Crossing The Yemen-Oman Border
Updated October 2022, Crossing the Yemen-Oman Border was originally written in April 2020
It’s possible to travel in South Yemen (confusing as geographically speaking, it appears to be the eastern half of the country on a map… but that’s a discussion for a different post), with the help of a local fixer and proper planning. In this post, I’ll cover the steps necessary in order to cross the Yemen-Oman border at Surfeet.
*Please note that this border crossing has been intermittently closed since the start of the pandemic but as of 2022 has been mostly open. Please check with local operators for the most up-to-date information.
Wanna go to Yemen? Start your research with my Yemen Travel Guide
Step 1: Get An Approval Letter
It’s possible to pick up your visa on arrival at the Yemen-Oman border at Surfeet, though it’s not as straightforward as just that. You’ll first need to arrange a trip with a fixer on the Yemeni side who can secure an approval letter from the Ministry of Tourism. For this, you’ll need to provide your fixer with a scan of your passport in order for them to apply for the approval letter.
After submission, it takes about two weeks to get the letter. You then will need to print the visa approval letter and bring it with you to the border.
Heading to Socotra? learn how to get a visa for Socotra & Yemen
Step 2: Drive From Salalah To The Yemen-Oman Border At Surfeet
From Salalah, Oman the drive to the border takes roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes. The drive is quite stunning, hugging coastlines and climbing high up on to a plateau with views south into the Arabian Sea and north toward the Omani Empty Quarter.
If you’re needing a ride to the border, or are looking to visit Yemen as a day trip (I can’t fathom going to this effort for a day trip, but many a stamp collector have made the journey for it), I can put you in contact with Azam who can arrange this for you.
Read about our experience camping under the stars in the Yemeni Empty Quarter
Step 3: Exit Oman
Exiting Oman is a simple enough process. You’ll park at the gate and hand over your passport at the window to be stamped out of Oman.
Step 4: Enter Yemen
Once you exit Oman, you’ll drive through the gate onto the other side. You’ll take your passport and approval letter to the border control office. Here you’ll hand over your documents as well as your $100 USD visa fee.
Exploring the Al Mahrah region of Yemen? Read the Al Mahrah Travel Guide
Step 5: Welcome To Yemen! Continue To Hawf
You’ve made it into Yemen. From the border control office, it’s about a 20 minute drive down to the small fishing village of Hawf that sits right on the coast. From Hawf, the drive to the town of Al Ghaydah is about one hour 45 minutes.
Other Important Notes On The Yemen-Oman Border
- There is a northern border crossing connecting the Omani and Yemen Empty Quarter at Al Mazyunah, Oman and Shihan, Yemen. This border is open to foreigners, however, you can only exit Yemen and enter into Oman here. They will not let you across the opposite direction.
- Plan to exit Oman and enter Yemen on the same passport. When I crossed the Yemen-Oman border in 2020, I had entered Oman on my US passport and had applied for my Yemeni approval letter and Yemeni visa under my Italian passport. On arrival in Yemen, the Yemeni officials checked for the Omani exit stamps and did not find one in my passport. I then handed over my US passport to show that my Omani exit stamps were in there. At first, they said that I had to exit and enter on the same passport and that they’d have to put my Yemeni visa in my US passport. After a little arguing back and forth they finally decided to just put my visa in my Italian passport. A dual Canadian/US passport holder was with us and had done the very same as I and had the same issue. In the end, it was just a minor incident, but worth noting. I’d advise exiting one and entering the other on the same passport to avoid potential problems.
- Travelers that enter Yemen (as well as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria) will no longer be eligible for the ESTA visa waiver program in the US. Otherwise, I am unaware of any other issues that a Yemeni visa may pose, aside from secondary questioning when arriving into some countries.
- To get out of Yemen, you have two options. One would be to cross back over the Yemen-Oman border, either at the southern crossing at Surfeet, or the northern crossing at Shihan-Al Mazyunah. The other would be by flight from Seiyun. On Wednesdays, there’s a flight that stops in Seiyun from Cairo and continues onto Socotra (many travelers who visit Mainland Yemen do continue onto Socotra afterward), or later in the day on Wednesdays you can catch the flight from Seiyun to Cairo on its return from Socotra.
- You’ll need to have a local fixer/guide in Yemen as mentioned previously, as it is required in order to secure a visa, as well as to travel around the country (you would most likely be stopped at a checkpoint and deported if you attempted to anyway). If you want to arrange a trip to the Mainland of Yemen with our local partner Kais, please reach out, or contact Intertia Network who I partner with to organize trips to Yemen.
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