Working freelance from Saudi Arabia

Hi all! Great to be here.

This is a question about working freelance from Saudia Arabia.

Scenario

Let's say that someone is a freelance technology worker, which means they can work from home, or anywhere. Their company simply transfers their salary into their account at the end of the month. There is no office and everyone works remotely, while communicating through different tools.

Let's say this person decides to move to Saudia from the UK.

Question

a) Dubai currently offers a Freelance visa that such people can avail (See: gofreelance.ae). They can work from Dubai, but work for companies in UK, US etc The company will send their income in their Dubai bank account.

Does Saudia have something like this, or is it only a business visa? (which might be expensive)

b) If a peron's iqama is sponsored by an IT firm in Saudi Arab, but salary comes from US into their Saudi account, does that run afoul of the law or is that okay to do so?

Thank you in advance for your kind insight and expert opinion.

Saudi has nothing like the Dubai freelance permit.  In fact, no other GCC country has that.

If you are sponsored by an IT firm and salary comes into your account from the US, there could be multiple complications:

1) Every firm needs to pay salary into the employee account.  With WPS system and other things coming out, they will need to provide evidence of payment to employees in case someone checks
2) You might trigger an alert from the banking on such regular transactions into your Saudi account and have to provide them explanations

Thanks XTang. Much appreciated mate.

In that case, if I were to establish a simple IT company with a local partner/kafeel, do you know how much that roughly entail in fees to register a small business there.

I would consider that a lot of hassle.  As for one, it will be in the name of your kafeel.  The fees would include CR fees, rentals, municipality etc.  I am not sure how much exactly.   And then Iqama renewal for you every year would be another 8-10K depending on different factors.  If you want less hassle and more flexibility, do this in Dubai.

Hi,

Just wanted to ask about freelancing in Saudi. My husband will have an iqama and I will be the dependent under his visa. Is there a possibility to work as a freelancer under his visa (I am a permanent makeup artist) ? Or is there any other way to be able to work as a freelancer?

Thank you !

Freelance online no issue.  Freelance physically is illegal even if you are on a dependent visa.

ok thank you. And is there any possibility to be a legal freelancer ? any kind of visa possibility? perhaps my husband can sponsor?

No there is no legal freelancer visa - that exists only in the UAE.   Beware of people as well who try to sell you a so-called "free visa" so that you can work - that is also illegal.

Appreciate your help.

Are you sure freelancing online is legal? Is it subject to taxes?

and would the bank send you a notice if they start noticing extra income?

Freelancing online is not an issue.   Taxation depends where you are based and your nationality.  For the majority of nationalities (excl. US), based in Saudi, there is no tax on that income.

And yes, banks may ask for source of income.  This is a standard compliance practice.

Hello, I am a web developer working in Saudi Arabia. I want to know while I am employed in a company here in ksa, is it legal to do a part time freelance work? because my nature of work is such that I can approach companies and develop websites for them.
Please let me know. Thanks

it is legal until you  will not catches?

You mean it is illegal? That is to say after my office working hours also I cannot do any other freelance work with my technical expertise?

Freelance work sitting at home (and doing it online for a company outside KSA) is fine from Iqama standpoint BUT read the contract that you signed with your company.  The standard contract prohibits any form of paid or unpaid employment.

Use your home country bank account for money transfer and you will be fine.

What if you're on a dependent visa and use Paypal to accept payments?

I know there's lots of expats who freelance online  with other countries but are you sure this is legal? If so then do you have any proof/ logic behind this claim? Saudi laws aren't clear on this but maybe because its not an issue.

and also, if you earn large amounts in USD do you have to declare it or something? I don't return my money to my parents bank account I just use it to buy anything using my Paypal account. I'm juat scared this could be classified as illegal business.

Your guidqnce/advice would be much appreciated.

wf11510 wrote:

What if you're on a dependent visa and use Paypal to accept payments?

I know there's lots of expats who freelance online  with other countries but are you sure this is legal? If so then do you have any proof/ logic behind this claim? Saudi laws aren't clear on this but maybe because its not an issue.

and also, if you earn large amounts in USD do you have to declare it or something? I don't return my money to my parents bank account I just use it to buy anything using my Paypal account. I'm juat scared this could be classified as illegal business.

Your guidqnce/advice would be much appreciated.


Do not use that money/account in KSA and you will be fine.
Look, the thing is like i have an account in my home country if i use it's ATM in another country they will charge me and they would like to ask me about that money.
So, if you are working from KSA then okay. But if you are using that money or bringing that money to KSA then they can ask you questions.

I'm not using it in KSA but the thing is I'm using a Saudi Paypal account that's tied to a Saudi visa card. Would that work? I never withdraw the money to the card though. It's only on my Paypal balance and the card is only for verifying the paypal account.

I can't open a paypal account in my country since it's banned.

wf11510 wrote:

I'm not using it in KSA but the thing is I'm using a Saudi Paypal account that's tied to a Saudi visa card. Would that work? I never withdraw the money to the card though. It's only on my Paypal balance and the card is only for verifying the paypal account.

I can't open a paypal account in my country since it's banned.


Then, if they want to, they can call you and do anything they want.
Stop using that.
It will be better.
Do not buy things through it and bring them to KSA.
Trust me. You will be better that way.

I only buy virtual products and never bring them over to KSA could that also be problematic?

wf11510 wrote:

I only buy virtual products and never bring them over to KSA could that also be problematic?


Not sure about that one.

Odd situation really. There's loads of expats working on international freelance platforms from KSA not sure why this would be illegal since this isn't taking any Saudi jobs. I'm yet to see a law that explicitly states that online freelancing is illegal even when searching in arabic but maybe this issue isn't addressed.

There's also loads of expat youtubers who earn some money on the side so I'm not sure if I should worry that this is an issue.

I think different issues are being confused here.

There is no issue with legality as it relates to labor laws and your Iqama conditions.  Simply because, whatever you are doing, is outside the territory of KSA.

As far as money transfers are concerned, again it is not illegal BUT with money coming into KSA, your bank eventually WILL ask you to prove source of funds.  This has to do with money laundering / compliance requirements which are pretty strict.  To be clear, it is not illegal but you may face delays in accessing your money.

Do you know who I could contact for ex. ministry of labour if I want to double check or is this not their concern / the employee won't relate tp what I'm sayjng?

You won't get an answer but knock yourself out - MOL.   I have already told you the ins and outs.

I can suggest you a solution
Mail me the scope of freelance into my mail ***

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You may work from home
To open a parlor you need to have license

Yep, never got a response. Wish rules on this matter were clear, it's almost like you just need to use common sense but that's not how laws work. Thanks for the advice tho.

Hello there,
                    I work as a labour in Saudi under a company. Can I do online affiliate marketing as well on my own??  If yes, do I need to get government permission to do this?

Can I have your mobile number...

sdp mgr wrote:

Hello there,
                    I work as a labour in Saudi under a company. Can I do online affiliate marketing as well on my own??  If yes, do I need to get government permission to do this?


You can't.

Allan Kaplan wrote:

In reference to Saudi WPS System any person can conduct internet based business but just to keep things simple and without taking any illegal or undue attention from those who do not are of what laws Saudis are ignorant off, you can easily set up a PayPal account to receive or send the funds in any part of the world including Saudi Arabia. There are ways to use an agent's PayPal for a fixed fee in order to avoid delays and legal or banking complications. Best and the most expedient method is PayPal so no one have control over your money.
Jonathan Hill,
Attorney at Law.
USA


Use saudi bank or do business with saudi company and you will see what laws are here.
This is a Kingdom not some democracy.
Don't give wrong info.
Any person they find doing any business/work outside of his/her company will have to face the consequences.
But, yes, you can work with any company of the world outside of KSA but don't use any Saudi Bank for payments.

I think there is an unnecessary confusion here.   I clarified this before.

You CAN work for any company outside of KSA without needing any special permits.  Because the work product is originating and being delivered offshore.

As far as receiving payments is concerned, that is where the problem happens. 

First of all, forget about WPS.  WPS is used by establishments who are registered for it in KSA (10 employees or more) and all payments are tracked by MOL and cross-matched against GOSI.  So the offshore company cannot pay you via WPS without having a presence here and even if they could, alerts would be flagged automatically since no GOSI contract for you exists.

You can use paypal BUT it will NOT be linked to Saudi bank accounts i.e. you cannot withdraw funds to your bank.  It will be linked to credit cards and there, after a certain number of withdrawals, the banks will block your card and ask you to prove the source of funds.   Same is the case when you receive money into Saudi bank accounts. 

To avoid hassles, use offshore accounts.   

I think what most people don't realize is that fund transfers coming into and out of Saudi are strictly monitored.   I have had people in the office questioned by government agencies at times.   Even I, to avoid hassles, transfer my salary into Bahrain and then make payments all over the world from there.

Hi Xtang,
Actually, i come here from google,i wanted to know if there a way to avoid the Salary transfer issues from outside of ksa with the banks.

Currently, me and my wife are on separate work visas and I'm considering an offer from UAE company that will prefer remote work.

so i was thinking to resign and move my sponsorship to my wife and work remotely,
I would love to know if anyone had done it before, or any other things to consider.

Thanks.

People do it but again, the transfer into Saudi might raise issues.  Open a uae account, get salary in it and then when you transfer to Saudi, it's from yourself to yourself.  It won't be an issue then.

or Open bank account in your home country, let the employer transfer salary to that account instead of your Saudi Account unless you don't have any professional tax issues in your home country.

If your wife is getting reasonably good amount, opening freelancer firm in UAE and you can open bank account etc.  Same option also available in Bahrain.  if you need any further information, you can send me mail.

Good luck..

@XTang 


Hello. 

How about paying a broker to clear out that the funds coming into my saudi bank account are not from illegal source? Because I tried to freelance and I am getting my payment but I forgot using my offshore account. Now, i am hiring a broker to fix this issue with the payment I will receive in my saudi bank account. What do you think?
What do you mean by broker?

And keep in mind that recently, they have really tightened on international transfers e.g. a friend who used to send and receive money to his brokerage account in the US, had many transfers bounce. 
@XTang 

You mean his transfers bounced back to him? And also I asked my bank if it's okay I will receive money from outside they said it's okay, but I dunno I just talked to the customer service representative of the bank