Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Used cars in Saudi Arabia

Working in Saudi Arabia is a challenge, but driving in Saudi Arabia, as mentioned in my earlier post, is a bigger challenge! It is extremely difficult for an expatriate, particularly those with their families, to be without a car. Public transport is scarce in Saudi Arabia and taxis may not always be convenient or available when you need them :-(
Usually, expatriates prefer to buy used cars from other expatriates, particularly those who plan to stay for the short-term. This would be by either word of mouth or through advertisements placed in supermarkets or malls.
Of course, new cars are also available, but they don't come cheap. If you are going to pay for the car from your pocket, (i.e., not company-owned car), I would advise you to go in for a used one, preferably one that is less than 5 years old. With the current problem of traffic jams and parking space in cities, a smaller car would be preferable. Used cars can also be bought from auction yards, but since you may not always know the previous owner, it would be purely your luck if you get a good car. In any case, the procedure is the same.
The car has to be kept in custody of an "exhibition" ( a place where trading is normally done) for 24 hours. The owner of the exhibition is a government-registered broker to whom the buyer has to pay a commission as transaction charges. The broker transfers the ownership of the car from the previous owner to you, after the mandatory 24-hour lock-in period is over.
You would be given two cards. One is the ownership card which proves that you are the owner of the vehicle. The other is the registration card, called Istemara :-B You must carry these two cards with you, along with your insurance card and original iqama, all the time. Believe me, the wallet of an expatriate working in Saudi Arabia has more paper than money /:-)
And by the way, if you didn't know, women are not allowed to drive cars in the kingdom and expatriates are not allowed to own pickup vehicles.


Anna said...

Nice site.

Ana Cristina said...

Hi, it's a nice and quite interesting blog! Congrats!
Regards from Portugal,

Noorul Amin said...


First of all my kudos for the great job you are doing?
I started reading your blog from the day I got an job offer in Jeddah. Your blog is very infomative for the expats who are planning to move to Saudi.

I would be in Jeddah for about an year. Is it advisable to buy a car from a used car dealer? There is a facility to check the history of a car here in US using a website called carfax.com. Is there a similar facility available in Saudi?

It would be a great help if you write more detailed on this topic.

For your information. I am a tamilian too.

Noorul Amin

Expatguru said...

Hello Noor,

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments. Since you are going to be in Jeddah only for a year, i would advise you to better buy a car from any other expatriate. This would be cheaper and more reliable, because when you buy from a used car dealer, you never know the background of the car.
When you arrive in Jeddah, you would yourself come to know by word of mouth about available cars from expatriates who are leaving. Of course, with some patience you will get a good car. Good luck!

Anonymous said...


this is pradip from jubail.
i've to join school for driving lic. please tell me the procedure next to get a driving license.I know driving. but don't have the smart card license.

please write if u know...

Expatguru said...


Thanks for visiting my blog. I will shortly write a post on this procedure.

Anonymous said...

Thanks you friendly expat, i am srilankan guy recenly arrived in srilanka, one of my indian friends passed me the blog.

Its great, very much usefull information.

thank you again


Expatguru said...

Thanks, Moses. Glad to know that you found my site useful.

Muzzzammil Ahmed said...

great stuff man.
ive been looking for a such a blog for over some time now.
this part about the license really helped.
Ive been in Riyadh for over 20 years now.
adios aigos

Expatguru said...

Thanks buddy! Glad to have been of some help. Do keep visiting my blog.

Anonymous said...

dear expatguru,
there is no words to thank you by helping people in such a way. i have a doubt in selling my car

as i am going final exit, i would like to sell my car to a friend in Taif and i am in arar. as he is not able to come to Arar to sign the document in "MARATH" OR any other way to sell this car to him,
ple advice

Expatguru said...


Thanks for yoru comments. If your friend cannot come to Arar, you have to go to Taif. In any case, the signatures of both of you are required in the presence of the Exhibition Agent, otherwise the name will not get transferred.

Rajasree said...

dear Guru,
can i send my car with a deliverying agency with a court attested (Vakkalla) paper to authorize my friend to sale the car in Taif (I am in Arar, he is not able to come arar). so that he can handover the car in Taif and sale and buy this car with this court order.

what's your opinion

Expatguru said...


I am not a legal expert, but I can suggest an easy and straight forward way. Ask your friend in Taif to get a copy of the contract form from the Exhibition agent and send it to you by courier. You sign in the required space, attach all documents and get the car driven to Taif. Your friend would then be able to complete the rest of the formalities.

Anonymous said...

dear Guru,
thanks a lot for your effort and spending time to help the expats:

is it necessary to give fingerprints to Javasat if somebody is going EXIT and like to back in a new visa, please advice

Expatguru said...


A campaign is currently underway in the kingdom to take the fingerprints of all expatriates. If you are going on exit, for sure your fingerprints will be taken by the passport department to prevent you from returning on another passport.

syn said...

Its great to have such blogs were we can get lot of information


Used Cars

Noone said...

hey, thanks for the blogs. I'm planning to move to Saudi Arabia and found them helpful so far.

I was wondering if you have any knowledge or experience relevant to importing a car to the kingdom. Instead of buying something there, I'm planning on bringing in my 1999 Dodge Viper RT/10 via cargo ship from the United States. Anything I should know before I do this? I'm trying to get as much information as possible to avoid potential headaches and expenses.

Expatguru said...


For the effort and expenses involved in bringing your 1999 model car (even though it may be in an excellent condition), it would be worthwhile to buy a new one here. Please be aware that you are not allowed to take back any car from here when you go on final exit. Unless you clear all the papers and the ownership of your car is transferred to someone else, exit visa will not be stamped in your passport, so I would advise you to think twice whether all the trouble is really worth it.

Noone said...

You are sure I can't bring it back? I was talking to someone else and they said that it was cheaper to send cars back than it was to bring them in. You sound like you know what you are talking about, but this is a pretty important issue so I'd like to verify if possible. Where did you get this information?

I was thinking of selling the car in Saudi anyway... because I know they love American cars with big engines over there and I thought maybe I'd even get a better price for it... but I would like to have the option to bring it back to the States or ship it somewhere else after two years.

Also... why is it such a problem to bring in a '99? Are there stricter emissions or inspection standards? Other people I've spoken to have said that it's less of a headache trying to import a car than it was trying to buy one there (also, where would I get a Viper in Saudi Arabia? Probably nowhere, or if there was a dealer, there would be only one, and they could charge anything they like and not give any customer service after) But I haven't heard anything about the model year making a difference when importing yet, so I'm interested in why you said that.

Expatguru said...


I am not just sure, I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that unless you transfer the ownership of your car to someone else, the exit visa will not be stamped in your passport.

Where did I get this information from? It's going to be my 11th continuous year of stay in the kingdom. I would advise you to go through each of my posts given here including the comments. This blog has an extremely high level of popularity, because it is credible. It is totally up to you to either take it or leave it.

My reference to the model of the car was in the context of the money and effort you are planning to spend in bringing it here. The fact that a Viper in Saudi Arabia is a rarity goes against you. Again, as I said, the decision is totally yours.

Anonymous said...


i need your help, i'm leaving Saudi arabia on final exit and will come back on new visa.
i want to transfer my car to my friend's name and will take it when i come back. does anyone know a good car (government-registered broker) that can finish this paperwork for us cause i don't know anyone
tel, location or website will be much appreciated.



Expatguru said...


I would advise you to ask your friends in your own city for this information. The agent through whom you bought your car would himself help you in this.

CM said...

Hi Expats Guru,

Can you please advise me any used car auction yard in Riyadh and their address and person to contact?

Many thanks,

Expatguru said...


Please ask your colleagues or friends who own cars. As a policy I do not comment on individual establishments.

ajaz said...

Hi Rxpat Guru,

First of all thanks for your grate information. I really appreciates the information that you have shared to us.

I would like to seek your advice. I have 2 adopted children in India, in there passport my name is mention as a leagle gardian. Right Now i have family visa can i bring my adopted childrens to saudi arabia.

Please replay me as soon as possible.

Expatguru said...


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.

ARAMExpat said...


I was wondering if you could tell me what the legal process is to buy a used car (transfer from Saudi owner to myself). I always hear istimara, and fahs, but not sure how it all works in terms of the legal transaction transfering the car to my name.

Expatguru said...


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...

Great info, but I have to correct you on one thing, there is no such law that prevents an "expat from owning a pickup" many of my friends have pickups and there was no issues getting them.

Just trying to be helpfull...


Expatguru said...


Thanks for the info, but to my knowledge, expats aren't legally allowed to own a pickup. There is no restriction on driving them, though. The reason is that Saudis do not want expats running a parallel business. Please verify with your friends whether the registration is really in their own names or not. Most likely, it would be in some Saudi's name.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog today and think it is very useful. Thanks!
Re:Used cars in KSA, I am wondering if an expat can own more than two cars ... I plan to buy one for my wife and two for myself (I know women are not allowed to drive, however within our camp is OK).