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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the MISA Investment License?

The MISA Investment License is a company license category, designed to attract established international companies to expand into Saudi Arabia. These companies must be able to provide audited financial statements for the last year as part of the setup process. The new Saudi entity being formed must be owned by the parent company and not individuals.

Who Is the MISA license for?

Common activities include technology, management consulting, media and event management. Certain activities are not permitted and/or require third party approval. Currently the government has given special attention to several sectors that would be attractive to foreign investment. Some of these sectors are education, logistics, manufacturing, entertainment, tourism, and culture. The Ministry of Investment, and other ministries, are spearheading several initiatives to help international companies in these sectors expand to KSA. Reach out to our team for advice and for a full list of activities.

Do I have to come to Saudi to finalize the process?

The assigned General Manager from your side would need to be present twice, once for issuing the Commercial Registration (CR), and again for issuing the Residency Card*. *The company may choose to grant one of our team members on the ground a PoA which will eliminate the need for the first visit.

How long will the process take to register a company?

We are currently achieving MISA license issuance, Commercial Registration (CR), and Chamber of Commerce (CoC) certification within 2-3 weeks. The company will be fully established within 3 months.

What are the tax regulations in Saudi?

Tax is registered through GAZT - General Authority for Zakat and Tax. MISA entities are subject to taxation in Saudi Arabia. Below is an indicative guide, but we recommend you seek advice from a tax lawyer to discuss your company’s particular requirements. • 20% tax on net profit for the portion of the company owned by non-Saudi entities
• 15% VAT For a detailed guide to tax developments in Saudi, visit Deloitte tax@hand or for a more comprehensive guide, please refer to their 2019 International Tax Highlights and visit the official GAZT website.

What is Saudization?

Saudization is officially known as the Saudi Nationalisation Scheme or Nitaqat, a policy implemented by the Ministry of Labour, whereby Saudi companies are required to hire Saudi Nationals on a quota basis. Generally, if you have 5 employees or less, you are only required to hire one Saudi national. Once you exceed 5 employees, you will have to follow the Saudization Nitaqat system based on your size and industry. After getting your General Manager's visa, you will not be able to process their residency ID without hiring your first Saudi employee. The employer must contribute 12% of the Saudi employee’s salary to GOSI and the employee contributes 10%. More on GOSI.

What is an Iqama and do I need one?

An Iqama is a residence permit. The local employer applies and secures the work permit and Iqama so that the employee can legally work and live in the KSA. The employer is considered the local sponsor. An Iqama is issued to expatriates who arrive in KSA with an employment visa. The term of employment is limited to the amount of time listed on the work permit. This is currently set at one year for work at private companies, but there is an option to renew the permit after one year. More information on residency permits.

When can I open a Business Bank Account?

This is the final step in the full process. After gathering all the required documents, the process of opening a bank account is initiated. Each bank is different in terms of speed and customer service. Standard requirements from the banks:

  • AoA of the parent company
  • A document authorizing the GM to open and manage the bank account (if not mentioned already as an authority in the AoA of the local company)
  • The AoA of the local company
  • ID copy of the GM
  • Some banks require an in-person visit to the local company’s office
  • Some standard forms and applications from the bank
Please note: some banks treat companies on a case-by-case basis, which might impact the type of requirements needed.

Do I need to have a physical address to set up my business in Saudi?

You are required to register a physical office to open a company in Saudi Arabia and the AstroLabs Riyadh coworking space serves as your soft landing and registered address for the initial three months as part of our setup packages. This is in a prime location in North Riyadh with a large outdoor terrace that provides you with a scalable office solution that grows with your team. This is a purpose-built workspace with fast WiFi, ample meeting rooms, and free printing enabling you to also utilize the coworking space at AstroLabs Dubai whenever traveling on business.

What is Muqeem?

To help control the flow of expatriates, the Saudi government through Al-ELM maintains a service called Muqeem, which consists of a database which is updated dynamically whenever someone enters or exits the country, or is issued with a new visa or Iqama. The Iqama card is the essential ID for expats working in Saudi Arabia. It is also known as a Muqeem card and is the most important document you will have in the kingdom, without it you will not be able to live or work in the country. Once you have your Muqeem card you will register with the Muqeem portal which enables re-entry visas to be issued and the renewal of residence permits.

What is Absher?

Absher is the official individuals eServices Mobile Application which allows citizens of and residents in Saudi Arabia to use a variety of governmental services. According to the Ministry of the Interior, Absher has more than 11 million users.

What will I get if I set up my company through AstroLabs?

We’ll help you issue all of the required licenses to operate your company in Saudi Arabia with 100% foreign ownership, including registering with the Ministry of Investment (MISA), Ministry of Commerce (Commercial Registration), Chamber of Commerce (CoC), Ministry of Labor (MoL), General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GAZT), and Wasel Address. After we complete these steps on your behalf, you’ll be able to open a bank account, sponsor visas, and start doing business legally across Saudi Arabia. We include in our package three months of coworking at AstroLabs Riyadh for the first member of your team, serving as your soft-landing office.

Why should I set up through AstroLabs?

AstroLabs’ specialized team in Riyadh has navigated the complex and time consuming business license setup process for 60 companies to date. We will help you set up a 100% foreign-owned onshore entity without the need for a local partner. You will be able to operate anywhere in the Kingdom with no minimum capital requirement. AstroLabs will help you get licensed in an expedited time frame of 2-3 weeks and our coworking space in Riyadh serves as your soft landing as you are required to register a physical office to open a company in Saudi Arabia. AstroLabs Riyadh is a purpose-built workspace with WiFi, meeting rooms, and office supplies, offering you a scalable office solution that grows with your team. Additionally, you will be part of the AstroLabs community which would help you get new partners, potential clients, and subsidized services.

The names and abbreviations used throughout the process are quite confusing, how do I know what they all mean?

Click here for a full list of Definitions of some of the Key Terms.

Get in touch with us for more information.

One of our specialized team members will be in contact to assist you.