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Kuwait - Foreign resident requirements

All non-GCC citizens wishing to live in Kuwait must obtain a residence permit or ‘iqama’. Iqamas are split into three categories; work, dependant and domestic. Non-Kuwaitis who have been resident in Kuwait for a minimum specified period of time (in excess of 20 consecutive years) may sponsor themselves provided that they can prove substantial financial means.

Residence visas will be cancelled without notification should the holder be absent from Kuwait for a period of more than six continuous months. The only exceptions to this rule are those studying abroad, receiving medical treatment abroad or those requiring absence from Kuwait for extended periods due to their work requirements. However, permission to be absent for more than six months has to be obtained prior to departure from Kuwait.

Dependants Visas

Expatriate Babies Born in Kuwait

Domestic Staff Visas

Civil ID Cards
- Renewal of Civil ID cards
- Amendment to details of Civil ID card
- Replacement of a lost Civil ID card

New Passports

Dependants Visas

A male employee may sponsor his wife and children only on completion of his residence formalities, however, salary conditions apply. Expatriates of all nationalities are permitted to sponsor wives and children if they earn in excess of KD400 per month.

Daughters and parents may be sponsored indefinitely however; sons may only be sponsored as dependants up to the age of 21. A working wife cannot sponsor her husband as a dependant. Dependants are not permitted to work unless they transfer to a work visa.

As with work permits applications for dependant’s residence visas are to be made at the Immigration & Passport Department in Shuwaikh and all dependants must have medical tests and be fingerprinted.

Expatriate Babies Born in Kuwait

The process for registering the birth of a baby in Kuwait is time-consuming, but it is imperative that it is carried out correctly in order to avoid delays and complications.

The hospital in which the baby was born will provide a notification of the birth, in Arabic. This notification must then be taken to the governorate (municipal) office of the area in which the hospital is located. Additional papers required are the completed birth certificate application form, photocopies of the parents’ passports and Civil ID’s, and the parents’ authenticated marriage certificate. The birth is then recorded in the register of births. The actual birth certificate takes approximately one week to process and is in Arabic. In order to ensure that the child’s name is correctly entered in the register it is advisable to have an Arab-speaking person write the correct translation of the baby’s name in Arabic.

In order to process a residence permit the child must be issued with a passport. Most non-Arab embassies in Kuwait will require a translated copy of the birth certificate whilst some will require that the birth certificate is authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuwait.

Once a passport has been acquired the procedure for obtaining residence is as that for any other dependant, although infants born in Kuwait are not required to undergo medical tests and fingerprinting. Application for residence must be made within 60 calendar days of the birth otherwise a large fine of KD200 is payable.

Domestic Staff Visas

Expatriates resident in Kuwait may sponsor one full-time domestic helper at any given time. It is a requirement of law that if a male expatriate wishes to sponsor a female domestic helper he must have his wife and children living with him. Maids must be between the ages of 20 – 50. The final authorisation/decision as to whether an expatriate may sponsor a maid or not lies with the Immigration Department.

Entry visas are obtained from the Passport Office in Shuwaikh. The application, typed in Arabic must be submitted with the following documentation;

1. Copies of sponsor’s passport and Civil ID
2. Copies of wife’s passport and Civil ID
3. Copies of children’s passports
4. Sponsor’s salary certificate
5. Sponsor’s house / apartment rental agreement
6. Copy of the servant’s passport and eight photographs (maximum 40mm x 50mm; minimum 35mm x 45mm)
7. Copy of the servant’s employment contract

Prior to travelling to Kuwait the servant may be required to undergo various formalities in their country of origin; this needs to be checked with the servant’s embassy in Kuwait. On arrival in Kuwait the servant will be required to undergo the standard procedures for acquisition of a residence permit. The residence fee is KD10 per year however there is also an initial charge of KD200 in the first year to issue a domestic servant’s visa.

Civil ID Cards

Within 30 days of completion of residence formalities it is mandatory for all expatriates to apply for and obtain a Civil ID card. Whether you are purchasing a car, opening a bank account or applying to place your children in a school, you will be required to produce your Civil ID card. The number on your card is yours for life, irrespective of whether you change sponsors or leave Kuwait only to return a few years later.

First time applicants must proceed to the PACI (Public Authority for Civil Information) office in person, which is located within the Ministries Complex in South Surra (off the 6th Ring Road and opposite the Ministry of Electricity & Water). Documents required in order to process your Civil ID for the first time are as follows;

1. Passport
2. 4 recent photographs (30mm x 40mm) showing the face clearly and without spectacles (for all applicants over 11 years of age)
3. Copy of passport pages showing personal details (including photograph) and the residence stamp
4. Security Clearance form (for all applicants over 16 years of age)
5. Original birth certificate, if born in Kuwait
6. Blood group certificate (for applicants over 5 years of age)
7. Proof of residential address in Kuwait
8. Declaration signed by the Sponsor
9. Issue fee of KD2 (payable when the card is collected)

It takes approximately 10 days to have your Civil ID card issued. It is possible to check on the status of your card by calling 88 99 88, or by logging on to the PACI website, and follow the simple instructions.

When you have confirmation that your Civil ID card is ready, proceed to the information desk at the PACI office and ask which of the electronic dispensing machines contains your card (they are numbered). You will then need to insert KD2 into the relevant machine in order to obtain your card.

Civil ID cards are valid for two years and must be renewed prior to expiry. Details included are a photograph, name, date of birth, Civil ID number, local address, type of visa, blood group and the sponsor’s name.

The details on the card must always be current. Should your personal situation change in any way i.e. you move homes or change sponsor’s your must update your card, in person, at the PACI office.

It is wise to make a photocopy of your Civil ID card and keep it safe for two reasons; should you lose your card you will be required to produce this copy to have another re-issued and, should you be required to produce identification whilst waiting for another card to be issued, you at least have some proof of a Civil ID.

Renewal of Civil ID cards
An e-government project initiative now means that Civil ID cards may be renewed by telephone, although the new card will have to be physically collected. This is a big step forward for Kuwait and removes a substantial amount of paperwork. Civil ID cards must be renewed within 30 days of renewing your residency. A fine of KD100 is payable for all late renewals, irrespective of the length of the delay. The procedure to renew is as follows;

1. Dial 88 99 88 between the hours of 14:00 – 22:00 from your mobile, land line or international line if you are out of the country.
2. Enter your Civil ID number.
3. Your card will be renewed automatically and you will have to collect your card from the PACI office. On arrival proceed to the information desk and ask which of the electronic dispensing machines contains your card (they are numbered). You will then need to insert KD2 into the relevant machine, as well as your old Civil ID, in order to have your renewed Civil ID released.

Amendment to details of Civil ID card
When amendments to the Civil ID card need to be made i.e. change of address, marital status etc. the original card is to be submitted to the PACI office together with proof of change or address, marriage certificate etc.

Replacement of a lost Civil ID card
You will have to visit the PACI office in person to have a lost card replaced. Ensure that you take a photocopy of the lost Civil ID card as well as your passport with you. Replacement of a lost card costs KD10.

New Passports

Should you run out of pages in your passport, or it expires, you will need to transfer your residence permit into your new passport. It is vital, when your old passport is submitted to your embassy for renewal, that they do not cancel the pages containing the residence permit. Should this happen it is quite likely that your residence will be cancelled by the Immigration Department.

Once the new passport has been issued it is to be taken, along with your old passport, 4 photographs (maximum 40mm x 50mm; minimum 35mm x 45mm), KD10, a confirmation letter from your sponsor, and all copies of documentation required to process the original residence application, to the Passport Office in Shuwaikh. Should everything be in order your residence permit will be transferred into your new passport immediately.

Should a passport have sufficient pages and simply be extended by the embassy no changes to the residence permit need be made.