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What is Required from Foreign Businesses for Opening a Bank Account in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Setup Practical Guides

27 Jun 2024

Dunya Hassanein

Opening a bank account is a vital component of successful business expansion in Saudi Arabia. This article offers a comprehensive guide to establishing a bank account for foreign-owned companies, detailing the essential procedures and required documents.

With global interest in establishing businesses in the Kingdom on the rise, there's a sustained uptick in demand for banking services that can cater to the needs of corporates as they expand their presence in the region’s fast-growing economy.

Once the company is successfully incorporated in Saudi Arabia, opening a corporate bank account becomes fundamental to unlocking new opportunities and driving business growth and scalability.

Businesses intending to open a bank account must have a registered entity in the Kingdom; therefore, establishing a corporate bank account in Saudi Arabia marks a step towards creating a sturdy foundation for effective, secure financial operations for businesses.

This ultimately enables them to access extensive benefits that come in multiple shapes and forms tailored to meet the specific needs of corporations, such as business credit cards that allow multi-location fund transfers, online banking services, and mobile banking. More customized offers can be rendered to corporate customers, such as trading and investments, the purchase of stocks and bonds, as well as treasury management.

Requirements for Opening a Bank Account in Saudi Arabia

A business bank account enables more streamlined financial tracking and ensures compliance with tax regulations and guidelines set forth by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), contributing to improving the overall financial governance of a business and bolstering the credibility and transparency of its operations.

Being one of the global financial centers, Saudi Arabia offers a wide choice of financial services offered by 37 banks, comprising three digital banks, 11 domestic banks, and 23 international ones operating under the regulatory oversight of SAMA, with each offering unique services and products with certain fees and requirements.

From there, selecting the right bank functions as the building block for opening an account that serves the needs of a business. Among the major local banks are Riyad Bank, Saudi Awwal Bank, Samba Financial Group, Al Rajhi Bank, and Saudi National Bank, while some of the international banks with Saudi branches include Emirates NBD, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank, and BNP Paribas, to name a few.

Document Checklist for Opening a Bank Account in Saudi Arabia

Prior to opening an account, certain information is expected by banks in Saudi Arabia about foreign-owned clients, including their professional backgrounds and detailed information about their business activities, among other things.

Consequently, opening a bank account can take a few weeks for applicants, but the timeline varies depending on the bank, the type of corporate entity, the transactions done, and the required documents.

Documents required to open a bank account as a Saudi entity include:

  • MISA license
  • Saudi entity’s CR
  • Proof of a national address
  • Copy of the general manager's Iqama permit (non-Saudis)
  • ID physical cards (Saudis and GCC nationals)
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association (AOA): it must include the GM's powers to open a bank account or a shareholder resolution or POA must be given to the GM.
  • VAT certificate

Sim cards or the authorized signatories must be linked to their Saudi ID.

Documents required for a parent company include:

  • Attested Parent Memorandum of Association or Parent Articles of Association (AoA)
  • Attested and Active Parent Commercial License
  • Ownership structure chart. That includes the name and passport number, nationality, ownership percentage of each company and individual involved in the ownership
  • IDs of the parent shareholders (owners)

Transferring Funds to Your Saudi Bank

Funding the account with some of the company's funds is required to take place within the first 60 days of account establishment. This is an essential requirement since doing otherwise will lead to the closure of the account. For foreigners, the minimum capital required to start a bank account is SR25,000.

Once the account is funded, the bank will be able to provide the necessary information and documentation for managing a corporate account. To be able to access the Etimad portal and bid on government tenders, obtaining the Saudization certificate is a prerequisite.

Using its in-depth knowledge of the banking landscape in Saudi Arabia, AstroLab’s on-ground team has been able to offer expert guidance for opening a bank account for more than 650 companies with varying financial structures, helping them fill out the banking forms to ensure compliance with bank requirements to perform due diligence checks.

Partnering with local business expansion platforms such as AstroLabs, can help foreign businesses unlock direct access to leading banks such as SAB, and other banks in the Kingdom including Riyad Bank and Albilad Bank – this allows companies entering the Kingdom to jump-start their operations to capitalize on emerging growth prospects

With the right measures in place, owning a bank account remains vital for businesses establishing a base in the Kingdom and a significant stepping stone towards nurturing a meaningful, wide-reaching presence to actively participate in its ongoing development spree in light of the Vision 2030 roadmap.

For more information, book a call with one of AstroLabs’ expansion team members here.

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