Qatar: Travel and Entry Restrictions Remain Following Normalization of Relations

January 22, 2021 Lucy Halse

Key Points

  • On January 6, 2021, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE resumed diplomatic relations with Qatar
  • Those countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017
  • Air, land, and sea borders were previously closed between the disputing countries
  • Some entry and travel restrictions are still in effect as the countries restore relations
  • Restrictions are expected to be lifted as the countries normalize relations and operations
  • Independently issued COVID-19 restrictions may still affect travel and mobility in the region

Overview

In 2017, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. All land, marine, and air borders closed as a result. The affected nations recently signed an agreement to restore diplomatic relations on January 6, 2021.

Some travel and entry restrictions remain in place for Qatar that limit regional mobility. The restrictions have been in place for the past two weeks following the Gulf Council summit in Saudi Arabia.  

What are the Changes?

The most recent Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia was an initiative by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to restore and normalize diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Following the summit, multiple entry and travel restrictions remain in place. These restrictions are separate from co-existing COVID-19 restrictions that still affect the region.

Currently, the following entry permissions and restrictions apply:

  • Land borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar are currently open
  • Marine borders are open between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain
  • A visa and pre-authorization are required for Qatari nationals to enter Egypt
  • Visa-free entry is permitted for Qatari nationals into Saudi Arabia and the UAE
  • Foreign nationals who have residence visas from Qatar may encounter challenges receiving visit visas for entry into Egypt and Saudi Arabia
  • Foreign nationals traveling to Bahrain through the e-visa program cannot obtain an entry permit at this time, as the e-visa program does not recognize Qatari residence permits
  • Immigration restrictions do not apply to foreign nationals entering the UAE
  • Immigration restrictions do not apply for foreign nationals entering Qatar with residence permits from Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia
  • Air travel is now open among the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar

Looking Ahead

Entry and travel restrictions are expected to improve as the countries continue their diplomatic relations. However, travel to the affected nations may still be impacted by COVID-19. Updates will be provided as they become available.


Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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