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Reviewed July 2024

Upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, all expatriate residents on work and dependent visas will want to secure an Iqama as soon as possible. This article provides a helpful guide through the process of obtaining your ID in the Kingdom, applicable to both you and your family.

Read on as Wego lays out a comprehensive guide on the Iqama ID.

What is an Iqama ID?

Iqama is a residence permit issued to all expat residents in Saudi Arabia by the Ministry of Interior. It is of paramount importance that all expat residents arriving in Saudi Arabia on work and dependent visas possess a valid Iqama ID.

The Iqama ID is a rigid and rectangular card that features your name, photograph, nationality, and date of birth. It also displays the employer, nationality, and a 10-digit identification number of the holder. 

What is an Iqama number?

The Iqama number, a 10-digit numeric combination, can be found on your Iqama card. It’s typically located at the bottom center of the front page or beneath your picture. This number is crucial for checking your Iqama status online via the Ministry of Interior (MoI) website in Saudi Arabia. For a more detailed guide on this subject, please refer to our dedicated Iqama number article.

What are the benefits of Iqama ID?

The Iqama ID offers several benefits that are crucial for expatriate residents living and working in the Kingdom. Key benefits include:

  • identification: It serves as an official ID card, required for daily activities such as banking, medical services, and more
  • banking: The Iqama ID is required to open a new bank account in Saudi Arabia and to send money abroad
  • telecommunication: A valid Iqama ID is also required to obtain a SIM card
  • visa related issues: Iqama holders can get a Hajj or Umrah permit, exit/re-entry visas, apply and check for the final exit visa
  • sponsoring dependents: Anyone having the Iqama ID can sponsor his family and represent them in any legal matter

How to apply for an Iqama ID?

The process of obtaining an Iqama ID in Saudi Arabia involves several steps, typically facilitated by your sponsor in the country. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Secure sponsorship

To apply for an Iqama ID, you first need to secure sponsorship from an employer in Saudi Arabia. This employer should be a Saudi Arabian company or a company authorized to operate within the country.

Step 2: Apply for a block visa

Your sponsor will then apply for block visa approval from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. The ministry issues these quotas to enable local employers to sponsor foreign employees for long-term employment.

Step 3: Obtain visa authorization number and power of attorney

Once the block visa approval is obtained, your sponsor will request a visa authorization number and power of attorney from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia. This allows your employer to apply for a work visa on your behalf.

Step 4: Secure a work visa

Your sponsor will submit the work visa application along with all required documents to the Ministry. During this time, you’ll need to undergo a medical test and obtain a health certificate confirming your fitness for work. The status of your medical health certificate can be checked via the Ministry of Health website.

Step 5: Enter Saudi Arabia

After your work visa is approved, you can enter Saudi Arabia and start working under your sponsor. However, a work permit and Iqama application must be submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development within 90 days of your arrival. If you need to leave the country at any point during your Iqama validity, you’ll need to secure an exit and re-entry permit from the Ministry.

Step 6: Receive your Iqama ID

Upon approval of your application, you’ll receive the Iqama ID card. This card includes your personal details, employer information, and a unique identification number.

Once your Iqama has been approved, you can sponsor your family members to come to Saudi Arabia. Although you’ll be the official sponsor for your family, your employer can assist you with the application procedure.

What is the fee for the Iqama ID?

The cost to issue or renew an Iqama is SAR 650 per year, which can be paid in quarterly installments:

  • 3 months – SAR 163
  • 6 months – SAR 325
  • 9 months – SAR 488
  • 12 months – SAR 650

Please note that the renewal of  Iqama should be reported at least three days before the expiry date. If there is no report for the renewal without applicable reason, an individual or private company has to pay double the iqama fees for their employee.

How do I perform an Iqama check?

You can check the status and expiry date of your Iqama ID online, both with or without an Absher account. For more information, please visit our dedicated article on Iqama check.


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