SAUDI ARABIA: New Residence Permit Card Introduced

September 17, 2015

The government in Riyadh has announced that, from 14th October 2015, a brand new resident permit identification card called the “Muqeem” will be issued which will replace the existing card, the Iqama. The deputy premier and Ministry of Interior, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, launched this new ID card in a bid to reduce fraud and improve the efficiency of government e-systems. Each and every expatriate will be issued the Muqeem, rendering the current Iqama null and void.

The Muqeem card will display the holder”s photo and biometric details and will be valid for five years or more, as the card will not bear an expiry date. However, the holder”s employer will need to complete an annual renewal via the online Muqeem service, and the individual”s period of stay must be recorded through the Abshir Service in accordance with existing Iqama rules. It should be noted that residency laws will remain the same.

The Muqeem is fully electronic as all services related to it are now accessible exclusively online, and it will be scanned with dedicated machines that will be installed at checkpoints, banks and other establishments across the Kingdom.

The card will be issued to individuals and companies through Saudi Post, removing the need to visit the Passports Department”s offices, which the government hopes will be a more convenient method for expatriates. From 14thOctober no one will be permitted to visit the offices, as all of the Passport Department”s services will available online. Colonel Khalid Al Saykhan, the Director of Information Technology, stated that one of the primary reasons for the issuance of the Muqeem was to bring the Kingdom one step closer to achieving a completely e-government.

The government has also made a statement that should an expat leave Saudi Arabia on an Exit/Re-entry Visa and not return within the imposed time, they will not be granted access back into the Kingdom for a period of three years.

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