Exit Saudi Arabia Illegally

March 18, 2012

Why would you need to leave Saudi Arabia Illegally?


There are many people working in Saudi Arabia who find themselves for one reason or another living there illegally and then wish to know how to escape from Saudi Arabia. It has happened to myself as a westerner once and I know many others who have had problems.

If you overstay your visa, or fail to renew your Iqama (Saudi residency permit) then you become an illegal and as such you could be imprisoned and fined if you try to leave the country. The fine is actually the responsibility of your sponsor but there could be problems if the sponsor claims that you are a runaway or some other problem that forced them to be unable to renew your visa or Iqama and you could be imprisoned whilst the argument is resolved.


Overstayed your Saudi Visa?


Exit Saudi Arabia Illegally

If your Visa expires you will be an Illegal.

Should you find yourself illegal then you have few options, you cannot renew the visa once it is expired, nor the Iqama – unless you have a friend that works in the right department in the government and the bribe to go with it. I have heard of a few people who have managed to do this but not many.

You have to leave, if you are a westerner and your company is supporting you then you may be lucky and avoid any delays by your sponsor and yourself throwing yourselves to the mercy of the staff at the airport, on a good day with the payment of fines you could leave; on a bad day you could find yourself in jail for a day or three whilst the problem is investigated.

If your sponsor is not supporting you and offering to pay fines then you may have more severe problems and your jail time could be much longer whilst the problems are sorted out.

If you are not from the west, a runaway or on bad terms with your sponsor then your problems may be more severe. There are camps of people wanting to return home under a bridge in Jeddah, these people rely on handouts of food to survive or work illegally whilst they wait for someone to decide who will pay for them to be returned home. In addition to this camp there are often makeshift camps outside places such as the Philippines Embassy, Indonesian Embassies etc.

The people on these camps are generally ignored by the police as no one will agree as to whose responsibility it is to send these many illegals back to their countries; therefore many people remain at these camps for extended periods until either the Saudi government finds funds or the various embassies find the money to return a planeload back home.


How to Escape Saudi Arabia


Should you however want to leave the country without risking several weeks in a Saudi jail then there are ways to leave, however they do cost money!

My wife was an illegal when we met, she had gone to Saudi years before and her sponsor had decided to move to Riyadh from Jeddah; my wife had family in Jeddah and did not want to move so her sponsor agreed that she could remain in Jeddah to find work under the “supervision” of the licensing officer who was looking after her passport and her Iqama. However she ended up working for a hospital which did not want to get an iqama for her and her iqama eventually expired. The licensing officer gave her a letter to say that her iqama was under processing in case she was stopped but she was now officially an illegal worker in KSA.

After we married I wanted to get her onto my visa as my dependent but she had to go home first, her licensing officer said that he could get her home as he had a small group waiting to return home but it would cost 10,000SAR. We agreed and handed over the money and waited for the call as we were informed we would have just 48hours notice of the flight. However after 2 months of waiting we decided to ask around and find another route.

We were introduced to a Saudi who said that he could take my wife home without problem for 8,000 SAR, payable on the day if we did not trust him which sounded good! We had the other money returned after a few angry calls and went with the new guy.

We met him at the airport where he was waiting with another woman who was also returning home with him, he explained that he normally flew every month and took 2 to 4 people with him each time which funded his stay and flight each time. He had brothers that worked in the airport and it was they who would “check” paperwork before leaving the country and boarding the flight – he just had to ensure that he organized flights to correspond with his brothers duties. My wife and the other woman were nervous but everything went fine, they walked through the emigration checks without problem and boarded no problem at all.


Escape from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain


The second story relates to myself and the family (wife and three young children) of a friend. The company we worked for managed to balls up my visa and I became illegal and I was told that I would have to try to leave from Dammam airport as they are not as good at checking, but if I were caught I would probably go to jail for a few days and have to pay a fine of 10,000SAR (I know now that the fine is the responsibility of your sponsor not you, but my employer tried to persuade me that it was my problem!)

My friend’s family joined him on a dependent visa, however the HR department got it all wrong and they were on a vacation visa which they had overstayed unknowingly (The visas are in Arabic so they did not know.) My friend discovered when he found a couple of sheets of Arabic in a pile of papers for him to sign, when he asked what the papers were he was told they were just routine papers and safe for him to sign. Smelling a rat he found someone to read them for him and discovered that the letters were from him to the ministry taking responsibility for his family overstaying their visa as he had mistakenly applied for the wrong visa and could not understand Arabic so was not aware of the mistake until too late! So not only had the HR department made the mistake they then tried their best to frame him for their problem!

As you can imagine my friend was not very happy about this situation as he was advised the same as I was and his wife was even less than happy about risking being taken to a Saudi jail! With us both having similar problems we made inquiries through some of the contacts we had made in the kingdom and were put in touch with a shady character who said he could get us out of the country without problem over the bridge to Bahrain.

So we made the arrangements and agreed to meet this guy in the services as you drive onto the causeway on a Wednesday night when it was very busy. We waited there for over an hour as the guy was late, he answered no phone calls while we waited and we began to think we had made the journey there in vain.

Eventually he did turn up and said for us to follow him onto the bridge and stay directly behind him all the way through the first checkpoint. When you drive over the bridge from Saudi to Bahrain there are several checkpoints each one checking different things.

The first checkpoint is to ensure that the driver of the car is the owner (or has hired) of the car in question, once we had passed this checkpoint the guy got out of his car and swapped places with our driver. I should add at this point that our “fixer” spoke no English and we no Arabic so things were a little tense as we had no idea what he was going to do. My friend’s wife was very close to tears and so were the three young girls in the car who had picked up on their mothers nervousness.

Wednesday night is about the busiest night to get across the bridge as many Saudis and expats want to cross to go to Bahrain for drinking and the many girls who “work” there. The queue therefore is huge and very slow moving, which made things even worse. After a few more yards our driver took a left between a set of buildings in the center of the causeway all the way through to the opposite side of the bridge and began to drive against the flow of traffic coming from Bahrain.

He stopped alongside another set of buildings about 50 yards from the last checkpoint coming from Bahrain. A security guard from the checkpoint walked down to our car and had a conversation with our driver. A box was handed over and then all of our passports which were then taken by this uniformed officer back to the checkpoint.

The passports were then returned after a tense wait of about 15 minutes and our driver took another small alleyway between the buildings to return to the other side of the bridge and back into the normal flow of traffic towards Bahrain. We then had to stop for my friend to fill out the forms to allow his wife and children to travel at the office just before the checkpoint where the passports and visas are checked. Women and children cannot travel without the permission of their husbands or fathers.

We then nervously approached the checkpoint and the passports were taken, briefly inspected and returned to us without problem and we continued into Bahrain without any problems looking forward to a very cold beer.

The passports had all been stamped to show that we had recently entered the kingdom and that we were within the time allowed for our visas, so unless someone really checked all of the dates and stamped in detail they would not notice any problem. Thus we were able to pass through and leave the kingdom, stressfuly but safely.


Saudi Arabia can be a difficult country in which to deal with problems however it is also a very corrupt country, with the right inquiries and enough cash you can always find someone that can solve your problems for you somehow such as finding a way how to escape Saudi Arabia.


42 Responses to Exit Saudi Arabia Illegally

  1. Ben Hack
    July 15, 2012 at 3:18 am


    I’m a Saudi citizen facing some kind of travel ban n i wanted to inquire about how I can leave illegally either to UAE by plane or to Bahrain through the causeway.

    Thanks in advance for ur co-operation.

    Cordially Yours,

    • admin
      July 16, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Hi Ben,

      If you are a Saudi citizen I am sure that you will be able to find some friends at the airport who will help you through the checks or some friends at the causeway who will just wave you through for a few riyals. I am afraid I can’t just give out my contacts on here or even in emails to people who I do not know as you never know who may be actually asking!
      Just start networking and asking around, there will always be someone who will help you to leave Saudi for a price.

  2. Kano
    August 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I’m an American mom with a 10 year-old American daughter. We’re both illegal, shiftless, homeless, and completely broke with no family in KSA. I came under a work . visa and my daughter was under a resident visa. Our igama has never been processed and we’ve been here over a year. I’ve been in and out immigration offices in different cities trying to go home, or get sent home, but nothing worked. I even contacted the 2nd biggest dude from the top of the immigration in Riyad, and he didn’t do anything. I went to my own American embassy in Jeddah and i was sent away and was told by the US embassy personel that getting help from the US embassy was a myth. please help

    • admin
      August 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      Hi Kano
      My suggestion to you would be to get in touch with as many of your fellow countrymen as you can there in Saudi and see if any of them will help find you a way out or provide you with funding from their more than reasonable salaries. I am sure that having a 10 year old daughter will tug at a few heartstrings and help you to get out eventually. There is always someone that will know someone….

      Also who is your sponsor? If you came to work they are responsible for ensuring that you had an Iqama unless you have run away! They should be able to get you out and if you are not a runaway will be responsible for any fines at the airport.

      You have to help yourself and get to as many people as you can, there is no one there that will help you otherwise.

      Failing that all you can do is sit on the street in front of your embassy until either they or the Saudis are embarrassed into sending you home.
      Keep us informed of your progress.

    • saad
      October 20, 2012 at 11:25 am

      hi ungot ur problem solved?

  3. Mori
    September 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Im an american woman and i have a 2yr old. My husband refuses to allow us to return home even for a visit. Its been almost a year now and ive just had it!! i cant take living here any longer and i cant seem to find anyone to help me. I have no access to other americans bc i havent ever been to the embassy and rarely go out of the house. Any advise?

    • admin
      November 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      Hi Mori,
      I am sorry to say that you are not alone in your predicament. You cannot travel and nor can your child without the permission of your husband – at least not legally.
      You could try going to your embassy but from my experience and the people that I have spoken to you will not get any official help.
      Your only way is to network with as many of your fellow Americans until you find someone who knows someone who can smuggle you out in some way.
      It will not be easy at all..

  4. anna
    September 26, 2012 at 2:19 am

    my german italian boyfriend is stuck in saudi. its been 5 months now. He was exporting his equipment at the port. ran into troubles. we paid up he went to leave via ruh. after sleeping the airport for 10 days we paid to have is exit visa rushed. came back denied. the goverment says he owes over 100k. they r never gonna let him go. we dont have that type of money. how to find someone to fly him out?

    • admin
      November 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      Hi Anna,

      Debt is a major problem and your BF will not be released until the debts are paid. If he has not been arrested for non-payment then he needs to find a way to leave as quickly as possible. He should ask around all the expats he knows until he finds someone who will be able to introduce him to someone that can get him out.
      There are many routes from airport staff who will help him through the emigration to people that will drive him through the desert. But he will have to start asking around to find someone.
      Do not part with any money until you are very sure and if possible pay on exit. Especially if someone will drive him through the desert!!

  5. Bipin Varankar
    October 21, 2012 at 4:59 am


    This is Bipin, I need a help, I am a software engineer working for Indian company, and here in Riyadh – KSA I came on 2nd April 2012 on visit visa for our client for 6 months. My visa was valid for 14 days. But after that our client never renewed my visa, and now its 6 months past our project got over. While time of leaving he informed about all this.

    Now from past 25 days our client and we are trying to renew past 6 months visa by some or other way like finding some contacts and giving money, so we can go from here safely. But nothing is working out. Now I came to know that Jawazat is close and open only after eid. So is there any other way? We are ready to pay to get visas stamped or even we are ready to pay fine and get exit stamped on my passport. So there is no problem about paying money and even the sponsor is with us, only problem is we don’t have any contacts and don’t know what all procedures are. So can you help me in this? It will be great if anything you can suggest us or give information.

    What are Jawazat office timings? When exactly holidays for eid will start? And if I want to go by paying fine for overstay, then what are the procedures for it and it can be done in this period and how much time does it takes?


    • admin
      November 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Bipin,

      Overstaying a visa is generally punishable by a fine if you go to the airport to leave; 10,000 SAR…

      You will be allowed to leave on paying the fine.

  6. Iak
    November 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm


    Iam an Indian, and i was working in Saudi Arabia for 5 yrs, during my sixth year in KSA i came to my sponsoring company, and surprised to know that my sponsoring company got closed due to some Govt. Case and they send back all the Manpower to their home countries, a year back.completely. I was working in other company in Dammam and returned to my sponsoring company for renewal of my Iqama but in vain. I paid to some independant agent, whom arranged the saudi person at the Airport and managed with his relative working in the Ariport staff and returned INDIA.

    Is it possible for me to reenter Saudi Arabia or to visit any other country ARAB on New Visa, i had given Finger Prints in Dammam, nearly 3 years back.

    Thanking you in Advance….


    • admin
      November 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Iak,

      You will have no problem returning to Saudi or any other country as long as you did not leave debts or have any other legal cases against you.
      You are able to return on a new visa after one year.

  7. mira
    November 14, 2012 at 4:04 am

    hi my name is mira please i need someone’s help i wanna leave riyadh with out asking my sponsor ship for exit can any one help me please please please some one help me hope u reply me back
    thank u

    • admin
      November 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Mira

      It is very difficult and often very expensive to leave if you are trying to leave illegally. The best thing if possible is to ask your sponsor for a vacation and just not to return. If that is not possible I could suggest that you ask around your friends until you find someone that knows someone ho an smuggle you out through the airport.
      Good luck, if you need more information feel free to leave another comment or email me directly.

    • Vijay
      January 8, 2013 at 5:04 am

      Hi mira please tell me any ideas iam also go my id vijaymallah@yahoo.com

  8. GK
    November 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Hi, My father is working in Saudi as a labor and he is an Indian. For the past two years his visa not renewed by his hotel owner(not only his visa all labors working in his hotel). Whenever he is asking for his iqqama renewal they are just saying that “nowadays it is very difficult to renew the visa, all visa process are computerized”, like this reason.

    He don’t have any friends or other people to help there. And even he cannot go outside also because of his visa expired.

    Is there any way my father can exit from Saudi Arabia, he don’t want to go back to Saudi again.

    If you want any more details about this please don’t hesitate to contact me in email or comment.

    • admin
      December 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      Hi GK,

      Your father and the other workers at the hotel should contact your home embassy for help. They will advise them as to how to start a case against their employer who is responsible for this situation. They will also likely be able to help your father to exit saudi legally.

  9. flipchip
    November 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    good day,

    my wife escaped her sponsor and went to immgration last 2008, after 2 years i process her visa to come here in KSA under my sponsorship. upon arriving to dammam airport the immigration stops her and told her that she has a record and will not be allowed to enter the kingdom for 5 years. my question is if i again re apply for a visa on 2013 will she be able to get inside the kingdom without any problem?

    thank you and more power.

    • admin
      December 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      Hi Flipchip, if they have told her not to return for 5 years then I don’t see any reason not to try again after this. However I cannot give you a definitive yes or no as I do not work for the immigration department.

  10. gopu
    November 20, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Hello All,
    I am from kerala, India. IS there any way to go back to home by any way if my sponsor is not allowing leave after one year. I asked him leave but he is not ready to do so. i am in an urgent situation i told him but he is not willing to give me leave so i am asking if there is any way and how much amount will it cost and how many days

    • admin
      December 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      Hi Gopu
      You can contact your embassy who may be able to help you by contacting your sponsor on your behalf. However if you run away and try to leave illegally you have to be aware that this is both expensive and very difficult.

  11. mira
    November 20, 2012 at 4:29 am


    • admin
      December 10, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      Hi Mira

      I really wish that I could help you to leave but unfortunately there is little that I or anyone else can do for you within Saudi Arabia. All you can do is appeal to your fathers better nature and ask him to let you leave.
      Leaving through other routes will be expensive and very risky. There are more people that will take your money saying they will help than will actually provide you with help.

  12. hussain
    November 20, 2012 at 4:31 am

    Salam Alaikum, Nationality : Indian. I have a problem in bringing my newborn baby ( 40 days old ) from Jeddah to Dubai. I would appriciate your involment and help in this matter. Im an indian working in Dubai, where as my wife is an indian passport holder living in Mecca, Jeddah under her dad’s sponsership. Now she has delivered the baby in Holy Mecca and baby has a valied passport. I have applied and sent UAE Visa to baby, but emigration not allowing my baby to travel to UAE with her mother and asking us first to find and include baby under any sponser and then only they will put the EXIT Entry on baby’s passport and allow him to travel. We are unable to add baby under mother name, as mother herself is under her dads sponsership. Baby cant be added under fathers sponsership, as father has only UAE residence visa. Indian Embassy in Jeddah has already issued a letter stating that baby was born in Holy Mecca and has a valid passport. I would appreciate your involment in this matter and hope that you will advise the department to put EXIT enty on my baby’s passport at the earliest. JazakAlla Khair

  13. AG
    December 5, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I was wondering about the legal consequence of travelling illegally without a husband’s consent. Are there strict and fixed punishments or consequences?

    If a woman was able to forge the guardianship consent, what happens upon her return. Any sources that may help?


  14. MOE
    December 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    My fiance lives is KSA and she got a fiance visa to come to the States however her iqama is expired and its taking way too long to get renewed, I was wondering can she leave without iqama and just get a final exit from KSA?

    • admin
      December 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      If her Sponsor supports her exit and pays any relevant fines then she will be able to leave, however in my experience most sponsors will make you wait until the iqama is processed if it has already expired rather than risk any problems. Of course you then face the problem of the sponsor refusing to still issue an exit visa when they have gone to the expense of getting the iqama renewed.

  15. Anuraj
    December 15, 2012 at 3:09 am

    I reached Saudi on Sep 21st on a 90days work visa, due to Nationalization my sponsor is under yellow category and they are unable to issue my IQAMA.My company is compelling me to overstay.What should I do?Please advice me since I have only 5 more days for the visa expiry.

    • admin
      December 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      Leave before the expiration of your visa if you have no Iqama or anything in writing / stamped in your passport to extend your stay officially.

  16. em
    December 29, 2012 at 1:55 am

    my daughter doesn’t have iqama, she is now 8month old. is it possible to send her in our country without the iqama?
    please help.

    • admin
      January 25, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Hi em,

      Talk to your sponsor to get your problem sorted out, assuming you have an iqama this should not be a difficult problem to solve.

  17. Ahmed
    December 30, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Asalam Alaikum.

    Asalam Alaikum.

    I’m a pakistani my iqama expired about 2 years ago I learned from a friend that my sponsor has reported me a run away. I wanted to know what will happen if I’m caught by police. My iqama and passport are both with my wakil (not kafil) or either with jawadad. There is a company here in jeddah they are asking me to transfer my sponsorship to it. is it possible for me to get my iqama renewed and transfered to that company. As you have guessed by now my wakil is not supportive and is not willing to renew my iqama and I have no knowledge of my kafil where he is or where he works.

    • admin
      January 25, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Ahmed

      If you are a runaway and do not have access to your passport then you are not going to be able to transfer your sponsorship, nor are you going to be able to leave easily. I would suggest that you go to your embassy to start sorting this problem out as they will be able to tell you your options.

  18. Kamran
    December 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    I really like this blog and the guidance it gives to us expats. I came to saudi arabia last year on may 2011 and its about 19 months now. I gave my Iqama for renewal 4 months ago to my khafeel and he hasn’t renewed till now after some time he is saying that he is not able to renew and willing to give transfer letter to anywhere. My present company is willing to give me transfer but they will be able to do it after two months. I am already 4 months overdue and waiting for another two months will make it 6 months being illegal.

    Q1: Will my company be able to transfer me with expired Iqama? Is there good possibility that i will eventually get my Iqama renewed?

    Q2: I have found a person that says he can renew my Iqama for a amount. Can he do that without my khafeel help? how would i know it will be legitimate once he does it? (As there is no online system to check validity)

    What is the best option should I take? my company or the other person?

    Please advice or guide me in the right direction.
    Thank you brother.

    • admin
      January 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Hi Kamran

      Your sponsor will be able to transfer you even if your iqama is out of date due to him not renewing it, he and your new employer will figure it out!

      Do not pay someone else to “solve” your problem, they will probably just take your money and deliver nothing!

  19. miriam
    January 15, 2013 at 2:53 am

    plz i need help i live in jeddah and i have 2 kids and i am from europe i want to exit saudi arabia but i dont know how

    • admin
      January 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      Hi Miriam,

      I have answered your emails. The problem in Saudi is that once you marry a Saudi man they then control your movements and those of your children. Without his permission you and especially the children are trapped there.

  20. Ali
    January 15, 2013 at 3:49 am

    dear admin any legal way to leave the Jeddah for Pakistan because sponsor is not giving passport and iqama is also expired..thanks alot

    • admin
      January 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Ali,

      contact your embassy for help.

  21. Rakesh Jindal
    January 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Hi, I am working in Saudi Arabia,it,s 4 month pass, but now i have some family problem in India, and i need badly to go India, but there is no way, because it,s only 4 month ,and the co where i working is a small establishment company, is there any way to escape or leave..Please advice me

    • admin
      January 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Rakesh

      You will need to talk to your sponsor and plead your case. But do not expect much help as most sponsors will not help.

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