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Approval requirements for exporting your products to Saudi Arabia

Expert Interview Approvals for Saudi Arabia

Talking with our expert for international registrations, Martine Segener

Saudi Arabia is one of the most dynamic countries in the world economy and relies on a strong promotion of the private economic sector. As a manufacturer, you can benefit from this economic upswing by exporting your goods to Saudi Arabia. However, in order to do so, you need certificates of conformity (Product Certificate of Conformity - PCoC; Shipment Certificate of Conformity - SCoC), which confirm compliance with all national guidelines and must be presented to the customs authorities upon import, among other things.

Export regulations for Saudi Arabia are very variable, so you should look at each product individually. In addition to the individual technical requirements, further certifications are often necessary. This makes the SALEEM program very complex.

Martine Nicola Segener

What process steps are necessary when importing your goods into Saudi Arabia? How does the registration in the SABER portal take place? We clarify these and other important questions in the last interview in our series "Admission requirements for countries in the Middle East" with our Market Access Services expert, Martine Segener.

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What is the best way to proceed if I want to export my products to Saudi Arabia?

When exporting to Saudi Arabia, the first thing to know is that virtually all products are regulated by the SALEEM program introduced in 2018. Therefore, the first step manufacturers and traders should take is to find out which regulations apply to their specific product by finding out the applicable customs tariff number. Saudi Arabia has its own system of customs tariff numbers, which can be researched on the SABER platform, among others. They are 12-digit numbers that differ from the European system.

TÜV Rheinland will be happy to assist you in your research by providing a list of possible numbers. However, it is up to the exporter to decide which number to use. In case of doubt, you should consult your importer.

Once the correct tariff number has been determined, it is possible to determine which technical regulations the product must comply with and which certifications are required.

As an exporter, how can I then obtain the certifications?

At this point, the exporter or importer must involve an independent certifier accredited by Saudi Arabia, such as DIN CERTCO - the responsible certification body of TÜV Rheinland. Based on the customs tariff number, we can determine which procedure is necessary for this particular product, i.e. whether, for example, only an assessment of the technical documentation is required (assuming valid test reports are already available), whether a manufacturing site inspection must also be carried out, or whether even further certification is required before certification for the Product CoC can be carried out. Of course, we then inform our customers what we need from them and which regulations the product must fulfill in order to receive the certificate.

However, the process does not end with the Product CoC. For each shipment that an exporter makes and that is expected by the importer, he then needs a Shipment Certificate of Conformity, which must also be issued by an accredited certifier. This certification must also be registered in the SABER portal.

It is important to know that the importer, i.e. the trading partner in Saudi Arabia, must always register. Exporters or manufacturers cannot do the registration themselves. A common misunderstanding is also that one certificate can be used to supply several importers. Even if the same product is supplied to two importers, each importer must obtain a separate PCoC and SCoC for himself.

Martine Nicola Segener has been with TÜV Rheinland since 2016. Since the beginning of the year in her role as Operation Manager at DIN CERTCO Gesellschaft für Konformitätsbewertung mbH. She is an experienced expert for international approval regulations in the Middle East and Africa.

Exporters can find out whether further certification is required on the SABER portal or through their certifier. Which products are affected?

Unfortunately, the requirements really have to be considered very individually for each product, which further complicates the process. Let's take a laptop, for example. For some electrical products, you need the IECEE Recognition Certificate before the importer can even register the Product CoC.

The situation is similar for plumbing products. Products that control a flow of water usually require the Water Efficiency Label. So bathtubs do not fall under this regulation, but faucets do. This shows that not all products in a given category are always subject to the extended regulations.

How quickly can such a certification be carried out?

That also depends on the product that is to be certified. If, for example, only an evaluation of the documentation is required, we can carry this out in a maximum of two weeks – always assuming that the exporter has all the necessary documentation. Particularly in the case of certifications that include a production site inspection, however, it can sometimes take longer because, in addition to the extra work, a date also has to be coordinated.

After the exporter has acquired all certifications – Why does every shipment still have to be declared in SABER?

The Shipment CoCs were implemented by SASO to be able to monitor that really only pre-screened and certified products cross the borders. It is another control function for customs, because customs can check the certification directly when the shipment arrives.

However, we also see quite positive aspects for all parties involved. Importers can keep track of their shipments in the portal and certifiers such as TÜV Rheinland also use the system. SABER provides an overview of customs tariff numbers and the associated technical specifications. In addition, there are numerous helpful video tutorials that make working with the system easier.

Exporters and importers have to rely on a certification body to issue certifications anyway. What other benefits do clients get from working together?

We don't want to leave our clients to face the really demanding SALEEM program alone. Researching the customs tariff number is just one assistance we offer. Of course, we also list the requirements they have to fulfill and the documents they need for proof. In this way, we want to ensure that the products pass through the certification process in a stringent and uncomplicated manner. We are happy to take more time for this.

Otherwise, I see our strength in the profound knowledge base of our experts. Our colleagues at the Riyadh site are well networked with the regulatory authorities, so we always hear first-hand about changes in the approval procedures. We have now been active as a certifier in the Middle East for many years and have built up a very stable network there.

Your reliable and recognized partner for exporting to Saudi Arabia.

If you too would like to open up a new market by exporting your products to Saudi Arabia, contact our experts today!

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