Saudi Landing Hard Cost Unveiled: What They're Not Telling You!

It is no secret that expansion to Saudi Arabia has become notorious for being extremely costly, with complaints of Corporate Service Providers (CSPs) and law firms charging sky-high fees for landing services rampant among foreign entrepreneurs. At Tawaref, we have heard similar feedback from the tens of startups we meet monthly. By and large, companies cite CapEx costs of landing as the number one reason why they delay their decision to land in Saudi Arabia. 

A popular Saudi CSP can set you back an astronomical 100k+ SR for just incorporating your company in the country. But does it really cost that much to simply get your business on the ground? Is it the government fees that are so high or is the majority pocketed by service providers? Most importantly, what is the total fair cost of landing in Saudi Arabia?

In this article as part of our Saudi Expansion series, we will find the answers to these questions as well as many more surrounding the hard costs that an entrepreneur must pay to land in Saudi Arabia. We will provide you with a checklist of all the hard costs of landing, including government fees, medical checkups and insurance, Iqama costs, and more. 

Government and Non-Government Hard Costs 

Compared to neighboring nations, government fees in Saudi Arabia are quite modest when it comes to administrative transactions. This includes opening a company, changing shareholders, opening a chamber of commerce, attestation fees, etc. 

It is when it comes to hiring a non-Saudi workforce that the costs begin to rapidly rise. Foreign workers are subject to certain additional costs just by virtue of their employment status. This includes the work visa fee,  Iqama fee, dependent fee, medical insurance, and other workforce-related fees. As the GM or founder will still be considered the first non-Saudi workforce member, their Iqama acquisition will form a significant chunk of the overall hard costs of landing

“Government fees in Saudi are is when it comes to hiring a non-Saudi workforce thatcosts rise rapidly”

Holistic List of ALL Hard Cost Elements:

The following section is a checklist of all items that make up the hard cost of opening a company in Saudi Arabia. Hint: You can use this checklist to negotiate with your CSP to make sure they are covering all their bases.

Please note, that this estimation does not include these main elements, as it varies based on company size, city of business operation, etc. 

  • Travel or accommodation costs of visiting Saudi for any Iqama retrieval purpose.
  • Visa issuance at the Saudi embassy in your home country (medical checkup, fingerprint scan, etc)
  • Corporate documents attestation costs in your home country 
  • Additional vertical licenses for special sectors (FinTech, hospital). Tawaref plans to publish detailed descriptions of each in future articles. 
  • Soft costs including lawyer and CSP fees. This will be discussed in detail in further articles. 




Investment/MISA License Fee


Investment license granted to foreign companies/entrepreneurs to allow operations in the Kingdom

Company Formation Fee 


Formal registration and announcement of your company. 

(Company name reservation is free)

Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership Fee 


Mandatory for attestation purposes

Currently waived for three years for new entrants

Investor Visa Issuance Fee


One-off fee to issue an investor work visa

Work Permit Renewal Fee: 


Annual fee to renew investor work permit

Residence card (Iqama) Fee: 


Annual fee to reside in Saudi

Exit/Entry Visa


Single or Multiple

Government Portals Registration Fee 


Only Meqeem and Qiwa charge a registration/ annual membership fee. 

Other portals including Mudded, GOSI, Zakat/VAT, Absher, and Nafath have no registration fee

Medical Insurance


Mandatory pre-Iqama registration. There are multiple tiers available offered by all brands.

Annual fee

Medical Checkup


Done twice (once at your home country and once at arrival in Saudi Arabia)

(Only Saudi medical checkup is covered in our cost estimation.)

National Address Fee


Can be an accelerator/VC address, a virtual address, or a hot desk from a co-working space

Annual Fee

Bank Account Opening 




Ministry of Foreign Affairs attestation, Chamber of Commerce attestation, legal translations, company seal/stamp, post-Iqama status update of company

Variable Costs Explained

The majority of the costs listed above are fixed flat charges. However, there are a few costs that are variable, with the fees changing depending on certain factors. The following explains these variable costs in detail:

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance depends on a few things, including age, gender, marital status, medical history, etc. As the age of the recipient increases, medical insurance will also become more expensive. Male founders are also cheaper than female founders. Apart from this, the price of your plan will depend on the features covered, brand of insurance covered, and the hospital network. 

Note: For this article, we will be assuming the most cost-effective medical insurance has been selected. 

National Address (ie. Office Rent)

The national address rate will depend on whether it is a virtual office, co-working space, or a dedicated apartment. If you manage to obtain your accelerator or VC’s address, this fee could even be waived entirely. However, using the latter may cause issues when you opt to open a bank account. To avoid such situations, it is advised to secure a proper national address beforehand for at least 6 months post-incorporation. Tawaref plans on discussing co-working spaces in greater detail in future articles.

Note: Our estimation is based on a virtual office for 6 months. 

Number of Iqamas

The Iqama is a vital document for any foreign entrepreneur. If a company has more than one 

Note: Our figures are in reference to the maintenance of a single Iqama. 

Exit/Entry Visa

Except for premium residents, all expatriates who reside in Saudi Arabia must issue an entry/exit visa when leaving the country. This can be granted for both single or multiple entries, depending on the traveler’s requirements. A single entry visa will set you back anywhere between 200 SR to 2300 SR, depending on the duration of your external stay. 

Note: Our estimation only includes a single exit/entry visa (200 SR)

Bottom Line: What is the Minimum Hard Cost to Land in Saudi?

After considering all the above, the total hard cost (inclusive of the entire checklist covered above, assuming the basic variable options) to incorporate in Saudi Arabia for a tech startup is anywhere between 20,000-25,000 SR (~$5,300-6,600)

Note: For traditional businesses operating under standard licenses, MISA license fee is higher, making the cost anywhere between 30,000-35,000 SR

“The total hard cost to incorporate in Saudi for a tech startup is around 20,000-25,000 SR”

Final Thoughts

We know this is huge news, considering certain lawyers and CSPs charge upwards of 100k SR just for incorporation. 

So, what is the fair price of a service provider, if any such thing exists? In the upcoming piece, Tawaref will attempt to provide a brief market’s soft costs of landing, categorizing CSPs and law firms into multiple price groups, shedding light on their services, cost drivers, the pros and cons of each tier, and more. 

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

Foreign Investment in Saudi Arabia: Exploring the Tangible Benefits and Key Features