At a Glance

  • A new law, when fully implemented, will require all foreign nationals in Kuwait to carry a new, more descriptive Civil Identification card and valid passport in order to enter or depart Kuwait.
  • As a result, foreign nationals who applied for residence permits in Kuwait on or after March 10, 2019 will receive the new Civil Identification card instead of a residence sticker when applying for initial or renewed permits.
  • Foreign nationals holding endorsed residence permits approved before March 10, 2019 can continue to enter or depart Kuwait without having to carry their Civil Identification card as long as they have a valid visa. They will receive a new Civil Identification card when they renew their residence status.

The situation

A new law, when fully implemented, will require all foreign residents in Kuwait to carry a new, more descriptive Civil Identification card and valid passport in order to enter or depart Kuwait.

Background

This change stems from a new law that was passed by the Ministry of Interior in conjunction with the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) requiring all residence details to be recorded in one document.

To comply with the law, the PACI changed the Civil Identification Card (which was already a required document for all residence permit holders) to include additional residence information, rendering the visa sticker unnecessary. The new Civil Identification card includes the foreign national’s passport number and profession and is required to enter or depart Kuwait for select residence permit holders only at this time.

The process for obtaining the new Civil Identification card remains the same as for obtaining the old Civil Identification card; upon completing post-arrival registration procedures, the sponsoring entity requests a Civil Identification card for the applicant through the PACI’s online portal.

A closer look

Whether residence permit holders must obtain the new Civil Identification card depends on when their residence permit was approved:

  • Foreign nationals whose residence status was approved on or after March 10, 2019. These foreign nationals will not receive residence visa stickers in their passports and must carry the new Civil Identification card in order to enter or depart Kuwait. However, since this rule has not been fully implemented yet (the initial stage of implementation affects domestic workers) there may be cases where individuals still receive the visa sticker in their passport. In any case, foreign nationals must use their valid passport with a new Civil Identification card for entry to and departure from Kuwait.
  • Foreign nationals with residence status approvals before March 10, 2019. These foreign nationals can travel from or to Kuwait based on their endorsed residence visa sticker as long as it remains valid. They will receive a new Civil Identification card instead of a new endorsed residence visa sticker when they renew their residence upon their visa’s expiry.

Impact for residence permit holders

  • No longer issued residence visa sticker. Once the new regulation is fully implemented for all residence permit holders in Kuwait, affected foreign nationals will no longer receive a residence visa sticker in their passport. However, they will still be issued an entry visa sticker endorsed by a Kuwaiti consular post abroad.
  • Check for document accuracy. Residence permit applicants and holders should ensure that their personal information printed in their new Civil Identification card matches the details in their passports in order to avoid being denied entry or departure from Kuwait. Discrepancies may arise since, in the past, immigration authorities recorded foreign nationals’ names based on an unofficial transliteration from the Arabic to Latin alphabet, which resulted in some discrepancies.

Looking ahead

Fragomen will provide updates on the situation as the new Civil Identification cards continue to be implemented for additional categories of residence permit holders.