Every country has its own set of set of customs and traditions on top of international standards when it comes to traveling and importation of products and items. And the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, being a Muslim country, has got quite the list to take note of, as expected of a conservative Islamic state.
Generally speaking, anything that violates Islamic rules and traditions are not allowed in the country. Failure to recognize this may lead to unnecessary trouble with immigration and the Saudi police, and could even result to deportation or getting blacklisted in extreme cases.
Things You Shouldn’t Bring When Travelling to Saudi Arabia
In this post, we will identify both the prohibited and restricted items in the Kingdom. As the terms suggest, “prohibited” items refer to those which are strictly not allowed to be brought into the country, whereas “restricted” items may be allowed – as long as they meet certain requirements and (legal) specifications:
What are the Prohibited Items in Saudi Arabia?
- Alcoholic products: Beverages and other products that may contain liquor such as cooking wines, flavouring extracts, as well as other related products, all fall under this category. These are strictly not to be imported in the country.
- Pork products: Food and manufactured items containing pork or any of its parts (i.e. meat, fat, blood, etc.) are also not allowed.
- Pornographic materials: While these materials may be accepted in other countries, in Saudi Arabia they are considered “offensive” and in violation of Islamic principles.
- Publications on Religion: Any other religion other than Islam is considered illegal in the country. Similarly, “politically-sensitive” materials are also considered as taboo in the Kingdom.
- Narcotics: Any form of illegal substances is strictly prohibited in the country.
- Games: Materials and paraphernalia used for gambling purposes are also not allowed in KSA.
- Fireworks: Similarly, these explosive items used for celebration and merry-making are also prohibited in KSA.
- Imitation/Fake/Counterfeit Products: The country observes high standards when it comes to products being brought into the Kingdom, and so be sure to only possess genuine or authentic products, especially when these merchandises are intended to be put on sale.
What are the Restricted Items in Saudi Arabia?
- Cash amounting to or exceeding SAR 60,000: Any amount of cash (in local or foreign currency), which may come in the form of notes, checks, or bonds will have to be declared upon arrival in the Kingdom.
- Medications: Any form of personal medication must be presented in its original packaging, bearing the notes and prescription from your doctor. A representative from the Ministry of Health may also have to handle and inspect the medicine.
- Electronic Gadgets: These include phones, modems, radio, transmitters, etc. Even if you have brought any of these devices for personal use, they may be checked for any potential “offensive” material (see Prohibited items above).
- Pets: Traveling with pet animals in the Kingdom will require a health certificate and vaccination records approved by a Saudi Arabian Embassy or Consulate. Furthermore, upon arrival in the country, your pet would need to be inspected by a quarantine expert first. Similarly, importing birds into the Kingdom would require a permit from the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development.
- Weapons, Ammunition, Explosives, and All Types of Blades: As these materials easily fall under the category of dangerous and bodily harm-inflicting products, these will need permission from and be proven necessary by the Ministry of Interior to be brought into the country.
It’s important that you understand the restrictions that come with travelling into the country with certain items (intentionally or otherwise), so as not to find yourself in a situation compromising your personal safety as well as the public’s.