The Kingdom of Bahrain has been an expat destination for centuries. It is considered a true melting pot of expats outnumbering the locals! Living in Bahrain puts you at the center of the Persian Gulf, the region’s financial hub and cultural heart. In this article, we brought you all you need to know about getting a Bahrain visa, be it a tourist visa, a work visa, or a family visa (residence permit). Additionally, you will find more about the nature of life in this small Arab country and what makes it “Top Middle East Destination for Expats”.
Visiting and Tourist Visas
Citizens of the USA, most EU countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland can get a visit visa on arrival for BD5. This is normally for two weeks, but the US and EU nationals can get three-month visas for the same fee. Visit visas can be renewed once from within Bahrain, but any further renewals require exit and re-entry. Citizens from all other countries require visas prior to travel to Bahrain.
All GCC nationals (Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia) do not need a visa to enter the Kingdom of Bahrain. However, visitors who have been residents in the GCC for a minimum of three months, and who possess a return visa for the country of GCC residency valid for at least 3 months can enter and this varies between different nationalities. Regulations should be checked before traveling.
Tourist visas don’t allow visitors to engage in any employment, and there are two types of tourist visas:
- Two Weeks Tourist Visas
Tourist visas are issued for stays of two weeks to citizens of the European Union (EU), Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and the USA. Applicants must possess valid, up-to-date passports and a return or onward ticket. A visa fee of BD5 is applied and can be obtained at entry at the Bahrain International Airport.
- 72 hour/7 day Visas
This visa is obtained on arrival at the Bahrain International Airport or at the King Fahad Causeway. In addition to a passport, the passenger must have a confirmed return/onward journey ticket for the visa application to be processed.
Living and working in Bahrain
If you wish to live and legally work in Bahrain you will need to apply for the following visas and permits:
1- Work Visa
To live in Bahrain, all expatriates must be sponsored. The majority of expatriates coming to Bahrain are sponsored by their employer for the purpose of work and residence.
Most people are recruited from overseas and your employer will arrange for your entry visa before you arrive. You must also have a work permit to work in Bahrain. People wishing to visit or work in Bahrain would now be able to know if they are eligible for a visa, apply and even view its status electronically without the need of being present in person. The Bahraini government is trying through these services to help people get their visa applications processed in the fastest time possible without any delays as requirements are clearly stated for the e-visa to be issued.
You can determine if you are eligible for any visa and what’s required online:
Online Visa eligibility – http://www.mofa.gov.bh/Default.aspx?tabid=147&language=en-US
In case the information is invalid or unacceptable, procedures can be done manually following the below-mentioned steps.
Employers are advised to arrange and process necessary documents to the Labour Market Regulatory Authority prior to the arrival of their employees and dependents. Be noted that:
- Work visas are issued based on the Non-Objection Certificate (N.O.C) issued by the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports, and Residence in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Working Visas cannot be issued without taking prior approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Visa application form
- Employee’s passport
- Passport size photograph
- Sponsorship Letter: a letter of employment indicating employer’s name/organization, commercial registration number, employee’s capacity, salary, contract duration, employee’s name, birth date, and nationality
- Copy of the contract
- Health record from an authorized clinic
- BD100 fee
2- Residency Permit (Family Visa)
This permit is submitted to Labour Market Regulatory Authority and issued by General Department for Nationality & Passport Residence. It requires the following:
- Application form
- Employee & family’s passport copies
- Employee’s sponsorship letter
- Employee’s contract
- Family health record from an authorized clinic
- BD22 fee per applicant
3- CPR Card (Identification Card)
Submitted to and issued by Central Informatics Organization, you are required to get:
- Employee (or spouse) passport
- Sponsorship letter stating names of dependents
- Marriage certificate (for spouse) and birth certificate (for children)
- BD1 fee per applicant
Why Bahrain is the coolest country in the Arab Gulf region to live in?
The Kingdom of Bahrain has a super attractive cultural diversity as 45% of Bahrain’s population is expats coming from different countries around the world. This enriches Bahrain’s cultural life and turns it into a large platform displaying the world’s different lifestyles.
You can find multiple restaurants boasting different cuisines from America, Asia, Europe, and Arabian food of course, culture centers, art galleries, and a unique state of harmony binding all these cultures together.
Bahrain is popular for being more liberal than the surrounding Middle Eastern countries, but it still has moral rules that govern almost every aspect of life. Most of the locals speak English and are generally welcoming to foreigners. Also, there are presently over 25 faiths and respective churches in operation and about 60% of their population is expats, so the cultural diversity is immense.
A number of multinational companies have set up headquarters in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama. Some of the other fields in which Bahrain is actively involved include trading, construction, ship repairs, and tourism. The island state is known to have the most liberal economy among all the Middle Eastern countries.
Bahrain’s healthcare system has considerably improved during recent years. Expats will discover comprehensive healthcare infrastructure with options for public and private healthcare. There are a number of state-funded hospitals, private medical facilities, clinics and maternity hospitals. Compared to other countries in the region, Bahrain spends the most on health and is also one of the healthiest Gulf countries.
Last but not least, Most people living and working in Bahrain maintain that they earn a larger disposable income and have a higher standard of living than they did in their home countries. So if you got the opportunity to make it and work in Bahrain don’t think twice and be certain that the country’s quality of life is of real worth!