Expats in Saudi Arabia represent nearly a third of its 30 million inhabitants. Even taking into account that this Islamic monarchy is only beginning to open up to tourism, and is not a destination like any other.
But to move there, one must be prepared to face certain difficulties. Some of them are very regulated access conditions, strict control of morals, and scorching temperatures for more than half the year.
To make everything easier for you, we have put together this guide. You will find useful information related to visas, work, and health insurance in Saudi Arabia.
Administrative Procedures for Expatriates in Saudi Arabia
The Visa, Mandatory for Expats in Saudi Arabia
Before moving to Saudi Arabia, it is important to know that obtaining a visa can be costly and time-consuming. Also, they are subject to mandatory sponsorship, usually by an employer.
It is therefore important to anticipate your departure. A passport valid for six months beyond the date of return, and free of any Israeli stamp, is required to enter the country.
Visa applications can be made online and there are several types, depending on the individual situations of expatriates in Saudi Arabia:
- Work visa
- Extension visa
- Business Visa
- Business visit visa
Each visa requires specific supporting documents, and an exit-/re-entry visa is required for any temporary exit from the country.
Expat in Saudi Arabia: Info About the Iqama
To expatriate to Saudi Arabia, you must also apply for a residence permit upon arrival: the Iqama. It is valid for 1 to 2 years and renewable.
This is often done by the employer, who may keep the expatriate’s passport. A medical examination and health insurance are mandatory.
This document must also be obtained for the expatriate’s family members. Please note: partners must be married to receive this permit, and male children over the age of 18 are not entitled to it.
The Iqama indicates the jobs that the foreigner can do and the name of his employer. This document must be kept permanently throughout the stay in Saudi Arabia.
Is required to complete certain administrative formalities:
- Opening a bank account
- Renting accommodation
- Subscription of services
The cancellation of the Iqama by the employer also results in the cancellation of those of the family members.
All expats in Saudi Arabia must pay a mandatory monthly tax. And, to drive, it is essential to have your license exchanged for a Saudi one within 3 months of arrival in the country.
How Is Work for Expatriates in Saudi Arabia?
Sectors That Are Recruiting
Anybody wanting to become an expat in Saudi Arabia has info about job offers on the Internet. It’s important to highlight that it’s not possible to move there without a job.
The country’s economy is flourishing, notably thanks to the oil sector. Other rapidly developing fields are likely to be of interest to foreigners, including:
However, a certain level of skills is required to be recruited. And the Saudi job market is more geared towards executives and those with a master’s degree.
The local job market is still not very accessible to women, even if they are foreigners.
The Expatriate’s Employment Contract
Employment contracts for expatriates in Saudi Arabia cannot exceed one year. Although they can be renewed.
It is possible to benefit from certain advantages through your employer during your stay in Saudi Arabia. But this is not mandatory and must be negotiated:
- Housing (most often in complexes reserved for foreigners)
- Medical coverage
- Airline tickets
Any change of job during the stay in Saudi Arabia is subject to the authorization of the employer-sponsor.
Health Insurance in Saudi Arabia for Expats
The Saudi Health Care System
There is no need to fear for your health in Saudi Arabia. The country has 400 public hospitals and 200 private clinics of very good quality.
Many Lebanese doctors practice in the country, and many of them speak English.
However, public hospitals can only accommodate foreigners in case of emergency. And expatriates do not benefit from the Saudi health system which offers free access to care.
You will therefore have to turn to the private sector for treatment. And it can quickly become very expensive. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to get private health insurance in Saudi Arabia.
What Is the Best Health Insurance in Saudi Arabia for an Expatriation?
Some local policies have the advantage of covering health care received during a stay in your country. But it will be necessary to present a medical report in English to the insurer, which is not always easy to obtain.
Besides this, Saudi insurance companies will never cover repatriation to your home country.
To be well covered, and make your life easier, the best health insurance in Saudi Arabia is a 1st euro/dollar policy.
If your country’s Social Security covers you during the expatriation, its coverage plus a supplementary policy can also be a good option.
These contracts cover all health expenses of the expats and their dependents. Both in their home country and abroad. And they include repatriation. They offer the possibility of designing a policy “à la carte” according to your personal needs.
They also allow you to benefit from certain advantages such as:
- Simplified management of the contract and procedures through a mobile application
- Access to English-speaking advisors,
- Access to partner establishments.
The easiest way to find the best insurance offer for Saudi Arabia is to use an online comparison tool.