Country guides Middle East
240 volts, 50Hz. The UK-style three-pin is in use (Type G).
Arabic is the official language, but English is widely used and understood, and is a compulsory language in secondary schools. Other widely spoken languages include Farsi (common among Iranian expats) and Urdu (common among South Asian expats).
Kuwait's currency is the Kuwaiti dinar (KWD), and travellers must declare all local and foreign currency equivalent over KWD3000 when they arrive. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash. There are plenty of 24-hour ATMs and major credit cards are widely accepted, though some banks and shops don't accept foreign-issued bank or credit cards. Travellers will find banks with foreign exchange facilities in the large centres. Many banks are open from 8am to 3pm from Sunday to Thursday, but some banks have more varied hours.
A service charge of 15 percent is usually added to bills in restaurants and hotels. If not, a tip of 10 percent is acceptable; additional tipping is only expected in more expensive hotels. Taxi drivers appreciate a small tip for long journeys. Baggage handlers, petrol attendants, and assistants can also be tipped a small amount, following common practice.
Inoculation against typhoid is advisable for travellers eating outside of major hotels and restaurants. General vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, and MMR updates (measles, mumps, and rubella) are also recommended; everyone 12 years of age and older should get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before visiting.
Additionally, there is a risk of diarrhoeal diseases, which are common in Kuwait. Tap water is safest when boiled, filtered, and disinfected, and, while many people consider tap water relatively safe to drink, most visitors stick to bottled water.
Medical fees are high and medical insurance is recommended. However, many doctors will expect payment in cash regardless of whether travellers have medical insurance or not. All prescription medicines must be accompanied by a doctor's letter detailing exactly why the medication is required and travellers should check the list of medical contraband, so as to avoid importing banned prescription drugs (medication containing alcohol) into the country.
The country is regarded as trouble-free as far as crime is concerned but, while unorganised protests are illegal, they do occur occasionally. Visitors should avoid public gatherings and demonstrations as some have turned violent in the past.
When travelling outside Kuwait City, travellers should keep to tarmac roads and take care on beaches and picnic spots, as landmines and other unexploded ordnance still litter the countryside. Driving in Kuwait is hazardous due to negligent and reckless local drivers, so constant vigilance is essential.
As Kuwait is a strict Muslim society, dress in public should be modest, and formal attire is always preferable to casual. Any public display of affection between men and women beyond married couples holding hands is punishable.
Male homosexuality is illegal and the legal status of female homosexuality is ambiguous. Because of the influx of western tourists, some hotels allow unmarried couples to share a room, but unmarried couples are not allowed to stay together on a permanent basis.
Alcohol is not permitted in Kuwait, and the use of this or the importation of obscene material is an imprisoning offense. Touch between the same genders is allowed, but not between opposite genders. Verbal greetings are customary.
Photography near industrial, military, or government buildings is illegal, including oil fields. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet. This is because it's forbidden and punishable by law. It is important to carry identification at all times.
The business culture is conservative for the most part. Dress should be formal and conservative, particularly for women. There is often accompanying small talk when meeting for the first time, but foreigners should be sure to adhere to local customs.
Public affection between opposite sexes is forbidden; men should take a woman's lead when greeting. Most business is conducted in English, although using a few words of Arabic will be appreciated, particularly for titles.
The working week runs from Sunday to Thursday; business hours vary but are usually from 7am to 1pm and 4pm to 10pm. Government offices and banks are usually open from 8am to 2pm.
Travellers to Kuwait do not have to pay duty on 500 cigarettes, or 2lbs tobacco. It is prohibited to enter the country with alcohol or narcotics; milk products and unsealed salty fish; mineral water, unsealed olives and pickles; homemade foods; fresh vegetables; shellfish and by-products; and fresh figs.
The international dialling code for Kuwait is +965. All telecommunications services are of a high quality in Kuwait. As international roaming fees can be high, buying a local SIM card can be a cheaper option. Free WiFi is available in most hotels, cafes, and restaurants in tourist areas.
Passport & Visa
All foreign passengers to Kuwait must hold return or onward tickets, the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and proof of sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country. Visas may be obtained prior to departure from one's country of origin. It is highly recommended that travellers' passport have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond their arrival in Kuwait. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond their arrival in Kuwait. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond their arrival in Kuwait. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond their arrival in Kuwait. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond their arrival, and require a visa, to enter Kuwait. A visa can be obtained on arrival for up to one month only, provided (i) travellers are holding confirmation that their visa is available on arrival, (ii) that they are entering Kuwait for touristic purposes, (iii) that they have a sponsor in Kuwait who is in possession of the original visa, and (iv) that they stay in Kuwait for a maximum of 30 days.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond their arrival in Kuwait. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond arrival in Kuwait. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
Useful contacts112 (General Emergencies).
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Kuwait Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 966 0702.
Kuwait Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 20 7590 3400/3406/3407.
Kuwait Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 780 9999.
Kuwait Embassy, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 2 6286 7777.
Kuwait Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 342 0877.
Embassies / consulates in Kuwait
American Embassy, Kuwait City: +965 259 1001 or +965 2538 6562.
British Embassy, Kuwait City: +965 2259 4320
Canadian Embassy, Kuwait City: +965 2256 3025.
Australian Embassy, Kuwait City: +965 2232 2422.
South African Embassy, Mishref: +965 561 7988 (Switchboard) or +965 997 94483 (emergency).
Irish Embassy, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (also responsible for Kuwait): +971 2 495 8200.
New Zealand Embassy, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (also responsible for Kuwait): +966 11 488 7988.