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.


Deepa said...

A very apt and insightful intervew at pakspectator
Thank you for recommending my blogs there.

I see that many are benifitting by your valubale advice
and are reunited with family.

Keep up the good work.
( just now saw the backlink in technorati, hence the delay in responding)

Expatguru said...


Actually, I should be the one who should thank you. You have been my Guru as far as blogosphere is concerned and have never hesitated in clarifying so many doubts which this computer novice had, to set up this site.

Anonymous said...

Dear Gurus,
Iam also from chennai,living in Jeddah.I have got an offer(Bahrain Visa) at Bahrain and leaving to bahrain during the 1st week of Aug.
Let me know the exit formalities,
A)Is it a must that I should go to India before going to bahrain.
B)Do I need a ticket to India for getting the exit.
Pls reply immediately.
My Mobile:0561207473

Your immediate response is highly apperciated.

Expatguru said...


You can directly go to Bahrain if you have a Bahraini visa.

Geoff said...

Very useful information.

I lived in Dubai and decided to move to Saudi 1 year ago. I have just received my Iqama and now I'm trying to change my License plates to KSA ones. I don't want to have to take the car to Dubai to renew my car registration every year. My license expired in Dubai some months ago and I only have a Tourism Certificate that permitted my car through the Saudi border. It's turning into a struggle as you only get 1/2 the picture when speaking to the officials.

Apparently you cannot sell your car for 3 years if you import into Saudi Arabia!

Expatguru said...

Struggle indeed it is, Geoff. The biggest problem facing expatriates in the kingdom is lack of knowledge of rules, which was why this blog was started in the first place.

Looks like you are stuck with your car for 3 years. Tough luck!

Anonymous said...

I really want to thank you for the wonderful information because really we cannot know the exact rules because there isn't any cetain way of knowing them. I had a question - my wife is on the sponsor of her father. The time has come for iqama renewal. The sponsor is demanding SR 10000. And then he says may be renewal or exit. I am worried. I don't know what to do. Do you know any rules about this ??

Expatguru said...


I really didn't understand your question. You say that your wife is under her father's sponsorship. You mean that the father is demanding SR10000 for renewing his daughter's visa? I suggest that you consult a good lawyer or try to change your wife's sponsorship to someone else.

Anonymous said...

this is pradip from jubail a saudi driving license now..thanks for the details u provided...

can you write on how to purchase a used car in of the haraj..its locations..used car vendors..etc..

Expatguru said...

Hello Pradip,

Congratulations on getting your license. Glad to have been of some help to you. You may enquire with any car owner about the Haraj details. Take an experienced person with you, otherwise you would end up getting junk. Personally, I would advise you not to buy in Jubail but in Dammam, as the number of cars are more there and you have a better choice. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I stay in riyadh. My car istemara has expired 10months back.

I had MVPI just now. Can you please tell much do i need to pay panalty. If so, do i need to pay
this penalty at the bank itself with 150SR or I should give it at the time of registration to the police man.


Expatguru said...


I am not too sure about the fine amount. The Ministry of Interior website says that it is a Class III offence with a SR300 fine, but please do verify before paying. A toll-free number 8001245555 has also been mentioned in the website. Please find out about the amount through phone.

As a service to fellow expatriates, if you come to know about this, please do drop in a line here, so that others may also get benefitted. One thing is sure, is that you have to pay the money in the bank itself along with SR150.

Anonymous said...


I am about to permanently leave Saudi Arabia and want to take my car along. What are the formalities I will need to complete before handing the car to the shipping company?

Expatguru said...


It is absolutely necessary for you to transfer the car to someone else's name, otherwise your exit visa will not be stamped.

Anonymous said...

writing from Dammam, Your Guidance IS helping many families.

God Bless you.

I am informed Saudi Embassy in India re instigated NOC requirement. from Nov 10, 2008.

If current sponsor refuses to give NOC
How long am barred to seek job in KSA, (profession Sales Engr)

In case if I don't return while taking exit entry visa.

Is there any ban to get job or travel to other GCC.

Finally I got an job oppurtunity in KSA and the company agreed to give my business visa can I travel
if I have re-entry visa open and without NOC.



Expatguru said...


Somehow, people have the mistaken impression that if they do not have an NOC, they can come back on a visit visa or a business visa and start working. Nothing more is farther from truth. If you are caught working while on a visit visa or a business visa, you will be deported after serving the sentence in jail. A visit visa is meant only for visiting, while a busines visa is meant only for short time business trips, not for employment, so please be aware of this difference.

If you leave without an NOC on an exit visa, you can return after 1 year for work. If you leave on an exit/reentry visa, you can return only after 2 years if you do not have NOC.

Finally, it does not matter for other countries whether you have NOC in Saudi Arabia or not.

Expatguru said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ladla Putar said...

I just asked you question today about final exit and then go to another country. I don't know which page i can check my post so would you be able to send the answer on my personal email or just email that you answer is being given by specifying link to that page please.

Thanks in advance.

Expatguru said...

Ladla Putar,

Hope you remember atleast this particular post!!

Your answer has been published here

rabecca said...

hi guru i would like to know that if a person has left his job and now his iqama is under the process of tranfer from one company to another then how can an istemara be done and what is the time duration on insurance is it an yearly based process or it takes place after every two years

Expatguru said...


You cannot get an istemara unless you have a valid iqama, under a clear sponsorship. Hence, while it is under transfer, you cannot have your istemara done. Insurance is usually for one year, except while purchasing a car when it ranges from 3 days to 1 year depending on the premium you are paying.

anonymous said...

sir i want to know abt it as my husband iqama is still under transfer he used to work for the logica which he left last year and since then he is there they filed the case against them and according to him he says that till this doesnt get's tranfered he will not be able to fly but on the other end he had his operation done and more to that he is having the car even for which i asked him that how did u managed to have ur istemara done then he said that its being done 2years back in 2006 when he initially bought the car now can u kndly clear me these points as if still under the process of transfer can he able to use the medical insurances services under the terms of wasta and then istemara is he making the fool out of me or what..........

Expatguru said...


When you mentioned the word "insurance", I thought you were referring to the car insurance. Let me clarify. Istemara is the registration of the vehicle and is valid for 3 years. If your husband had got his istemara in 2006, it will be due in 2009 for renewal. Medical insurance has been made compulsory by all sponsors in the kingdom. So, he will be covered by the insurance of either his previous employer or the new one, because ultimately he has to be under someone's sponsorship. I do not know the full details of your husband's case, but I can tell one thing for sure. If he wants to come back home, he has to sell his car, i.e., transfer the ownership to someone else which means that he will not have an istemara anymore. If he is absolutely sure of his transfer being done, then it should not take much time. If he wants to come back, it is best that he goes in for a compromise with his present employer otherwise the case would drag on for years till it is resolved.

Pervaiz said...

I really thank you for such a informative post.
I believe under attachments also a copy of MVPI (FAHAS) should be attached.
Please correct me if I am wrong.


Expatguru said...


Thank you so much for pointing this out. You are absolutely right. I have made the correction in the above post.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Sir,

I am an Indian working at Riyadh. Two weeks ago my Saudi License was expaired. Now I need to renew my expaired Driving license, Can you please give me the procedures?



Expatguru said...


Upto 15 days from the date of expiry of your license, there is no fine. If you have just crossed the 15 days, first try your luck with the police. If he is in a good mood, he will accept it. Otherwise, he will ask you to pay the fine ( he will tell you the amount, usually it is SR150, but try bargaining with him and request him and he may reduce it). You have to pay this money in the machine in Riyad Bank and resubmit your application.

Imran Nazir Junejo said...

I have a question to ask: I am living in UAE, if I move to saudi, can i bring my car with me? is it easy to transfer registration or are there many taxs that i have to pay,

thanks for any help,

Expatguru said...


It is quite a lengthy process. You would have to pay customs duty. At the end of the day, all the effort and money is really not worth it, as you can as well buy a new car here.

Belgian investor said...

Dear Expatguru,

Many thanks for the invaluable advice on your blog. I am currently working in Dubai but my company is going to transfer me to Riyadh. I have a car here which I bought 6 months ago and would prefer not to sell. Is it possible for me to drive in KSA with my Dubai registration? This would avoid for me to have to settle the financing here and pay the import taxes. I could then come back to Dubai every year for re-licensing.

Many thanks for your help

Expatguru said...

Belgian investor,

The downside of this arrangement is that you will be left without a vehicle insurance, which is illegal and also dangerous. You have no choice but to sell it in Dubai.

Very said...

I'm on a business visit to riyadh. I'm a dubai resident (with a dubai residency on my passport). I want to drive down from dubai to riyadh. can someone tell me what the formalities are?
p.s. - I have a dubai registered car & my car is hypothecated to a bank which gave me a loan for buying the car. So, do I need a NOC from the bank as well as my employer in Saudi / Dubai? Do I need an NOC from the Dubai Police?

Will greatly appreciate your experianced feedback.


Expatguru said...


I am not aware of the rules of UAE regarding taking your car out of the kingdom while it is hypothecated. You need a valid Saudi visa for entering the kingdom. You can drive here using your UAE license up to 3 months after your arrival. You must also have your original car registration papers with you when you drive down to the kingdom.

Expatguru said...


One of my readers, "Belgian investor" has sent in the following comment. I have not verified it myself, but am publishing it here in good faith. Please check with the relevant authorities in the UAE before you plan to drive to the kingdom.

Comment by "Belgian investor":

If you have bank financing on your car in the UAE, you require a NOC from the bank. With this NOC, you can go to the RTA and get an authorization to leave the country. Note that banks usually require the full amount of your financing to be deposited in cash in a blocked account for the duration of your trip outside the country.
Other than this, you might want to check the conditions of your insurance policy regarding coverage outside UAE.
Good luck!

Very said...

Your feedback has been of immense help.
Please keep up the good work!!

wannasrun said...

hi guru,
i just arrived in saudi on visit visa working for construction company in jeddah. i have my car with me which i brought from abu dhabi last year september sent it through my friends here who has iqamah. unfortunately due to some company problems i was stranded in my home country for about 7 months and so to my car here in jeddah. i really concern about the penalty. i will go next week to SASO to register the car under my friends name who collected the car before. could you please advise me on the procedure and should i tell them the truth that i;m the owner of the car. can i drive the car with uae license? thnks very much

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.

sand2kirt said...

dear expatguru

i really appreciate the work u r doing.
i am working in jizan area and got a job in oman. however i have a car registered in my name which i m not able to let off. somebody has put marhuna on this car and hence i m not able to renew the istemara or transfer it. i have knocked all doors of murur shurta and also a special dept of stolen cars but everybody just pushes the problem on other dept. i m helpless now. i cannot go to oman without final exit. please advice me where can i get some help to resolve this problem.

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...


I have recently book a used car from a well know car dealer, given all the advances and registration fee, now they put me on "Bukra Inshallah" since 3 weeks, I am fed up by all this because i need car urgently but due to their delay in process and not commencing me date i am stuck, can you advise what to do or any other legal ways to get my money back

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.

Rishad tk said...

I am an Indian working in Riyadh. Now I am planning to go for vacation 2 months. What will be the formalities for giving my car to my friend during this time.

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 and confidential reply by email.

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 and confidential reply by email.

Anonymous said...

Hello , I stay in KSA . I need to know the exact amount for the Car registation Renewal and also the procedure to pay online.

Anonymous said...


I stay in KSA. I need to know the exact amount for the car Registration Renewal and also the procedure to pay it online.