Starting a business in Qatar

Updated 2023-06-18 12:39

Are you tempted by a new professional adventure in Qatar? Setting up a business in Qatar is possible for foreigners, provided they comply with certain regulations and complete the necessary formalities. Qatar is becoming more open to foreign investment partners, but there are still strict rules presiding over them. However, many international firms, as well as small and medium enterprises, have successfully been set up there despite the restrictions.

Types of companies in Qatar

First of all, you should be aware of the different types of companies which are allowed in Qatar.

There are several types of companies you can consider setting up in Qatar, depending on your business objectives, industry, and ownership preferences.

Here are some common types of companies you can establish in Qatar as an expat:

Limited Liability Company (LLC): LLCs are the most common form of business entity in Qatar. They require a minimum of two shareholders and offer limited liability protection. LLCs can engage in various activities, including trading, consulting, contracting, and service-based businesses. In the case of the Limited Liability Company, a minimum capital of QR 200,000 is required. You will also need a Qatari partner who will own 51% of the company's shares without involving any state-owned company. Furthermore, the company is not authorized to undertake banking, insurance, or other investment-related activities. Regarding taxes, the company will have to pay a 10% rate based on its profits during the fiscal year.

Joint Ventures: Joint ventures involve two or more parties coming together to form a new company in Qatar. This type of partnership can be beneficial for accessing local knowledge, expertise, and resources. Joint ventures can be established with Qatari nationals, other companies, or government entities.

Branch Office: Foreign companies can establish a branch office in Qatar to conduct business activities. A branch office is an extension of the parent company and is subject to local regulations. It allows for total control by the parent company but may have certain restrictions on the scope of activities.

Free Zone Company: Qatar has designated free zones, such as the Qatar Science & Technology Park and the Qatar Financial Centre, which offer favorable business environments and incentives. Free zone companies enjoy exemptions from certain taxes, customs duties, and foreign ownership restrictions.

Professional Service Company: Professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, consultants, and engineers, can set up professional service companies in Qatar. These companies are regulated by professional bodies and require appropriate licenses and certifications.

Holding Company: A holding company is established to own and manage investments in other companies. It can be beneficial for asset management, tax planning, and consolidation of ownership. Holding companies can be subject to specific regulations and requirements.

Public Shareholding Company: Public shareholding companies are listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange and allow for public ownership through the sale of shares. This type of company is suitable for large-scale businesses and may require compliance with additional regulations.

Limited Partnership: Limited partnerships consist of general partners who manage the business and assume liability and limited partners who contribute capital but have limited liability. Limited partnerships are typically used for investment and real estate projects.

It is important to note that the process, requirements, and regulations for setting up a business in Qatar may vary depending on the type of company and the nature of the business. It is advisable to seek professional advice from legal and business consultants in Qatar to understand the specific requirements and steps involved in establishing your chosen type of company.

Good to know:

Before proceeding, you must determine in which zone you want to operate your company, whether in the free zone or outside. In fact, regulations differ for these two zones. In the free zone, foreigners are allowed to hold 100% of the company's shares. It can import duty-free goods and services and is authorized to repatriate capital and profits without any restriction. Regarding the staff, the company is also allowed to sponsor foreign employees.

How to proceed for the setting up of a business in Qatar

Once you understand the conditions and regulations related to the setting up of a business in Qatar, you can tackle the procedures with the assistance of a lawyer. First of all, you will have to register your company's name with the Ministry of Economy and Trade's business inspection department. Note that fees apply. Thereafter, you will have to submit the company's statutes to the same department for validation.

Once you are done with this step, a bank authorization certificate will be issued. You can then open a Qatari bank account so as to deposit the minimum capital. The bank will then give you a receipt which you will have to show to the Ministry of Justice for authentication, together with your partners' identity documents and authenticated copies of the company's articles, among others. The company's documents must also be signed by the partners before their validation by the ministry.

You must then return the complete file to the Ministry of Economy and Trade, which will handle the trade registration. Note that fees applied vary according to the amount of capital invested. Once all these formalities have been completed, a Commercial Registration Certificate will be issued within 7 working days.


You also have to apply for a Trade License at the nearest municipal counter to your company's premises. Documents to be produced are your company's trade registration certificate and its lease documents.

Finally, you are required to request a Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the Ministry of Finance.

Doing business in Qatar

Setting up your own company and doing business in Qatar involves several steps and processes. Here is a general outline of the steps to help you get started:

Determine the business activity: Define the nature of your business activity and identify the appropriate type of company to establish based on your objectives and industry.

Business plan: Develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines your goals, target market, products or services, marketing strategies, financial projections, and other relevant details. This plan will serve as a roadmap for your business and may be required for various stages of the setup process.

Company name and legal structure: Choose a unique and suitable name for your company. Research and ensure the availability of the chosen name. Decide on the legal structure of your company, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), joint venture, branch office, or other types mentioned earlier.

Local sponsorship or partnership: Depending on the legal structure you choose, you may need to partner with a Qatari national or a Qatari company that will act as a local sponsor or partner. They will hold a percentage of ownership in the company as per Qatar's foreign investment regulations.

Capital requirements: Determine the minimum capital requirements for your chosen type of company. This can vary depending on the nature of the business activity and the legal structure.

Obtain necessary approvals: Obtain necessary approvals from relevant government authorities and agencies. This may include approval from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other regulatory bodies specific to your industry.

Commercial registration: Register your company with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry or the relevant authority depending on the legal structure. This involves submitting required documents, completing application forms, and paying the necessary fees.

Trade license: Apply for a trade license, which allows you to legally operate your business in Qatar. The trade license is typically issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry or the relevant authority.

Location and premises: Secure suitable office or commercial premises for your business operations. Ensure compliance with local regulations and obtain necessary permits for the location.

Hiring Employees: If your business requires employees, you will need to follow Qatar's labor laws for recruitment, employment contracts, and obtaining necessary work permits and visas for your employees.

Tax registration: Register your company for taxation purposes with the Qatar Ministry of Finance. Familiarize yourself with the tax obligations and requirements specific to your business activity.

Banking and financial matters: Open a corporate bank account in Qatar to manage your company's finances. Ensure compliance with banking regulations and provide the required documentation.

Insurance: Evaluate the insurance requirements for your business, such as general liability insurance, property insurance, and employee insurance. Obtain appropriate insurance coverage as per your business needs.

Post-setup compliance: Fulfill post-setup compliance requirements, such as maintaining proper accounting records, submitting periodic financial statements, renewing licenses and permits, and adhering to regulatory obligations.

It is important to note that the specific requirements and procedures for setting up a company in Qatar can vary based on the legal structure, industry, and other factors. It is advisable to consult with legal and business professionals or engage the services of a business setup consultancy in Qatar to ensure compliance with the local regulations and to guide you through the process.

Visa requirements to set up a business in Qatar

You need a visa to set up a business in Qatar. There are two types of visas that are available to business owners:

  • Investor visa: This visa is for investors who are investing at least QAR 1 million in Qatar.
  • Entrepreneur visa: This visa is for entrepreneurs who are starting a business in Qatar.

To apply for a visa to set up a business in Qatar, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. The first step is to contact the Qatari Embassy or Consulate in your home country to inquire about the requirements for applying for a visa to set up a business in Qatar.
  2. The Qatari Embassy or Consulate will provide you with an application form that you will need to complete and submit. The application form will typically require you to provide information about your business plan, your financial situation, and your reasons for wanting to set up a business in Qatar.
  3. The Qatari Embassy or Consulate will charge an application fee. The application fee varies from country to country.
  4. The Qatari Embassy or Consulate may require you to schedule an interview. The interview will give the Qatari authorities a chance to get to know you better and assess your suitability for a visa to set up a business in Qatar.
  5. They will then notify you of their decision within a few weeks of your interview. If your application is approved, you will be issued a visa.

Here are some of the documents that you will need to submit when applying for a visa to set up a business in Qatar:

  • Valid passport for at least six months beyond the end of your intended stay in Qatar.
  • A duly completed visa application form
  • Letter of acceptance from a Qatari bank showing that you have enough money to cover your living expenses and the costs of setting up your business in Qatar.
  • A business plan that outlines your business goals and how you plan to achieve them.
  • Financial statements that show your financial situation.
  • Letter of recommendation from a reputable individual who can vouch for your character and business acumen.

The application process for a visa to set up a business in Qatar can be time-consuming, so it is important to start the process early. You should also be prepared to provide additional documentation if required by the Qatari authorities.

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when setting up a business in Qatar:

  • The type of business that you want to set up will determine the type of visa that you need.
  • The location of your business will also affect the type of visa that you need.
  • The size of your business will also affect the type of visa that you need.
  • The financial resources of your business will also affect the type of visa that you need.

If you are planning to set up a business in Qatar, it is important to do your research and consult with a qualified immigration lawyer to ensure that you are in compliance with all of the relevant laws and regulations.

Prominent fields for businesses in Qatar

There are many promising fields for setting up a business in Qatar as an expat. Here are some of them:

  • Construction
  • Technology
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Tourism.
We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.