Business Setup

How to Set Up a Business in Saudi Arabia? Business Owner’s Guide

How to Set Up a Business in Saudi Arabia? Business Owner’s Guide

Saudi Arabia is home to a rising expat community drawn by the country’s large and open economy, easy company establishment procedures, and effective tax system. Learn more about the advantages of doing business in Saudi Arabia, whether a foreigner can form a firm in the nation, what paperwork is needed to begin the process, and other crucial data.

Saudi Arabia is the largest economy among Arab states and ranks among the world’s top 20 strongest economies. As a result, it gives several prospects for any entrepreneur who chooses to establish a firm here. Saudi Arabia is not only the world’s largest oil exporter but also a significant international business hub. Every year, thousands of businessmen from the United States, China, the United Arab Emirates, India, and other nations start their own businesses here.

Saudi Arabia’s growth strategy until 2030 focuses on the establishment of small and medium-sized firms, as well as attracting foreign investment. As a result, now is the ideal time to launch a business in Saudi Arabia. How do I do it? We provide detailed directions in our materials. Explore more about our incorporation services in Saudi Arabia.

Advantages of doing business in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has numerous advantages for launching a business in the country, including a simpler start-up process and an effective tax structure.

Tax advantages: Foreign investors in Saudi Arabia pay a low personal income tax, while corporate tax remains 15%. Although Saudi Arabia has implemented VAT, most items and services remain exempt and so zero-rated.

Friendly environment: the country welcomes international visitors, entrepreneurs, and investors. The government is implementing programmes to entice foreigners, and the local population’s welcoming attitude promotes conducting business in Saudi Arabia.

Innovation: Saudi Arabia aspires to be a global technology hub and has announced a series of billion-dollar programmes that will boost the sector by 50% and create over 25,000 employees.

A safe place with a great quality of life: Saudi Arabia is regarded as one of the world’s safest countries, outranking even the United Kingdom, Japan, and New Zealand. The state was named the safest of all G20 countries based on a set of criteria.

Can a foreigner open a business in Saudi Arabia?

Foreigners can apply and start a business in Saudi Arabia. Only a few directions require the involvement of a local partner. In general, an expat is entitled to be the sole proprietor of a business.

How can a foreigner start a business in Saudi Arabia? Actions before starting your own business

Before founding a business in Saudi Arabia, foreigners must follow the following steps:

  1. Register with your country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.
  2. Create a local bank account in Saudi Arabia.
  3. Wasel must be registered with the local authorities. It is vital to know that an LLC requires a physical local office lease; hence, a virtual office address will not suffice.
  4. Register with the visa-granting body of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) to have the option to work in the country.
  5. Complete the General Organisation of Social Insurance (GOSI) Registration process; social insurance is required for working in Saudi Arabia.

For detailed guidance on owning a business in Saudi Arabia as a foreigner, refer to our article on Can a Foreigner Own a Business in Saudi Arabia?

The list of documents for starting the procedure for registering an enterprise in Saudi Arabia

– MOCI awarded a business licence or commercial registration (CR). This certificate generalises and authorises the firm to conduct business in Saudi Arabia, granting it the same rights as nationals.

– MOCI approved and notarized the Memorandum of Association (MoA) and Articles of Association (AoA).

– Position certificate.

– A copy of the designated general manager’s passport from Saudi Arabia.

How can a foreigner open a business in Saudi Arabia? Step-by-step instructions

To start your firm, you must first obtain a business licence from the Saudi General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

  1. Decide on the industry and type of business this will determine whether it is better to start your own business on Saudi Arabia’s mainland or in the free zone. The industry also specifies the sort of licence and legal structure needed.
  2. Determine the location of the firm  Beginning in 2023, Saudi Arabia will not give work licences to foreign investors or enterprises without regional headquarters in the Kingdom. As a result, if you intend to establish a branch company, you should rent a space or work with a local service agency. Entrepreneurs who establish a new corporation can select a mainland territory.
  3. Obtain a business licence – All foreigners planning to work in Saudi Arabia must obtain a business licence from the Saudi General Investment Authority (SAGIA). This document will allow an entrepreneur to invest in the country, buy or start a new business, or build a foreign branch. At this point, it is also worth contacting the Ministry of Trade and Investment to get a certificate of commercial registration (CR).
  4. Prepare the essential documentation – In order to validate the company’s formation, a general director must be appointed and the following package of documents prepared:

– Confirmation of the identities and addresses of directors and shareholders.

– Copies of shareholders and directors’ passports.

– A copy of the company’s name declaration.

– Memorandum of Association (MOA).

– Charter (AOA).

– A reference letter from the bank.

– A business visa is also required to live and work freely in Saudi Arabia.

What obstacles await an entrepreneur when starting his own business in Saudi Arabia?

Starting a business in Saudi Arabia might be difficult due to the complicated rules and various regulatory procedures. However, the country’s administration is aggressively attempting to streamline legislation for international investors and business owners.

The following factors can influence the ease of launching a business: the type of firm, the industry in which it operates, and the required licences and permissions.

The primary issues related to starting a business in Saudi Arabia include:

– The foreigner’s misunderstanding of Saudi Arabian culture, laws, and ideals.

– A lack of good business manners in the country.

– Branding needs to be changed.

– Complicated immigration laws.

– Changes to technical standards.

– Intellectual property rights are not adequately protected.

– Delay in government payments.

– A sophisticated process for resolving corporate conflicts.

– Inflation.

Is it possible to start a business in Saudi Arabia without a sponsor?

After receiving a SAGIA licence, an expat can launch a business in Saudi Arabia without the need for a Saudi sponsor. However, you can seek assistance from any corporation that provides business organisation services in Saudi Arabia.

This requires the following documents:

– A certificate of company registration from the country of origin.

– Certificate of tax registration.

– Private enterprise or FOP: a copy of the owner’s passport.

– Companies must file a charter.

Which city in Saudi Arabia is best for starting a business?

Sortlist claims that Riyadh is the greatest city in the Middle East and Central Africa for startups. The average broadband speed is 94.64 Mbps, which is faster than other cities in the region. There is also a high literacy rate here (95%).

What are the best industries for starting a small and medium-sized business in Saudi Arabia?

The most promising sectors are real estate, education, agriculture, technology, health care, luxury goods manufacture, construction materials, and so forth.

So, the procedure for a foreigner to start a business in Saudi Arabia comprises several stages, and the expat must also provide a suitable bundle of documentation.

For comprehensive guidance on launching your online business in the Saudi Arabia market, explore our article on Online Business in Saudi Arabia for valuable insights and strategies.


1. What are the initial steps for setting up a business in Saudi Arabia?

Begin by selecting a business structure, obtaining a commercial registration certificate, and reserving a trade name with the Ministry of Commerce and Investment.

2. What types of business structures are available for foreign investors?

Foreign investors can choose from various structures, including Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), Joint Stock Companies, and branches of foreign companies.

3. What are the requirements for obtaining a commercial registration certificate?

Requirements typically include a completed application form, identification documents, a valid lease agreement for office space, and any additional documents specified by the authorities.

4. How long does it take to complete the business registration process in Saudi Arabia?

The timeline can vary depending on the business structure and completeness of documentation. On average, the process may take several weeks to a few months.

5. Are there any restrictions on foreign ownership or investment in Saudi Arabia?

Recent changes have eased restrictions on foreign ownership in certain sectors. However, it’s crucial to check sector-specific regulations for any remaining restrictions.

6. What is the role of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) in business setup?

SAGIA facilitates and promotes foreign investment. They play a key role in granting foreign investment licenses and streamlining the overall process for investors.

7. What are the requirements for obtaining a foreign investment license?

Requirements include a detailed business plan, proof of financial capability, and any sector-specific documents. Engaging with SAGIA is essential for understanding the specific criteria.

8. How are taxes handled for businesses in Saudi Arabia?

Businesses are subject to corporate income tax, but there are tax incentives and exemptions for certain industries. Understanding the tax regulations is vital for effective financial planning.

9. What are the labor and employment considerations when setting up a business?

Employers need to comply with Saudization requirements, obtain work visas for expatriate employees, and adhere to labor laws regarding working hours, wages, and benefits.

10. Are there any industry-specific regulations or permits that businesses need to be aware of?

Some industries may have specific regulations or permits. Conduct thorough research to identify any industry-specific requirements and ensure compliance.

11. How can I open a bank account for my business in Saudi Arabia?

Opening a business bank account typically requires the commercial registration certificate, identification documents, and proof of address. Contacting banks directly will provide specific requirements.

12. What resources and support are available for foreign entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia?

The Saudi government provides support through organizations like SAGIA and offers resources such as economic cities and incubators to facilitate business growth.

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