Bringing Stepchild / Step-Child to Saudi Arabia

I wanted to share my experience of bringing my stepdaughter to Saudi Arabia.

I had kids on my iqama in Saudi Arabia.  I got divorced, my ex-wife did not return but my kids continued to retain their iqamas.  I got remarried and my new wife has a daughter from her previous marriage.

Overall, the attitude of the Istiqdam staff is very dismissive, and they don't speak English.  It would be better to take an Arabic speaker, preferably a Government Relations Officer (GRO), with you.

You require the following documents:
(i)  Your divorce certificate for the previous marriage (in case your ex had been a resident in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as your dependent).  It should be translated into Arabic, and should be attested by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).  Please read my experience below on how I managed this.
(ii) Legal grounds for your kids from your previous marriage to be in KSA, in case they are residents of KSA or you intend to bring them to KSA.  Please see my experience below on how I managed this.
(iii) Your marriage certificate (for the new marriage), translated into Arabic, and attested by the issuing country's or your home country's Saudi embassy, and then by the Saudi MoFA.
(iv)  Your stepchild's birth certificate, translated into Arabic, and attested by the Saudi embassy in your home country and then by the Saudi MoFA
(iv) Custody certificate for your stepchild, favoring your spouse, translated into Arabic, and attested by the issuing country's Saudi embassy and then by the Saudi MoFA.
(v)  Completed family visa form (you can find this through a Google search).  The form is in Arabic and should be completed in Arabic.
(vi)   Proof of online payment to bring family (SAR 2,000) and paid through your bank.
(vii)  Your original education degree, attested by the Saudi embassy in your country and the Saudi MoFA
(viii)  All passport and iqama copies as applicable (you, your ex in case she has been to KSA as your dependent, your new spouse,  your children who are in KSA or you intend to bring to KSA and your stepchildren who you intend to bring to KSA)

You must also ensure that your ex has been removed from your iqama in the Jawazat system run by the Ministry of Interior (MoI), in case your ex had been a Saudi iqama holder as your dependent.  Simply submitting your ex's iqama to the Jawazat is not enough.  There is a small process.  No one guided me.  No one helped me.  I went to Jawazat and they told me she is already removed.  I went to Istiqdam and they told me she is not removed.  They played ping pong for a while.  Until I used a friend's GRO.


1st attempt
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I took the following documents to the Istiqdam in Riyadh:
a.  Marriage certificate, translated into Arabic and attested by the Saudi embassy in the country of issuance, and by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
b.  Custody certificate for my stepdaughter favoring my wife, translated into Arabic, and attested by the Saudi Embassy in the country of issuance and the MoFA in KSA.
c.  Birth certificate for my stepdaughter, translated into Arabic and stamped by Saudi embassy and the Saudi MoFA
d.  My passport and iqama copies.
e.  Passport copies for my wife and stepdaughter.
f.  Completed family visa form
g.   Proof of online payment to bring family (SAR 2,000)

I was turned away and was asked to bring the following additional documents
(i)  Permission from my stepdaughter's father, translated into Arabic, attested by the Saudi embassy in the issuing country and by the Saudi MoFA, for my stepdaughter to travel to KSA and take up residency here.  It seemed that they hand't read the custody certificate properly.
(ii) Cancellation of my children's Saudi iqamas.  This was very upsetting.  I later replaced this with proof that I have legal custody for my children (see 3rd attempt below).
(iii) Copy of my divorce certificate, translated into Arabic, attested by the Saudi embassy in my home country and the Saudi MOFA.
(iv)  Passport and iqama copies for my ex wife and my children

I was also asked to go to the Ministry of Interior and remove my ex from my Iqama.  I showed them proof (a receipt) that I had submitted her iqama to the Jawazat, and a printout from the Muqeem system given to me by my office,  but that was not enough.


2nd attempt
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First I took my divorce certificate to a translator in Saudi Arabia.  Better this way, because the translator in KSA will write the names in the translation exactly as in your and your ex's Saudi iqamas (and my ex's passport and Iqama names are very different, the first name is entirely mangled in the Saudi iqama).   In your country of origin, the translator will use the names exactly as in the original divorce certificate, which can be different from the names in the iqamas, and will likely be your wife's maiden name which will be different from the name in the iqama in case she took your last name during the marriage.

The Saudi translator gave me an Arabic translation.  I told them I needed to get it attested from the Chamber of Commerce and the Saudi MoFA, and they put the appropriate stamps on it.  I went to the Chamber of Commerce and got it attested.  Then I went to the Saudi MoFA (you have to make online payment first) and got the divorce certificate attested.  This satisfied Istiqdam requirement and I did not have to get the divorce certificate attested from my home country at all.

I took a GRO and
- the Istiqdam explained to the GRO that I need legal grounds to continue to have my children with me in Saudi Arabia.  They had to be sure that the children have not been stolen from their mother, as this can become quite an issue.
- they accepted the premise that my wife has sole custody over her daughter (they finally read the custody certificate)
- they asked the GRO to get me to remove my ex from my iqama


3rd attempt
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- the GRO went to Jawazat and finally got my ex removed somehow.
- I got the appropriate pages from my divorce's legal judgment translated into Arabic (not the entire document).  These were the pages granting me legal custody of my children.  The Chamber of Commerce attested it, and then the MoFA attested it.  Following this process, I didn't have to get the document attested from my home country.
- I took passport and iqama copies for my children and my ex wife
- the GRO went with me and we finally got the yellow slip.

Please make sure that on every trip you take all passport and iqama copies with you.

This was my experience.  Best of luck to you.

Good update.  This will help members in similar situation.

I forgot to add:  you also need a letter from your company, attested by the Chamber of Commerce (now done online), indicating your rank and salary, and that your company has no objection to your bringing your wife and stepchild (mention full names, nationalities and passport numbers) to Saudi Arabia and to issuing iqamas for them.  This letter is also in Arabic.

Thanks for the info... Will the same process be followed for a single parent wanting to bring his daughters? I have a friend that is divorced, he wants to bring his 2 daughters to Saudi, but were told single parents are not allowed to bring their children alone... is this true?

He will first have to come to Saudi Arabia and set up his own residency - that is,  get the Saudi residency card (Iqama).  His company will handle this process. Then he can apply to bring his kids here.

He will have to provide his children's birth certificates, translated into Arabic.  And he will have to show proof that he has custody.  The custody document should be translated into Arabic and attested.  Or he can obtain mother's consent.  Again, the consent should be legal document, translated into Arabic, and attested.

nice guide thank you man

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