Saudi Arabia’s Government announced that from 2015 onward, the new Muqeem (Iqama) Resident Card, will be the new Resident Identity Card for all expatriates who are residing in the Kingdom. The Muqeem Card will replace the Iqama starting on October 14, 2015 which is the Islamic New Year 1437 Hijri’s First Day.
Deputy Premier and Ministry of Interior, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif already launched the Muqeem resident card in Riyadh. With this launch, the name of the resident card was changed from Iqama to Muqeem. Since the entire process will be done online and the new resident cards will be sent through Saudi Post, there is no need for companies or individuals to visit any office.
The new Muqeem Resident Card will not have any expiry date but it has limited validity. The rules that govern the old Iqama cards did not change, only the name of the residency permit was changed:
- Your muqeem card contains the following information: Your Name, Photo, Number, Birth Date, Nationality, Religion, Occupation, Employer Name, Work Permit Number and Work Eligibility.
- Muqeem cards have a five year validity or longer but it has to be renewed by employers annually through the abshir or muqeem online service.
- Even with this card, expats cannot visit GCC countries WITHOUT their visa.
- This is not a permanent card for expats.
- Cards will only be issued when the expat has paid, has a valid work permit, and has medical insurance.
- All processes are made online to save time and the added layer of security prevents fraud.
- These cards are readable by special machines located at banks, checkpoints and institution places that can record information.
- There is a 3 year ban for expats who fail to go back on a reentry visa after leaving the Kingdom. But the expat can go back to Saudi Arabia after three years.
Exchanging the Muqeem card with the iqama is not required for those who still have valid iqamas, and is only needed for those whose iqamas have expired and have to be renewed.