Saudi Arabia: Expats to get new IDs when renewing Iqamas

The new identity cards to be issued for expatriates starting October 15 will not be compulsory for those whose current Iqamas (residence permits) have not yet expired, according to the director general of the Passports Department (Jawazat).

“The expatriates whose residence permits are still valid do not have to replace them with the new identity cards,” Maj. Gen. Solaiman Al-Yahya said.

He said the carriers of valid residence permits can continue to use them until the time for their renewal has come. The new ID will be valid for five years. It will be renewed online every year.

The holders do not have to go to the Jawazat themselves but can do the renewal through the Interior Ministry’s Absher or Muqeem electronic systems.

“The current iqama should be sent to the Jawazat through the Saudi Post. It will be changed into the new ID and sent back by post to the beneficiary on his/her postal address,” Al-Yahya said.

He said the Jawazat is issuing the new Muqeem ID with the help of the National Information Center of the Interior Ministry and the Saudi Post.

“The five-year ID will bear no expiry date. It will carry the name of the expatriate, nationality, date of birth, occupation, religion, number of work permit (if there is any), employer’s name and telephone number,” he said.

Al-Yahya said the new Muqeem card is an identity document of the employee and the employer.

He said the Jawazat has completed all arrangements for the issuance of the new card.

The new cards have a number of features which make them tough to tamper with or forge. The annual fee to issue or renew a card will remain the same, but expatriates will have to pay for five years at one time.

Last month Al-Yahya said that expatriates caught committing minor residency law violations such as not carrying their Iqamas (residence permits) or carrying expired Iqamas will not be detained.

He said the Interior Ministry has started taking steps to reduce the number of cases of expatriates detained for petty residency violations.

“He said Jawazat is taking measures to expedite the procedures relating to expatriates.

“We are approaching a time when the Jawazat will not have any expatriates detained for passport violations,” Al-Yahya said.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK