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What is an Iqama in Saudi Arabia?

Moving to Saudi Arabia can offer expats excellent opportunities due to tax benefits and investment potential. However, the relocation process is more complex compared to other countries, requiring obtaining an Iqama for work or settlement.


An Iqama, or residence permit, is essential for foreign nationals entering Saudi Arabia on a work visa to establish legal residency. It is necessary for accessing almost all services, opening a bank account, applying for a driver's license, obtaining a SIM card, and traveling within and outside the country.

What is an Iqama - HowSaudi

It's advisable to carry your Iqama at all times as failure to present it when required may result in fines imposed by authorities. For a first offense of not having your Iqama, the fine can be SAR 1000, with increasing penalties for subsequent offenses, potentially reaching up to SAR 3000, along with the risk of imprisonment.


Requirements for getting an Iqama


Typically, the responsibility of obtaining an Iqama lies with your Employer. To acquire an Iqama, expatriates and their sponsoring employers usually must fulfill certain criteria. These requirements may differ based on the type of Iqama sought, but commonly include a valid employment contract, a clean medical certificate confirming good health, health insurance coverage, and an active work permit.


The application process typically entails collaboration between the employer and the Ministry of Interior. It's crucial to remain informed about any changes in documentation and procedural necessities to facilitate a seamless application process.


Validity of Iqama

An Iqama typically remains valid for one year and can only be renewed for this duration. Renewal of residence permits must be done at least three days before their expiration date.


For first-time violators, the penalty equals the renewal charge, while it doubles for second-time offenders. Upon violating this rule three times, deportation becomes the consequence.


Household residence permits also extend to spouses and legal minors (sons and daughters). However, sons and daughters over 18 are required to obtain separate visas by paying the applicable fee



Where all is Iqama Required

  • To obtain SIM Cards

  • Banks

  • Absher

  • Qiwa

  • Nafath

  • Driver's License

  • Renting a House

  • Credit Cards

  • Family Visit Visa

  • Family Permanent Visa(Iqama for Family)

  • Travel to visa-free countries for KSA Residents (e.g Bahrain, Georgia, Jordan, Egypt, etc)

  • Apply locally for Hajj (For Muslims)

  • Admit Children to Schools


How long does it take for you to get your Iqama?

It ideally takes anywhere between 1 day to 3 months, this depends on your employer on how quickly they can submit the required documents to MOI


When are you planning to relocate to Saudi Arabia?

  • I'm already in Saudi Arabia

  • Less than a month

  • In 6 months

  • In a year


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