A guide to settling all your affairs before leaving the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Living in a foreign country might be a permanent thing for you or even just a temporary adventure.
In some countries, you can actually lay roots and the longer you stay, the closer you are to becoming an official citizen of the country. In others, you can be born and raised in a country and stay there until the day you let out your last breath and still wouldn't have become an official citizen of the country.
Saudi Arabia is one of those countries. Unfortunately, despite the topic being discussed, you cannot be awarded citizenship in the country. But leaving the country isn't as easy as just packing your bags, getting on a plane and going. You first need to apply for a final exit visa, get all your affairs in order, get your final exit stamp and in between usually sort out life as well. Unfortunately, you will be stopped at the airport if you are trying to permanently leave the country without your affairs being in order.
Here are some of the most important things to remember while you are busy preparing to leave the Kingdom:
Hand in your resignation
When you decide that it is time for you to move on and leave Saudi Arabia, the first step that you should take is to inform your employer. You will need to hand in your resignation and inform your employer that you are planning to leave the country.
According to the Saudi Labour Law you will have to work 30 days’ notice period but this can differ as it depends what stands in your employment contract. During these 30-days, you will have to finalise your projects and do a handover to your colleagues.
Notify your landlord
The next step in the process is that you will need to notify your landlord that you will be moving out. If your planning worked out in such a way that you are leaving the country around the time that your leasing contract is expiring, then it should be quite a straightforward process of handing over the keys, getting your deposit back and heading on your way.
If you however still have a couple of months left on your leasing contract, then the process won’t be as straightforward. There are usually penalties that come with breaking a contract. The best option is to try and find someone to take over the contract from you.
In case you cannot find a new tenant for your apartment, then you will have to pay the penalty for breaking the contract. This is usually a percentage of the remainder of the contract that is left. If you have paid in advance then the money is likely to be deducted from that amount, but do keep in mind that you most likely won’t get any of the remainders of the money paid back to you.
The standard agreement on leasing contracts is that you need to give at least 30 days’ notice before moving out of the apartment or villa. Be sure to refer back to your contract regarding the terms and conditions.
Withdraw your money from your bank account
Once you have submitted your resignation and the bank has been informed, they will freeze all of your bank accounts and you won’t be able to access your money. It is thus better to withdraw all your money after handing in your resignation to ensure that you don’t get stuck in a difficult situation without cash.
Send your family home
It is recommended to send your family to your next destination ahead of yourself while you wrap up everything in Saudi. This will also ensure that you avoid any possible legal issues or problems in the future. Ensure that you pay any outstanding dependant fees, bills or fines that are on any of their names before they leave the country.
Sending your belongings home / Getting rid of your belongings
Whether or not you rented a furnished apartment in Saudi Arabia, you will acquire a number of items during your stay in the country. As you are limited to what you can take with you on the airplane, you will need to decide what you are going to do with all your belongings. You have one of three options that you can follow: Sell your items, give everything away / throw it away or ship it back home.
Giving your items away is most probably the least effort but depending on your point of view, it also has the least amount of benefits.
Deciding to sell your items will be a more lengthy process but you will get money in return for your items. There are numerous online websites that you can make use of to sell your items. Just remember that people will want to come and look at the items so you will have to make yourself available for viewings. You will also need to realise that the possibility is there that you might not be able to sell all your items and might end up having to sell them for really cheap or leave them behind.
Shipping your belongings to your next destination can be an expensive exercise but it also means that you won’t have to purchase everything again. There are numerous companies that will be able to assist you with shipping your items. A quick Google search will be able to help you with this.
Selling your car
As with your household items, you would want to sell all your possessions before you leave the country and your car is one of them. Receiving the price that you are looking for on your car can take a while.
A good place to start is to advertise your car online. If you, however, can’t find a serious buyer for your car, then you can go to Haraj and try to sell it there. The vehicle ownership transfer only takes a day so try and get the transfer done as soon as the car is sold. And then double check that the name transfer was successful before you leave the country. You can go to the Ministry of Interior’s website to confirm whether, or not the ownership has been transferred.
Settle all your outstanding fines
You might be denied your final exit visa if you have any fines listed against you. It is best to pay your fines as soon as you have received them. If you are unsure whether or not you have any outstanding fines, then you can have a look on the Ministry of Interior’s website .
Settle all your accounts
Make sure to pay any outstanding balances on accounts and money that you might have borrowed. You can still do a workaround for money that you owe individuals (if they don't complain to the police before you leave) but it will more likely than not cause problems for you if you try to leave the country while still indebted to a company.
You will be stopped at the airport if you try to leave the country while still having outstanding accounts.
Cancel your landlines, telephone bills and sim cards
It is recommended that you cancel your landline connection at least 15 days before processing of your final exit visa. The process is quite straight forward: simply call your service provider and ask him to cancel your account. You will have to pay a penalty if you are breaking your contract as well as any other outstanding balances.
It is advisable to get a prepaid SIM card and to ensure that there is more than enough airtime on it when you head to the airport as this will be your only means of communication for the time being.
Cancel and hand in your credit cards
As with all your other accounts in Saudi Arabia, you will have to clear your credit card before you can leave the country. Settle your credit cards at the bank and then hand your credit cards over to the bank. Sometimes it takes a couple of days for your credit card to be cancelled and you might face difficulty at the airport if they have not yet been cancelled. Handing your credit cards over to the bank will give the authorities some peace of mind and help make your departure smooth and easy.
Apply for a Police Clearance Certificate
A lot of people don’t think of this but applying for a Police Clearance Certificate will save you a lot of effort in the future. Some countries require you to submit a Police Clearance Certificate when applying for a visa and it can be rather challenging applying for one if you are not in Saudi Arabia. This is also important if you do have a criminal record in Saudi.
You can easily apply for a Police Clearance Certificate from the Police Department.
Close your bank account
Be sure to first withdraw all your money from your bank account before closing your bank account. Once it has been closed, ask the bank for a statement confirming that the account has been closed and that all debts have been settled. We recommend leaving this as one of the last things to do in case you have cheque’s that needs to be processed through your account or online payments that you might need to make.
Once your final exit visa is processed
The validity of your iqama becomes null and void once you have received your final exit visa. You then need to leave the Kingdom before your final exit visa expired - this is usually 60 days from the day on which it was issued. It is possible to cancel your final exit visa before leaving the country but you will however have to pay a penalty for this.
Collect your end of term benefits
One of the perks of working in the Middle East is the End of Service Benefit you receive after having worked at the company for a specific period of time. You will usually receive your End of Service Benefit 2 days before you leave. Request from your company to give it to you in cash as your bank account would most likely have been frozen already at this point in time.
Get your final visa stamped
The last things that you need to do on this journey is that once you reach the airport you need to get your final visa stamped by the immigration authorities. It is usually also a good idea to request a final end of service paper from your employees and have that stamped by the immigration authorities.
It might seem like a lot to do but don’t get yourself worked up about everything that needs to happen before you leave. Make a list of all the errands that you need to run before leaving and take it one day at a time. You will get everything done in time.