Thursday, November 29, 2007

Exit Reentry visa procedure after expiry

I am delighted by the response received by readers all over the world to this blog. Most of the readers it appears, want to know more details pertaining to exit / reentry visa procedures, which has been already covered earlier. I would now like to explain the procedure to re-enter the kingdom, 'after' the expiry of the exit/re-entry visa period.

As already mentioned before, any expatriate has to obtain an exit / reentry visa if he wants to go out of the kingdom and re-enter. The rule is that he has to leave the kingdom within 2 months from the date of stamping the exit / reentry visa (if not there is a fine of SR 1000) and has to return within the date specified on the visa.

Let's take a special case when due to some reason an expat leaves the kingdom on vacation or any other reason, but is unable to enter the kingdom within the date specified. Under normal circumstances, he would not be able to enter the kingdom, because technically his visa has already expired. However, there is still a provision by which he can re-enter, though the procedure is a bit cumbersome.

Everything depends on your sponsor. and the relationship you have had with him, i.e., was it cordial or otherwise. If you would like to re-enter the kingdom AND your sponsor still wants you back AND (most important of all) your iqama (residence permit) is still valid, then here is how you go about it.
Your sponsor must first file an application with the Saudi Passport Department. There is a special form for this. He will then be given a "yellow" slip. This is nothing but permission from the Saudi Government that you can re-enter the kingdom. This "yellow" slip must be sent to you by courrier immediately. You must, upon receipt of this slip, attach copies of your passport, iqama along with this slip and submit it to the Saudi consulate or embassy in your home country. Once the embassy or the consulate puts their stamp on this yellow slip, you must necessarily leave your home country within 7 days from the date of stamping by the consulate / embassy. Otherwise your reentry visa would be permanently cancelled.
As mentioned above, this procedure is valid ONLY if your iqama hasn't expired already. If so, then you have no chance to re-enter the kingdom and your visa would have got automatically cancelled permanently.
Hence, it is absolutely essential for an expatriate to:
  • Renew your iqama well in advance, and particularly if you are going on vacation. Never be under a false sense of security that you could always renew it after arriving back in the kingdom. Remember, the only thing certain in Saudi Arabia is uncertainty!

  • Always carry a photocopy of your iqama with you, whenever you go out of the country.
Hope the above post has been helpful. Do drop in a line, which would greatly encourage me to write more.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Vehicle insurance for expats in Saudi Arabia

One of the first things an expatriate should do if he is buying a car, is to take a vehicle insurance. Never, and I repeat, never ever attempt to drive your car without insurance coverage. Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records as far as road safety is concerned. People simply break all the road rules and every year thousands of people die because of road accidents in the kingdom. Taking a vehicle insurance has now become mandatory by law.

A few tips for the expatriate is not out of place. If at all you get involved in some accident, the first thing to do is to call the police immediately. Do not remove your car from the accident spot until the police arrives. Once the cops arrive, you will have to go to the police station. All conversation will be in Arabic and even though it may not be your fault, you will be under severe pressure from the other party, particularly if he is a Saudi.
It is totally upto the cop's discretion to assign the "percentage" of fault. Obviously, depending on this percentage, the amount the victim gets compensated varies. Rest assured that if the accident involves you and a Saudi, the probability is that you are the one who will be always be blamed.
Never ever sign any document and if at all you do have to sign, just write above your signature that you do not understand whatever has been written above and then sign. Believe me, it's no joke, I was myself a victim once!

I was waiting in the signal for the lights to turn green when a Saudi rammed into my car from behind. Obviously, he was completely at fault. We both went to the police station and all the conversation was going on in Arabic. I did not understand a word of what was said. Finally the policeman told me to sign a document. Assuming it was a First Information Report, I just did what he told me to. The next day I took a Saudi friend with me to the police station to help me out with the formalities. He took one glance at the paper I had signed and what he told me then was a rude shock.

The paper I had signed had said that everything was my fault and that I am absolving the Saudi guy of all charges and all repairs to my car would be at my own expense. I protested saying that I was forced to sign it by the cop, but it was too late. Luckily, I had a comprehensive insurance which really saved me. This comprehensive insurance covers me even if I am totally at fault.

The insurance company took responsibility for the repairs, but the experience I underwent was extremely upsetting. Remember that the comprehensive insurance is given only to vehicles which are less than 10 years old. Comprehensive insurance covers you whosoever the fault may be. Vehicles older than 10 years are only covered by third party insurance. This means that if you cause a damage to some one, then his repair charges would be taken care of, but the damage to your own vehicle would be at your cost.

However, whatever be the type of insurance, you would have to pay the first two hundred riyals to the insurance company. No one knows why, but this is the law.

A word of caution to the expatriate. Please observe 'defensive driving' while on the road. There are enough morons out there. If you see one, better give him the right of way rather than indulging in road rage. As the saying goes, 'You can't get ahead of someone you are trying to get even with!'