In 2013, there were an estimated 9.06 million expatriates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as per the report in the Saudi Gazette. While job opportunities draw in people from all over the world, particularly the developing nations of South East Asia, the legalities of the country continue to be obtuse and difficult to wrap one’s head around, starting from obtaining a residence permit or the ‘iqama’ to the complex processes of buying a car. If you are recent expatriate looking to buy a car in Riyadh, here are answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Steps to Buying a Car in Riyadh
1. Saudi Arabian Driver’s License: The first step to being eligible to buy a car in Riyadh is of course having a driver’s license of the country, which is only applicable to you if you are male. If you are a man, you may drive on a foreign license for up to three months but if you intend to stay longer, you must apply for the license. If you have an International driver’s license, you will be allowed to skip the first part of the driving test, but otherwise it is necessary for you to take it. There is an exception made for men from the United Kingdom, USA and Germany, who may exchange their license for a Saudi one.
2. Permission from your Sponsor: You are required to procure a letter from your sponsor, which is usually your employer, stating that they give you permission to own a car. If the company in question is not a government organization, the letter will further need to be attested by the Chamber of Commerce. Moreover, if you are looking to purchase a vehicle that seats more than five, you will have to prove that you have relocated with your family. While women are not allowed to drive, they are allowed to own cars. For such vehicles, the sponsor’s letter must specify that the buyer has family status.
3. Permission from al Morot: The al Morot is the traffic police of the Kingdom. An expatriate is required to obtain a letter of permission from the local traffic police station before he is deemed eligible to buy a car in Riyadh. For this, you are required to submit copies of the Iqama or the residence permit; yours if you are single, or your entire families, if you are purchasing a larger vehicle. Along with this, you will also need to submit a copy of your driver’s license.
4. Proof of Insurance: It is illegal to drive a vehicle without insurance or Ruksa, as it is called in Saudi Arabia. And if you purchase one from an exhibition/dealership, you will not be granted possession until you have proof of it. The exhibition could, however, help you with the process of obtaining insurance. Make sure that the round sticker for your windshield or the Fah is also given at this time, which is the proof of the car having been inspected and deemed road-worthy.
5. Vehicle Registration: The Istimarah or vehicle registration is the final step to becoming the rightful owner of a vehicle (unless you are opting to finance the purchase, in which case the repayment of the loan will mark the ownership). In order to procure this, another set of documents needs to be submitted to the al-Morot. These usually consist of the sales contract and the receipt of payment, the Istimarah and Fah in original, the initial letter of permission from the al-Marot, copies of the Iqama, copy of your Driver’s License and the proof of Ruksa.
With a little caution and help from a local friend, you may find it easier to buy a car in Riyadh. Be sure to adhere to other traffic rules, including the period inspections and renewal of Istimarah every three years.