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My boyfriend and I are looking to book flights through Kiwi.com from Rome to Nepal. We have a "self-transfer" stopover in Dammam (DMM). The stopover is only 3.5 hours long, but Kiwi.com says we might need a transit visa because we might have to go through passport control to get to our connecting flight's terminal.

We don't have checked baggage (only carry-on), and we are not planning on leaving the airport. However, the transfer might require us to leave "airside" and go through security (we might have multiple PNRs).

We have a few issues:

  1. transit visa isn't available for stopovers below 12 hours
  2. transit visas are apparently not available for women traveling alone. I am traveling with my partner but, in this case, they might require a marriage certificate, which we don't have.
  3. we might be able to get a transit visa on arrival, but this can take hours and our stopover is only 3.5 hours.

I have read that there should be a call at arrival for people in transit to get escorted by a police officer through customs again, so that a visa isn't necessary. However, information is conflicting.

Does anyone know more about self-transfers and transit visas in Dammam? Any help would be very appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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    Don't book it. Self connections are very risky and the so-called KIWI guarantee doesn't help much if things go sideways, You will most likely need a full entry Visa for Saudi Arabia . 3.5 hours is very risky and the visa and immigration process will be a huge hassle.
    – Hilmar
    Aug 11, 2022 at 22:13
  • Hi Hilmar, thanks for your answer. I just don't understand why the only transit visa they issue (which we could get online) is for layovers of 12+ hours. Anyway, we'll think about this option. Thanks so much. Aug 12, 2022 at 7:10
  • I don't recommend DAMMAM for transit. My experience: Flew with Wizz Air from Rome. Transit time 2.5h. We all had to get Visa on Arrival (120€!), even though we shouldn't need one according the their own statements someone quoted: travel.stackexchange.com/a/180167/139049 There were about 30 other Europeans with me, who were just as baffled. There was a path I believe that I could have taken, that would have just let me stay in the international zone, but the staff told me not to go there... We all got scammed hard. If you can't avoid that Airport get the VOA maybe online in advance.
    – GRASBOCK
    Nov 1, 2023 at 17:34

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As you have separate tickets, (at least that is what I assume by a self transfer,) you will need to be able to enter your transfer country, as your first airline will (most likely) not let you board without a visa. That airline is responsible to get you out of the country and likely pay a fine, if you are deemed there without the right visa.

While the official rules may allow for a transit visa, at least in some cases, airlines are not likely to accept those to let you onto the flight.

So see if you can get a full visa for Saudi Arabia, as without you may not be able to take the flight getting you there.

There might be exceptions as SA is not known for giving out visa easily, I hope someone with more experience in this country will give you more advise.

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Adding my experience here: Was flying from Istanbul to Damaam on Pegasus and Damaam to Delhi on Air India.

There was no need to get a visa but it was a strange process. There were 4 people transferring so they made us all fill out a form, took our passports and asked us to wait. About 15 mins later a man returned with our passports and the boarding pass. Had the security check after that and that's it.

There was a person who had check-in luggage but he didn't have to go and collect it. I think it automatically transferred (They mentioned it's easy to transfer to Air India but Indigo is usually a hassle)

Edit: date of travel - 29 Nov. '22

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I have traveled only with cabin luggage through DMM with incoming WizzAir flight from VIE and outbound IndiGo flight to DEL on separate tickets/PNR on 10.12.2022, and, despite having checked in online and having the onward boarding pass with me, it was NOT possible to transfer without having to buy a visa on arrival for an extortionate SAR 480.

There was a huge crowd of ca. 30 travelers trying to transit with only hand luggage, but the staff insisted despite hours of discussion that neither WizzAir nor IndiGo had contracted the airport to process transfer passengers and thus everybody had to buy a visa only to pass immigration and enter the security screening not from the transit gate but from the general check-in area.

Clear rip-off capitalizing on the recently introduced visa-on-arrival (VOA). Avoid self-transfer at DMM at all costs!

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