Traveling to Qatar

traveling to Qatar
Updated 2023-06-11 13:54

As the gateway to the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar welcomes travelers from around the world to experience its diverse landscapes, cultural treasures, and warm hospitality. To ensure a smooth and hassle-free adventure, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the entry requirements that govern your passage into this fascinating nation. So if you are planning to travel to Qatar, here is some essential information to keep in mind.

Who can travel to Qatar?

In general, Qatar has specific entry requirements for different categories of travelers:

  • Qatari citizens: Qatari citizens have the right to enter and exit the country freely, subject to any specific regulations or requirements imposed by the Qatari government.
  • Nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates): Nationals of these countries do not require a visa to enter Qatar.
  • Expatriate Residents: Expatriate residents with a valid residency permit (Qatar ID) are allowed to enter and exit Qatar.
  • Tourists: Qatar offers visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival to citizens of several countries for tourism purposes. If you are from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, or certain Latin American countries, you do not need to obtain a visa to Qatar. Nationals of more than 80 countries are eligible for visa-free entry into the State of Qatar, with varying allowable lengths of stay. Nationals of the eligible countries do not require any prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival to Qatar.

Visa-free entry to Qatar valid for up to 180 days

For nationals of the countries listed below, the waiver will be valid for 180 days from the date of issue and entitle its holder to spend up to 90 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips:

Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Visa-free entry to Qatar valid for up to 30 days

For nationals of the countries/regions listed below, the waiver will be valid for 30 days from the date of issue and entitle its holder to spend up to 30 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Georgia, Guyana, Hong Kong – China, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, and Venezuela.

This waiver may be extended for a further 30 days.

Essential requirements to enter Qatar with this visa-free on arrival

There are two fundamental documents that allow you to enter under these visa exemption conditions for 80 countries:

  • A valid passport for the aforementioned nationalities, valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of arrival in Qatar.
  • A confirmed ticket for a flight back to your country of origin or to another country.

Visa-free for Indian nationals

Citizens of India can be granted a visa waiver for a period of 30 days on their arrival in the State of Qatar, given the following conditions:

  • A passport must be valid for at least 6 months.
  • The passenger must have a confirmed return ticket.
  • Passengers should provide a confirmed hotel reservation.

Visa-free for Pakistani nationals

Citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan can be granted a visa waiver for a period of 30 days on their arrival in the State of Qatar, given the following conditions:

  • A passport must be valid for at least 6 months.
  • The passenger must have a confirmed return ticket.
  • A valid debit or credit card. (For a family traveling together, the card must be in the name of the passenger or one per family)
  • A confirmed hotel reservation.
  • Passengers arriving directly from Pakistan should have a certificate of vaccination against polio.

The visa will be granted for 30 days free of charge and is not extendable.

Business visitors in Qatar

Business travelers in Qatar may need to obtain a business visa or enter under a specific business sponsorship arrangement. It is important to check the visa requirements and entry regulations for business visitors to Qatar. In most cases, the requirements are to hold a passport valid for at least six months on entry with two blank visa pages. Also needed is valid proof of health insurance covering the period of intended stay and an invitation letter from the company that is inviting you.

Transit passengers in Qatar

Qatar offers transit visas for passengers transiting through Hamad International Airport, allowing them to enter Qatar for a specified period. Transit passengers may need to meet certain conditions, such as having a valid onward ticket and meeting health and security requirements. Transit visas are only required if you intend to leave the airport and enter Qatar.

It's important to note that entry requirements may include having a valid passport, visa, health insurance, and other documentation.

It is strongly recommended to check the latest travel advisories and entry requirements issued by the Qatari authorities or consult with the nearest Qatari embassy or consulate before planning any travel to Qatar.

What are the entry requirements to Qatar?

Some general entry requirements for entering Qatar are:

Passport: Travelers must have a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months from the date of entry. The passport should also have blank pages for visa stamps.

Visa: Depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit, you may need to obtain a visa before traveling to Qatar. Some countries have visa-free entry or offer visa-on-arrival for a specified period, while others require pre-approved visas. It is important to check the visa requirements for your specific nationality and purpose of travel.

Travel authorization: In some cases, travelers may need to obtain a travel authorization or entry permit before traveling to Qatar. This requirement may be applicable to certain nationalities or specific travel purposes. It is important to check if you need travel authorization and the process to obtain it.

Health insurance: It is advisable to have valid health insurance that covers medical expenses during your stay in Qatar. This may be a requirement for certain visa categories or recommended for your own peace of mind.

Custom regulations for entering Qatar

When entering Qatar, it is important to familiarize yourself with the customs regulations to ensure a smooth entry and to comply with any restrictions or requirements. While the specific customs regulations may vary and can change over time, here are some general guidelines:

Prohibited items: Certain items are prohibited from being brought into Qatar, including narcotics, weapons, firearms, ammunition, explosives, and pornographic materials.

Restricted items: Some items are allowed to enter Qatar but may have restrictions or require special permits. These include medications, prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pets, and certain food products. It is advisable to check the specific requirements and restrictions for these items to ensure compliance.

Currency declaration: If you are carrying a large amount of currency (cash or equivalent), you may be required to declare it upon entry. Qatar has regulations regarding the amount of currency that can be brought into or taken out of the country. It is recommended to check the currency declaration requirements to avoid any complications. Travelers may carry cash up to fifty thousand Qatari riyals without declaring them.

Duty-free allowances: Qatar has duty-free allowances for certain items, such as tobacco products. 400 cigarettes (alternatively 20 cigars, or 300g pipe tobacco, or 500g raw tobacco, or 2 kg shisha hookah, as long as the value of tobacco does not exceed QAR 3,000) is allowed. The limits on these allowances can vary, and exceeding the limits may result in customs duties or confiscation of the items. It is important to be aware of the duty-free allowances to avoid any issues. Alcohol imports are banned into the country.

Cultural and religious sensitivities: Qatar is a conservative country with Islamic traditions and customs. It is important to respect the local culture and customs, including dress codes and behavior in public places. Modest dressing, especially for women, is encouraged in public places. Revealing clothes that expose the knees and shoulders, such as short dresses, mini-skirts, cropped tops and sleeveless tops are not allowed for women. Also, tight-hugging clothes (even leggings/“jeggings”), as well as those that cover too little of the legs down to the knees, are not allowed. Also men are also prohibited from wearing knees-exposing shorts, as well as vest tops that expose the chest.

Prohibited imports and exports: Qatar may have restrictions on the import and export of certain goods, including cultural artifacts, antiques, and endangered species. Alcohol imports are banned into the country. Drugs, indecent materials (books, magazines, etc.), weapons, ammunition, explosives, and radioactive equipment are prohibited.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the regulations regarding the import and export of such items to avoid any legal consequences.

It is recommended to check the official website of the Qatar Customs Authority or contact the nearest Qatari embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date and detailed information on customs regulations. Compliance with customs regulations is essential to ensure a smooth entry and to avoid any legal issues or delays during your visit to Qatar.

When do custom duties apply, and on what items?

In Qatar, customs duties apply to certain items that are brought into the country. The specific items and the applicable duties can vary, and it is important to check the latest customs regulations or consult with the Qatar Customs Authority or a customs broker for detailed information. However, here are some general guidelines regarding customs duties in Qatar:

Duty-free allowances: Qatar may have duty-free allowances for certain items that can be brought into the country without incurring customs duties. These allowances vary depending on the item and can include personal belongings, clothing, and small quantities of tobacco and alcohol. It is important to be aware of the duty-free allowances and ensure that you do not exceed the limits.

Excess or commercial goods: If you are importing goods that exceed the duty-free allowances or if you are bringing in goods for commercial purposes, customs duties will likely apply. The exact duty rates can vary depending on the type of goods, their value, and other factors. It is advisable to check the customs tariff schedule or consult with the Qatar Customs Authority for the specific duty rates applicable to the goods you intend to import.

High-value items: Certain high-value items, such as luxury goods, electronics, and vehicles, may be subject to specific customs duties or additional taxes upon importation. The duty rates for these items can be higher compared to regular goods. It is important to consider these additional costs when importing such items.

Temporary imports: If you are bringing goods into Qatar temporarily, such as for exhibitions or events, there may be specific customs procedures and requirements. In some cases, you may be able to obtain temporary importation permits or receive exemptions from customs duties. It is recommended to consult with the Qatar Customs Authority or a customs broker for guidance on temporary imports.

It is important to note that customs duties and regulations can change over time, and it is advisable to check the latest information from official sources or consult with the Qatar Customs Authority or a customs broker for accurate and up-to-date information on customs duties and procedures applicable to your specific situation.

Conditions for short-term stays and long-term stays in Qatar?

The conditions for short-term stays and long-term stays in Qatar can vary based on the purpose of your visit and the type of visa you hold. Here are some general conditions for each:

Short-term stays

Visitor visa: If you are planning a short-term visit to Qatar for tourism, business meetings, or other non-employment purposes, you can apply for a visitor visa. This visa is typically valid for a specific duration, usually up to 30 days, and may be extendable for a maximum total stay of 90 days in a 180-day period.

Sponsorship: To obtain a visitor visa, you may require sponsorship from a Qatari resident or company. The sponsor can apply for the visa on your behalf.

Entry and exit: During your short-term stay, you are expected to enter and exit Qatar within the validity period of your visa. Overstaying beyond the authorized duration can lead to penalties and legal issues.

Long-term stays (Residency Visa)

Residency visa: If you plan to stay in Qatar for an extended period, such as for employment or family reasons, you will need to obtain a residency visa or permit. This involves sponsorship by a Qatari employer, family member, or a business owner, depending on the purpose of your stay.

Employment contract: If you are moving to Qatar for employment, your employer will typically sponsor your residency visa and provide you with an employment contract. The specific requirements and procedures will depend on the employer and the type of job you are undertaking.

Family sponsorship: If you are joining a family member who is a resident in Qatar, they can sponsor your residency visa. This applies to spouses, children, and other eligible family members.

Residence permit: Once your residency visa is approved, you will need to complete the process of obtaining a residence permit (also known as an ID card or "QID"). This card is required for various activities in Qatar, such as opening bank accounts, accessing healthcare services, and participating in government transactions.

Renewal: Residency visas and residence permits in Qatar are typically valid for a specific duration, such as one to three years. You will need to renew your residency visa and residence permit before they expire to maintain your legal status in Qatar.

It is important to note that the specific requirements, procedures, and documentation for short-term and long-term stays in Qatar can vary depending on your nationality, the purpose of your visit, and any recent changes in immigration policies. It is recommended to consult with the Qatari embassy or consulate in your home country or refer to the official website of the Ministry of Interior in Qatar for the most up-to-date and accurate information on visa and residency requirements.

Here are the essentials:

1. Valid passport: Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in Qatar. Check the passport and visa requirements specific to your country of citizenship.

2. Visa requirements: Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa to enter Qatar. It is advisable to check the visa requirements well in advance and apply for the appropriate visa through the Qatari embassy or consulate in your home country. Some nationalities are eligible for visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival for a specific duration. If you intend to travel to Qatar as a visitor, a visa is required. The entry visa can be directly delivered at the Doha airport if your home country is part of the list of 33 countries for which the visa is issued at the border. The entry visa for Qatar is valid for 14 days and can be renewed.

You can find more information about entry visas on the Qatar Ministry of Interior website. Note that fees apply for the visa.

Flight arrangements for traveling to Qatar

Qatar has a well-connected international airport, Hamad International Airport (HIA), located in Doha. Plan your flight arrangements and book tickets in advance. Several major international airlines operate flights to and from Doha.

  • Choose your departure and arrival airports: Determine the airport from which you will depart in your home country and where you will land in Qatar. Qatar has several international airports, but the main gateway is Hamad International Airport (HIA), located in Doha.
  • Select an airline: Research and compare airlines that offer flights to Qatar. Consider factors such as reputation, flight routes, prices, baggage allowances, and in-flight amenities. Major international airlines such as Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines, and many others operate flights to Qatar.
  • Check flight schedules: Once you have chosen an airline, check their flight schedules to find a suitable departure time and date. Keep in mind that flight availability may vary based on the season and demand.
  • Book your tickets: Visit the airline's official website, use a travel aggregator website, or contact a travel agent to book your flight tickets. Follow the instructions provided, enter your travel details, select your preferred seats if available, and proceed with the booking process. Make sure to provide accurate passenger information.
  • Consider layovers and connecting flights: Depending on your departure location and airline, you may have layovers or connecting flights. Take note of the layover duration and plan accordingly. If you have a long layover, check if the airline or airport offers any transit services or accommodations.
  • Check travel requirements: Before finalizing your flight arrangements, review the travel requirements for entry into Qatar. Check if you need a visa or if you are eligible for visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival.
  • Confirm your booking: After completing the booking process, double-check your flight details, including the date, time, and airport. Ensure that you receive a confirmation email with your e-ticket or booking reference number. Keep this information readily available for future reference.
  • Prepare for your flight: As your travel date approaches, make sure to pack your belongings, including essential travel documents such as your passport and visa (if applicable), and familiarize yourself with the airline's baggage policies and any specific requirements related to carry-on or checked baggage.
  • Arrive at the airport: On the day of your departure, arrive at the airport well in advance to allow time for check-in, security procedures, and boarding. Follow any instructions or guidelines provided by the airline and airport authorities.

Remember to regularly check your email and the airline's website for any updates or changes to your flight. It's also recommended to have travel insurance to cover any unexpected circumstances or disruptions during your journey.

Accommodation booking in Qatar

Qatar offers a range of long-term and short-term accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. Here are some popular types of short-term accommodations in Qatar:

  • Hotels: Qatar has a wide selection of hotels, ranging from luxury 5-star properties to budget-friendly options. Many internationally renowned hotel chains have a presence in Doha and other cities in Qatar. These hotels offer a range of amenities, including restaurants, fitness centers, swimming pools, and business facilities.
  • Serviced apartments: Serviced apartments are an alternative to traditional hotel stays, offering more space and additional amenities such as kitchenettes or fully equipped kitchens, living areas, and laundry facilities. They are suitable for longer stays or for travelers who prefer a more home-like environment.
  • Resorts: Qatar has a few beachfront resorts that offer a luxurious and relaxing experience. These resorts often have private beach access, multiple dining options, spa and wellness facilities, and recreational activities.
  • Boutique hotels: For those seeking a more unique and intimate experience, boutique hotels are a popular choice. These smaller-scale properties often have distinctive designs, personalized service, and a more intimate atmosphere.
  • Guesthouses and Bed & Breakfasts: While less common in Qatar compared to other accommodation types, there are some guesthouses and bed & breakfast options available. These provide a more cozy and homey atmosphere, often with a limited number of rooms and personalized service.
  • Residential apartments and villas: Some property owners in Qatar offer their residential apartments or villas for short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb. This can be an option for travelers who prefer a more independent and private stay.

When choosing your accommodation in Qatar, consider factors such as location, proximity to attractions or business districts, amenities, price, and reviews from previous guests. It's advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons or major events.

Additionally, it's important to be aware of local customs and cultural norms while staying in Qatar. Respect the local laws, dress modestly in public areas, and adhere to any specific guidelines provided by the accommodation establishment.

Currency in Qatar

The official currency of Qatar is the Qatari Riyal (QAR). It is advisable to have some local currency for immediate expenses upon arrival. Currency exchange services are available at the airport, banks, and exchange offices.

Weather and clothing in Qatar

Qatar has a desert climate, with hot summers and mild winters. Pack clothing suitable for the weather, including lightweight and breathable fabrics for summers and slightly warmer clothing for winters. Respect the local culture and dress modestly in public areas, especially on religious sites.

The Qatari culture and Islamic traditions influence the local dress code. Here are some guidelines to consider when dressing in Qatar:

  • Modest clothing: Both men and women are encouraged to dress modestly. Women should avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothing, such as shorts, mini-skirts, sleeveless tops, or low-cut tops. Instead, opt for loose-fitting and conservative clothing that covers the shoulders, upper arms, and knees. Long skirts, trousers, and dresses are commonly worn by women. Men should also avoid wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts in public.
  • Traditional dress: Qatari men often wear a long white robe known as a "thobe" or "dishdasha," along with a headdress called a "ghutra" or "kaffiyeh" and an "agal" (the black rope that holds the ghutra in place). Women typically wear a loose-fitting black cloak called an "abaya" over their clothing and cover their hair with a headscarf or hijab. While it's not required for visitors to wear traditional Qatari attire, it is respectful to adhere to the overall modest dress code.
  • Swimwear: When visiting beaches, pools, or resorts, it's acceptable to wear swimwear. However, it's recommended to choose modest swimwear that covers the body appropriately. Bikinis or revealing swimwear may be more appropriate at private hotel pools or resorts, while public beaches may require more conservative swimwear.
  • Religious sites: When visiting mosques or other religious sites, both men and women should ensure they are modestly dressed. Women are usually required to cover their hair with a headscarf or hijab and may be provided with one upon entering the mosque. It's also important to remove shoes before entering mosques.
  • Business attire: In professional settings, business attire is generally expected. Men typically wear suits or traditional clothing, while women may wear conservative suits, dresses, or formal attire that covers the arms and legs.

While these guidelines provide a general overview, it's worth noting that Qatar is an international and diverse country, and people from different cultures and backgrounds reside there. Nonetheless, it's respectful to follow local customs and dress modestly in public spaces to avoid any unintentional offense or discomfort.

It's always a good idea to observe and follow the practices of the locals around you and seek guidance from your hosts or local contacts if you have any specific questions or concerns about appropriate dress.

Local laws and customs in Qatar

Familiarize yourself with the local laws and customs of Qatar to ensure you have a respectful and smooth experience. Pay attention to cultural norms, dress codes, public behavior, and alcohol consumption regulations. Please refrain from bringing alcohol, pork products, or sexually explicit material into the country. You may be searched, and these items will be confiscated from you on arrival.

Transportation in Qatar

Doha has various transportation options, including taxis, the Doha Metro, buses, and car rentals. Consider the most convenient mode of transportation based on your needs and preferences. Taxis are widely available, and apps like Uber and Karwa can be used for booking rides.

Health and safety in Qatar

Take necessary health precautions before traveling, such as obtaining travel insurance, checking recommended vaccinations, and carrying necessary medications. Qatar has a high standard of healthcare facilities, but it's advisable to have travel insurance to cover any medical emergencies. It is highly recommended to take out comprehensive medical cover before you arrive in Qatar. Treatment without this can be expensive. The CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccines for Qatar: typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, and influenza

Time zone in Qatar

Qatar is in the Gulf Standard Time (GST) zone, which is 3 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Good to know:

If you have an Israeli stamp on your passport or an Egyptian or Jordanian stamp at the Israeli border crossing, you may be refused entry to Qatar.

Please ensure you have a valid debit or credit card on arrival. You may need to pay a fee for your visa on arrival as you pass through immigration.

It's always recommended to stay updated with the latest travel advisories and guidelines from your government and the Qatari authorities before and during your trip. Respect the local customs and traditions, and enjoy your visit to Qatar!

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.