All visitors except GCC nationals require visas. The issuing authority is the Royal Oman Police, usually referred to as ROP. According to the ROP website visitors from more than 70 ‘G1 countries’ – which include the UK, EU countries, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – can obtain a tourist visa through the Oman eVisa service. Applicants of some other nationalities who already have a valid Schengen visa may be eligible to obtain a visa for Oman.
In 2021 Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism announced a free-of-charge 14-day tourist visa for nationals of 103 countries (which include those G1 countries) to replace the ten-day visa costing OMR5. However, since the price of the ten-day visa had been in place for many years, this might be reverted to. Other options include: OMR20 for 30 days or OMR50 for a multi-entry one-year visa; all must be paid for by credit/debit card. Visitors from New Zealand can also apply for a three-month length of stay.
Overstaying the period of the visa attracts a penalty of OMR10 per day. It is possible, though difficult, to extend the validity through the ROP at the airport. A better solution is to obtain a visa for a time period longer than you plan on staying, especially if the optimal visa is valid for only a day or two longer than your intended stay.
Oman’s entry regulations have changed several times over the past few years, so check well before travelling with the Royal Oman Police. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office should also be consulted.
Getting there and away
Muscat International Airport, located 40km west of Old Muscat (about a 40min drive), is Oman’s main international airport and also the hub for domestic flights. Salalah Airport, in the south of the country, receives flights from other GCC countries and India, and charter flights from Europe, as well as domestic flights from Muscat. In the north, Sohar Airport has flights from Qatar Airways and Salam Air.
Pre-pandemic, a standard direct return flight from Heathrow (terminal 4) with Oman Air flew twice a day to Muscat, at a cost of around US$1,000. Oman Air also flew between Manchester (terminal 2; evening only) and Muscat, with fares around US$1,100, thus enhancing Muscat’s hub status for onward flights to Asia.
Oman borders three countries, but almost all road crossings are through the United Arab Emirates, whose entire international border is fenced. It is possible to travel between the UAE and the main part of Oman (ie: south of Al Fujayrah) from four areas: Al Buraymi, with three separate border posts; Al Wajajah; Aswad, a forthcoming opening on Oman’s Route 3 for easy access to the UAE via Sharjah’s route E102; and Khitmat Milahah.
Domestic services operate in northern Oman between Khasab in Musandam and Shinas on the northern Al Batinah coast; Khasab and Lima in Musandam; Shinas and Lima; and Lima and Dibba. In central Oman there are ferry services between Shannah on the mainland and Masirah Island. Contact National Ferries head office regarding the current domestic ferry situation.
Within Oman there are domestic flights from Muscat (MCT) to Khasab (KHS) in Musandam, and Salalah (SLL) in Dhofar. Oman Air also flies to Ad Duqm DQM. Check Salam Air for resumption of daily flights between Salalah and Sohar.
National Ferries operate in the Musandam area serving Khasab, Lima, Dibba and Shinas. A connecting coach service operates from Shinas to Muscat. Between Shannah and Masirah Island, there are several fast services daily. Information, including schedules and prices, as well as booking are available at nfconline.om. Advance booking, especially for vehicles, is suggested for all services; note that personal identification is required and vehicle documents should be produced.
Between Shannah and Masirah Island there are also several slow-boat services run by independent operators, which carry cars and trucks, and depart when each ferry is loaded with vehicles to its capacity. Passengers travel free of charge.
The road network in Oman is excellent, with huge improvements having been made over the past few years. Major roads have street lighting, as do many minor roads even away from towns. Road surfaces are well maintained and road signs are in clear Arabic and, usually, also English, though occasionally the location of a sign might be improved.
Muscat and other major towns have a rush hour from 07.00 to 09.00 and from 16.00 to 18.00. Arterial routes may have elevated sections, and the previously congested roundabouts have been replaced by signalled junctions, at the loss of the very distinctive monuments at each roundabout’s centre.
However, with the dramatic increase in vehicles within Oman, the traffic is rarely free-flowing in the capital and other major conurbations. These are still more focused on vehicles than pedestrians, although there is increasing awareness that more pedestrian bridges are needed.