Types of Foreign Investment Licenses in Saudi Arabia

Once entrepreneurs have grasped the Saudi business scene, setup costs, and day-to-day expenses, it's time to delve into the process of launching their venture.

First up: obtaining a foreign investment license. In Saudi Arabia, entrepreneurs must secure an investment license relevant to their business activities. The Ministry of Services issues various types, each with specific criteria.  For most industries, there are no major capital requirements, and an entrepreneur can get a license in most situations. However, others demand meeting particular conditions.

In this guide, we'll outline the different types of foreign investment licenses in Saudi Arabia, helping you determine the right one for your company. 

Note: This article provides a general overview of the process. For a more detailed consultation, contact Tawaref

Most Common Licenses


This is the most common license issued for companies that conduct business activities in the following sectors: Construction, Administrative Investment, Information Technology, Tourism, Training, Health, Insurance and Reinsurance, Education, Advertising and Media, logistics services, Organizing Exhibitions, Catering and Food Services, Financial Services, Aviation and Handling Services, etc.)


Often referred to as the ‘startup license’, this is geared towards business leaders looking to start new tech-savvy, standout companies which aim to grow and offer better products or services in the market. It is the only checkpoint to conduct business in Saudi Arabia, unlike other industries which may require further documentation and requirements.


Issued to companies involved in the Saudi market's wholesale and retail trade. Depending on whether the company is co-owned by a Saudi shareholder or 100% foreign will change the guidelines and conditions of ownership. 


Businesses that conduct industrial activities fall under this category, including manufacturing, heavy industrial work, and light plants. Foreign investors may establish fully-owned companies under this license. 

Real Estate

Awarded to foreign companies conducting large-scale projects with hefty budgets. No activity may be conducted in the realm of holy cities Mecca and Medina.  

Holistic List of all Other Licenses

  1. Transport: Issued to practice bus, metro, or other public transportation within cities. 
  2. Agricultural: Awarded for agricultural activities in the country.
  3. Consulting: For engineering consultation service providers.. 
  4. Professional: Issued to companies conducting professional services.
  5. Mining: Businesses wishing to conduct mining activities must obtain this license
  6. Audio Visual Media: For entertainment companies in the audiovisual industry 
  7. Scientific and Technical Office: Provided for foreign companies that distribute products in Saudi through an agent and now want to open an office in the Kingdom. 
  8. Agents and Service Workers Provision: For domestic labor placement services and temporary home services employment agencies. 
  9. Printing and Publishing: Awarded to companies that work in printing and publishing.
  10. Regional Headquarters (RHQ): Multinational groups who are looking to establish their headquarters in Saudi Arabia are offered this license with certain benefits. 
  11. Foreign Law Firms: For companies that provide legal services through licensed Saudi lawyers. 

Saudi Expansion Series

This article is part of the Saudi Expansion series, aiming to educate international entrepreneurs and business owners on Saudi Arabia's foreign investment regime for a smooth landing. With a focus on original, technical, and informative content, our goal is to get business owners closer to securing that first riyal in their pocket.

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