What is the change? Saudi Arabia’s Health Insurance Council has announced that all private businesses must provide medical insurance for their foreign workers and families.

What does the change mean? As of Aug. 10, the Jawazat (passport office) will check all foreign workers and dependent family members for valid medical insurance before issuing or renewing iqamas (residence permits) and other documents.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Iqamas and exit/re-entry visas.
  • Who is affected: All private employers, foreign nationals and dependent family members.
  • Impact on processing times: Failure to enroll expatriate employees’ dependents in a valid medical insurance policy will incur delays in documents issuance later on.
  • Business impact: The medical insurance requirement will impact the cost of assignments of foreign workers and family members in Saudi Arabia.
  • Next steps: Employers should enroll foreign employees and family members in medical insurance as soon as possible.

Background: The Health Insurance Council announced the universal health coverage policy in June. As of Aug. 10, all private employers must provide health insurance to the dependent family members of expatriate workers. The government has approved certain medical insurers to provide this service. The passport office will not issue iqamas, renew iqamas, issue exit/re-entry visas, or transfer dates from an old passport to a new passport without proof of medical insurance.

Employers are not obligated to provide health insurance to children of Saudi women married to non-Saudi men or non-Saudi women married to Saudi men.

BAL Analysis: Companies that have not already done so should enroll family members of foreign assignees in medical insurance. Dependents who arrive on a residency visa sponsored by a father or husband must obtain health insurance immediately so they will have valid coverage at the time they apply for their iqamas at the Jawazat office.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Saudi Arabia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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