Saudi Arabia increases visa fees to boost revenues

09 August 2016

Cabinet approves new structure for government fees 

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet has approved a new structure for a range of government fees and traffic fines as Riyadh looks to boost its non-oil revenues.

The kingdom will charge SR8,000 ($2,133) for a two-year multiple entry permit. Visitors who were paying SR500 for a six-month multiple exit and re-entry visa will have to pay the same amount for a three-month visa under the new fee system.

The council of ministers approved the new measures based on the recommendations of the kingdom’s Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy and Planning, according to the official news agency, Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Sales of hydrocarbons account for about 80 per cent of the government’s revenues and the kingdom is facing an estimated $87bn budget deficit this year, after oil prices slumped from a mid-2014 peak of more than $110 a barrel to about $50 a barrel level.

Saudi Arabia, Opec’s top oil producer and the biggest Middle Eastern economy, is looking at ways to boost its non-oil revenues. It plans to wean its economy off hydrocarbons by 2020, and has taken unpopular steps to reduce fuel and utility subsidies.

The Saudi cabinet also approved changes to civil aviation fees, according to the news agency.

In addition, the kingdom has set stiff fines for “drifting”, in which Saudi motorists spin and skid their cars at high speed. First-time offenders will have to pay a fine of SR20,000, which will double for the second offence. Offenders caught drifting thrice will have to pay SR60,000 along with possible seizure of the vehicle and imprisonment.

SPA did not specify the amount the government will be able to raise through the new visa fee structure.

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