In Saudi Arabia, there are several key official documents that residents, expatriates, and visitors need to be aware of. These documents are crucial for various legal, administrative, and everyday purposes. Here’s a comprehensive list:
1. Iqama (Residence Permit)
Iqama is a residence permit issued to expatriates who arrive in Saudi Arabia on an employment visa. This card is a critical document that serves as proof of legal residency, and it is required for almost all transactions, including opening bank accounts, getting a driving license, and receiving medical care. Every Expats in Saudia who are coming on a new Visa should know how to apply for iqama within 90 days.
2. Saudi National ID
For Saudi citizens, the Saudi National ID card is a mandatory identity document. It serves as an official identification for various purposes, such as voting, banking, and domestic travel.
A visa is essential for entering Saudi Arabia. There are various types of visas, including tourist, business, family visit, and employment visas. Each visa has specific requirements and is issued for different purposes.
A valid passport is required for all international travel. For expatriates living in Saudi Arabia, the passport must be kept valid at all times and is required for renewing the Iqama.
5. Driving License
To drive in Saudi Arabia, residents and expatriates need a valid Saudi driving license. Foreign licenses can be used for a short period by tourists and visitors, but residents must obtain a local license.
6. Vehicle Registration (Istimara)
For vehicle owners, having a valid vehicle registration document, known as Istimara, is mandatory. It needs to be renewed periodically and is required for vehicle-related transactions.
7. Health Insurance Card
Health insurance is compulsory for all expatriates in Saudi Arabia. The health insurance card must be carried to access medical services in private and public healthcare facilities.
8. Work Permit
Expatriates employed in Saudi Arabia must have a valid work permit. This is usually arranged by the employer and is essential for legal employment in the Kingdom. A work permit in Saudi Arabia is a legal document that grants an expatriate authorization to work in the Kingdom. It is one of the essential documents for foreign nationals seeking employment in Saudi Arabia and is intricately linked to the Iqama (residence permit).
The work permit is issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and is typically arranged by the employer, who also acts as the sponsor (Kafeel) for the expatriate employee. It has a specific validity period, often one or two years, and must be renewed before its expiration. The renewal process is generally handled by the employer.
9. Exit/Re-entry Permit
The Exit/Re-entry Permit is a document that allows expatriates living in Saudi Arabia to leave the country temporarily and return within a specified period. This permit is essential for expatriates planning to travel outside Saudi Arabia and then return. Key points include:
- Application: The permit is applied for through the Absher portal, an online service provided by the Ministry of Interior. The application process is usually facilitated by the expatriate’s employer or sponsor.
- Types of Permits: There are two types of exit/re-entry permits – single and multiple. The single exit/re-entry permit is valid for one trip only, whereas the multiple permit allows multiple exits and re-entries during its validity period.
- Validity Period: The permit is issued for a specific duration, usually ranging from a few weeks to several months, depending on the type of permit and the employer’s discretion.
- Iqama Linkage: The validity of the exit/re-entry permit is linked to the Iqama. The Iqama must be valid for at least three months beyond the return date for a single trip and six months for multiple trips.
- Consequences of Not Returning on Time: Failing to return to Saudi Arabia within the validity period of the exit/re-entry permit can lead to significant consequences, including the cancellation of the Iqama and being banned from re-entering the Kingdom for a certain period.
10. Birth Certificate
For those born in Saudi Arabia, a Saudi birth certificate is issued and is necessary for various legal processes, including school registration and passport application.