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Working in Iraq

Expats are extremely valued assets in Iraq, and the country's recovering infrastructure means that there is an abundance of jobs. In this section of the Expat Guide we take a thorough look at Iraq’s general economy, job market and income taxation code.

When searching for countries in which to work, expats often place huge emphasis on salary, and the money offered to Western workers in Iraq will certainly not disappoint. A great many American contractors are involved in the country's infrastructure rebuilding, and Westerners will often have jobs prior to arriving in Iraq.

Economic Overview

The last decade has seen many changes in Iraq's economy, and the country's GDP stood at 222.88 billion USD in 2013 (0.36% of the global economy). The lifting of international banking restrictions means that the Central Bank of Iraq is no longer controlled by the government.

In terms of other sectors, namely that of energy, Iraq's economy is almost entirely dependent on oil. The appropriate use of the country’s reserves is the key to spurring job growth, security, and standard of living. Initial signs are promising, and having now emerged from the recent war, Iraq is dealing with the world's largest international oil corporations once more. Improved security has led to inflation decreases and a surge in investment, while the imminent establishment of important rail links with nearby countries is also a very positive sign. 

Iraq's Economic Complexity Index (ECI) of -2.2791 means that it is ranked 143 in the world. Cars represent Iraq's most imported commodity (5.1%), with raw iron a fairly close second (4.3%) followed by refined petroleum, rice, and wheat (2.9, 2.6 and 2.3% respectively). In terms of exports, the country's most sought after product, by far, is petroleum (99%), while refined petroleum (0.29%) gold (0.18%), tropical fruits (0.11%) and alkylbenzenes and alkylnaphthalenes (0.049%) are also in demand. Iraq exports mostly to India, although business is also done with China, South Korea, Italy, and Spain.

Jobs in Iraq

There is no shortage of jobs in Iraq. The country's construction industry is where the highest number of expat jobs can be found, with Iraq desperate for knowledgeable expats keen to help restore the country to its former glory. In addition to this, various other sectors, such as healthcare, offer a range of jobs, and teachers of English, as is the case in many countries, are also sought after.

Look out for popular newspapers such as the Kurdish Globe and Iraq Today, the latter of which is in English. For translators wishing to find employment in Iraq, Arabic and Kurdish have official status, while Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and South Azeri are regional languages. There are a number of helpful websites whose focus is on expatriate employment in Iraq. A good starting point is, for example,, while GulfTalent is also widely used.

Taxation in Iraq

The tax brackets for those working in Iraq can be found below, although as we will see, there are exceptions to these rates: 

  • 3% for earnings of up to 250,000 IQD;
  • 5% for earnings surpassing 250,000 IQD up to 500,000 IQD;
  • 10% for earnings surpassing 500,000 IQD and up to 1,000,000 IQD;
  • 15% for earnings surpassing 1,000,000 IQD.

There a number of circumstances under which expats working in Iraq will be exempt from these taxes. If you are moving to Iraq having obtained a job with a government agency, or any organization that provides assistance to Iraq in its fight for regeneration, then you will not be liable to pay any tax. For example, foreign workers employed by construction companies are typically exempt from all tax while working in the country.

Mathias Döringer

"Iraqi bureaucracy is very different to what I know from Europe. Sharing experiences with fellow expats helped me to overcome many obstacles."

Isabella Martinez

"As you can imagine, expat living in Baghdad is difficult at times. The InterNations community helped me a lot to cope with the daily challenges!"

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