Refusing entry based on nationality or stamps is usual, but is there any state that refuses people based on their religion?

As a counterexample, the official position of the Saudi government is now to not forbid Jews from Saudi.


There are no official laws in any country, not even in Saudi Arabia (asked a friend from Saudi Arabia) that blindly refuse entry based on your religion, if you follow any.

However, your religion can affect how your visa applications are processed.

The most famous case is when a Jewish person tries to visit an Islamic country, or when an Islamic person tries to enter Israel. In almost all cases, visa applications are refused. But I could not find any official reference to it.

If you go beyond tourism, there are lots of laws based on the religion.

Getting permanent residency or citizenship, or when you apply for a work permit or such visa, there are many countries that take your religion into account.

Pakistan: you must be Islamic if you want to settle down. Even the Islam has divisions, and some of them are not considered.

Japan: it's very difficult (if not impossible) to settle down in Japan if you are a Muslim. Update: It seems I was wrong in this. See here.

Jewish -> Islam issues. If you have an entry seal from Israel, you will be denied entry to Kuwait. Egypt and Jordan (neighboring countries) have some agreements and do allow visitors. But Kuwait and Saudi Arabia: No.

I can't even remember filling out visa forms that asked my religion. Unless it's an edge case, you should be fine. However, note that practicing religion while you are inside a country is sometimes frowned upto and it can be illegal too. There are some stories coming out from Middle East that punished a foreign Buddhist labor for owning a lord Buddha statue.

  • Israel most certainly does not have a policy of rejecting tourist visas on the basis of religion. The tourist visa form does not ask the question. At least as of 2001, the work permit visa did. So an American Muslim (or any other country not requiring an advance visa) would be admitted unless the border guard decided otherwise, which of course might happen in any case. [EDIT: It's the landing card that doesn't ask about religion. I don't know about the tourist visa application for those countries where it is required.] – Andrew Lazarus Apr 2 '15 at 0:46
  • 5
    Please remove the line about Japan supposedly denying PR/citizenship to Muslims, this is a bizarre meme on the Internets with no grounding in reality: turning-japanese.info/2013/10/can-muslims-acquire-japanese.html – lambshaanxy Apr 14 '15 at 1:14
  • Some Muslim countries, such as Malaysia, require permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs or equivalent agency before using their passport to travel to Israel. In Malaysia, you can only obtain a permit if you are traveling to Israel as part of a Christian group. (Of course, that doesn't stop Israel from issuing you with a loose-leaf visa and entry stamp - the most they can do to enforce this rule is to ask about any gaps in passport stamps upon your return.) – ajd Apr 14 '15 at 4:14

Yes. I recently visited Saudi Arabia, and on both the visa application and on the landing card it asks for religion.

Based on anecdotal evidence, answering "Jewish" will result in your visa being rejected, without a specific reason for rejection being given. Answering "atheist" has also been stated by several people as being a reason for visa rejection, however again no specific reason is given for the refusal.

Saudi will also refuse entry if they have proof of travel to Israel, and to Israeli nationals so it fits all of your categories.

  • 5
    We also deny entry to Java programmers, and people who like sushi.. of course that's based on "anecdotal evidence" – Nean Der Thal Apr 1 '15 at 4:43
  • 2
    @MarkMayo I know both a jew and a few atheists here... so? – Nean Der Thal Apr 1 '15 at 5:00
  • Although it is not currently stated on their website, the official Saudi Government Tourism website has previously explicitely stated that visas would not be issues to "Jewish People" - web.archive.org/web/20030925131342/http:/… – Doc Apr 1 '15 at 5:19
  • 6
    Anecdote against anecdote: "a 2007 article in Commentary magazine by scholar Joshua Muravchik reports on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia; he wrote “Jewish” on his visa application, and was nevertheless granted a Saudi visa." volokh.com/2011/06/23/… – nic Apr 1 '15 at 5:23
  • 3
    The last paragraph is not needed: I saw that coming and that's why I explicitly stated my question is not about nationality or stamps. Because it is a whole other debate :-) – nic Apr 1 '15 at 5:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.