The expat ID in Saudi Arabia


The Iqama card is the essential ID for expats working in Saudi Arabia; without one, you will not be able to work or live in the country. Also known as a Muqeem card, this ID is the most important document you will have in the kingdom.

In 2015, the Iqama card was officially given a new name: the Muqeem card. However, most sources and websites - including the Saudi government’s official pages, - still refer to the ID as an Iqama card. In this article, we have also chosen to refer to the card as an Iqama.

The Iqama card is a work and residence permit for expats living in Saudi Arabia. It is a credit card sized plastic card featuring your full name, date of birth, nationality, religion, job title, employer name, city of residence, Iqama number and the card’s expiry date.

As the card is proof of your legal status in the kingdom, you need to carry it with you at all times. If the police stop you and you do not have your Iqama card, you can be subject to high fines and even jail time.

How to get one

Getting an Iqama is really easy as your employer takes care of your application. The only thing you need to do is go to a medical check in an approved medical centre (your employer will tell you which one to go to) and provide your employer with your passport, a couple of passport photos and your completed and signed visa application. In most cases, your employer will also pay the application fee, but it might be a good call to have this put in your employment contract.

You need to have your Iqama card within 90 days of your arrival in Saudi Arabia. If you have not received your Iqama card after one month, you should regularly ask your employer about its status until you receive it.

Iqama for family members

If you are moving to Saudi Arabia with your family, it is your responsibility to apply for Iqama cards for all family members accompanying you: in the same way your employer acts as your sponsor, you act as the sponsor for your family members. You have to have your own Iqama card before you can start the application process for your family members.

You can find the application process (including all the documents you need to provide) here . If you have any questions, you can make an appointment to talk to a civil servant who can help you with your application(s).

Validity and lost card

Iqama cards have expiry dates. The date will be stated on the card but you can check both the expiry date and validity of your card any time on the Ministry of Interior’s website . When your card runs out, it will need to be renewed (check with your employer how to do this).

Your Iqama card is tied to your work contract so naturally, if you lose your job or your contract expires and is not renewed, your Iqama card will not be valid and you will not be able to stay in Saudi Arabia.

If you lose your Iqama, you need to report  it to your employer and the police within 24 hours to avoid being fined.

Abshir service

Saudi Arabia has an extensive one-stop online portal for expats called the Abshir service . Here you can check the validity of your Iqama card, apply for and manage your family member’s card, report a lost card and more. Find out how to register here .

Further reading

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