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How foreigners can set up a business in Saudi Arabia

Tuesday November 30, 2021

Looking for a vibrant and diverse environment to launch a new business? Look no further than Saudi Arabia. With an economy worth an incredible 700bn, it accounts for almost a quarter of all economic activity in the MENA region.

Within that thriving marketplace are all manner of industries, from manufacturing and agriculture to pharmaceuticals and services. And, with the right support, it’s easy to get set up in any of them, whether you’re a GCC citizen or from further afield.

Saudi Arabia is home to a growing expatriate community, attracted by the nation’s vast and open economy, supportive company formation procedures and efficient tax regime. If you’d like to join them, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about company formation in Saudi Arabia, including:

  • The benefits of doing business in Saudi Arabia
  • The steps to starting a business in Saudi Arabia for foreigners
  • The cost of starting a business in Saudi Arabia for foreigners

Benefits of starting a business in Saudi Arabia for foreigners

There are many great economic and social reasons to set up in Saudi Arabia. Starting with the latter, it has one of the world’s lowest crime rates along with one of the highest standards of healthcare and education.

Foreigners doing business out here also benefit from minimal income and sales tax liability, as well as a great support network, particularly for non-oil-related businesses.

Saudi Arabia is also gaining in popularity thanks to its increased ease of doing business. Such is its progress in this regard that last year the kingdom outranked Qatar, India and Luxembourg in the World Bank Doing Business Index.

Steps to start a business in Saudi Arabia for foreigners

Before starting the process of applying for your business license, you should first book in for a free consultation with Creative Zone. We will help you gain a complete understanding of business setup in Saudi Arabia before guiding you through the following process.

Step 1 – Choose your industry and business structure
Firstly, you will need to outline the industry you wish to work in and the activities that you intend to undertake. This will determine whether it is best to setup in mainland Saudi or in a free economic zone. It will also dictate the type of license and legal entity that you require.

Step 2 – Business premises
From 2023, Saudi Arabia will no longer issue licenses to foreign companies that do not have a regional headquarters in the country. Therefore, if you are setting up a branch company, you will need to lease a business premises or work with a local service agent.

If you are starting a new company, you can either take on mainland premises or sign up to a license package in a free economic zone.

Step 3 – Investment license
As a foreigner looking to start a business in Saudi Arabia, you’ll need an investment license. This is issued by the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA). With this in hand, you can invest in the country, buy or establish a new company or set up a foreign branch.

You will also need to apply for a commercial registration certificate from the Ministry of Commerce and Investment at this stage.

Step 4 – Additional documentation
Next, you’ll need a few more documents from the Ministry of Commerce, and once again, Creative Zone can help you get them.

We’ll liaise with the relevant bodies to obtain your Memorandum of Association and your Issuance of Commercial Registration. To confirm the establishment of your company, you will also need to appoint a General Director and provide the following documentation:

  • Proof of ID and address for directors and shareholders
  • Passport copies for shareholders and directors
  • Copy of trade name confirmation
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Articles of Association (AOA)
  • • Bank reference letter

You will also need a business visa to live, work, and reside in Saudi Arabia. Again, Creative Zone can manage this process for you.

Cost of starting a business in Saudi Arabia

The total cost of setting up a new company in Saudi Arabia will depend on numerous factors. The size and nature of your business, number of employees, and location of your premises will all play a part.

To get a full and personalised breakdown of the costs involved in starting your Saudi business, get in touch with Creative Zone for a free consultation.

Working with Creative Zone

All businesses require a license to trade in Saudi Arabia. And while the steps required of overseas investors are not too complicated, a certain amount of prior knowledge is required. Specifically, it’s vital to ensure that your applications for your business visa/license are all completely free from mistakes.

This can be somewhat stressful, so as we have advised throughout this article, the fast-track to getting up and running is through working with a company formation specialist.

Here at Creative Zone, we offer you the best solutions to start your company in Saudi Arabia. You get fast, reliable and unbiased advice on your unique business setup requirements. We can help you choose the right kind of license for your business activity and take you through the entire process from start to finish.

You can let us deal with the hassle of registering a company while you focus on your business. And working with us means you get the best budget friendly and cost-effective solution to help make your business dream a reality.

Over 10 years, Creative Zone has helped more than 36,000 entrepreneurs set up their businesses. Whether it be a mainland business setup, offshore company setup, free zone company setup, or issuing of trade licenses and any related activity for registering a company, Creative Zone is your one-stop-shop.

Our customer-first focus and our staff who speak 22 languages means you get a tailored package to suit your specific needs. We have worked with clients from around the world, setting them up in over 200 different business activities.

Let Creative Zone make your journey into business ownership quick and hassle-free.


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