Saturday, July 12, 2008

Renewal of Saudi vehicle registration - Istemara

Working in Saudi Arabia is a challenge, more so when the procedures are rather complicated. I had mentioned in brief about this in my earlier post.

Any vehicle owner must necessarily carry with him 3 cards pertaining to his vehicle.

The first one is the vehicle ownership card. This card proves that you are indeed the owner of the vehicle. The second one is the registration card, which in effect, proves that your vehicle is registered with the Government. The third card, of course, is the insurance card. All these 3 cards are mandatory by law and must be produced when demanded by the authorities.

This particular post covers the procedure for renewing the Saudi vehicle registration or istemara. The renewal of istemara has to be done on time, to avoid penalties. There is a 15-day grace period after expiry of the istemara for renewing the same. Please note that renewal of istemara is usually not done more than 1 week before its due date, so if an expatriate working in Saudi Arabia is going on vacation during this period, he must arrange with someone else to renew his istemara.

First, you must send an SMS from your mobile to the number 88905. The text of the SMS must strictly be in the following format: The first line must contain your iqama number. The second line must contain the number plate of your car (both Arabic letters as well as the numerals). It is advisable to send this SMS from a friend who has enabled Arabic in his mobile rather than trying it out yourself. This would be convenient (though not compulsory) as the exact translation of Arabic letters to English could sometimes be complicated and hence can go wrong if you use your English-enabled mobile. Each sms costs SR2.50, so if you make a mistake this amount gets deducted every time.

You should get a 9-digit code immediately in your mobile. Save this code carefully. Next, you must go to any branch of Riyad Bank or Al Rajhi Bank and pay SR150 in the designated machine. This can also be done online in the websites of these banks. You will be prompted to enter the 9-digit code which you received in your mobile. Pay the money and take a printout of proof of payment.

This printout must now be attached with other required documents, as below:

a) Copy of your iqama

b) Copy of your driving license

c) Introduction letter in Arabic from your sponsor

d) Attestation of the above letter from the Chamber of Commerce in your town (this is waived for government employees and employees of SABIC)

e) Copy of your vehicle insurance

f) Original ownership card

g) Original istemara card

h) Copy of valid MVPI

You will have to attach all of the above in a green hanging file (Neither the Saudis nor any of the expatriates working in Saudi Arabia really know why this obsession about the green hanging file!).

Next, submit this file to the traffic police. You will be asked to come the next day. Note, however, that you will not be given any acknowledgement by the police when they take the file. It is supposed to be only on trust!

When you visit the police station the next day, make sure that you have removed both the number plates from your car. You will have to give these to the police, who will then issue two new number plates - for the front and rear sides. The new number plates contain both English and Arabic letters and numerals. You will also be handed over the new ownership card and new istemara card. That's it! Hope the above post was useful.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Death case formalities for expats in Saudi

I really wish that no one ever needs to use the information given in this particular post. Despite my initial hesitation, I thought I might as well write about it, because no other blog seems to have covered this subject. Also, lack of information in times of crisis is more dangerous than the crisis itself. Thanks to Ravi from Riyadh, who requested me to write about this subject. It took me a lot of time and effort to gather the information given here, but at the end of the day, I hope it is of help to some of my fellow expatriates in Saudi Arabia.

Expatriates working in Saudi Arabia should know that in case of death of a non-Muslim, the body cannot be disposed off in the kingdom and has to be sent back to the home country. In case of Muslims, there is a choice whether to bury the body in the kingdom or in the home country. The procedure for both are given below:

The following procedure must be followed for both Muslims as well as non-Muslims, in case of death of an expatriate in Saudi Arabia. Whether the demise is natural or otherwise, the first thing to be done is intimation to the Police, to the nearest kin and to the Embassy of the deceased person's home country. The next of the kin or legal heirs in the home country must now do the following:

First, a fax must be addressed to either the sponsor or any close friend of the deceased stating that they have no objection to the body being buried (note: this is applicable only for Muslims) or that the body has to be transported back to the home country. This fax must authorize the sponsor or the friend of the deceased to take charge of the body and complete the remaining formalities in the kingdom. I would like to mention here, that as per Saudi Labor Law, the sponsor is supposed to bear all expenses for transportation of the body to the home country or for burial in the kingdom, so please be aware of this.

For transporting the body to the home country, the legal heirs of the deceased must submit an affidavit to the nearest office of the Airlines in the nearest international / domestic airport saying that they would collect the mortal remains of the deceased without any delay, as soon as the same arrives in the cargo terminal. A copy of this affidavit must be faxed to the sponsor, cargo agent and to the Embassy of the deceased. Note that without this important fax, the cargo agency will not accept to transport the body.

The rest of the formalities have to be done by the sponsor or the person authorized by the legal heirs of the deceased, (for the sake of clarity, let's call this person as "Authorized Person" in this post) and are as follows:

The hospital will issue a Death Intimation Report based on which the police would issue a Police Report. The personal belongings of the deceased will be listed and handed over to the Authorized Person, in front of a witness.

The Authorized Person must now contact the embassy of the deceased with all required documents and obtain a No Objection Certificate for either burying locally or for transporting the body to the home country. In case of burial, the mortuary, after receipt of the NOC, will issue a Burial Permission Certificate to the local cemetry. In case of transportation to the home country, Police clearance has to be first obtained for embalming the body. This clearance, along with the NOC must be submitted to the mortuary along with the required fees (SR2093 for embalming and around SR800 for the coffin).The hospital authorities would guide the Authorized Person on this.

Next, the Authorized Person must submit the iqama of the deceased to the Passport Department cancelling the same and for stamping exit visa in the passport of the deceased. All these documents must be handed over to the cargo agent, in case of transportation of the body to the home country.

To summarize, the following documents are required:

1. Copies of Iqama and passport of the deceased.

2. Medical report from the hospital with English translation

3. Copy of Power of Attorney from the legal heir with Arabic translation (signed and attested by Notary Public)

4. Police Report copy (only for unnatural deaths)

5. A letter from the sponsor regarding dues of the deceased.