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Employment Taxation for Expats in Saudi Arabia

Submitted: July 2014

Saudi Arabia does not impose tax on earnings from employment, so whether an expat is resident or non-resident in the country is not relevant. The only thing that residence may affect is an expat's treatment under tax treaties.

If you are a self-employed professional such as a lawyer or doctor in Saudi Arabia you will be taxed on your income (after allowable costs) at varying rates, according to your level of net income, as is shown in the table below.

Income SARRate
Up to 6,0000.0%
From 6,001 to 10,0005.0%
From 10,001 to 20,00010.0%
From 20,001 to 30,00020.0%
Over 30,00030.0%

In order to work in Saudi Arabia, it is necessary to obtain a work visa. This requires a sponsor in Saudi Arabia (usually your employer), who will apply for the work visa on your behalf. Your employer will then send your contract of employment, and a work visa authorisation number, which proves to the Saudi Embassy in your home country that an application for a visa has been made. You then need to deal with the Embassy. This is a complex process and will require you to provide:

  • a medical test report no more than three months old, including tests for HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis, and also covering blood counts and urine sample, together with a chest x-ray.
  • a passport covering the entire duration of your intended stay, with at least two blank pages that face each other
  • six colour passport photos, you will need more than this for various purposes once you are in Saudi Arabia, so it is probably best to get another dozen copies. If they all match, it prevents any possible confusion.
  • a signed employment contract (signed by you), and
  • a police clearance document.

Once you are in Saudi Arabia, you can apply for an Iqama which is a residency permit.

You should be aware that:

  • you cannot leave Saudi Arabia (even for a short break) without an exit visa
  • there are heavy fines for overstaying your visa, and
  • that it is the expiry date on your visa that matters, not the date on your Iqama.

There are other forms of visa such as a business visa, which are simpler to obtain for short visits to the country, and which can also cover multiple entries.

 

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