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How to start a foreign company in Saudi Arabia 

Looking for a vibrant and diverse environment to launch a new business as an expatriate? Saudi Arabia may be the perfect destination for you. In just the first three months of 2023 its economy grew by 3.9%, boosted by its many non-oil sectors. That creates a bustling marketplace filled with multiple industries, from manufacturing to agriculture, pharmaceuticals to retail. 

Saudi Arabia is also home to a growing expatriate community, and was recently considered as one of the world’s top countries for foreign nationals who wish to enjoy the modern and innovative society, supportive company formation procedures and efficient tax regimes. If you’d like to join them, know that it’s easy to get started with the right support and the right knowledge. Keep reading to learn the essentials of company formation in Saudi Arabia.  

Benefits of starting a foreign company in Saudi Arabia 

There are a lot of economic and social benefits to start a business in Saudi Arabia. For one, it boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the world, alongside top-tier healthcare, education, and general standard of living. 

Besides that, Saudi Arabia has also seen growths in foreign direct investments (FDI). FDI was at its highest in 2022, which was complemented by the Kingdom rising 30 spots to the 62nd out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s latest Doing Business report. That is strengthened by Saudi Arabia’s regulations that allow for fast and easy business setup, full foreign ownership, and financial incentives in a highly diversified economy that has modern infrastructures and superb government support. 

The steps to start a foreign business in Saudi Arabia 

Step 1: Decide on your business type & name 

Like most companies, it is imperative to start by choosing the business activity that you wish to pursue, and a name that best fits it. That’s because the business nature will help determine what jurisdiction works best for the business, as well as what license type and legal entity must be applied for. 

Step 2: Pick out a business location 

The Saudi Arabian government implemented a new rule this year, stating that companies who wish to continue doing business in the Kingdom must move their regional headquarters here by 2024, with certain exemptions. As such, it may be best to settle on a local location early on. There are many mainland and free zone options in Saudi Arabia, so it won’t be too hard to find a business center that best fits your company’s needs. 

Step 3: Apply for a SAGIA license & Commercial Registration 

Foreigners who wish to operate businesses in Saudi Arabia will need an investment license issued by the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority, or SAGIA. This will allow you to invest within the country, open a company branch, buy an existing business, or start an entirely new one.  

In addition, at this point you’ll also have to obtain a Commercial Registration from the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MoCI). 

Step 4: Send required documentation to the Ministry of Commerce & Industry 

Additional documentation may also be needed by MoCI before you can formally proceed with operations. These include: 

  • IDs and addresses of directors & shareholders 
  • Passport copies of directors & shareholders 
  • A copy of the trade name declaration 
  • Notarized Memorandum of Association & Articles of Association 
  • Bank reference letter 

Step 5: Secure visas, if needed 

Finally, you’ll need to secure your visa, as well as those of your dependents and employees – if any. This requires correspondence with the Ministry of Interior, the General Directorate of Passports, and the Ministry of Labor. 

Entering Saudi Arabia with Creative Zone 

The process of incorporating a company in Saudi Arabia isn’t too difficult, but working with formation experts is still ideal so that you don’t miss out on any important steps or documentation. Our team at Creative Zone will be more than happy to assist you. We’ll provide strategic, unbiased advice and setup services for your specific business requirements, so that you can focus on mapping out the future success of your company. 

To this point, we’ve already helped over 50,000 entrepreneurs and counting, so you can trust us with whatever you need. From securing business licenses and visas to finding office spaces or employees, we can do it all. Let us make your Saudi Arabia business journey devoid of any hassle – contact us today for a free consultation! 

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