Electronic Visa for Indians in Oman: My Experience


I had grown up in Oman. But had left the country back in 1996. And after 20 years, I often felt the urge to visit it again.

Mutrah souq entrance oman

The entrance to the Mutrah souq in Oman.

 

I came everywhere around Oman in the GCC region. First UAE relaxed its visa policy, then Qatar did. And even Bahrain followed suit. But visiting Oman was turning out to be difficult – simply because of the Visa policy. Oman had a policy of issuing ‘Sponsored visas’ for Indians even if they wanted to visit the country for touristy purposes. A ‘Sponsored Visa’ meant that I had to find a local sponsor, and he gets a cut from the visa too.

 

I still tried. But I had given up in 2016 when I received the quote for a Omani visa. It was an astonishing 15000 INR!

Oman sponsored visa cost

Back in 2016, I was quoted 15K for a visa!



Further Reading: If you are trying to avoid visa hassles, check out my favorite countries where Indians do not need to prepare a Visa in advance.



And lo! Oman introduces Electronic Visa for Indians!



And then, in a long-expected turn of events, Oman introduced unsponsored Electronic visas in October 2017. The list of countries covered did not initially include India, but after a couple of months, it was clarified that India was included too.

 

I was finally applying for an electronic visa for Oman!

 

To find out more about the Evisa of Oman, I had to head to the website of the Royal Oman Police, who handle visa approvals in Oman. The website had a Visa eligibility wizard, which listed out the following visa options for me.

Oman tourist visa options

The visa options in the ROP website.

 

In my case, only the first 2 options (36M Visit Visa Multi-entry 1 year and the 26M Tourist visit visa) were applicable. Since I planned to enter Oman only once, I went for the 26M Tourist Visit Visa. This visa cost was 20 OMR, and the following documents were required:

 

  • A photograph
  • A copy of the passport
  • A copy of a valid visa for Schengen, US, UK, Canada, Japan or Australia. (I used my US visa)

 

Of all the E-visa websites that I have used so far, the Oman site turned out to be one of the most easy-to-use and intuitive. The steps were streamlined, and I got to the payment page in just a few minutes. After making the online payment of 20 OMR, it took me less than a minute to get the Application payment receipt to my email.

Oman evisa payment receipt

The payment receipt. I now had to only wait for an approval mail.



Further Reading: Oman joins a pretty interesting list of countries which offer Electronic visas for Indians. Click on the link to check out other countries in the list.


I had expected the response to come in a matter of 2 to 3 days, like it did for Bahrain. But you can imagine my surprise, when I got another email from the Royal Oman police in just 2 hours!

Oman evisa approval

And my visa was approved!!

 

I was ready to go!!



Testing out the E-Visa with the Airline 


I was now ready to use the E-visa. I searched for flights to Muscat, and turns out that one of the cheapest flights from India to Muscat, were from Ahmedabad! Who would have thought!? Spicejet ran a direct budget flight from Ahmedabad to Muscat, and since I was already in Delhi around that time, I brought a ticket.



Further Reading: There are some really unknown direct flights that originate out of India. Click for a list of my favorite 10.


I arrived at the Ahmedabad airport 3 hours early, because my past experience with various new visa policies have taught me that the airline officials are usually the last people to know of the visa changes. And in the case of Spicejet, it truly was!

 

I reached the check-in gate, and presented my passport and the copy of the evisa. They kept scanning the passport and the copy repeatedly, and finally asked me. “Where is the sponsor details in this visa?

Unsponsored oman visa

The copy of the unsponsored visa.

I knew this was coming, and had already loaded the website of the Royal Oman Police on my phone. Over the next 5 or 10 minutes, I had to explain the new unsponsored visa regulation to the airline guy. He was still unconvinced, but made a few calls to his superiors. Obviously, his superiors were unconvinced too, because he finally told me that I would be allowed to board, but Spicejet would not be responsible if I faced any problems with the immigration in Oman.

 

I agreed, and he checked me in. I was on my way to Oman after 20 years!



Immigration in Muscat International Airport – A breeze!


After a couple of hours, I landed at the brand new terminal of the Muscat International airport, formerly called Seeb International airport. Oman and OmanAir must have been watching as nearby airlines in the region (Qatar airways, Saudia airways, Fly Dubai, Emirates, and Turkish Airlines) had been their home cities into transit hubs for flights between Asia, Europe and Africa. And Oman responded by improving the existing airport, and building a larger, newer terminal that increased OmanAir’s capacity for flights and passengers. Mark my words, OmanAir will soon grow into a leader in transit flights and start giving some stiff competition to Qatar and Turkish airlines.

 

Probably, it was the fact that the terminal was brand new, or that I had landed at nearly midnight, but the immigration was a huge ocean of people. I mean, a huge ocean of passengers in long queues, because there were only 5 or 6 immigration officers attending to them.

 

I saw a queue for Omani Nationals, another queue for GCC nationals, and a 3rd one for other countries. Obviously, I joined the queue for other countries, with nearly 200 or 300 people in front of me, and the queue moving like a snail’s pace.

 

I must have stood for nearly 30 minutes, when a security personnel passed by checking everyone’s documents – kind of like a pre-immigration check. When he saw my Evisa document, he asked me.

 

Why are you standing here? This is the sponsored visa queue. The tourist queue is the last one!

 

Drat! I had just spent a good 30 minutes for nothing. I left the queue, and walked towards the last immigration cube, which had the board ‘tourist visa’ written on top. (I don’t know how I missed this one before). And to my surprise, there were just 6 people in the queue.

 

I reached the immigration officer and told him a friendly ‘Salaam U Aleikum’. Among the other GCC countries, Oman does have a reputation of being one of the least racist during immigrations (I don’t want to comment on some of the other countries but, oh boy, you really have to see the bigotry to believe it!). And my belief was cemented here.

 

Aaleikum Salaam brother. How many days are you staying, and where are you staying?”, the immigration officer was all smiles.

 

Five days”, and I showed him my hotel reservation.

 

He wanted to see my return flight. I told him I don’t have a return flight, but I showed him my onward flight to Tunisia in 5 days. He was surprised, and wanted to know what work I had in Tunisia. I laughed and told him that I was not working, but actually travelling around the region. He was a little disappointed when I told him that I was going to stay 1 month in Tunisia, but was only staying for 5 days in Oman. “Oman is expensive to stay that long”, I told him.

 

He flipped through my passport, checked out the US visa, and then told me.”If you can afford to fly and travel in United States, Oman should be nothing, brother”. We both laughed, as he stamped my passport.

 

And I was finally in Oman.



Further Reading: I do have a habit of checking out countries which introduce new and easy visa experiences for Indian. Click to read my experience about visa on arrival in Ukraine, and visa on arrival in Tunisia.



Practical information


  • For the website to make an Evisa application, click this link.
  • Cost of Conditional Single-Entry Tourist E-visa: 20 OMR
  • Documents required for applying:
    1. A photograph
    2. A copy of the passport (I put both the front and the back on one JPG file)
    3. A copy of a valid visa for Schengen, US, UK, Canada, Japan or Australia. (I used my US visa)
  • Time taken for Evisa approval: 2 to 3 days as per the website, but took just 2 to 3 hours for me.
  • Requirements for Entry at immigration:
    1. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months on entry to Oman.
    2. A valid hotel booking is required.
    3. A return ticket is required. (I showed an onward ticket, which is accepted too)
  • Visa validity: Visa must be used within 6 months of approval, for a maximum stay of 30 days. If you overstay, there is a penalty of 10 OMR per day.


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Evisa for indians in oman

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This post is part of my travel stories about Visas. Click here to check out my other visa and transit stories



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About Abhi Surendran

Abhi quit his corporate job, and decided to immerse himself in travels, photography, occasional periods of bankruptcy, and copious amounts of insanity. He is currently working on a book of his experiences, and a dream road trip through South Asia. Both in a haphazard fashion. He blogs at Iamnothome and you can also catch him at times on Facebook and twitter.

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