Moving to Bahrain: everything you need to know
With lively cities like Manama, Seef and Muharraq, a highly developed infrastructure and good international schools, living in Bahrain can be an exciting move.
Find out everything you need to know with our guide.
Capital city: Manama
Currency: Bahraini Dinar (BHD)
Time zone: Arabia Standard Time (GMT + 3)
Main languages: Arabic and English
With year round sunshine and a sub-tropical climate, getting used to the heat can be one of the biggest challenges for expats.
During the summer months of June to September, temperatures can reach over 45 degrees Celsius. The cooler months, December to March, have temperatures around 24 degrees Celsius. Buildings are generally air-conditioned to help with the heat.
Visas can be sponsored by a number of organisations, including airlines, or other resident expats, if you’ve not secured a job yet.
You’ll then need to obtain a Bahrain residency visa and ID card. You can get a residency visa by:
· finding a job and being sponsored by your employer
· setting up and registering a business in Bahrain
· receiving a family visa on behalf of your spouse or parent who is resident
If you plan on working while you’re living in Bahrain, you can then apply for a work permit.
The process can be relatively straightforward, especially if you already have a job lined up before making the move. As well as sponsorship, a lot of companies will help with the process and paperwork of a visa application.
It’s illegal to work in Bahrain on a tourist visa, so always check you have the right visas and permits for your time here.
You’ll probably want to get online as soon as you arrive in Bahrain. So we’ve outlined what you need to know to get connected on your mobile and in your new home.
When it comes to home internet providers, residents have a choice between a number of different telecommunication companies in Bahrain.
To get set up, you’ll usually need to provide some documents, including:
· a Bahrain ID (original and copy)
· passport, including stamped residency visa (original and copy)
For more detailed info on connectivity, visit the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
Accommodation is likely to be one of your biggest expenses while living in Bahrain. Depending on how long you’re planning on staying, you may want to look at either renting or buying a property.
It’s common to pay your rent for the year upfront, alongside a security deposit. Some landlords accept post-dated cheques, so it may be worth speaking to a prospective landlord about this.
You’ll need to present your residency visa, passport and proof of income when you sign the lease.
Both furnished and unfurnished properties are available, depending on where you’re wanting to live. If you’re looking for a place, some of the more established property rental websites, include:
It’s a good idea to start saving for your accommodation well in advance, but you may want to consider taking out a loan to help cover the cost. If you’re moving for work, you may find your employer has allocated housing for expat employees, but this isn’t always the case.
Expat property purchases in Bahrain are restricted to designated areas, called ‘freehold areas’. There’s a range of freehold areas, offering different price points and property types. You can buy properties that are ready to move in to, or ‘off plan’, which is property that’s marketed but not yet built.
We offer mortgage services if you’re considering buying a property in Bahrain
For more detailed info on Bahrain property laws, visit the Kingdom of Bahrain Survey and Land Registration Bureau.
Many expats consider Bahrain to be one of the best destinations for expats to work in the Middle East. The working week usually runs either Sunday to Thursday or Saturday to Thursday to observe the Muslim holy day of Friday.
It’s typical to work 8 hours a day, but some businesses may extend this to 9 hours a day.
There are many different industries throughout the country as well as the option to be self-employed. You’ll need to make sure you have the correct Bahrain work visa depending on the type of employment you’re after.
It’s a good idea to have your bank account set up before you start working, to ensure your employer can pay your salary. You may also want to check whether you can add to your pension while working here.
Although some smaller shops and restaurants may require you to pay with cash, credit and debit cards are widely accepted.
Depending on the card you have and who you bank with, you may get rewards for spending. For example, with an HSBC credit card, you can get offers and discounts at specific retailers, including buy one get one free cinema tickets.
The HSBC ENTERTAINER mobile app offers great value with money-saving incentives at the best restaurants, spas, hotels, fitness outlets, entertainment and more across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.
Explore more: Setting up your finances in Bahrain
While there may be no income tax, there are other taxes to pay in Bahrain. Residents pay 5% VAT on the purchase of all goods and services.
For more detailed information on Bahrain tax obligations, visit the Bahrain National Bureau for Revenue website.
Bahrain has a range of good international schools. Places can also be limited, so it’s worth trying to find and secure a school place before you move.
You may be able to send your children to a public school, which generally teach in both Arabic and English, while Private Schools usually teach in English.
For more detailed information on education visit the Bahrain Ministry of Education website.
Bahrain’s public transport system is generally limited to buses and taxis, so if you are staying for a long time your best option might be to own your own car. The major cities do have well-appointed bus routes however.
If you wish to hire a private car, the 2 main ride-sharing apps are:
For more detailed transport information visit the Bahrain Ministry of Transportation website
If you’re planning to drive, traffic regulations are strict and there's a zero-tolerance policy towards drinking and driving or using your phone while driving. You can drive with an international licence, but you'll need a local licence if you have residency status.
Bahrain is a very diverse country and is open to a wide range of cultures and faiths. Islam is the official religion of Bahrain and plays a big part in how citizens live their everyday lives, however you will also find places of worship available for many other major religions.
Ramadan is the holiest time of the year in the Islamic calendar. As a mark of respect, you should avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public or in front of Muslim friends and colleagues, during fasting hours. At sunset, expats are encouraged to join in the breaking of the fast.
Many companies operate on reduced hours during the holy month.
Moving to a new country can be exciting, but there’s a lot to think about. Creating a checklist for moving to Bahrain can help you get everything organised.