A4-sized sheet (Arabic) which is your visa. Payment is accepted only in Kuwaiti Dinar.

Extension of Visit 

A one-month extension to a visit visa may be granted if, the application is made to the immigration Department prior to the visa expiring. Alternatively, a visitor can simply fly to another country in the region and re-entry Kuwait on another visit visa.

A fine of 10KD per day is imposed on anyone overstaying their 30 day visitor visa. Until the fee has been paid, Kuwaiti authorities will not allow you to leave the country.

Further information can be found on the Kuwait Government Online "Temporary Residence (Visit Extension)" page.

Multiple Entry Visas  

Multiple entry visas allow holders to enter the country any number of times within a specified period of time, usually 12 month periods. In some exceptional cases, specific nationalities may be able to obtain a multiple entry visa valid for up to 10 years, allowing an indefinite number of entries in and out of the country.

Student Visa

As requirements differ depending on your country of origin, contact your nearest Kuwaiti Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence for exact requirements. Universities may also be able to help students understand necessary documentation and process.

For an example of requirements, American citizens applying for a student visa must meet these criteria.

  1. Valid Passport with a minimum of six (6) months prior to expiration date.
  2. One completed visa application form as issued by Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  3. One passport-size photo.
  4. HIV test (AIDS test).
  5. Health Certificate:  Obtained from the local doctor certifying that the patient is in good health and
    free from contagious diseases. Lab test results for the following: Hepatitis B & C, Malaria, Filariasis, Syphilis and Chest X-Ray for Tuberculosis
  6. Police Clearance of No Criminal Record obtained from either of the following:  Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI, State Bureau of Investigation - SDI, Department of Public Safety, Courthouse, State Police, or County Police and should be dated after the issuance date of the Student Permit. The Police Clearance has to be certified first by the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC (Tel: (202) 647-5002 or (800) 688-9889), then legalized by the Embassy with a $25.00 Authentication fee. The Authenticated Police Clearance should be presented to the Kuwaiti Authorities for residency purposes.

Fees

Visa fees $75.00 (for U.S. citizens, other nationalities may be different) along with $25.00 for the authentication of the Police Clearance.

Fees should be paid by cash, money order or company check. Personal checks are not accepted.

Please note: Passports sent by mail should include a stamped, self-addressed return envelope.

Visa applications, fees and regulations vary from country to country. Check with the Kuwait Embassy or Consulate for specific details pertaining to your nationality.

Work Permits

Work Visas are granted under articles 17 (Public Sector Employees) and 18 (Private Sector Employees). To obtain residence on a work visa, you must first have an offer of employment. The Kuwaiti sponsoring employer or business then applies for a work permit through the Ministry of Social Affairs & Labour. In order to do this, the sponsor must have a copy of the employee's passport showing which sector the employee is working in (Article 17 or 18). The sponsor must then receive a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the General Administration of Criminal Investigation at the Ministry of Interior.

If the employee is living a country which has a Kuwaiti Embassy, the employer will send him a copy of the work permit.  That document must be taken to the Embassy for endorsement.   Embassy official will have already received a copy through diplomatic channels.  The employee must then apply for an entry visa for Kuwait, using the endorsed work permit. Those sponsored by private sector companies will require their NOCs and a copy of the employer's signature as registered for business purposes. An applicant is also required to provide a medical certificate, obtained from a clinic recognized by the Kuwait Embassy. A good conduct certificate, issued by the police in the last place of residence, may be required for some nationalities.

If the employee is living in a country that has no Kuwait Embassy, the sponsor will submit the work permit and NOC to the Ministry of the Interior, who will obtain the entry visa. If an employee is on a visit visa to Kuwait when he accepts employment, and the work permit and NOC are complete, he must leave Kuwait and return on the entry visa the sponsor obtained for him. For most Westerners, a quick trip to Bahrain and back, by air for the day, is sufficient.

However, most nationalities are obliged to return to their native country in order to undergo medical tests and have them endorsed at the Kuwait Embassy there.

Once he has entered Kuwait, the Employee must undergo local medical tests and obtain a fingerprint certificate before he can process his residence visa. (More about these requirements in the section "Medical Tests " below).

Domestic Servant's Visa 

Resident expats may sponsor one full-time servant to care for their household. A male expat's wife must be residing in the same home with him, if the domestic servant is female. Maids must be between the ages of 20 and 50.

The sponsor (usually the expat) isn't required to have a minimum salary to employee a domestic servant. Provided both husband and wife are employed, and the couple have children, they're normally allowed to bring a maid. Ultimately, the decision to allow domestic servants into Kuwait rests with immigration officials.

Applications must be submitted to entry visa section on Jawazaat Street in Shuwaikh. Forms must be typed in Arabic and one can easily find a bilingual typist to do this for as little as 500 files or half a Dinar. (A Dinar is Kuwait's local currency. 1000 files=1 Kuwaiti Dinar.) 

Please bring the following supporting documents, when you apply:

  • Salary certificates of sponsor and his wife
  • Copy of house rental agreement
  • Copy of sponsor's and wife's passport
  • Proof of ages of children (e g, copy of local birth certificates or passport)
  • Copy of the sponsor's and wife's civil ID
  • Copy of the servant's passport plus eight passport sized photography
  • Copy of the work contract for the servant

Fees vary greatly, so check with local authorities on all costs involved.

Dependent Visas 

After securing his own residency, a male employee may sponsor his wife and children, provided he earns at least KD 450 a month on an Article 17-visa or KD 650 for an Article 18-visa.

An entry visa for a dependent is obtained by visiting the Jawazaat in Shuwaikh. The application form must be typed in Arabic. Bilingual typists are available for as little as of 500 files. You are required to bring the following supporting documents:

The marriage certificate, along with the child's birth certificate must be authenticated by the sponsor's embassy and certified by the Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As fees vary greatly for dependent visas, please check with local authorities on total costs involved.

Permanent Residence

In order to live permanently in Kuwait, you must have a residence permit (excluding GCC citizens). All residency permits require a sponsor.  A typical sponsor might be an employer, for example, or a large company or business in Kuwait. An expatriate may, however, sponsor himself, with or without being permitted to work, provided he has lived in Kuwait for significant period of time and is financially stable.

In reality, it is often best to have a sponsor in Kuwait, or be affiliated with a major company or business, before coming to the country. Individuals who attempt to go the process alone often find it highly redundant, frustrating, expensive, and time consuming. There is no guarantee that, at the end of the process, one will obtain legal residency. Residency permits have been known to take as little as two weeks (rare) or between one to six months (more likely).

Application for Residence 

Applications for residency are made through Immigration and Passport Department at the Ministry of Interior in Shuwaikh.

First time applicants for residency must submit the following documents, both originals and photocopies:

  • Passport
  • Residence Application Form
  • Declaration form
  • Work permit issued from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor
  • NOC (no-objection certificate)
  • Health insurance certificate
  • Disease-free certificate
  • Security clearance (fingerprint certificate)
  • Two (2) personal photos
  • Entrance visas used by employees in the civil sector to enter the country
  • Certificate of police record
  • Original passport of the sponsored and a copy
  • Copy of the sponsor's signature authorization

A maximum of five years residency may be granted by authorities. The fee is KD 10 for every year of residency granted. If the sponsor is a government organization they pay the cost. If the sponsor is a private company the cost is negotiated between the two parties.

Further information can be found on the Kuwait Government Online "First Time Residence Permit" page.

Renewing Residence 

After the initial residency expires, it can be renewed, so long as the expat plans to continue with the same sponsor.  Renewal is simple. Applications should be made at the visa section located on Jawazaat Street in Shuwaikh. You should start at least two weeks before your current residency expires. The new residency runs from the date it is stamped in the passport.

Further medical test are not required, however the employee's work permit must first be reviewed by the Ministry of Social Affairs & Labor. Please bring the following documentation to renew your residency:

  • Passport
  • Renewal Application
  • Employee's work permit (old)
  • Renewed work permit
  • Signature authorization of the sponsor and a copy
  • Health insurance certificate
  • Two (2) personal photos
  • Original passport of the sponsored

Normally the sponsor himself or his official representative will show up at the jawazat to renew the employee's residency. In cases where the employee does this by himself, he must bring a letter from his sponsors authorizing him to do so.

Further information can be found on the Kuwait Government Online "Renewing Residence Permit" page.

Medical Tests 

The medical tests are given in Shuwaikh. Requirements are: passport, copy of NOC (no-objection certificate), one photograph and KD 10 revenue stamp. Revenue Stamps are available from most post offices or from other outlets across Kuwait.

There is no system of appointments and most people must queue for the various procedures. Lengthy queues are possible. Your medical examination may include any of the following: 

  • Chest x-ray
  • Blood test for serious infectious diseases such as HIV(AIDS)
  • TB test
  • Hepatitis B&C test
  • Typhoid test
  • Malaria test

A meningitis vaccination will be given. Results take roughly a week (or longer) to come back. Anyone found to be infected with any infectious diseases are deported.

Fingerprinting & Security Clearance  

There are four fingerprinting departments in Kuwiat. They are:

  • Khaed Ibn Al waleed Street
  • Sharq near the toy shops (for persons living in the city governments)
  • Al Gazali Street Farwaniya (for persons living in Hawalli and Farwaniya governments)
  • Ahmadi
  • Jahra

In order for fingerprints to be taken, you need to bring your original passport along with several copies, four passport size photos and a letter from the Ministry of Social Affairs & Labour. All applications must be completed in Arabic. Processing of fingerprints takes about one week and can be collected from the same location.

Citizenship

Kuwait generally does not allow foreigners to become a permanent part of society. The only official way to become a naturalized citizen is by marriage to a national. However, this is hardly easy and is hardly ever granted to non-Muslims.

Kuwait only grants citizenship to children with a Kuwaiti father. Children of a Kuwaiti mother or foreign father cannot apply.

In exceptional cases, citizenship may be offered to a foreigner who has provided outstanding service to the state or an employer could reward an employee with residence permit of indefinite duration. This is rare, and it is not citizenship, but allows for an indefinite stay.

Currently, it is not officially possible for Kuwaiti's to hold dual citizenship, though there are reports that many do.

Required Documents for a Wife of a Kuwaiti Citizen

  • Original passport and copy
  • Declaration of Intent Form
  • Copy of the husband's nationality certificate
  • Passport of the husband
  • Civil ID of the husband
  • Civil ID of the wife
  • Recent personal photos with blue background

To apply, visit the General Department of Citizenship and Travel Documents in the governorate you refer to and submit the required documents. Fill the service application form and pay the fees due.

Further information can be found on the Kuwait Government Online "First Time Declaration to Become Kuwaiti Citizens" page.


Update 26/05/2013

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