the process of getting a VOA at KWI (FYI) isn’t terribly complicated — the problem is you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING. i wasn’t going to write a blog post about this but halfway through the process figured that i should, since it might be helpful for at least one person out there!
can you get a visa on arrival?
check this handy-dandy chart. if you can, then this post is for you!
note that if you are from South Korea, you need to go to the medical clinic first…eeep!
where to get the visa
on the way out of the terminal, before you head downstairs to passport control and baggage claim, you’ll see a tiny food court. behind the Chili’s and Coffee Bean is the “COUNTER FOR VISA ISSUING” — that’s where you want to go. in fact, RUSH there to beat the crowd.
step 1 — take a number
unless the line is incredibly short, DO THIS FIRST. don’t even go to the bathroom — you can do that while you wait. find the area to the left that has a bunch of stamp vending machines and a booth. there’s a silver box on a pedestal next to it. press the white button on top to get a number.
do you need to pay for your visa?
check the following list. if your country is ON THIS LIST, you do NOT need to pay anything.
what if you do need to pay?
if your country is NOT on this list (but you qualify for a visa on arrival based on the very first list on the pink paper above), you will need to buy 3 KD worth of stamps from one of the stamp vending machines. there is an ATM to the right of the “COUNTER FOR VISA ISSUING” but i’ve read that it only dispenses a minimum of a shit-ton of money. there’s an actual bank counter next to the ATM where they may be able to break the bills for you, but i’m not sure. in any case, it may help to get small bills at your departure airport (before you leave for Kuwait) to save some time.
get a copy of your passport
bring a copy of your passport with you, or flag down one of the ladies (the night we arrived, it was all ladies) in a gray or red coat behind the booth to make a copy on their machine for you. note that we’re not completely sure if you need one or not, as we think we saw someone go through with an American passport without a copy, but the ladies seemed to think you needed one and were more than happy to xerox ours for us. fwiw i think they’re with a service that you can buy (i saw an invoice while waiting in line, 10 KD, or $33.07, plus the 3 KD visa cost if you need it) to help you get the visa but why bother when you have this useful little guide? 😉
fill out a landing card
there is a stack of landing cards at the booth — take one and fill one out. if you have a long last name, you’re out of luck 😉
and now you wait
the total time we had to wait was about 45 minutes — there were 29 people ahead of us and 3 counters open.
getting called to the counter
when your number is called, the first stop is where you hand over everything and they do the data entry. just wait while the guy or gal types your info in. i was asked if it was my first time in Kuwait, but nothing else.
once the data entry is done, he’ll give you back a piece of paper which is your actual visa and direct you to the end of the counter where you have to see someone else to get the visa and your passport stamped.
note that if you get a visa on arrival you will not need to stop at the passport control desk downstairs — just walk on through (we were breezed through but one of the guards).
you MUST keep that visa paper with you at all times and treat it like you would a visa that gets stuck in your passport. we were asked for it when getting a SIM card* and when checking into the hotel.
* protip: go with Zain — 4 KD ($13.23) for a SIM card that comes with 4 KD credit, 1 GB data per day for 1 KD — you can basically get 4 GB of data for a week with the credit you have preloaded.