Schengen-Style GCC Visa to Enable Free Travel Across 6 Gulf Countries

Schengen-Style GCC Visa to Enable Free Travel Across 6 Gulf Countries

Here's everything you need to know about the Schengen visa process...

International Visa

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has announced plans to introduce a unified Schengen-style ‘GCC Grand Tours visa’ for tourists, enabling seamless travel across six Gulf countries. This initiative is expected to start by the end of December 2024.

The announcement was made during the 40th meeting of GCC ministers in Oman. The GCC comprises six nations: Oman, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Currently, tourists need separate visas for each of these destinations.

The new GCC Grand Tours visa will streamline the process, allowing foreign travellers to explore all six countries with a single visa. This unified visa is expected to significantly enhance the tourism experience in the region.

The e-visa system will simplify the application process, saving both time and money for tourists, especially those planning to visit multiple GCC countries. Similar to the Schengen visa for Europe, the GCC Grand Tours visa will permit stays of up to 30 days within the GCC zone.

The introduction of this visa marks a significant step in regional cooperation and is set to boost tourism across the Gulf countries. The unanimous approval by GCC states brings this proposal closer to reality.

Schengen Visa Process

A Schengen visa allows travellers to explore Europe's largest free travel zone, offering the freedom to move between multiple countries with a single visa. Here's everything you need to know about the Schengen visa process.

What is a Schengen Visa?

The Schengen visa is a short-term visa for business or tourism, permitting stays of up to 90 days in most European countries. It facilitates entry, movement, and departure within the Schengen Zone, a passport-free area comprising many European nations.

Schengen Area Countries

The Schengen Zone includes 27 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. As of March 31, 2024, Bulgaria and Romania joined the Schengen Area for air and water travel, with road entry to follow.

Types of Schengen Visas

There are four types of Schengen visas:

Type A: Airport transit visa for changing flights in a Schengen country without leaving the airport.

Type B: Transit visa allowing a five-day stay in a Schengen country en route to a non-Schengen country.

Type C: Short-term visa for staying in a Schengen country, subdivided into Single Entry, Double Entry, and Multiple Entry visas:Single Entry Visa: Valid for one entry and exit within the specified time.

  • Double Entry Visa: Permits two entries and exits within the specified time.

  • Multiple Entry Visa: Allows unlimited entries and exits, valid for 90 days every six months.

Type D: Long-term visa for stays exceeding 90 days, typically for work or study.

Application Timeline

You can apply for a Schengen visa up to six months before your travel date. It is recommended to apply no later than three to four weeks prior, and earlier if visiting popular destinations like France and Germany. Processing times can be longer during peak travel seasons.


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