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Pensions for Expats in Saudi Arabia

Submitted: August 2014

As an expat in Saudi Arabia, you will likely have been lured by a competitive, tax-free salary to get you to work there. While the whole picture may be quite lucrative overall, don’t miss out on pensions. At the end of the day, your net salary will probably be still competitive, but it won’t look as bright as before accounting for pensions and healthcare.

As a general rule, the Saudi Government does not intervene in the superannuation affairs of foreign nationals. There are exceptions, e.g. for those married to a Saudi citizen, but they are not legion.

There is no mandatory social insurance scheme for non-Saudi citizens, unlike what it used to be in the past. Most Saudi citizens, on the other hand, are covered by the General Organisation of Social Insurance (GOSI).

If you have come to Saudi Arabia for work, your company may have enrolled you in its own pension scheme as part of your salary package. If not, you will have to build up your pension arrangements for yourself. If you do nothing, your time in Saudi Arabia will likely not count towards any contributory pension scheme in the world.

Before coming to Saudi Arabia, you may have already contributed to a social insurance scheme in your home country. You might wish to check if it makes sense to keep paying contributions into that scheme on a voluntary basis, if you can. This may ensure you get no pension rebate in your home country when you retire.

 

International superannuation planning

Many jurisdictions offer private tax-efficient pension plans. Therefore, they are heavily regulated in order to avoid any undue tax base erosion. If you have a pension plan in your home country, check:

  • If that country has concluded a tax treaty with Saudi Arabia – typically pension payouts are only taxable in Saudi Arabia and treaty-exempt in your home country if you are resident in Saudi Arabia
  • The applicable rules for your pension pot in your home country, e.g. to see if you need to keep paying in contributions or if you can make withdrawals.

Broadly, there are little double taxation risks with Saudi Arabia because Saudi Arabia has no personal income tax. Nevertheless, cross-border superannuation planning is always on a case-by-case basis. It is strongly recommended to seek specialist advice regarding this matter.

 

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