Violent crime against foreigners is rare. However, you should take care if you intend to travel in conservative areas like Jahra, where there have been incidents involving firearms, and Jleeb Al Shuyoukh where there have been riots by migrant workers protesting about their conditions.
You should only use authorised road border crossing points into Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Any other unauthorised movement near borders is illegal and dangerous. Armed guards patrol border areas. If you plan to cross the border from Kuwait into Iraq, make sure you have the correct paperwork. See the Iraqi Embassy to Kuwait website for more information
Landmines and other hazardous ordnance are still present in Kuwait. You should avoid off-road driving. If you do travel off-road, restrict your movements to clearly identifiable tracks, and take great care even if an area has been officially cleared. Don’t pick up any strange metal, plastic or other objects lying around or hunt for war memorabilia.
If you have a visit visa you can drive in Kuwait using an international driving permit or a valid UK licence. Before driving you must obtain insurance in Kuwait. If you’re hiring a car, you can usually get insurance through your car hire company. If you’re planning to drive a car belonging to a relative or friend then you’re responsible for obtaining insurance. The insurance document must be kept with you at all times while driving.
If you’re applying to live in Kuwait, you won’t be able to drive unless you have a Kuwaiti driving licence. In this case, you should apply for a Kuwaiti driving licence when you receive your residency permit. You should confirm eligibility requirements for a Kuwaiti driving licence with the nearest Kuwaiti Embassy before you arrive.
Driving is hazardous. Many drivers pay little attention to other road users; drive in excess of speed limits, switch lanes without warning, ignore traffic lights and use mobile phones while driving. If you have an accident you must stay with the vehicle; don’t attempt to move it. Call the police on 112.
Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive, including near maritime boundaries and the islands of Bubiyan and Warbah in the northern Gulf and Abu Musa, and the Tunbs in the southern Gulf. The area in the northern Gulf, between Iran, Iraq and Kuwait has not been demarcated and vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected. There have been occasional arrests. Make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports.
You should also remain alert to the effect any regional tensions may have on your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be under an increased risk of maritime attack.
Take care when travelling by Dhow, as the safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available.
Demonstrations and protests are uncommon in Kuwait and are normally, but not always, peaceful. Rioting is rare. You should be vigilant, avoid demonstrations and be alert to local and regional developments.
Attacks in Kuwait are very likely and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. You should be especially vigilant at this time and follow the advice of the local authorities.
On 26 June 2015, Daesh carried out a suicide attack at the Imam Sadiq mosque in the Al Sawabir area of Kuwait City, resulting in 27 deaths and many injured. Further attacks on places of worship are possible.
Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests, as well as crowded places, including restaurants, hotels, shopping centres and mosques. Further attacks are possible.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Kuwait is a Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan
In public, you should dress and behave modestly. Women wearing shorts or tight-fitting clothes, in particular in downtown areas, are likely to attract unwelcome attention.
Carry your passport or a Kuwait civil identification card at all times.
Importing narcotics, alcohol, pork products and obscene material is forbidden and can lead to imprisonment.
Possession and abuse of drugs can lead to a prison sentence of between 5 and 10 years, and a heavy fine. Bail is not usually given and even if found not guilty you can expect to spend several months in detention while the case progresses through the judicial system. Penalties for drug trafficking include the death sentence.
Drunken behaviour in public or driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by a fine or imprisonment, and/or deportation and the withdrawal of your driving licence.
Entry to and photography near government, military and industrial and other restricted areas (e.g. near borders and oil fields) is forbidden.
Bouncing cheques is illegal and the law does not provide for offenders to be released from custody on bail. Post-dated cheques can be banked immediately.
Sexual intercourse between men and imitating the appearance of the opposite sex are punishable by law. Intimate displays of affection between men and women are also frowned upon.
Co-habiting of unmarried partners in Kuwait is illegal. If you wish to live with your partner in the same house, you need to be married.
If you are involved in a commercial dispute with a Kuwaiti company or individual, you may be prevented from leaving the country pending resolution of the dispute.
The British Embassy can’t intervene with labour disputes.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Regardless of age, British nationals travelling by air can get a free 30-day entry permit/tourist visa or a 90-day visit/business visa on arrival in Kuwait for a fee. For further information contact the Kuwait Embassy in London:
Embassy of Kuwait 2 Albert Gate London SW1X 7JU Telephone: 020 7590 3400
You can now apply for an e-visa before arrival.
On arrival in Kuwait, the immigration authorities may ask to see evidence of return or onward travel, a sponsor’s letter and hotel confirmation.
If you are arriving by land or sea, you should obtain visas in advance from the Kuwaiti Embassy in London.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Kuwait.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Kuwait. However, ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from Kuwait.
If you have an Israeli stamp in your passport you may be refused a visa and/or entry into Kuwait.
For work or residency visas apply to the Kuwaiti Embassy in London.
If you intend to use UK documents like academic records, marriage certificates, or your driving licence in your application, you should have all such documents authenticated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country in which they were awarded and the nearest Kuwaiti Embassy. The same procedure is necessary for children’s birth certificates.
Your employers should not retain your passport.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
There is a state medical service with local clinics and several good hospitals. There are also private medical and dental facilities. Fees are controlled by the state and are expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
There are plenty of ATMs and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere.