Being an expat in the Sultanate is an easy task, according to people who’ve lived here for decades. But, just like any other country, there are several things you might want to keep in mind when you move to Oman.
Don’t let that dishearten you, though. Omanis – the citizens of the country – are polite and welcoming people, and they’ll make you feel right at home.
Still, migrating to a new country is a tedious task. So, today, we take you through some simple steps to keep in mind when you move to this wonderful land that you’ll soon call “home”.
1) Obtaining your visa and residence card
It all starts when you land here and find your way to the immigration department in the new Muscat International Airport (Yes! We have a new airport now).
For instance, these are the steps you’ll have to follow if you’re here on an employment visa:
1) Make sure that you receive the employment visa with all the required stamps from your company through email or post. You’ll need to carry a copy of it to avoid any confusion at the airport.
2) Present your copy and passport at the retina and fingerprint scanning desk, following which, you’ll need to proceed to the immigration desk. Don’t hesitate to reveal your purpose of visit, i.e. entering Oman for a job (if you’re indeed entering legally on an employment visa).
3) The official will stamp your visa and mark your entry and exit dates, by hand, on the page.
Note: Make sure to regularly follow-up with the company’s public relations officer (PRO) for your residence card.
4) Provide your recently-stamped passport to the PRO for processing, and head to a hospital that provides health tests for immigration purposes. The Badr Al Samaa Hospital in Al Khuwair charges roughly RO20 for the tests, which will include routine STD/STI screening, and a chest-radiograph X-Ray, among other tests.
5) Once you’ve cleared all the tests, present the medical file to your HR department.
6) Then, proceed to the Directorate General of Passport & Residence closest to you, and submit your medical tests and paperwork from the Ministry of Manpower. The PRO should ideally be present with you through the process.
7) Once the paperwork is done, head to the Directorate General of Civil Status and wait for your turn. Make sure to smile for the photograph. You’ll be asked for your fingerprints again, and you should have your residence card with you in no time.
2) Renting a property
Once you’ve entered the country, your next step is to look for a place to stay – assuming your company hasn’t set you up with a place to move into. Some reputed companies provide free stay to their employees.
But if you’re looking for a place of your own, take note of these steps you’ll need to follow:
1) Search online listings or check with local property agents for apartments or villas. Eliminating the agent, or a middleman, would mean you’ll pay less per month but you may need to trust a landlord completely before committing to
2) After finding the place you want to move to, draw up the agreement.
3) Next, you’ll need to pay 10 per cent of the annual rent as the municipality charge. So, if you’re paying RO500 per month as rent, you’ll need to shell out RO600 upfront.
4) Some landlords may also ask for a security deposit of three months that may be refundable.
5) Most landlords will offer you flexible payment options. You can either pay your rent monthly by cash, or else issue 12 cheques made out to the landlord. The latter can be a bit tedious if your employer has a reputation of delaying payment of your salary.
6) Move in.
3) Applying for a driver’s licence
Contrary to popular belief, it’s easy to procure a driving licence. It’s just up to you to impress the Royal Oman Police (ROP) officer at the time of your test. But there is a long list of steps you’ll need to follow before you can get your prized licence.
Obtaining it can vary depending on your previous country of residence.
For instance, if you’re a GCC expat with a valid driver’s licence then head to the Directorate General of Traffic in Seeb with a copy of your passport, your valid residence ID, and passport-size photographs.
The conversion should take place quickly, and will set you back RO25.
Note: Saudi Arabian drivers will need to wait for two weeks for their Omani licence. However, there are reports of residents having to wait for up to four months.
Expats from other countries applying for a licence will need to follow these steps:
1) Head to the Directorate General of Traffic and obtain the ‘Green Book’ for RO5. The ROP will not accept cash payments so carry a bank card on you.
2) Take the eye test in the area allocated. It’s a simple test that will entitle you fit to practise driving.
3) Approach a driving instructor, preferably one who can speak English. Don’t hesitate to haggle on the daily rates. The standard rates can vary anywhere between RO7 and RO10.
4) Your first assignment would be to learn the road signs, and practice for the drum and slope tests. Take the test. The instructor will charge you roughly RO30, from which he will also pay the ROP test fee.
5) The last step in obtaining your licence begins with your training on the road. Take as many classes as you can before trying out for the tests. Instructors will charge you RO30 for failed tests and RO40 if you pass (ROP fee included).
6) Once you pass the test, head to the Directorate General of Traffic and obtain your temporary licence.
4) How to attest your documents
It’s important to have your documents attested by the official body in your country if you’re planning to register for a job or looking to study in Oman.
Here’s how you can attest your documents:
1) If your documents were issued from Oman (i.e. an Omani university, school, marriage certificate, etc.), then you can head to your respective embassy to get a seal of authenticity. Otherwise, you’ll need to send your papers back to the country wherein the certificate was issued for the seal.
2) Once the seal is in place, you can head to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Shatti al Qurum for the final attestation. The cost for attestation can range anywhere from between RO10 and RO60.
5) Opening a bank account
Having a bank account is vital. All government offices in Oman are reportedly paperless and do not accept hard cash.
Here’s how you can open your account in Oman:
1) Do your research on which bank account will be the most beneficial to you. There are plenty of options to choose from but keep in mind that some banks do not offer loans to expats.
2) Once you’ve narrowed down your choice, head to the branch with copies of your passport, residence card, photographs, and a salary certificate issued by your employer.
3) If your salary is below RO100, then you might be asked to visit other branches of the bank, which dedicate themselves to opening ‘low-income accounts’. All others can head straight to a branch to set up their accounts. The bank card should be presented to you on the same day.
Note: Check if a minimum balance should be maintained. You could incur a fine if you fail to maintain the amount.