Living in Kuwait
There is no personal income tax and there are no property or municipal taxes; Government housing is available in certain
cases to Kuwaitis at nominal rents; Education for Kuwaitis in Government schools is free. Kuwait is a welfare state, and
many aspects of the inhabitants' needs are heavily subsidized. Water, electricity, petrol, and basic foods such as fish, milk,
meat, rice, bread, are extremely cheap because of Government imposed price controls. Local telephone calls are free;
medical care was totally free until very recently - now nominal fees are charged for certain services like special X-rays
etc. In addition, KD.1 will be charged on a visit to the local area clinics and KD.2 on hospital visits.
Although Kuwait imports most of its requirements, it does however produce its own tomatoes, cucumbers and melons as
well as other fruits and vegetables. In particular, it produces sufficient fish it can occasionally export supplies to other Gulf
states. Dairy products and poultry are also locally produced.
Supermarkets and cooperative societies are of excellent quality. Each residential area of Kuwait has its own complex of
shops which include a cooperative society. Kuwait abounds with modern shopping centers selling a wide variety of
consumer and luxury goods. Crime is virtually unknown; it is very rare to hear of burglaries or muggings, and certainly
pickpockets would appear not to exist.
There are two daily newspapers in English and several in Arabic. Most western newspapers are available on the day after
their publication. One of the four television channels is available locally in English. Satellite television is available in most
hotels and some apartment blocks. Although satellite dishes are banned in Saudi Arabia, they are allowed in Kuwait.
Application for visas to Kuwait can be made in the country of the applicant's residence at the Kuwait Embassy or,
alternatively, at any Kuwait Embassy outside the country of residence. A visa can also be obtained from the Ministry of
Interior in Kuwait through the visitor's sponsor or host. Hotels also provide entry visas to Kuwait, provided you stay at
An application from stating the reason for the visit should be completed and submitted to the Embassy along with two
passport size photographs of the candidate. The application must also be accompanied by two letters - one from the
sponsor (containing an invitation) and the other, a letter of introduction from the candidate's company.
If the application is accepted, a one month's visa will be issued. The permit comes in two parts - one copy is given up on
entry and one copy on departure. Upon arrival, the passport is stamped and a sheet is attached which states the date of
expiry of the stay. The passport should be carried always with the person as frequent checks for correct documentation is
a way of life in Kuwait.
If the month stay is insufficient and needs to be extended, then the Immigration Department must be contacted to request
and extension (3 months initial visa is under consideration). Alternatively, you can also travel to one of the neighbouring
GCC countries and re-enter Kuwait on a new visitor's visa. If the date of exit expires you might be required to pay a fine
(KD.10 per day) as a penalty before the exit stamp is issued. This fine cannot be paid at the point of departure. It must
be paid at the relevant Immigration Department.
Kuwait has also in principle agreed to issue multiple entry visas to certain categories such as businessmen, which allows
the holder to enter the country any number of times within a specified twelve months period for up to one month stay per
visit. However, in practice, many of the sponsors seem reluctant to exercise this option.
Entry permits must be obtained well in advance since resolving a problem at the airport upon arrival i usually not possible.
Very often, people have been refused entry and are forced to leave Kuwait on the next flight. Transit visitors are
permitted a maximum of one week stay but a visit permit must be arranged in advance. In any case most airlines do not
issue boarding cards without a valid permit or visa.
NO OBJECTION CERTIFICATE
A visitor can also enter Kuwait on a No Objection Certificate (NOC). The certificate is issued by the Ministry of Social
Affairs and Labour (for domestic employees) or by the Chamber of Commerce (for businessmen). This has to be
arranged in advance by the Kuwait sponsor or employer. The NOC can be arranged for in the following ways :
Prior to arrival
The Kuwait Consulate or the Embassy based in the employee's country is sent the intimation to issue the NOC which is
collected by the employee. He or she can then enter Kuwait directly for employment. A residence visa is then issued once
the employee has entered the country.
After the employee's arrival
The employee enters Kuwait on a Business visa, after which an application is made for a NOC for employment. Once
this is obtained the person has to leave and re-enter Kuwait with the NOC
Once the employee has arrived on a NOC, the process of stamping the residence or the 'Iqama' starts, this can in some
instance take weeks. the formalities have to be completed within 60 days of entry otherwise a daily penalty fee of KD.2
will be levied. It is important to note that after a person has entered the country on a NOC he or she cannot leave the
country until the residence permit has been issued. Also he or she will not be able to drive a vehicle in Kuwait until a valid
Kuwaiti Driving Licence is issued, unless, of course a temporary licence is obtained in the interim. One can only apply for
a Driving Licence once the Residence has been obtained and the Civil ID has been issued.
Most large organisations employ a 'Mandoob' who is the official representative for processing the documentation. The
documents for a Residence visa are :
Copy of the NOC with the entry stamp
Copy of the employee's passport
Medical certificate of fitness which includes TB and AIDS test - involving blood test and chest X-Ray
Police clearance certificate, including finger prints
Health Insurance Fees of KD. 50 per year
Spouses & Dependents
Expatriate employees working for the Government sector whose monthly salaries are ot less than KD 450 per month
(lowering of salary limit is under consideration) are granted a residence permit for their spouse and children. The
employee acts as the sponsor and has to pay the following annual fees for the family :
1 - Spouse - KD 100 for the first year and KD 10 renewal fee for consecutive years plus KD 40 per year Health
2 - Up to 3 children - KD 100 each for the first year and KD 10 renewal fee for consecutive years plus KD 40 per
year Health Insurance Fees.
3 - 4th child onwards - KD 200 each for the first year and KD 10 renewal fee for consecutive years plus KD 40
per year Health Insurance Fees.
Similarly, the salary qualifying employees in the private sector is KD 650 (lowering the salary limit is under consideration).
The rates for the residence fees are the same as before except that the KD 100 fee is limited to two children and not
three - from the third child onwards the fees go up to KD 200 each for the first year.
Employees are allowed to sponsor one domestic servant, provided both the parents are working and there is a necessity
to have someone to look after the children.
ISSUANCE OF NEW WORK PERMITS
Decision 107 restricted issuance of work pemits to special cases only for the following sectors : However, these rules
were changed for a limited period and then re-instated again.
Businessmen connected with Government contracts
Companies totally or partially owned by the Government
Hospitals, Medical Centres, Pharmacies, Private Clinics and Laboratories
Banks, Insurance Companies and Investment Companies
Hotels and Guest Houses
Private Schools and Nurseries
Clubs, Federations, Public Societies and cooperatives
Fishing, Agriculture and Shepherds
Financial, Administrative, Engineering and Consultative Houses
Lawyers and Legal Advise Firms
Newspaper and Printing & Publishing Houses
Car Agents and Distributors
TRANSFER OF WORK VISAS
Transfer of work visas is permitted according to the new decree issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour with
a fees of KD 200 (non-refundable).
Fees on transfers will not be applicable to those who have completed two years of service with their current employer or
had completed ten years of stay in Kuwait - exceptions are made only for certain cases.
RENEWAL OF RESIDENCE VISAS
The passport office issues a particular renewal form which must be completed and signed by the employee's sponsor plus
a receipt of KD 50 per year through any local bank. This then must be taken to the Passport Office and the new visa will
CIVIL IDENTITY CARDS
Once your residence has been stamped you must apply for your Civil Identification card, which should be always carried
on your person. The Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) body handles all matters pertaining to Civil
Identification cards. The PACI have numbered all possible offers, residential flats, villas etc. This PACI number is an
important reference number and will be required in case you need to apply for a new card due to a change in address.
New application :
This process normally takes two weeks provided the documentation is in order.
1-Documents required are passport copies, blood type certificates, finger print report, rent contract, sponsor's
documents (Civil IC copy) and 4 photographs (4cm x 3cm).
2-The sponsor has to fill up a form available at the Civil ID office or at the Cooperative Society by inserting a Quarter
Dinar note into the machine provided by the PACI.
3-The forms filled with the required documents have to be deposited at the Civil ID Ofice or at the Cooperative Society
by inserting the envelope containing the required documents into the machine and a receipt have to be collected.
4-The progress of your Civil ID from depositing to completion can be checked through phone service : 2663000
(English) 2661000 (Arabic).
5-If the documents are not completed then the person handling your papers informs you and advises you accordingly at
the PACI office.
6-The application must be submiited within 30 days of stamping of residence permit on your passport otherwise a fine of
KD 20 will be levied for late submission.
7-If your Civil ID is ready, then you can collect it from the machines installed by PACI at their new office located at the
Ministries Complex - Sixth Ring Road instead of the Behbehani Complex by depositing KD 2 note into the machine. If
the Civil ID card is not collected within 30 days of it being ready then a fine of KD 20 will be levied.
The validity of the Civil ID card corresponds to the validity of your iqama. Naturally if you change jobs then the cards
needs to be changed accordingly as the particulars undergo change. A change of address also means a new card.
Renewal due to expiry of earlier card
Documents required are copies of your old Civil ID card, passport copies showing renewed residence
permit, 4 photographs, and the form inside the envelope.
After two weeks, you can call this number 2663000 (English) and 2661000 (Arabic) and check whether
your card is ready for collection. Quote your Civil ID number.
Once your card is ready you can collect if from the Ministries Complex - Sixth Ring Road instead of
the Behbehani Complex.
Renewal due to change of address
Documents required are a copy of your new rent contract preferable in Arabic, your current Civil
Identity card, and 4 photographs.
Note the PACI number of the new flat.
Go to either the PACI office at Hawally or Farwaniya to submit the application with the required
documents or deposit in the machine at any of the cooperatives and collect the receipt.
The card should be ready within a week and can be collected from the PACI office.
Replacement due to lost or stolen
Go in person to either the PACI office at Hawalli or Farwaniya with original passport and passport
copies, 4 photographs and the form in the envelope.
An affidavit has to be signed and a fee of KD 10 to be paid.
Collect the receipt and your card should be ready within a week.