In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a cosmetic product is defined by the Saudi Food & Drug Authority ("SFDA") as "any cosmetic product that contains one or more substances prepared for external usage of the human body parts including skin, hair, nails and lips or on the external parts of genital organs, teeth or mucous membranes of the oral cavity for the purpose of cleaning, perfuming, protecting and keeping them in a good in good condition, changing or improving their appearance or changing or correcting the body odor".

Commercial Trade

It is not permitted for cosmetic products to be commercially imported or traded in Saudi Arabia unless it is listed in the Electronic System for Listing Cosmetic Products, the SFDA's "eCosma" system. The entity licensed in Saudi Arabia to import cosmetics products is required to "notify" the SFDA regarding the cosmetic before importing the same. Notifying is the listing of cosmetic products in the SFDA records via eCosma and does not mean the product safety has been evaluated by SFDA. Notifying aims to create a comprehensive database of cosmetic products that are manufactured locally or imported, by recording them in SFDA records.

When submitting a cosmetic product notification, amongst other things, it is required to attach a clear image (one or more) of the product from all sides. The image must include the internal and external product label and its internal brochure, if any. The images can be presented in one of the following forms: PNG, JPG, TIFF and PDF. The cosmetic product label must be in conformity with the Cosmetic Products Legislation and the Standard of Safety Requirements for Cosmetic Products and Personal Care (GSO 1943/2021) (this is the same requirements as in the UAE).

Next, in order to clear cosmetic products from the Customs ports, several requirements must be met, including obtaining a Certificate of Conformity ("CoC"). COC is proof that the imported products shipments have been tested before importation to Saudi Arabia, through one of the conformity bodies accredited by SFDA, to assure that it meets the safety requirements issued by GSO. A request for a COC should be raised through the SFDA's FASEH platform by the Saudi importer. In order to obtain the same, the Saudi importer (who holds a valid license to trade in cosmetics products) must have an account with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority and must be registered and notified the cosmetics on eCosma. The importer must also have a valid commercial registration certificate that includes Cosmetics Trade as a registered commercial activity.

Also of particular interest is that a certificate of origin must be products upon clearing of cosmetics from Customs. The certificate of origin must be approved by chambers of commerce of origin country, where 50% of the product manufacturing process takes place, with exception of packaging process. The manufacturer identified on the imported cosmetic product label must match the origin country stated in origin certificate, and the certificate must mention the payment bill number.

Personal Use/Samples/Purchase from Foreign Website

Items imported for personal use and items purchased by individuals online or by post are not subject to notification with eCosma nor obtaining a COC. Separate forms and declarations are required to be submitted to SFDA by the local importer or individual receiving such items.