Iíve been offered a job. Now what?
There are number of things you will need to do before coming to Bahrain. Most of these will be taken care of by your employer, however sometimes the employer may forget or might not be so clear on the steps that need to be taken prior to you coming to Bahrain so this section will help you with those core steps that need to be taken before your arrival to Bahrain. Always use your employerís knowledge and guidance about this before anything else as they will be the ones who know the system in Bahrain more than anyone else - however the following is helpful for you to understand the process.
You will be asked to send copies of your passport (sometimes including the stamped pages of your passport). Please note it is a known fact that if you have a stamp from Israel on your passport, you can be denied entry to Bahrain or getting a visa. If you are in this situation, please explain this to your potential employer to prevent nasty surprises. Although some people have managed to get a visa and entry to Bahrain despite having stamps from Israel on their passport, it is up to the border control officerís discretion to deny entry should he see this stamp.
The passport must have a minimum of 6 months left to run on it and also have a minimum of 3 blank pages. This is needed for your visa and entry/exit stamps at customs. If you do have a passport that has the Israel stamp or only a short while to run etc it is advisable to get a new one before commencing your trip here.
It is a mandatory requirement by the Kingdom of Bahrain government that you will need to have your health checks done in the country of origin prior to your arrival to Bahrain. Some employers donít mention this, however please make sure you clear this requirement with your employer before you come to Bahrain. The Authorised Health Centres section of the LMRA website lists the health centres Bahraini government have an agreement with. If your country is not listed on this website, then you can have your health checks done by your preferred medical organisation, however please ensure that you are checked for the right medical examination required. The details can be seen or downloaded from the LMRA website, but your employer should also guide you on this process.
Please note usually employers cover the cost of medical checks required for visa purposes, so donít forget to keep all the receipts you will have as a result of your medical checks so you can claim them back from your employer. When I had mine done back in the UK, I had to pay around £400 in total, luckily my employer reimbursed me the cost in full.
You will be given number of papers by your doctor / medical examiner and the photocopies of these will have to be forwarded to your employer so they can initiate the visa process.
You will then wait to hear back from your employer until your visa is issued. Once this is confirmed, you are then clear to start moving to Bahrain.
There will be another set of medical checks once you are in Bahrain but they will not be as exhaustive as the ones you will have completed before your arrival. These checks are required for your CPR (Central Population Registration) Card to be issued.
CPR is a very important piece of Card that every Bahraini citizen and resident must have. Without it, you donít practically exist in this country - which means you cannot open a bank account, you cannot subscribe to a mobile phone contract nor you can subscribe to broadband. The issuance of CPR can take time so this should be your first priority upon arrival to Bahrain.I have a job in Saudi Arabia but want to live in Bahrain.
Many expats do this, either on a daily basis or by staying in Saudi 3 or 4 days a week and returning for weekends. Either way there are some basic facts about this "commute" that need to be understood.
You will need to ensure that your employer arranges a Multi Entry / Exit Visa for Saudi Arabia. Your first entry into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has to be via an airport. This is true whenever you get a new Saudi Visa, after that you can drive over the causeway.
The drive from Bahrain to Saudi is via the King Fahd Causeway, a 25km series of bridges and causeways connecting Bahrain, just south of Saar, to Saudi Arabia at Khobar.
You will need to buy additional insurance to drive in Saudi, and in order to purchase insurance you will need a letter of authorisation from the car rental or leasing company allowing you to take the car out of Bahrain. This has to be requested when you first collect your car, and is valid for up to 3 months. Most rental companies will make a charge for this letter of up to 50BD. You will need to show this when you purchase your insurance.
Insurance can be purchased at the United Insurance booth to the right just after you pass under the Janabiyah Highway junction, heading west from Bahrain. Insurance is based on the size and value of the car you are driving, but for a small / mid-sized car such as a Toyota Corolla the fee is 4.5BD / Day, 17.5BD / Week or 47BD/ Month.
Before entering the Causeway itself, there are a set of toll booths, where you need to pay a fee to use the Causeway. This is 2BD for cars, (more for trucks and busses). This fee is chargeable each way.
After approximately 12km you come to a man-made island which houses Bahrain exit points and Saudi Entry points. This comprises a series of check points where you follow the following procedure.Check Point 1
- Traffic: Your insurance is validated and you will be given a traffic permit (Note, the first time you use your letter of authorization it will be to be stamped by Bahraini Authorities, which involves a short walk to the traffic office)Check Point 2
- Bahrain Passport Control: Hand over your Passport and traffic permit, your passport will be stamped.Check Point 3
- Not sure of the purpose of this one, there is no barrier, but you have to drive past a customs man in a toll booth without showing any documentationCheck point 4
- Saudi Passport Control: Hand over Passport and traffic permit, your Passport will be stampedCheck Point 5
- Saudi Customs: You will be told to pull over into a numbered bay, park, open your trunk (boot), get out of car and hand your Traffic Permit to a customs official. Customs will either stamp your permit or search your car then stamp your permit.Check Point 6
- Saudi Traffic: Hand your traffic permit to official, who keeps it and lets you into Saudi Arabia.
Coming back simply reverse the process, with the following differences;
At Check Point 5 you have to pay 5BD for a new Bahrain Visa each time, unless you have a Bahrain Residency Permit.
At Check Point 6 if you purchased the Insurance when leaving Bahrain, you need to use the far left booth marked ďInsured Vehicles".Simple...
On a good day the process takes about 20 mins, However be prepared for this to take up to 2 hrs occasionally.
The procedure on the return back from Saudi takes longer, especially on a Wednesday evening, when this has been known to take 3 hrs.
As you can imagine a standard passport will rapidly fill up, it is a good idea to paper clip a few blank pages together to prevent every page being used. Otherwise it can be difficult to apply for other visas where you need 2 blank pages opposite each other.
Once you have a Residency Permit you can apply for a Causeway Book which get stamped instead of your passport.Public holidays in Bahrain
Bahrain has one of the most public holidays in the region. There are at least 15 official public holidays every year, in addition to 30 days of paid holidays you should get from your work. The public holidays that are related to the religion are based on the lunar calendar, therefore their dates change every year. As a result of this, these usually get announced just a couple of days before the actual holiday. Although it is possible to guess the approximate dates for these holidays, the definite days may vary. The Central Bank of Bahrain Bank Holidays page lists the public holidays for every year.Special note about Ramadan
During the month of Ramadan, Muslim people do not eat nor drink between sunrise and sunset for a period of one month. During this time, it is illegal to eat, drink, chew or smoke in public places and doing so can cause serious issues. Also, all places that sell alcohol either close, or stop selling alcohol during this period. Most places, especially public authorities start working late and finish early during Ramadan. It is a good idea to stock up the freezer and cupboards before Ramadan as the hypermarket opening times will also vary during this time.How can I find a place to live in Bahrain?
There arenít many property websites in Bahrain, but the ones that are available are enough to give you an idea of the types of properties available in Bahrain. Bahrain Property World and Expatriates (Bahrain Housing Available Section) are a good starting point. You can also use the Housing in Bahrain section of this forum to post if you are looking for a place to rent in Bahrain or share.
As you will see when you start looking for properties, most places come fully furnished, however there are places that are semi-furnished or not-furnished. The rent usually includes the bills such as water, electricity and municipality tax so you donít have to worry about them. However, if you come across any property that doesnít include these, please ask them to be included. The key-point here is you can always bargain for what you need. Never be afraid to ask for an extra, such as satellite, Internet or more to be included in the rental amount.Where is the best place to live in Bahrain?
This is probably the most commonly asked question in the forum. There are many different areas to live in Bahrain and each one of them suits to a different lifestyle. It is best to think whether you would like to be close to your office, the causeway to Saudi or close to all pubs and bars, or something else, and then make your house-hunting based on that. Below are some of the most popular places chosen by expats and their reasons of choosing these places?Amwaj Islands:
Located in the north-east of Bahrain, in Muharraq area, very close to the Airport. Amwaj Islands consists of a number of man-made islands. If you want to be close to the beach and enjoy living as part of a mostly western expat community, then Amwaj Islands are for you. Amwaj is also great if you have dogs as they can play on the beach (clean up their mess) and the properties have gardens.In addition to residential areas, Amwaj Islands include number of bars and an up-market grocery store (Waitrose). The rents here are above average. If you are planning to live in Bahrain and work in Saudi Arabia (as most expats do), this place is not for you as it is right at the opposite end of Bahrain (Saudi Arabia is connected to the north-west border of Bahrain by a bridge).Juffair / Adliya:
These 2 places are located in the east of Bahrain and again, mostly occupied by expats. Juffair has more people from the United States while Adliya has more people from the United Kingdom and this has an impact on the culture of both areas. Juffair has the largest United States navy-base in the region. Both Juffair and Adliya has huge number of cafes, bars and restaurants. If you have an active lifestyle and you enjoy going out late in the evening, visiting bars and clubs and enjoy eating out, then these places are for you. The rents in Juffair and Adliya are relatively cheap compared to Amwaj Islands and Seef.Seef / Reef Island:
Seef and nearby Reef Island are one of the latest developments in Bahrain. Mostly consists of tower blocks and skyscrapers, these areas are targeting the high-earners of Bahrain. Some of the known buildings in Seef are Era Tower (the tallest building in Bahrain, residential building made of 50 floors), Abraj Lulu (3 residential towers facing each other), Ritz Carlton hotel and its compound, and the 2 biggest shopping malls (Bahrain City Centre mall and Seef Mall) in Bahrain. Seef used to house the iconic Pearl Roundabout where the centre of uprising and protests happened in 2011. Abraj Lulu towers were once the most expensive buildings in Bahrain but the impact of the protests (which happened right next to these towers, on Pearl Roundabout) can be seen in the rental prices on Abraj Lulu towers. Still, Seef has one of the most expensive rental market in Bahrain, a typical one bedroom flat will cost you somewhere between 450 - 550 and a 2 bedroom flat between 600 - 800 BD, depending on the building you choose to live.Saar:
Saar is close to the Saudi Causeway and is a lovely area to live. The community is very mixed, made up of English, American, Indian and Pakistani. The properties are also varied ranging from huge private villaís to small one bedroom flats. The rent in Saar is very reasonable.
Saar cinema is the centre of the community and plays films in many languages and with subtitles.
Saar has 2 Expat clubs, The Dilmun Club and for the families who love their sports Saar also has the Rugby Football Club. In addition Saar also has many gyms, a dance school and numerous ladies salons.Schooling in Bahrain
There are numerous schools in Bahrain that you can choose from. You do have to contact the schools as soon as you start thinking about moving here though as they fill up very quickly. There is nothing more stressful for a parent than moving house and not being able to find a good school for their child.
There are schools for every nationality and there are a lot of bus companies that collect your child from home and deliver them to the school safely. They will also collect your child from school and drop them home at the end of the day. Most of the bus companies also offer a late collection twice a week to cover after school activities. This is included in the monthly fee. Visit the List of educational institutions in Bahrain to see the list of schools.
Fees for the top end schools vary between 1,300BD and 1,700BD per term depending on age of child.