A big change is coming to Oman’s visa rules. Starting March 21, 2018 all visas must be processed through the online eVisa system. Meaning, NO visas will be issued on arrival at any ports of entry from this date forward. This is a big change for Oman’s growing tourism industry. What’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Oman visa rule change?
Update March 25, 2018: Reports are coming in that there is a desk at the new Muscat International Airport Terminal to handle any arriving passenger without eVisa. However, this facility will NOT remain. No timeframe is given. Also, it is unclear what will happen if your arrive at a land border without an eVisa. Finally, the ROP claim the “eVisa process takes only five minutes.” (if you are lucky ;)
This rule change coincides with the start of operations of the new terminal at Muscat International Airport, and tourists likely will see reduced time waiting to clear immigration and officially enter the kingdom. I also imagine that computerizing the immigration system fully will streamline the record keeping process for the Royal Oman Police (ROP).
However, what time you save at the airport or border crossing, you’ll loose during the planning of your trip. No longer can you just hop on a plane or cruise over the border. This mostly affects expats in Dubai who use the Sultanate as their weekend playground. Now, no matter what, you must conduct your travels with slightly more preparation.
No reason for the rule change was given by the ROP even though I did reach out to them. What’s even more interesting is some local tour companies still do not know about this pending change. I imagine there will be a lot of unhappy folks at the border crossings in the coming months.
This whole change is all well and good if the many pieces are in place to make all this happen. I fear it is not, but I am optimistic. Readers and friends have reported to me that the online eVisa system doesn’t always work as expected. Over the last two years of its existence I’ve always encouraged visitors to use the system to streamline their arrival, and keep the visa-on-arrival option as a backup. However, this old-school option is soon to be gone.
Oman Visa – Final Thoughts
|For a complete guide to getting into Oman, visit my constantly updated Oman - Get In guide here. On this page I tell you about all the dos and dont's when coming to the sultanate, whether it's by airplane, car, or boat. I even give you my tips to go along with all the important visa information. Check it out.|
If even ten percent of visitors face trouble with the eVisa system this will be a disaster to the Omani tourism industry. Word will quickly spread. However, with a decent online support crew and available web developers, the ROP can address any issue that arrises, preserving Oman’s welcoming image.
For those of us who like to travel on a whim there is no need to fret. Oman’s GCC resident tourism visas, once issued, are valid for three months from the date if issuance. Which gets you up to 28 days in Oman once you enter. So, just keep one in your pocket all the time for that last minute trip.
Normal tourist visas have a six month use period and give you 30 days in Oman. If that’s not good enough for you, consider applying for a one year, multi entry visa to keep on hand.
Finally, do not forget about Oman’s 21A “Dubai / Oman Common Visa.” This is your free ticket into Oman for 21 days as it, “allows a visit to Oman for a person who is on the list of eligible nationalities, and who has a current tourist visa which was used to enter the Emirate of Dubai, and now wishes to enter Oman directly from Dubai.” This one appears to allow you to enter Oman on your Dubai tourist visa, you just get an Omani stamp at passport control. At the time of this writing it’s not something you can apply for at the eVisa site, so my previous sentence is an assumption.
So, despite all the changes, the ROP should have you covered. You just need to a little more planning before your next trip to Oman. Be sure to check the eVisa site for all the current information BEFORE you leave on your trip.