Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bringing pets into Saudi Arabia

Some of the western expatriates planning to work in Saudi Arabia may be thinking of bringing their pets along with them. Here is the procedure to be followed.

The fundamental and most important document you need for importing any pet animal into Saudi Arabia is an Import Permit. Note that without this all-important document, your pet would never be allowed into the kingdom.You can get this form from the Agricultural Directorate in Riyadh (not to be confused with Ministry of Agriculture). Fill in the details (in Arabic) and submit the same. Once you get the Import Permit, the rest of the documentation has to be done in your home country.

Get a Veterinary Health Certificate from your home country. This certificate must be accompanied by a covering letter from your veterinarian listing out all the vaccinations given to your pet. There must also be a declaration in the letter that the pet is free from any kind of disease, most importantly rabies. This letter must be addressed to the Director of Customs, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Get these documents translated in Arabic and attested by the Saudi Embassy in your home country. Now you are all set to transport your pet into the kingdom.

I would advise you to take the services of a professional animal transporter. You must collect your pet from the Cargo Depot in Saudi Arabia. You would be required to fill in a form at the depot, so it would be helpful if you take a Saudi along with you as the form would be in Arabic.
You may also bring the pet along with you if you prefer, provided you have all the required documentation ready. Hope the information given here was helpful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Procedure for obtaining driving license in Saudi

Expatriates planning to work in Saudi Arabia will find it convenient to have a driving license. Public transport in the kingdom is not that well developed, and if you are with your family, I would strongly advise you to have a car, as mentioned earlier .

Having a driving license is an absolute must, before you drive a car in the kingdom. Note that this is also used as an authentic proof of identity while entering some of the compounds and it has the added benefit of validity in other GCC countries. Let me now brief you about the latest procedure to have a driving license.

It is not necessary for you to go to a driving school to obtain a license, but I would strongly urge you to do so, even if you know driving. The chances of you being failed if you bypass the school, is quite high, going by experiences of several expatriates .

The first step is to fill in the application form (usually the driving school or your sponsor will have this), affix the required photographs, take an introduction letter from your sponsor in Arabic and submit it to the police. The police would verify your application and give their approval for the next step.

Now, you will have to take this form to any of the hospitals and get your blood test and eye test done. Remember that without the police approval mentioned above, the hospital would not do these tests, so do not bypass any of the procedures mentioned here .

Once you complete your medical tests, you will have to submit the same to the police once again, who will then give approval for you to proceed to the driving school. Take this approved form to the driving school, pay SR435 along with your iqama copy and register your name. You are now officially a student of the driving school .

From the date of registration with the school, you will have to give the driving test within 6 months. It is up to you whether you attend the classes every day or every other day, but most expatriates would like to complete this procedure quickly, and so do it at a stretch of about 10-15 days.
When you feel comfortable driving the car, you will have to tell your driving instructor of the same. He will make you undergo a short test and if convinced, he would sign on a form and ask you to proceed to the real test the following day.

Now, you will have to just give your driving test. It is mainly reverse parking, which is tested. You will have to drive your car in reverse and park it within a rectangular box marked on the ground. If all the four tires of your car are within the box and if you have followed all the rules (wearing seat belts, giving appropriate indications, locking the hand brake, etc), then you are through with the first part of the driving test.
The next part is the computer test. There are 20 multiple choice questions which you will have to answer. If you answer even one of the first 10 questions wrong, then you are disqualified and the computer will lock, not allowing you to answer the remaining questions. If you have answered the first ten questions correctly, you will have to answer atleast 5 out of the remaining 10 questions correctly. If you have answered these, the results would be announced immediately and the file would be given to you.

Take this file, go to either Riyad Bank or Al Rajhi Bank - unfortunately, you have a choice of only any of these two banks at the moment and pay SR400 (thanks to reader Joe for the update). Attach the receipt along with your file and submit it to the police through your sponsor. You should be getting your driving license within a week <:-P

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Touts for family visa in Saudi Arabia

Working in Saudi Arabia could be psychologically extremely stressful for those who are without their families :( My earlier post and the tremendous response it has received just proves this point over and over again, which has prompted me to write this particular post. This is quite understandable, because at the end of the day, no amount of money can equal the happiness when you are with your family :)
Desparation drives people to extreme steps. I have got emails from people saying that they have been contacted by touts to help them get a family visa :-O Let me make it clear. The rules are very straight forward and simple. If the job title in your iqama states that you are a laborer, you have no chance of bringing your family. The logic behind this is simple - if you are a laborer, you wouldn't be able to sustain your family with your income levels.
However, if you are a qualified person and you still have this job title in your iqama, the best option is to change your profession in the iqama. For this you need to get your degree or diploma certificate attested by the Saudi Embassy in your country. For Indian citizens, I have covered the procedure for this here. Once this is done, take your sponsor into confidence and through the Government Relations Officer of your company, fill up the required form in the Passport Office and get your job title changed in your iqama. The process is not complicated, trust me :-B
Never, ever, ever depend on any tout of middle man to get your family visa papers done. It is illegal and if you are caught, you may be deported or worse still, be jailed. It is also likely that by some hook or crook you do manage to get your job title changed through a tout or broker, but when you try to bring your family (which was why you did this in the first place), you would end up in trouble. Never do anything which is against the law of the land. Remember, you have come to work in Saudi Arabia, not to indulge in such activities :-S