It’s about time I put all details on our Bahrain trip last Eid Al Fitr 2022 here. Consider this as an update of our article on Planning for Bahrain that we published last 2017. It’s been so long, yes, and add the pandemic, the travel guidelines have been changing so often we couldn’t keep up. But right now, we think travel has been stable for the past few months and here are the things you must know about going to Bahrain at this point in time as RESIDENTS of Saudi Arabia. When we say “residents”, we mean you are an expat residing in Saudi Arabia and have a valid iqama (resident ID card) with you. When it comes to those who have visit visas, we don’t know the details, sorry. But we’ll try to ask for updates on this too.
This is my and my husband’s experience in going to Bahrain last April 29, 2022 via the King Fahd Causeway using a rental car from Riyadh. If you want a summarized version, you can check out my Facebook posts over at The Pink Tarha page:
- Entry to Bahrain: https://bit.ly/TPTbahrainentry
- Exit from Bahrain: https://bit.ly/TPTbahrainexit
When you are using the KING FAHD CAUSEWAY in Al Khobar to enter Bahrain, most expats are given a “visa on arrival”. No Bahrain tourist visa you can get before the trip is needed. However, not all iqama holders can get a visa on arrival. Read on for further clarifications.
- Passport (valid 6 months or more before the trip)
- Iqama (valid 3 months or more before the trip)
- Exit/Re-entry Visa
PASSPORT. Pretty much self-explanatory. We need our passport whenever we travel to other countries. Just make sure that your passport is still valid 6 months before your trip to Bahrain. We always recommend to our fellow Filipinos to have the passport renewed one year before its expiry date to make time for the renewal process.
IQAMA. We need to present the physical iqama (resident ID) card. Now, the main question about iqama is: Can everyone with an iqama get a visa on arrival in the Bahrain Causeway? NO. It will depend on the profession in your iqama. Most labor positions like “driver” or “housekeeper” are not given a visa on arrival. A reader asked us before: “What if my real work is a nursing aide but in my iqama, it says housekeeper?” First and foremost, the position in your iqama must be corrected. Second, you still cannot get a visa on arrival because they will depend on what is on your iqama and not on what your real job is because how will they know and verify what your real job is right?
If you have questions on the eligibility of certain iqama professions for visa-on-arrival, you can call the Bahrain Immigration Office at 0097336111955.
EXIT/RE-ENTRY VISA. The first two requirements are quite easy and simple but a lot of people are confused with the exit/re-entry visa and they exchange it with the Bahrain visa. What is an exit/re-entry visa? For residents of Saudi Arabia, an exit/re-entry visa is always needed whenever we go out of Saudi Arabia and go to another country. In this case, Bahrain is a different country from Saudi Arabia and so it is a must to get an exit/re-entry visa before leaving Saudi Arabia. How to get an exit/re-entry visa? It depends on the policy of your workplace. There are workplaces that need you to request for it and they will be the one to process it. There are workplaces that will let you request your own in the Absher website. How much is the exit/re-entry visa? It also depends on the duration of the exit/re-entry visa you are getting. The single visa (use one time only) fee starts at SR 200 while a multiple visa (you can use a couple of times) starts at SR 500. The exit/re-entry visa can be printed to be presented in the immigration booth.
We don’t have to show the Tawwakalna app, vaccine certificates, or PCR-test results when leaving Saudi Arabia, going to Bahrain and re-entering Saudi Arabia.
HOW TO GO TO BAHRAIN VIA THE KING FAHD CAUSEWAY
Of course, there’s air travel if you want to fly to Bahrain. There are many airlines flying to Bahrain like Saudi Airlines, Fly Nas, and Gulf Air. However, fares are quite expensive going as high as SR 1000 or more, unless you wait for a seat sale. We’re focusing on traveling via the King Fahd Causeway in Al Khobar in this post and sooo… hello LAND TRAVEL.
The King Fahd Causeway is a 25-km bridge that connects Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia to Al Jasra, Bahrain. To improve the link and bond of both countries, the Causeway was constructed as early as 1968 but its opening to the public took place in 1986. Since then, it has connected the 2 countries and it’s where most citizens and residents cross both countries. The Middle Islad of the Causeway has been converted into an island where the customs and immigration booths of both countries are. A toll fee of SR 25 is collected before you can enter the Causeway in the Al Khobar side. People can visit the Middle Island where restaurants are even without crossing to Bahrain.
In going to Bahrain via the King Fahd Causeway, there are many options of transportation when you choose to travel by this route.
1. OWN CAR. Do you have a car that you own that you can drive to Bahrain? Good for you. Now, a question: are you finished paying for the car or are you still paying for your car loan? Hindi namin tinatanong to para mag-Maritess. It’s important. Haha. If you own your car already, prepare all ownership document, the car’s estimara (physical card is needed), and your driver’s license. If you are still paying for it, you need to get the approval of your bank and get the necessary authorization document from them saying they are permitting you to use the car to travel to other countries. We don’t have a personal experience on this so we can’t write a step-by-step guide.
2. RENTAL CAR. This is what we did last eid holiday. We do have our own car (named Tuxy) but we weren’t able to have its estimara card printed on time. And so we resorted to renting a car at Al Falah Rental Car Company. There are a lot of rental companies that will allow you to take their car to Bahrain with additional fee on top of the rent fee. We rented a Hyundai Elantra for 10 days for SR 1500 (Bahrain fee included). Rental fees can vary depending on the type of car, on the number of days, and also on the kind of days (holiday or regular day). You will need to show your iqama and driver’s license. The staff at the rental car will be the one in charge of uploading the document needed to cross the Saudi-Bahrain border. It should be in the system already by the time you are in the Causeway. This, we think, is the most stress-free option in traveling.
3. LIMO SERVICE. We mentioned this in our 2017 blog post. If you have a suki driver that you ride with here in Riyadh, you can inquire with them if they can drive you to Al Khobar then know of fellow drivers who can drive you from Al Khobar to Bahrain. The right network of drivers will give you a lot of options.
Driving your own or rental car is a good option. You control your own time. Plus, you can go wherever you want to go without thinking of how to get there. You can also stop at gas stations and restaurants or even visit other areas along the way. You don’t have to worry about transportation when in Bahrain too.
3. BUS. SAPTCO has buses that ply the Riyadh-Bahrain-Riyadh route. If you don’t not have your own car or not going with anyone who has one, then this is your option. However, the shortest time travel of a SAPTCO bus is 9 hours. More if it has pit stops along the way. A roundtrip ticket costs around SR 320 per person. The bus leaves from the SAPTCO station in Aziziya and arrives in the Eastern Province in 6 hours. Then another 3 hours from EP to Manama, Bahrain. Your time will depend on the schedule of the bus and also the schedule of the people in the Causeway. You will have to go down to enter the immigration offices when crossing the Causeway.
4. TRAIN. There’s no direct train that will take you from Riyadh to Bahrain. There’s a train though that will take you from Riyadh to Dammam in 4 hours. And then you can ride a rental car or a limo or a bus from Dammam to Bahrain. A one-way trip via the Saudi Arabia Railways is SR 105 to SR 120. This might be a cheaper way compared to renting the car from Riyadh. You won’t be tired from all that driving too.
THE KING FAHD CAUSEWAY PROCESS
So here’s how our experience in the King Fahd Causeway. My husband is driving a rental car from RIyadh to Al Khobar. Upon reaching the start of the Causeway, we paid SR 25 at the toll booth. Everyone using the Causeway and going to the Middle Island, whether just to tour around or cross over to Bahrain, need to pay this “entrance fee.”
1ST BOOTH: CUSTOMS
This is where they will check the documents for the car, whether owned or rented. In our case, the document has been uploaded by the rental company in the system and the customs officer should have seen it in his computer. However, he said he couldn’t. We gave him the printed document given to us by the rental company but he insisted it’s not in the system. So we were directed to the office on the side where we parked and my husband got out to present the document again to the officer. The officer quickly found the registration in the system and wondered why the officer at the toll booth couldn’t find it. Hindi rin namin alam. And so he waved us through and we drove to the next booth.
2ND BOOTH: SAUDI IMMIGRATION
We presented our passport and iqama to the Saudi immigration officer. No need to get out of the car. If you are in the bus, you will go to the immigration office. The officer then stamped our passports. Once done in this booth, we have officially exited Saudi Arabia.
3RD BOOTH: BAHRAIN IMMIGRATION
We drove to the next booth and presented our passport and iqama to the Bahraini immigration officer. We did not pay any fee for the visa-on-arrival. Not sure if this is for everyone or it will still be based on the profession in the iqama. The officer stamped our passports and off we go to the next booth.
4TH BOOTH: BAHRAIN CUSTOMS
We did not get a car insurance for Bahrain online and so we had to pay a fee of SR 25 in this booth. You can also pay the insurance beforehand. The United Insurance Company enables applicants who are coming to Bahrain to issue the insurance policy before visiting the King Fahd Causeway through this eGovernment portal.
That’s it, after we passed through this booth, we are already in BAHRAIN! Woot!
This is my husband’s first time in Bahrain and his first time to leave Saudi Arabia in three years so he was really excited about this trip. We did enjoy it!
Featured photo by ABDULLA ALKETTAB from Pexels.