Getting a Causeway toll card

In response to urban.turban's query, here's what you need to do to get a Causeway toll card. This will enable you to use the "Authorised personnel only" toll lane which is usually easier than the other lanes. On a bad day though, they use this as overflow so it won't usually help you then. It also gives you a 15% discount on the toll fees.

First, you need a bank account in Saudi with a debit/credit card. You can pay in cash but it involves an extra step which is definitely less convenient. You'll also need your iqama the first time you do this to actually get the card and to be able to pay at least SAR850.

The office you need to go to is usually open Sunday-Thursday only between the hours of 8:30 and 2pm. This might change, e.g. during Ramadan. It might be possible that it's closed for an hour for lunch although I get there first thing (my recommendation) so don't know about this. Don't forget prayer times too.

The office is on the Saudi side (so you need to plan to do a u-turn and cope with causeway traffic both ways if you are coming from Bahrain). From Bahrain, do all the Saudi procedures and turn left after the Costa coffee booth. The office is then on your right. There's a male and a female entrance. If you take your wife with an iqama, she might be able to get it done quicker. Who knows?

You'll get a number and you wait your turn. This can take 30+ minutes or even longer at busy times so bring a book or candy crush saga or whatever.

When your number comes up, tell them you want to get a card if it's your first time. They'll ask for your ID and process a new card for you. You'll be required to pay SAR850 in a card machine. You can only pay in SAR850 chunks. So, you pay SAR850, SAR1700, etc. It's up to you.

If your card doesn't work or you only have cash, they'll give you a piece of paper and direct you to go over to the bank near Kudu. They can't take cash so they'll ask you to pay it into the bank there, get a receipt and bring it back to them. The only good news about this is that you don't have to queue up again when you get back to the office. Just go to the front and they'll make some poor guy wait for you to finish your business.

The procedure to top up is exactly the same as getting the card for the first time except you don't need your ID. This means you can top up your own card plus a friend's if you want which I've done before and him for me.

After you've topped the card up, you can ask them how many trips it's valid for to work out when you need to come back. I always keep a little in reserve. Some guys just wait until it runs out and then go back when the card no longer works.

To use the card, just present it to the little brown box just to the left of the cash window at any toll booth (not just the authorised one). You'll hear a beep and the barrier will come up. Don't rush this. Sometimes it beeps and the light stays red if you're too hasty after the previous driver. I reckon you get charged for nothing when that happens, but I could be wrong.

As with all red tape in Saudi, any of this could change at any time so bear that in mind before you shoot the messenger.

Have fun...

Fine piece of writing there. Thank you.

:)  See you at the causeway then.

Agree, it is a good piece of writing, but just a couple of points of additional information, if I may:

1. You will also need to pay a one off fee of SAR20 for the card itself the first time.

2. When you pay SAR850 you actually get SAR1,000 credit on your card and as the toll fees are SAR25 in each direction, that gives you 40 round trips. I usually keep a reminder in the calendar on my phone, to remind me of when it is going to run out, just so I can get it topped up before it finally expires. But don't worry if you lose track, as the guys in the payment booths can tell you how much is left on the card after you have swiped it.

3. Maybe I have just been fortunate or it's the fact that I normally go to get mine topped up between 12noon and 2:00pm on a Thursday afternoon on the way home, but I've never had to wait anything like as long as 30 minutes. Then again I have screwed up and gone during prayer time when the place is in lockdown for at least 30 minutes, so definitely worth watching out for that.

4. The idea of taking your wife along to get it done quicker is a novel idea, but considering that women aren't allowed to drive in Saudi, not sure how that would work!

Finally agree with suburbansam that being Saudi anything and everything can and sometimes does change without notice, so beware  :(

Apologies, slight error in point 2 of my post above, your SAR850 will get you 40 one way trips and not 40 round trips. I usually top my card up with SAR1,700 which gets you 40 round trips, so l must have had that in the back of my mind.

Point noted.

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