As previously noted, Saudi Arabia is making customs clearance faster and easier through certifications and standardized workflows. This is intended to spur the Kingdom’s international trade and customs industries and further diversify the economy. A major aspect to importing and selling in KSA is understanding the roles played by various government entities and online portals such as Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA), Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO), Saber, and FASAH.
Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA)
Established in 2003, the SFDA aims at “Protecting the community through regulations and effective controls to ensure the safety of food, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, pesticides and feed”. What this means is that if a product falls under SFDA’s authority then it needs to meet their regulations such as quality control and packaging. Essentially, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority sets the safety requirements for goods to be imported and sold within the country.
It runs its own online portal which has many different eservice branches attached to it, depending on whether food or drug is being looked at. In these portals, importers can enter manufacturer information and upload relevant documents which allow SFDA to confirm safety and quality standards and issue a notification number that confirms a certain good/product can be sold in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO)
Initiated in 1972, SASO is a regulatory body focused on designing and approving national standards for goods, products, and services. It issues additional regulations and requires further documentation to ensure goods, products, and services are entering the market under approved standards.
Further, SASO is the issuing authority when it comes to ensuring goods entering or exiting the Kingdom are correctly certified and upto the different relevant standards and regulations. To do this, SASO has implemented the Saber system which aims to accelerate delivery of the required conformity certificates for consumer products.
Marketed as “Your gateway to the Saudi market”, Saber is an online portal to register products and easily obtain certificates of conformity. Where SASO issues advice regarding regulations and documentation, Saber is how these things are implemented and checked. After creating a profile, a seller can enter the product they are importing and gain the correct authorizations to quickly pass through customs.
Backed by Saudi customs, FASAH is the online portal used at customs. A retailer will upload documents received by SFDA, SASO and Saber onto their FASAH profile. These will then be seen by officers at customs which will expedite the releasing process.
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