Banking, Money and Taxes in Oman
A major attraction for expats living and working in Oman is the tax-free income, and foreigners will be happy to hear that opening and running a bank account is easy and efficient.
Money in Oman
The currency used in Oman is the Rial (OMR), which is divided into 1,000 baisa.
Notes: 100 baisa, ½, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 OMR
Coins: 5, 10, 15, 20 baisa
Oman is primarily a cash-based society, with a general distrust for cheques and an aversion to using credit cards for anything but very large purchases.
Banking in Oman
Along with the Central Bank of Oman, trustworthy local banks include Bank Dhofar al-Omani al-Fransi, Bank Muscat, National Bank of Oman, Oman Arab Bank and Oman International Bank. There are also a host of foreign banks with branches in Oman, including Barclays Bank, Citibank, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered. Many of these offer multilingual services, and expats are advised to look to one of these institutions when opening an account.
Another option is to open an international (multi-currency) account for use in Oman through a bank in their country of origin. International accounts can be opened before leaving home and will provide access to a wide range of international banking services, such as high-interest savings options and online money transfer services. Many expats report that they prefer the convenience and security of having their finances centralised in this way.
Opening hours for banks in Oman are 8am to 12pm and 2.30pm to 6pm from Sunday to Thursday, and from 8am to 11.30am on Fridays. During Ramadan, banks usually open an hour later in the mornings (at 9am).
Opening a bank account
Opening a bank account in Oman is a straightforward exercise for expats, provided they are eligible to do so. An applicant must be in possession of a residence visa and a clearance letter or No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their employer. The NOC must state the expat's monthly salary, as this will indicate to the bank the figure that will regularly be paid into an Omani account. Note that it is sometimes easier to open a bank account in Oman with an employer's bank, as any problems with the payment of salaries can be sorted out with maximum efficiency.
In addition to copies of a residency visa and a No Objection Certificate from the employer to open a bank account in Oman, expats must appear in person at the bank in possession of a number of documents, such as their passport and proof of address.
ATMs and credit cards
ATMs are widespread, and most of them will accept international cards. Omani bank cards can be used at any ATM, but withdrawals may be subject to fees if using a machine operated by a different bank. Drawing cash using a credit card will also incur a fee.
Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted everywhere; American Express and Diners Club less so.
Overdraft facilities are available in Oman, but a general distrust of foreign account holders prevails, so expats may be called in to explain large discrepancies. Do not bounce a cheque in Oman, even if it is an honest mistake, it could lead to dire consequences.
Taxes in Oman
One of the great incentives for expats moving to Oman is that there is no personal or income tax levied against monthly salaries. There are no tax forms to be completed, and no returns to file with the Ministry of Finance. The only possible deduction from an Omani salary will be a 6.5 percent contribution to a social security fund for welfare benefits and old age pensions, but some employers waive this obligation too.
Expats are strongly advised to research whether a double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) exists between Oman and their country of origin. If no such agreement exists, they will have to pay tax in their country of origin on the money they earn in Oman.