In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Oman, all international flights to the country were suspended from March onwards. Starting 1 October, the highest authority for dealing with Covid-19 in Oman has authorised the resumption of international air traffic. However, applications for an Oman visa are not yet being processed by the immigration service.
State of affairs in Oman
Oman, like many other countries, has been heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Many outbreaks have been reported, particularly in and around the capital Muscat, and in the province of Dhofar on the border with Yemen. The Omani authorities have therefore taken measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including a ban on travellers not permanently residening in Oman. Only Omani nationals or nationals of one of the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) and persons with a valid Oman residence permit are admitted to the country.
Measures to contain the coronavirus also restrict public life in Oman. Public transportation is limited, especially between Muscat and larger cities in the provinces. Meetings are banned and mosques, educational establishments, cinemas, parks, museums and even the beaches are closed. Shopping centres are open under strict conditions and it is mandatory to wear a mask in shops. Compliance with the coronavirus rules is strictly controlled by the Oman police. Anyone who fails to comply can face a heavy fine or arrest.
Flights resumed starting 1 October
Air traffic to and from Oman has resumed starting 1 October. Passenger flights from the following countries are allowed to land in Oman: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Philippines, France, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. However, this does not mean that all travellers from these countries can actually travel to Oman. Currently, only persons with a valid Oman residence permit (e.g. expatriates) and travellers with Omani nationality or one of the neighbouring countries are admitted to Oman.
Travellers who are exempted from the travel ban and who are allowed to travel to Oman are subject to a number of safety measures. All persons from 15 years of age and older are required to have a PCR test carried out upon arrival. The costs for this test of 25 Rial (approximately 55 pounds) must be paid by the traveller himself/herself. Persons who do not plan to stay in Oman for more than 7 days must remain in self-isolation until the test result is received. Those who plan to stay longer than a week must spend 14 days in quarantine. In addition, anyone who does not have the Omani nationality must be able to prove that they have insurance covering medical expenses for at least one month.
Upon arrival, travellers must download an app from the Oman Ministry of Health, Tarassud+. This app is used to track the movements of people and thus the spread of Covid-19. People who have been diagnosed with the virus will be given a bracelet which will be attached to this app. This way, it is also possible to check whether infected persons comply with the quarantine rules. The app also contains information about the local government's coronavirus measures.
Apply for an Oman visa
Although air traffic to and from Oman is slowly getting back on track, no visas have yet been issued for Oman. British and Irish travellers are therefore currently unable to travel to Oman on holiday or business. Starting 1 October, in addition to persons with Omani nationality, persons with the nationality of one of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are also allowed to travel to the country. It is not yet known whether travellers from European countries will soon be readmitted. The Foreign Office advises travelling to Oman only if absolutely necessary.
Because further developments of the situation in Oman and the future travel restrictions for British and Irish travellers are still unclear, it is recommended to wait before applying for an Oman visa. Oman's immigration service does not currently process tourist visa applications at all. Visa applications for Oman are normally approved after 7 days. Travellers who have to leave at very short notice and submit an urgent application usually receive their visa after 4 days. Visa applications for future trips to Oman can therefore be submitted at a later date without any problems.