Resident or an Expat, you can start a business in Saudi Arabia with SAGIA and business Licenses with documents and a proper Company registration process. There are other procedures that you need to follow and it might be a little challenging. That's why we, BMS Auditing guide you through all the steps in this article to start a business in KSA and establish your business effortlessly through the Business setup services in Saudi Arabia.

Being the biggest oil exporter in the world, Saudi Arabia has evolved into an international business center. Since then, the country has developed its industrial portfolio to involve power, telecommunication, healthcare, tourism, hospitality, and more.

Currently, the country’s strong focus has strengthened in expanding its economy and attracting foreign investment. The Saudi Vision 2030 development scheme prioritizes the introduction of small and medium businesses, foreign investment in progressive business sectors, and a blend of the Saudi economy with the global business world. 

This session discusses how can residents and ex-pats start a foreign business setup in Saudi Arabia.

Why Start a Business in Saudi Arabia?

You may have any reason to start a business in Saudi Arabia, However, when one thinks about starting a business in any of the Gulf Countries, it reminds you of flourishing commercial environments, ease of conducting business, and robust economies. There is yet another leading business hub in the Middle East, often looked upon by expatriates. Despite providing these benefits- it is Saudi Arabia!

Possessing the largest economy amongst the Arab states and hitting the top list of the 20 largest in the world, this country provides immense opportunities to every entrepreneur with the motivation and potential to succeed. From the setup process to tax efficiency, Saudi Arabia offers various reasons to launch a new business in the country. 

Here are the major reasons why you can start a business in Saudi Arabia:

Tax benefits

When you relocate or start a business in a new territory, you must ensure that it suits you, and for many more entrepreneurs, it means ensuring tax efficiency. Saudi Arabia tops in this case. Foreign investors have the minimum liability for personal income tax, while corporate tax stays at 15%. With Saudi Arabia implementing VAT, most goods and services are still exempted and hence are impacted by zero rates.  

Welcoming Environment

Presently Saudi Arabia is widely opening its arms to welcome the world. The country's rulers are committed to welcoming foreign travelers and investments for a diverse future for the Kingdom. Saudi citizens are known for their friendly approach and their hospitality attracts foreigners in investing in the country. 


Saudi Arabia works towards placing itself as the global technology center for the future. To achieve this, a set of initiatives launched worth a billion dollars, increased the tech contribution to GDP by over AED 50 billion, thus increasing the market sector by 50% and creating over 25,000 jobs. 

The investment in the tech sector led to comparable innovation in the kingdom, bringing dynamic opportunities to entrepreneurs. So, you are at the right place if you have great business ideas to convey!

Wider Economy

Like the UAE, Saudi Arabia has shown enthusiasm for expanding its economy farther from oil and gas. The kingdom’s rulers offered a huge amount to support businesses across various industries for a wide, strong, and secure economy. The emerging industries included tourism, pharmaceuticals, technology manufacturing, financial services, etc. 

Irrespective of the industry, if you contribute to improving the economy, Saudi Arabia has its support with an efficient business environment in Saudi Arabia. 

Safe, Secure and Improved Standard of Living

Saudi Arabia is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world, scoring 86/100 as per the Gallup Global Law and Order 2021, being just a step behind Canada, and ahead of the UK, Japan, and New Zealand. The country had been rated the safest of all G20 countries, as per the set of security indicators. 

Steps for Residents to Start a Business in KSA 

As a resident planning to start a company or a business in Saudi Arabia, you must consider certain procedures involved in forming a company. You must also collect the most relevant documents required before you step into the process. Let us look at the business setup process for residents in KSA.

  1. You need to register with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MOCI)
  2. Open a local Bank account in Saudi Arabia
  3. Register Wasel- a mandatory requirement of a local address to the government. LLCs require a physical local office lease, hence a virtual office address will not be sufficient
  4. You also need to register with the Ministry of Labor & Social Development (MLSD) visa-issuing authority to enable in-country labor
  5. Registration with the General Organization of Social Insurance (GOSI)- social insurance that is mandatory to process monthly salaries and maintain government records for the Saudisation quota system

Documents required to start the registration process:

  • Business License or the Commercial Registration (CR) issued by the MOCI. This certificate summarizes and enables the company to perform business activities in Saudi Arabia, and allows the same rights that are given to the citizens 
  • The Memorandum of Association (MoA) and the Articles of Association (AoA) approved by the MOCI and signed before the notary 
  • Incumbency Certificate
  • Passport copy of the appointed General Manager of the Saudi Arabian group

Steps for Expats or Foreigners to Start A Business in KSA

Can foreigners/ex-pats start a business in Saudi Arabia? Foreigners with 100% ownership can apply to start up a business in Saudi Arabia. Foreign investors will be granted a business license by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) / Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA).

Before a foreign investor applies for a business license, he should seek a free consultation with the best business consultant available in the country- BMS Auditing in Saudi Arabia! Our team gives a clear understanding of the business setup in KSA before getting into the actual process, which is as follows:

1. Choose the industry and the business type:

First, you should summarize the preferred industry you want to work in, and the related activities you would perform. This evaluates whether it is ideal to set up the business in the mainland of KSA or the free zone. It also indicates the type of license and legal structure required. 

2. Business location preferred

From 2023, Saudi Arabia would not issue licenses to foreign investors or businesses with no regional headquarters in the Kingdom. Hence, if you plan to set up a branch company, you must lease a business or work with a local service agent.

In the case of a new company, you could either choose the mainland location or sign up for a license package in the free zone.

3. Investment License (SAGIA License)

Being a foreigner planning to start a business in KSA, you should obtain a business license issued by the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA). Obtaining this license enables you to invest in the country, buy or establish a new company, or start a foreign branch.

You also should apply for a commercial registration (CR) certificate from the Ministry of Commerce & Investment in this phase.

4. Other Documentation

Now, there are a few other relevant documents you should obtain from the Ministry of Commerce, and to get this you can rely on BMS for the same. The team communicates with the relevant government bodies to help you obtain the Memorandum of Association and issue of Commercial Registration. To confirm the company's establishment, you should appoint a General Director and provide these documents:

  • ID proof and the address of directors and shareholders
  • Passport copies of shareholders and directors
  • Copy of trade name declaration
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Articles of Association (AOA)
  • Reference letter from the Bank

BMS also helps you get a business visa so you could live, work and settle in Saudi Arabia. 

Is it easy to Start a Business in Saudi Arabia?

Starting a business in Saudi Arabia could be challenging with legal and regulatory requirements to be mandatorily met. However, the government has been working to make the process simpler and easier for entrepreneurs. Factors such as the type of business, the industry in which it operates, and necessary licenses and permits can affect the ease of starting a business in the country.

Major Challenges Involved In Starting a Business in Saudi Arabia

Like the advantages, there are certain challenges involved in doing business in Saudi Arabia. Let us look at some of them:

  • Lacking Cultural Awareness
  • Lack of knowledge of the Role of the Hierarchy
  • No proper understanding of the Business Etiquette in the country 
  • Variation in the Work Week
  • Developing Relationships 
  • Need For Change in Branding 
  • Immigration standards are difficult to follow
  • Change in the Technical Standards
  • Lacking Intellectual Property Rights 
  • Delay in the payments from the government
  • Difficult to solve business disputes
  • Inflation 

From the above challenges, we can conclude that residents or foreigners who are not quite familiar with this country and its laws and principles, would find it difficult to start a business in KSA. 

Can I Start a Business in Saudi Arabia Without a Sponsor?

After taking the SAGIA license, you can start a business in Saudi Arabia without a Saudi sponsor. You can get help from any firms that offer Business setup services in KSA. BMS has the most efficient and reliable team who helps you start a business without a sponsor or a local agent. 

To avail of the extensive services and expand your business, you need to provide the following:

  • Company Registration Certificate at Country of Origin
  • Certificate of Tax Registration
  • For the private establishment or sole entrepreneurship, you need to present a copy of the owner’s passport
  • For companies, you need to submit the Articles of Association

Business Setup in KSA

BMS Auditing Saudi Arabia is a pioneer in providing quality business setup services in Saudi Arabia. The team is highly experienced and exceptionally knowledgeable in primary consultation, legal advice about the business, and obtaining a business visa in the country. 

The team assists both startups and established organizations. Comprehensive information about the nature of your business is necessary as we are at the initial phase, and hence a missing document or a piece of misleading information could lead to a huge failure in setting up the business. With the right advice from our consulting team, you can easily adapt the elements of the business model according to the needs and the facts of the local laws, customer preferences, and human resources. 

Planning to set up a business in Saudi Arabia? Need help? Reach out to our BMS office. We will serve you well!

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