Saturday, August 23, 2008

Speed up travel at Kuwait Airport - Hala Services for visa / immigration

This article is coming to you from this link: Border Crossed

One of the most frustrating things that can happen to travelers is delay at the airport. The issue has been particularly serious in Kuwait for arriving visitors who’re non-GCC Nationals. There have been times when I had to wait more than 2 hours at the airport before being allowed to enter the country. So I decide to find out and share some tips to help other people save time. Hope this is useful for you

The problem - lengthy visa procedure at Kuwait International Airport

Kuwait has a visa process that is restrictive by international standard. Every non-GCC visitor has to apply for visa in advance before entering Kuwait. In 2004, the Ministry of Interior has adopted a policy to open up its borders. Nationals of the following countries can apply for visa at the airport

  1. USA.
  2. UK.
  3. France.
  4. Italy.
  5. Germany.
  6. Canada.
  7. Australia.
  8. New Zealand.
  9. Japan.
  10. The Netherlands.
  11. Belgium.
  12. Luxembourg.
  13. Switzerland.
  14. Austria.
  15. Sweden.
  16. Norway.
  17. Denmark.
  18. Portugal.
  19. Ireland.
  20. Greece.
  21. Finland.
  22. Spain.
  23. Monaco.
  24. the Vatican.
  25. Iceland.
  26. Andorra.
  27. San Marino.
  28. Liechtenstein.
  29. Brunei.
  30. Singapore.
  31. Malaysia.
  32. Hong Kong.
  33. South Korea.
  34. China.*

*They recently excluded China, but the decision was not publicized. Customs officials told me they originally did not plan to restrict Chinese visitors. However, thousands of prostitutes and criminals flock to the country and stay there using the loophole. Therefore, when you arrive at Kuwait International Airport today, you will see notice boards stating people from these 34 countries can obtain visa there, with big crosses covering the word “China”. Moreover, Nationals of Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong were screened in extra caution (that means extra wait time!), because Kuwaiti officials are concerned that Chinese may try using fake passports of these 3 countries to enter Kuwait. They have no way to tell from the look, whether someone is from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong or China

Usually people need to wait for 1 - 1.5 hour to have a visa issued. If you don’t want to wait, here is a good service to use

Solution - Hala (Meet-and-greet) Services
Realizing this problem, entrepreneurs have found a way to speed up the visa process. This is a service run by a private company called Hala Services Kuwait. User can register online or call them at +965-842-842 (Ext. 304) to ask for help. Of all the services they provide (from welcoming you by flowers and dates at the gate to wheelchair assistance), I recommend the airport visa service

I tried it myself. As soon as I stepped out of the plane, I saw a lady holding up a cardboard with my name on it. Then she escorted me directly to the visa counter. Instead of waiting in line with the other ~100 travelers, we bypassed the whole process by using a special counter. 15 minutes later, I was already outside the airport

It costs 1 KD (~3.5 USD), but it’s worth it as I don’t have to worry about waiting. Now I don’t have to worry about arriving after a 747-400 from Amsterdam, and how long I have to wait until they give you a visa

For more information,

Hala Services in Kuwait’s International Airport

Kuwaitah website on Kuwait visa procedure

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