Nearly all nationalities, except GCC citizens, require visas to enter Kuwait. An application for a visa must be sponsored by a Kuwaiti individual or company. Technically, the visa application is made by the sponsor who is responsible for the visitor while s/he is in Kuwait.
Foreigners who desire to visit Kuwait for a short period need a visitor's permit to be procured by the applicant's sponsor.
A non-GCC national whose country has a visa abolition treaty with Kuwait which allows Kuwaitis to enter their country without a visa, may be granted reciprocal entry rights in Kuwait. However, these nationals may require an 'entry permit'; they may also require a sponsor.
Visit visas may be obtained from Kuwaiti Consulates abroad by producing a supporting letter from a Kuwaiti sponsor, or the Kuwaiti sponsor can obtain the visa in Kuwait using a faxed copy of the visitor's passport. Visitors to Kuwait can also procure a visa by filling an application at any office of Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) in the world. This will take about two working days. The sponsor can then fax a copy of the visa to the visitor, enabling her/him to travel to Kuwait. The entry will be stamped in the passport on arrival, when the Kuwaiti sponsor presents the original at the airport. The actual visit visa consists of two sheets of paper; one is taken up on arrival; the other must be retained to be handed in when the visitor is leaving. Hotels can also arrange visit visas for businesspersons but they take about a week or more to do so. Persons in Kuwait on a visit visa are not allowed to work.
An application form stating the reason for the visit should be completed and submitted to the Embassy along with two passport size photographs of the candidate. The application must also be accompanied by two letters - one from the sponsor (containing an invitation) and the other, a letter of introduction from the candidate's organisation.
If a month's stay is insufficient and needs to be extended, then the Immigration Department must be contacted to request an extension (three months initial visa is under consideration). Alternatively, you can also travel to one of the neighbouring GCC countries and re-enter Kuwait on a new visitor's visa. If the date of exit expires you might be required to pay a fine (KD10 per day) as a penalty before the exit stamp is issued. This fine cannot be paid at the point of departure. It must be paid at the relevant Immigration Department.
Kuwait has also agreed in principle to issue multiple entry visas to certain categories of people such as businesspersons, which allows the holder to enter the country any number of times within a specified 12-month period for up to one month stay per visit.
Entry permits must be obtained well in advance since resolving a problem at the airport upon arrival is usually not possible.
A transit visa, valid for a maximum stay of seven days, can be obtained from a Kuwaiti Consulate abroad or from a Port Authority in Kuwait. The applicant must have a valid entry visa for his next country of destination.
No Objection Certificate
A visitor can also enter Kuwait on a No Objection Certificate (NOC). The certificate is issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (for domestic employees) or by the Chamber of Commerce (for businessmen). This has to be arranged in advance by the Kuwaiti sponsor or employer. The NOC can be arranged for in the following ways:
Prior to arrival
The Kuwaiti Consulate or Embassy based in the employee's country is sent the intimation to issue the NOC which is collected by the employee. S/he can then enter Kuwait directly for employment. A residence visa is then issued once the s/he has entered the country.
After the employee's arrival
The employee enters Kuwait on a Business visa, after which an application is made for an NOC for employment. Once this is obtained the person has to leave and re-enter Kuwait with the NOC.Residence Visas
Once the employee has arrived on an NOC, the process of stamping the residence or the 'Iqama' starts. This can, in some instance, take weeks. The formalities have to be completed within 60 days of entry, otherwise a daily penalty fee of KD 2 will be levied. It is important to note that after a person has entered the country on an NOC, he or she cannot leave the country until the residence permit has been issued. Also he or she will not be able to drive a vehicle in Kuwait until a valid Kuwaiti Driving Licence is issued, unless, of course a temporary licence is obtained in the interim. One can only apply for a Driving Licence once the Residence Visa has been obtained and the Civil ID has been issued.
Spouses and dependants
Expatriate employees working for the Government sector whose monthly salaries are not less than KD 450 per month (a lowering of the salary limit is under consideration) are granted a residence permit for their spouses and children. The employee acts as the sponsor and has to pay the following annual fees for the family:
-Spouse: KD 100 for the first year and KD 10 renewal fee for consecutive years plus KD 40 per year for Health Insurance fees.
-Up to 3 children: KD 100 each for the first year and KD 10 renewal fee for consecutive years plus KD 40 per year for Health Insurance fees.
-Fourth child onwards: KD 200 each for the first year and KD 10 renewal fee for consecutive years plus KD 40 per year for Health Insurance fees.
Similarly, the salary limit for employees in the private sector is KD 650. The rates for the residence fees are the same as above except that the KD 100 fee is limited to two children and not three --from the third child onwards the fees go up to KD 200 each for the first year.
Employees are allowed to sponsor one domestic servant, provided both parents are working and there is a necessity to have someone to look after the children.