Located at the northern end of the Gulf, oil-rich Kuwait attracts a workforce drawn from around the globe. Explorer Publishing provides key information about how to manage your relocation.
Visit visas are available on arrival at Kuwait International Airport for passport holders from the major European countries, North America, and south-east Asian countries including Singapore.
The cost is KD 3, except for citizens of the UK, USA, Italy, Norway and Sweden, for whom there is no charge. All other visitors to Kuwait, other than GCC citizens, require a visa and need to be ‘sponsored’. Sponsorship may only be provided by a Kuwaiti citizen or a Kuwaiti company.
Foreigners with a valid residence permit are permitted to sponsor dependants. To work in Kuwait you need a work permit and a residence visa.
People recruited from overseas usually have a work permit sent to them by their company, which will be endorsed by the local Kuwait embassy, and an entry visa will be issued to fly in on.
Employees will also need a medical certificate confirming they are fit to work. If you sign your contract in Kuwait while on a visit visa, you will need to leave Kuwait and go through the same process (it is common practice for companies to send locally recruited employees to Bahrain for these procedures).
Kuwait’s wealth is based largely on oil production and it has a large population of expats working in the public and private sector.
Being able to speak Arabic is advantageous but not a prerequisite, as most industries make use of both Arabic and English in their day-to-day operations. There are no specific restrictions for working in Kuwait, and you do not need to hold a degree to be issued with a work permit.
Working for an international company will sometimes mean that you are paid in a foreign currency. Accommodation allowances and annual airfares home, although generally included in employment contracts, are not mandatory.
The general working week is from Saturday to Wednesday, although a number of industries also work a half-day on Thursdays. Find out whether your employer offers any sort of medical insurance.
If there is any chance of you being required to travel to Iraq, it is absolutely imperative that you are covered by fully comprehensive medical and life insurance.
According to Kuwait Labour Law an employee is entitled to 14 days’ leave after completing a year of employment. Private international businesses generally give 30 days’ leave per year (calendar days, not working days).
Kuwaitisation is a word that you will hear from time to time. All private sector companies are required by law to employ Kuwait citizens. The percentage of Kuwaitis required varies from industry to industry.
Recruitment Agencies Bayt 461 0450 Heston 80 8182 Kuwait Recruitment Bureau 247 0850 Prolinks Kuwait 265 8036 SOS Recruitment 241 6107
The banking sector is currently dominated by local banks, although the government is in the process of issuing licences to international banks.
A number of the local banks offer services akin to those found in most international banks worldwide, including savings and current accounts, credit cards, loan facilities, and online banking.
Bank charges vary slightly from bank to bank, but if you use your bank card to withdraw money from another bank’s ATM, expect to pay 200 fils. Use of your own bank’s ATMs is free. Credit cards are issued on approval and you will need to hold an account at the bank into which your salary is transferred every month.
Current accounts, although not common, are available. Accounts are available in either US dollars, pounds sterling, euros or Kuwait dinars. Banks are open Saturday to Wednesday, although a few branches do open on Thursdays. Banking hours are generally from 08:00 to 13:00. Evening openings are generally from 17:00 to 19:00.
It is a criminal offence to issue a cheque when there are insufficient funds in the account. A bounced cheque is taken very seriously and will usually result in arrest.
- Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait 89 9899 www.eahli.com
- Bank of Bahrain & Kuwait 241 7140 www.bbkonline.com
- Burgan Bank 243 9000 www.burgan.com
- Central Bank of Kuwait 244 9200 www.cbk.gov.kw
- Commercial Bank of Kuwait 241 1011 www.cbk-online.com
- Gulf Bank 80 5805 www.gulfbank-online.com
- Industrial Bank of Kuwait 245 7661 www.ibkuwt.com
- Kuwait Credit & Saving Bank 241 1311 na Kuwait
- Kuwait Finance House 80 3333 www.kfh.com
- Kuwait Real Estate Co. 245 8177 na
- National Bank of Kuwait 80 1801 www.nbk.com
As expats are presently unable to purchase property in Kuwait, renting is still the only option.
A wide range of apartments and villas are available to suit all tastes and budgets, both furnished and unfurnished.
Most apartment complexes have a swimming pool, gym, 24 hour security and general maintenance included in the rental agreement. The best ways of finding out about shared accommodation are by word of mouth and driving around.
Employment contracts sometimes include accommodation or an accommodation allowance. It is possible to share accommodation, but bear in mind that unmarried men and women are not allowed to live together by law, unless they are members of the same family.
Single women may find that they have to arrange accommodation rental through their company. The rent for an apartment will not necessarily include utility bills such as electricity and water.
Maintenance services for air-conditioning units should be covered by the landlord, and parking is usually provided for at least one vehicle.
Rental contracts are usually for a period of 12 months and payments are made monthly in advance, either by cash or cheques. Using an agent is a convenient, albeit expensive, way of locating accommodation.
Real Estate AgentsMain Real Estate Agents AAA Housing 246 5888 www.aaahousingq8.com Al Adwani Real Estate 240 4209 www.aladwanirealestate.com Tamdeen Real Estate Co. 246 8881 www.tamdeenrealestate.com United Real Estate Co. 80 5225 www.urconline.com
Kuwait has excellent medical care, but at a price – visitors are strongly advised to arrange private medical insurance before arriving.
Public healthcare is provided through a number of clinics and hospitals. There are several large government hospitals in Kuwait and they are all recommended in case of an emergency. Clinics are located throughout Kuwait and can usually be found next to the local supermarket or cooperative.
They offer preliminary examinations and routine check-ups and services, and will refer a patient to a specialist where necessary. All residents of Kuwait have access to public healthcare. The current ambulance service in Kuwait is not on a par with western standards.
Paramedics are often not properly trained and work from ill-equipped vehicles. Private healthcare is of a high standard, although it is expensive. Expatriates generally prefer to be covered by private insurance allowing for the use of private hospitals and clinics where there are more comfortable facilities and shorter waiting periods.
Most employers provide medical insurance as part of the employee’s package, but this is not mandatory. A number of insurers will expect the policy holder to pay for treatment up front and then be reimbursed. Most private hospitals and clinics do not allow appointments to be made over the telephone.
Pharmacies are located next to hospitals and clinics and at most cooperatives.
- Al Rashid Hospital 562 4000
- Dar Al Shifa Hospital 80 2555
- Hadi Clinic 82 8282
- London Hospital 88 3883
- New Mowasat Hospital 572 6666
- Salam Hospital 253 3177
- Private Health Centres/Clinics Boushahri Clinic 88 5544
- British Medical Centre 371 3100
- Care Clinic 261 0666
- International Clinic 574 5111
Kuwait has a good education system for expatriate children.
The private schools catering for the large expatriate population (and more westernised Kuwaiti children) are obliged to include Arabic and Islamic studies in their curriculum. These schools tend to follow the British and American curriculum.
There are a number of other international schools, including Indian, Pakistani and Filipino, which follow their respective curriculums.
The good schools in Kuwait always have a waiting list so it is advisable to register a child as soon as you know that you may be relocating.
The school year runs from September to June but actual term dates vary from school to school. Schools are open from Saturday to Wednesday and hours are usually 07:30 to 14:00.
You should try to negotiate your employment contract to include a separate payment for school fees.
A number of private colleges and universities have recently opened in the country. Kuwait University offers a wide range of courses, including Islamic Studies, and has restricted access for expatriate students.
The American University of Kuwait (AUK) offers degrees in liberal arts, sciences and management. The Australian College of Kuwait (ACK) offers engineering, maritime, and management diplomas.
- American School of Kuwait Hawalli 266 4341
- The British School of Kuwait Salwa 562 1701
- Cambridge English School Central Kuwait 371 7331
- English Academy Jabriya 534 0427
- The English School Salmiya 563 7205
- The English School Fahaheel Central Kuwait 371 1070
- Gulf English School Salmiya 565 9361
- Kuwait National English School Hawalli 265 6904
- New English School Jabriya 531 8060
Cost of Living
|Cost of Living|
|Bread (large loaf)||150 fils|
|Car rental (compact)||KD 9/day|
|Chocolate bar||100 fils|
|Cigarettes (20)||400 fils|
|Cinema ticket||KD 2.500|
|Eggs (dozen)||850 fils|
|Milk 1 litre||480 fils|
|Water 1.5 litres (supermarket)||150 fils|