Monday, December 10, 2007

Vehicle ownership by expats in Saudi

Public transport is almost negligible in Saudi Arabia. As an expatriate, it is really convenient if you have a car of your own.
For those of you with your families, it is almost impossible to survive without a vehicle. The reason is not too far to seek. Women aren't allowed to drive and hence are dependent on their husbands to take them out for shopping, because it is rather not advisable for them to go alone for shopping. This could sometimes be quite a pain, because if your kid is sick or something urgent is required at home, you have to take time off from your work to attend your family. Having a vehicle would come in handy for that rainy day.
If you already have an international driving license before coming to Saudi Arabia, you can skip the first level of driving test. But in any case, it is advisable to go through a driving school in the kingdom before the test rather than giving the test directly, because the chances of your failure are quite high if you give the test without undergoing the driving school lessons. Not that you do not know driving, but that's how the system works here.
Once you have obtained your driving license, the next step is to get a document called 'Istemara', which literally means vehicle registration. You will be given two cards - one which proves that you have registered your vehicle and the other to prove that you are the owner of the vehicle. You must always carry these two cards in your wallet, along with your iqama (residence permit) , vehicle insurance (called 'Ruksa') and driving license. You may be quite surprised that your wallet contains more paper than money!
Never ever, ever drive your car without a vehicle insurance. Usually, if you take your vehicle insurance from a reputed company, you would be given a letter in Arabic which is addressed to the police. The letter simply states that your vehicle is insured and if you show this to the police, you would not be jailed. Hence, you must atleast carry a photocopy of this letter in your vehicle all the time along with a copy of your iqama.
You must keep renewing your istemara once every thre years. However, a pre-requisite for istemara renewal is that you must get your vehicle certified by what is commonly called as 'Computer test' or MVPI (Acronym for Motor Vehicle Periodic Inspection). Your vehicle would be subjected to a series of tests. In 9 out of 10 cases, it would fail the first attempt, so you would have to go back, get the 'fault' corrected and give a re-test. Of course, you have to pay every time you give the test!
By the way, expatriates are not allowed to own pickup vehicles. I would also strongly advice you not to offer lift to unknown people. Also, if you ever travel with your friend's wife, even if it is for dropping the lady nearby, make sure that your friend is also in that car. Despite all your good intentions, it is a crime to do this here. It's no joke, you may be in serious trouble if you do that, because according to the law, it is an offense for an unrelated man and woman to be talking or travelling together.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, a very helpful one.

What if i got married later than my first child was born (ie. I got pregnant here in Saudi then gave birth in my home country Jul 2006 but I got married with his father in Oct 2006 here in Saudi when I came back for work? Will this be a reason of disapproval for my son's visa?



Thanks

Expatguru said...

Thanks for your comments, Anonymous. But as you may be aware, you are asking for trouble if you reveal that your child was born before you were married as it is considered Un-Islamic. It is best you do not attempt to bring your child here. I would advise you, in any case, to consult a legal expert.

AbuMarjaan said...

Hello ExpatGuru,
I reached to your blog through American Bedu and found it is very informative.I appreciate your efforts and service you do for the fellow expats.
Keep on moving...All the best for your effort and May Allah keep your spirit up.
Recently, a friend of mine,who is going on exit,tried to sell his car.He had fixed the deal with a person.However,the deal didnt take place,as buyer have already two vehicles on his name.As per law, he cannot take one more.

This is what i heard,and the reason why i am writing you this is, in any of your future post on similar subject,you may give correct information on this issue too.

Regards,

Expatguru said...

AbuMarjaan,

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments.

There is no such thing as a limit on the number of cars a person can own. I know people who own more than 2 vehicles.

This apart, the reason for the deal not going through may be something else - the buyer may have changed his mind and did not want to offend your friend.

As you may be aware, your friend should have no liabilities against his name such as car, telephone, etc., otherwise his exit visa would not be stamped. If your friend is going on exit, the best place is to sell it in the exhibition ('haraaj') at whatever price he is getting. No doubt there would be some financial loss, but then this is the price to pay for peace of mind. The other option would be to transfer the vehicle to some other trustworthy friend's name, who can then sell it with the comfort of time on his side, and then hand over the money to the original owner.

Anonymous said...

About the ownership of more that two car, my friend had the similar experience. May be this rule if for expats only. This is similar to the rule that Saudi Telephone Co had for cell-phone sim that expats with family can have only two sim at a time and singles only one. The limit on sim cards was relaxed only after the entry of Mobily.

Anonymous said...

I AM WORKING IN SAUDI ARABIA SINCE LAST 6 YEARS. MY FAMILY WENT ON VACATION WITH EXIT-REENTRY VISA .IN BETWEEN I GOT A OFFER FORM ANOTHER COMPANY IN SAUDI ARABAI THEY ARE PROVIDING VISA FOR ME AS WELL FOR THE FAMILY . IF I RESIGIN AND GO BACK TO MY HOME COUNTRY.
MY QUESTION IS DO I NEED TO BRING MY FAMILY TO SAUDI ARABIA GET EXIT STAMP.
2ND IF SHE DO NOT COME AND STAYS WITH EXIT -REENTRY VISA. CAN SHE(MY FAMILY) COME WITH ME WITH NEW VISA. I MEAN CAN MY FAMILY GET STAMPED NEW VISA PROVIDED BY THE NEW COMPANY. AS SHE WAS HAVING EXIT-RENTRY VISA STILL IN HER PASSPORT OF MY OLD COMPANY.
OR TO GET NEW VISA STAMPED MY FAMILY HAS TO COME SAUDI ARABIA AND GET EXIT TO THE EXIXTING VISA AND GO TO HOME COUNTRY THEN GET NEW VISA STAMPED.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

You have to go on exit visa (not exit / reentry) and get an NOC (if you are not an Indian national) if you want to return for employment. The moment exit visa is stamped in your passport, automatically your family's visa also gets cancelled in the system, so they can join you in the new visa.

P.S. Please avoid using all CAPITAL LETTERS. It hurts the eyes!!

zaka said...

Hi Expatguru

I had got job offer from some company in saudi Abrabia. My visa of this company is stampled on my passport and its validity of departure date to saudi arabia is upto 23-Dec-08.

During this period I have got another job offer from some new company with some good salary and I am interested to join new company

1)My question is can new company visa stamped after expiry of validity date of my current stamped visa

OR

2) If I excuse to old company to join and they cancel my visa then after cancelation process, again can new company visa endorsed on my passport.

thanks

Expatguru said...

Zaka,

Once the validity date of the existing visa gets expired, automatically that visa gets cancelled. You can start the process of the new visa with the new company.

zaka said...

Hi Expatguru

Thanks for your urgent reply.

But I need more clarification in this regard as I confirmed from some visa agent, he was saying that 3 months visa validity date is your departure date to KSA not visa expiry date. Either your visa is expired or not even though you will need NOC from your previous employer.

My question is I did not flight for KSA and have no Iqama. Now in this case, I need NOC or cancellation letter from previous employer or I just wait for departure validity date, it will automatically get cancelled.

Also same question was asked on answers.yahoo.com. You can view following link

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070820000758AAjOYSm

Some one replied that

"I believe you got a new offer from Saudi Arabia and willing to go back on a new visa. Your former visa has not been canceled. Sorry, you cannot able to go back in a new visa without the knowledge of your current employer.

In this case the essential thing is you have to get a no objection letter from your current employer to cancel the existing visa whether it is valid or not. The NOC should be addressed to Saudi embassy or consulate located in your country and be attested by the Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (KSA). If you can manage to get this letter then don't worry, go ahead. If the visa is ready from your proposed company then complete the formalities of medical fitness and other documentations prior to submit to the embassy/consulate for new visa stamping. I would suggest you to contact the sponsor or his PRO (Muaqab) of your former company to get the NOC."

Expatguru said...

Zaka,

The guy who replied to your query in Yahoo has wrongly understood that you were already working in the kingdom earlier (see his statement "and willing to go back..."). You need an NOC from your employer only if you have been employed by him. In your case, you have not even boarded the flight to the kingdom, let alone being employed. Hence, I stand by what I said. Just let the visa die its natural death on 23rd December.

Just imagine that you could not go to the kingdom by this date. What would have happened? Your employer would have had to make a new visa for your, isn't it? Same is the case now. If you do not enter the kingdom by 23rd December, then you need a new visa, but now from a different employer. Hope this clarifies.

Anonymous said...

Hello Expatguru;
I have a problem, regarding the attachement of my family to my iqama,my family came here already in saudi on Family visa, only my wife passed the medical, my 4yrs old daughter have a problem with the medical, in this case jawasat did not permit to attached to my iqama,can you give me an advice on what to do also what is the validity or what is the duration period and pinalty if they are not attache my family to my iqama.

Thanks,

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Immediately file a fresh application for attaching your child's name in the iqama and start the process once again. Parallaly, you must also ensure that your kid is medically fit. When you take your child to the hospital for a re-examination, your daughter must not fail the medical once again, so please ensure that she is fully fit before giving the medical test. Once the hospital gives a fitness certificate, she will be attached to your iqama. But the important thing is that you must have proof with you that you started the process, so immediately file a fresh application.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for immediate responsed,but you know the problem of my daughter, it was diagnosed of HBAg(+) and Anti-HBAg(-), she have a complete vacinition before when i was here in saudi, we take for good on 2005 and returned back again here 2006 with different company my family came only last july31 and until now still not yet attached to my iqama due to my daughter problem,the company knows about this, is there any solution to this matter and what step, Hoping you can give me an advice on what to do..

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I am not a medical expert and don't even know what HBAg means. However, I strongly urge you to get her treated completely. In the worst case scenario that she cannot be treated here, it is better to take her back to your home country, treat her completely and bring her back. Her name can be attached to the iqama anytime. I pray for her speedy cure.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
now i am working in saudi arabia. my employer is not good. i am getting good offer from another company. so i want to use that. so how can i leave my current employer. is it possible that i can transfer my employer here. otherwise i want to go to my country and return by the new visa. hw is this possible. please guide about this.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Read my complete blog, particularly the posts relating to NOC. You can choose the older posts by clicking on the calendar on the right hand side and choosing a topic below which I have written in that month.

chariot said...

Dear Expatguru,

hi! a person who is in Cameroon is selling his car and i am quite interested with it since it is very cheap. The car is in Cameroon (though bought in Jeddah) and he will be shipping it here in KSA once he gets a buyer. Payments will be made once I receive the car, already bearing my name.

My only concern is that, how can i know that the car has no illegalities (stolen, smuggled, etc) whatsoever? what documents will i need? as an expat, i don't want to have any trouble with the government here.

thanks!

Expatguru said...

Chariot,

Get the chasis number of the car and call the Ministry of Interior's toll-free number. Give them this chasis number and find out if there are any claims on this vehicle. You may do a simple Google search for the MOI's website (to know the toll-free number) as they have prohibited anyone from giving their link.

charisma said...

I WOULD LIKE TO ASK ABOUT THE FINGER PRINT?WHAT D0ES IT MEAN?WILL IT AFFECT THE PERS0N TO RE-ENTER THE KINGD0M??

Expatguru said...

Charisma,

Expats living in the kingdom are undergoing in batches the program of giving their fingerprints to the passport office. If not already done, for sure it would be taken when you leave on exit. This is to ensure that criminal elements and people who run away from their employers do not re-enter the kindgom.

sameer said...

Hi Expatguru,

I want to add on the zaka problem, commented on November 8, 2008 8:36 AM.

I have exactly the same situation, and saudi embassy in canada, is asking me Visa Cancelation letter, from the first employer, even if your visa is expired on passport, in order to get another work visa from different employer.

Please note, I have not work for the first employer nor travel to kingdom.

if you read this zaka, let me know, how you resolve the problem.

Regards,

Sameer

Expatguru said...

Sameer,

Send a signed letter to the first sponsor saying that you are not interested in the job and ask him to cancel the visa. Do not mention that you have another offer in the kingdom. This is the only way out.

Mohammed said...

Dear ExpatGuru,

what is the procedure for an expat to buy a new/used car? I mean does he require any chambered letter from his sponsor in order to transfer the ownership under his name? --- Also could you please let me know if an Indian can hold two GCC residence visas? Eg; I leave the job in Saudi Arabia with out cancelling the visa and take up a job in Qatar and visit Saudi whenever requires?
Awaiting your valued answer....
Thanks

Expatguru said...

Mohammed,

Read my blog thoroughly as I have covered the transfer procedure for vehicle extensively. An individual cannot be a resident of two countries at the same time. You will have to make a choice either way.

Anonymous said...

I am not in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but i have a car that was sent to me by a relative from Mecca Saudi Arabia.I wish to sell this car back to Saudi Arabia so i need you to help me with the procedure of how to go about this.I will be grateful for any respond.
Regards

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

Hi: Thanks for the beneficial blog. I have a question:
If I sold my car (ie a car sale and owner transfer was done via a legit car dealer), albeit with a failed MVPI inspection at the whining behest of the buyer, will that negatively affect my final exit? Please let me know, for I have a couple of days before the dealer transfers the car and new istemara to the new owner to request that the buyer go pass the MVPI.

Many thanks

emanon

Expatguru said...

Emanon,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

hi,
how are you? im working as a private nurse here in jeddah and i just want to ask some advice from you? i just came last march 21st and from my visa stated that i can only stay here for 90 days..now im not going to finish my contract since we have an agreement from my employer that if im not happy anymore with my work then i can go..i dont have any iqama yet since we did not file for it..what are the procedures if the validity of my visa is already expired and im still here waiting for my reliever..my 3months due of stay here will be on the 21st of this month..the question is after they will file for my exit visa can i able to go exit to another country rather than going back to my homeland in phils? will that be possible? thank you and hoping for your immidiate feedback...

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Imran Zarrar said...

Two years ago i returned from KSA on exit re-entry, however could not return due to family issue. My company has auto process of reporting absconder after 90 days, may be that is done for me. Now my company want me back on new Visa, question is if i was reported (2 year ago), can i return to kingdom on new Visa, Please update. Remember that i was in-touch with company officials and they know my situation.
Thanks

Expatguru said...

Imran,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

Hi am a dental doctor.I want to take my husband and 1 year old son to Saudi.can I take them with me?how much time will it take to get them here?plz reply me