Saturday, March 21, 2015

Final exit procedure from Saudi Arabia


I always used to say that the only thing certain in Saudi Arabia is uncertainty. Well, not exactly. For expatriates working in Saudi Arabia, one thing is certain - it is the final exit from the kingdom. The date of final departure may vary, but come what may, you must leave the kingdom one day or the other. With this solemn thought, I thought that it would be a good idea to document the exit procedures from the kingdom and give it as a checklist for the benefit of my beloved fellow expat brothers and sisters.

1. Whether you are going to break your contract or you would not like to renew it, you must give 30 days written notice to your employer. This would legally entitle you to get your End of Service benefits. As far as possible, try to make your exit as smooth as possible, without quarreling with your employer, whatever may be your grievances. After all, we have all come for money.

2. Remember that your housing contract is different from your employment contract. You would have to give a written notice to your house owner at least 30 days prior to your departure. You are legally bound to pay up for the remainder rent till the end of your housing contract. Usually, expats find fellow expats to occupy their houses and get the proportional rent from the newcomers.

3. If you have a landline/DSL connection from STC, I would advise you to surrender your connection at least 10 days prior to your departure. First go to STC and collect a printout of your pending bill. Then go to Arab National Bank, fill in an STC-specific form available there (it would be completely in Arabic, so you would have to take someone's help), pay up the amount, and bring back the receipt to STC. This is the procedure in the eastern province. In places like Riyadh, you can directly pay up the amount in STC. Take a photocopy of the bank receipt and the STC bill and keep them safe till you leave the kingdom. Get your connection cancelled in the STC system. Remember, you would not be given any receipt or proof of cancellation, so make sure that you actually verify yourself in the STC computer screen before leaving the office. The last thing you want to happen is to be sent back from the airport.

4. If you are with your family, I would advise you to send them home a few days prior to your departure. You don't want your family also to suffer in case you land in some kind of trouble, right?

5. Keep your SAWA/Mobily/Zain prepaid card with you with a decent balance. This would be your only mode of communication till you leave the kingdom. There is no need to surrender this. You can always transfer the remaining credit to your friends when you leave.

6. If you have any traffic fines pending, pay them up right away and keep clear.

7. If you have a car, sell it at least a week before you leave. Never EVER make the mistake of driving a car after you have sold it. It is quite tempting that you may ask your friend to use his car till you leave, but remember, in case of an unfortunate incident, you would be in really deep trouble.

8. You must make absolutely sure that the name has been transferred to the person to whom you have sold the car. Remember that you would not be given any proof of transfer, so I would advise you to take a photocopy of the buyer's istemara once you have sold it. Retain it with you till you leave the kingdom. There have been several cases where people have been sent back from the airport, because the name has not been transferred in the system even though you might have actually sold the car.

9. In case you are using VOIP for making internet phone calls, make sure that you have adequate credit balance. This would prove to be a blessing in the last few days.

10. Pay up all your dues and surrender your credit cards well in advance.

11. Try to dispose off your house along with the goods. You may not get the same price as what you purchased, but remember, you cannot save every single riyal.

12. Pay up your electricity bills and keep a copy of the receipt till you leave the kingdom.

13. Do not have any pending dues to anyone. Not only is it ethically wrong, it might even land you in trouble in the airport.

14. Before you submit your resignation, take an introduction letter from your employer with complete salary details. Some employers may not like to give it once you submit your resignation, so this is just in case.

15. A couple of days before your departure, send the most essential things you need back home by cargo. Remember, it costs money, so be sensible and send only those items which you think are badly needed. These days most things are available everywhere.

16. Withdraw almost all money from your account at least 2 weeks before you leave. Never EVER use the ATM in the last 15 days. The last thing you want is trouble with your bank because your ATM card got stuck up in a machine. Have all transactions only by cash.

17. Your ESB will be given only 2 days before you leave. Take a statement from your employer stating that this is your final settlement money and take a photocopy of this letter. If you are going to transfer money home from an exchange other than your regular bank, always make sure that you take a friend along with you. Take a black bag and try to keep a low profile. The time between removing cash from your bank and paying it at an exchange is extremely important. Remember, eyes are always watching you and the last thing you want is some thief to snatch your hard-earned money.

18. Always book your final departure a couple of days AFTER you send money home. Make sure that the amount has actually reached your account back home.

19. Take a statement from your bank that the account is closed and that there are no more dues. Keep this paper till you leave the kingdom.

20. When the final exit is stamped in your passport (which will be on a separate piece of paper stapled to your passport), take a photocopy of it and retain it even after you reach home. You will need this in case you want to return to the kingdom for employment. This is extremely important. The exit paper may or may not have a stamp, this is not so important. Having this paper is very cruicial.

A very important update:

As per an advisory from the Ministry of Immigration, Iqamas are supposed to be surrendered to the Passport Office before you leave the kingdom. The earlier practice of surrendering the Iqama at the airport has now been stopped. ) I would advise you to take a photocopy of your Iqama and get your sponsor's stamp and signature on it. This is to safeguard you at checkpoints, so that you can show to the police that your Iqama has already been given to your sponsor for surrendering to the passport office. As mentioned in my post (click here), please note that simply having an exit visa no longer guarantees that you will be out of the kingdom.

21. There is a column in this exit paper in which you have to sign. It is a declaration that all dues to you have been settled. By signing this, you are giving up your right to sue anyone at a later date. and unless you sign this paper, the guy in the immigration will not allow you to pass.

22. As already mentioned, make sure you collect the exit paper from the airport counter, otherwise you cannot return to the kingdom for employment.

23. In case you are leaving the kingdom along with your family, always make sure that you stand in the queue ahead of your family and not the other way round. In case your family stand before you and they are sent without a problem, but unfortunately you get stuck up due to any reason, you would have to return whereas your family cannot come back. To save yourself from this trauma, let your family always behind you so that if you are sent back, you can still be with your family.

24. Once your passport is stamped, you can relax as you are officially out of Paradise.