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Bureaucracy/Red Tape To Be Aware Of


by Expatguru - 01/21/2010


"This article is a short description of a few procedures which an expat ought to be aware of."


Unlike the western world, automation of Government processes has not fully happened in Saudi Arabia. Most documentation is still in hard copy format. e-Governance is a relatively recent development and it would take a while for all the work flows in various Government organizations to be fully integrated and automated.

The first and foremost thing an expat has to remember is that all Government transactions must be in Arabic. Remember that in a court of law, Arabic is the only official language which would be used. Any document in English has to be translated in Arabic and attested by a recognized Government authority, such as a notary if outside the kingdom, and by the Chamber of Commerce if within the kingdom.

All expats are required to always carry with them their residence permits, called iqama. The iqama is a small booklet, green in color for Muslims and dark brown for non-Muslims, which contains important details such as your visa profession and details of your family members. It is normal for your sponsor to retain your passport as soon as you arrive in the kingdom. You would be issued an iqama which you are required to surrender before leaving the kingdom. Your iqama is the most precious document as all your other transactions, right from opening a bank account to obtaining a driving license, are all based on the iqama number, so take care never to lose it.

Another important rule to remember is that all dates in Saudi Arabia refer to the Islamic Hijri calendar and not the Gregorian calendar. Knowledge of the equivalent Gregorian date is absolutely essential for expats as there are several cases where people returning to the kingdom from vacation have been barred from entering due to expiry of the re-entry visa. Note that one month in Hijri calendar is not the same as one month in the Gregorian calendar.

Expats are not allowed to deal with Government agencies directly. Every company or organization has an authorized Government Relations Officer. He is the one who would be dealing with all transactions pertaining to your papers. Note that one needs a visa to go out of the country. In case you need to come back after your vacation, you would need what is known as an exit/re-entry visa. A single exit/re-entry visa costs SR200. Once you return after leaving the country, the visa gets cancelled. You can also obtain a multiple exit/re-entry visa, costing SR500. This is valid for 6 months from the date of your first departure, provided your iqama has a validity of more than 6 months. You must leave the country within 3 months from the date of stamping your exit/re-entry visa to escape a SR1000 fine.

These are just some of the basic tips which I have given you. Once you arrive in the kingdom, you it is just a matter of time before you get used to the system.



(6 Votes)

Views: 3973

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