Saudi Arabia - Country Commercial Guide
Prohibited and Restricted Imports

Includes a list of goods that are prohibited from being exported to the country or are otherwise restricted.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Goods bearing immodest or nude pictures or bearing a cross and pictures not consistent with Islamic morals are prohibited. There should be no Koranic or Islamic sayings written on packages, other than straight translations of product contents, when necessary. If human figures are shown on packages, they should be in good taste. Photographs or illustrations of pigs or wrappings simulating pigskin should be avoided. Permission must be obtained for goods to bear the Saudi Arabian emblem, which consists of crossed swords and a palm.

Animals and Animal Products
All fresh meat and poultry products must be labeled with the production and expiration dates, metric weight, the necessary storage temperature or range of temperatures, and attestation that the product meets Halal slaughtering requirements.  Processed meat and poultry products labels must include net weight, a list of ingredients in descending order of weight, and name and address of the manufacturer and packer, and must identify any pork components, including lard.  Animal feeds must be labeled “Unfit for human consumption” or “Special for animal feeding only.” Food and animal products require “halal certificates for both food products and animals—imported meat and poultry require “halal slaughter certificates”.

For food and agricultural import regulations and standards and certification see USDA report

The Ministry of Agriculture requires all importers of chemicals to mark the following information in Arabic on all insecticide cans and packages: (a) the phrase “agricultural insecticides”; (b) the trade name and mark of the insecticides, if any; (c) the ratio of the active agents in the insecticides; (d) the purpose for which the insecticide is used and the ratios and methods of its uses; (e) precautions necessary for the protection of public health, stating the period that should elapse after its application to crops before harvest; (f) date of manufacture and expiration date for effectiveness of the insecticide, if any; and (g) net weight of contents.

Cosmetic products must be labeled in Arabic on the outer packaging with the name and brand name; name and address of the manufacturer or importer; expiration date given as month and year for products that expire in less than 30 months or the phrase “Period After Opening” with the number of months the product expires if more than 30 months; list of ingredients, which must conform to the international nomenclature for cosmetic ingredients; function of product; storage conditions; production date or batch number; usage instructions and precautions; country of manufacture; and volume.  Medical claims are prohibited unless they conform to Gulf Standard GSO 1943/2009.  English language labeling is permitted alongside the Arabic. 

The Saudi authorities are expected to issue regulations for halal certifications and labeling on certain non-food items such as cosmetics.  As of the latest update on by SFDA, no such Halal certificates and labeling are require for cosmetics. 
The news on “Halal Center” is published on SFDA’s website (In Arabic).  This initiative is still in the development phase.( )

Food Products and Beverages
Prepackaged foods are subject to the Gulf Cooperation Council standard GSO 9/2013, “Labeling of Prepackaged Food Stuff.” See labeling information for Food Products and Beverages in the GCC profile in Trade Blocs.  Food containers: Plastic containers used to package food products must be labeled with the type of plastic material used; the weight, capacity, number, or dimensions of the container; statement of food grade; purpose; directions for use; and applicable warning statements.

Genetically Modified Organisms
The Gulf Cooperation Council has established labeling requirements for foods that contain genetically modified organisms. See labeling information for Genetically Modified Organisms in the GCC profile in Trade Blocs.

Medical Devices
Medical devices are subject to specific labeling guidelines.  The device or the packaging, as appropriate, must be labeled with the name of the device, name and address of the manufacturer, special storage conditions, warnings and contra-indications, and batch code or lot number, along with many other requirements specific to the type of device.  Complete labeling guidelines are available from the Medical Device department at the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

Specific labeling requirements apply to pharmaceutical products.  Exporters should consult with their customers in Saudi Arabia or with the Drug Department of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority for specific guidelines.
Plants and Plant Products
Packages of barley, sorghum, or wheat seed must state in Arabic the type of seed, name of exporter, country of production, the phrase “Poisonous for both humans and animals,” date of production, and expiration date.

Carpets: The following information must be repeated every five meters on carpet rolls and must be shown on the sales invoice: thickness or weight per square meter, pile height, country of origin, and carpet quality (nylon, wool, acrylic, polypropylene, etc.).  Carpet shipments without this information will not clear customs, and deviations from the requirements will be subject to legal penalty.

Other Products
Cigarettes: The following health warning, in Arabic, should be on all cigarette packs: “Government Warning: Smoking is a major cause of cancer and diseases of the lungs, heart, and arteries.”  This warning can be printed by the agent.  Certain types of cigarettes are banned.
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