Official information British people moving to and living in Kuwait need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.
Before you go
See our travel advice for Kuwait for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.
You should follow the advice of Kuwait’s government and your local authority. You can also read Kuwait travel advice for our latest guidance.
For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in Kuwait, see our coronavirus travel advice.
Local laws and customs
Kuwaiti laws and customs are very different from the UK – breaking the law can result in severe punishment, including the death penalty.
See local laws and customs in our travel advice for Kuwait.
Visas and residency
Starting 10th March, 2019, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior implemented a new system of residences regarding the cancellation of the residence permit printed on the passport for all categories/types. The Kuwaiti ports will allow the civil ID card holder to enter Kuwait, the normal residence data will be confirmed by the civil identity card. See entry requirements for Kuwait in our travel advice.
See also visa types for Kuwait.
Usually when applying for residency, you will need a UK criminal records check (known as a DBS check). To use your criminal records check in Kuwait, it should be notarised in UK, legalised at FCDO UK and attested at Kuwait embassy in London, before it reaches Kuwait. Find more information on how to legalise a document.
See our travel advice for Kuwait.
Kuwait and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements. You should buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you enter the country.
You should also make sure you’re covered by health insurance for UK treatment or you’ll be charged by the NHS for any care you receive in the UK. The NHS has information for people moving abroad.
See Kuwait government hospitals. If you use a private hospital, make sure you have comprehensive medical insurance.
You will need your Kuwaiti civil ID (or your passport if you’re on a visitor visa) to access healthcare.
You should check your prescriptions are legal in Kuwait – you may need to get permission from Kuwaiti authorities to bring your medicine into the country.
You should also carry a doctor’s note for any prescription medicine.
Working in Kuwait
Your employer needs to apply for a work visa (iqama) – you can be jailed if you work without the proper visa.
Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check (known as a DBS check). To use your criminal records check in Kuwait, it should be notarised in UK, legalised at FCDO, UK and attested at Kuwait embassy in London, before it reaches Kuwait. Find more information on how to legalise a document.
There is no income tax on salaries or wages paid in Kuwait – we recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Kuwait.
You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.
Life certificates for UK state pensions
If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.
Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.
Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.
Driving in Kuwait
If you’re applying to live in Kuwait (that is you have a residence permit – Civil ID), you should not drive unless you have a Kuwaiti driving licence. In this case, you should apply for a Kuwaiti driving licence after you receive your residency permit. You may like to confirm eligibility requirements for a Kuwaiti driving licence with the nearest Kuwaiti Embassy before you arrive. Your eligibility to obtain a Kuwaiti licence may be affected by your residency or employment category, annual salary, degree certificate and time spent in Kuwait. Transferring your UK driving licence into a Kuwaiti one might be a possibility as well. Obtaining a driving licence for your spouse may be difficult or not possible. Please always check directly with the local Kuwait authorities for an updated list of requirements before proceeding. Visit our Notarial and Documentary services guide and follow the steps for Legalising UK issued documents. Once your DVLA licence has been notarised in the UK, legalised at the FCDO, and attested at the Kuwaiti Embassy in London, you can take it to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an attestation. Then, translate your licence to Arabic. Here is a list of Translation Offices for your convenience. Take your driving licence and translation along with any other required supporting documents to the Kuwaiti Traffic Directorate. A list of the required supporting documents, approval, and conditions are all provided by the Kuwait Traffic Directorate.
See travelling with pets.
Kuwait uses the emergency number 112.
If you need urgent help, contact the British Embassy Kuwait.
Accommodation and buying property
Other useful information
- notary services for Kuwait
- English-speaking translators in Kuwait
- English-speaking lawyers in Kuwait
- parental child abduction in Kuwait
Returning to the UK
Before you leave Kuwait, you must:
- close your bank accounts and credit cards
- settle any debts and fines
- cancel your residence permit
Your residence permit won’t be cancelled and your exit permit issued until all debts are paid.
To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.
Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Kuwaiti authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.