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Saudi Arabia is an attractive market. German companies supplied goods worth almost nine billion euros to the Kingdom in 2014, making it Germany’s 26th largest trading partner – above Australia and even other EU countries such as Finland and Portugal.

But supplying goods to Saudi Arabia is more difficult than exporting to neighbouring European countries. To protect national security and public health as well as for cultural and religious reasons, there are complete import bans on products such as right-hand drive vehicles, pork and alcohol. Other products are subject to import duties. Every consignment to Saudi Arabia must comply with the Product Conformity Programme established by the SASO, the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization: all products supplied by a company to the country must conform to Saudi Arabian standards and technical regulations. A certificate testifies compliance, and all exporters must ensure that their consignments are accompanied by such a certificate.

The required certificates are issued by a testing company such as SGS that has been authorized by the SASO to inspect product consignments. The certification body confirms that the goods comply with Saudi Arabia’s import regulations.

Obtaining Certificates of Conformity for Saudi Arabia

Certification processes take time. It is therefore vital that exporters take appropriate action in good time and commission a certification company. If the goods are stopped by customs and not allowed into the country, the commercial damage to the exporter can often be considerable. Not only do the lost man-hours invested in organizing the export cost money – in the worst-case scenario, the supplier can lose its customers.

On request, testing companies can provide information on which products are classified as high-risk products by Saudi Arabia (e.g. electrical devices and accessories, but also toys) and which products are excluded from the CoC programme (medicines, medical devices and certain food products). The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) has issued special regulations for cosmetics. SGS can test these products as well for conformity with the Kingdom’s import regulations. It is also important to find out which documents are required in advance, how products should be labelled, what the requirements of the certification process are and how long it takes. Evidence of internal quality management, test reports and inspections are some examples of the required elements in the process.  

Speeding up exports

But there are also ways to speed up the export process. SGS offers a special service with the Statement of Registration, which is valid for one whole year for exports to Saudi Arabia. On the basis of this registration, SGS can complete the certification process even faster and issue the Certificate of Conformity. If the planned consignments to the country do not contain any perishable goods, quality documentation and test reports are not required for each consignment as these are valid for the entire year after the initial test. Selective inspections can also be performed: random sampling is sufficient, or a physical inspection is not required at all. Here too it makes sense to contact the experts at SGS to find out the ideal solution for exports to Saudi Arabia in the specific case.

It is always advisable to consult specialists at a certification company in good time before exporting to Saudi Arabia or any other country with export restrictions. This is the only way to avoid unpleasant surprises at customs and to make sure that the goods reach their destination and the customer without delays.


SGS Germany GmbH
Governments and Institutions Services
Rödingsmarkt 16
D-20459 Hamburg
t: +49 (0)40 30101-733