On arrival in Doha, any expat, whether resident or visitor will have to encounter some government departments during their stay. Much of this can now be done online and it is always advisable to check the government website first for all details - gov.qa
Tourist visas are issued on arrival in Qatar, for QR100 and valid for one month for if you are a citizen from one of these 33 countries:
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- Vatican City
Citizens from countries not listed must make visa arrangement, normally sponsored by a Qatari embassy, prior to arrival. If not on a tourist visa then one must have either a residence permit (RP) or a visit-to-work visa.
Proof of identity is required for all governmental and many commercial dealings, so it is advisable to have:
- Several passport photos for all family members
- Several copies of passports for all family members
- Several copies of marriage and birth certificates
- Original and authenticated educational certificates.
Qatar has a sponsorship system, known as kafala which means all non Qatari’s need a sponsor and can only work for others with their sponsor’s written consent, which is known as a No Objection Certificate (NOC).
Without a NOC the employee is required to leave Qatar for two years before they can be re-employed within Qatar.
Residence / Work Permit
All expat workers require a residence permit (RP) for themselves and all family members and this can only be obtained by having a Qatari sponsor. The onus of responsibility usually falls on the sponsor to ensure that both fees and relevant paperwork are submitted to the Immigration Department.
Every member of the family residing in Qatar, babies included, must have an individual (RP).
Employees with a valid RP and a salary over QR10,000 per month can sponsor their spouse and children. Son’s can be sponsored by a parent until they are 25yrs and there is no restriction for unmarried daughters.
Annual fee: QR1000
ID Card: QR100
Labour Department Admin costs: QR60
Family Residence Permit
Spouse / Child over 18yrs: QR500 per year
Child under 18yrs: QR400 per year
NOC and salary certificate from employer
Marriage, birth and degree certificates
Bank statements for six months
Copies of passports of all family members
Copy of electricity bill
Registered and stamped accommodation lease
It is always best to check the government website before submitting any documentation in case of changes: gov.qa
It is worth pointing out that most establishments have their own government liaison officer (manddoub) who usually takes care of the whole process for employees.
Domestic Staff Residence Permit
All residents wanting to employ a maid or driver must first get a NOC from their sponsor and employees are required to be married with a minimum salary. There can be restrictions on the nationality you can employ so check first. The easiest method is to go through a recruitment agency.
Medical Procedures for Residence Permit
There is a series of medical procedures that must be completed by all residents before either work or residence permits are issued.
This is available from any health clinic for all family members. It is essential to have this certificate before going for your medical test.
This is carried out at the Medical Commission in Abu Hamour or at private hospitals: Al Ahli, Al Emadi and Doha Clinic. The test includes a chest X ray (adults only) and blood tests, (not blood type which you should have already done).
This is only required for adults and should be done a few days after the medical test at the headquarters on Salwa Road at the Industrial Area Interchange.
until 6 pm
Sun–Thu 6 am – 6 pm
The process usually takes between three days to a week and can be collected from the Immigration Department issuing office. The permit is stamped inside your passport.
until 6 pm
Sun–Thu 6 am – 6 pm
Renewing Residence Permit
Typically your sponsor should review your RP, but you can renew for your family.
Q-Post e-Resident online service
This optional home delivery service allows you to renew both permits and ID cards. You will need ID Card application forms from the General Post Office by Al Corniche in Al Dafna.
- Forms need to be signed by both applicant and sponsor
- Submit with valid passport and ID
- One photo
- Fees in cash
- Spouse or child over 18yr QR500
- Child under 18yrs QR300
- Domestic Staff QR300
Additional charges apply for ID renewal and processing fees. qpost.com.qa
The Ministry of Interior has introduced Self-Service Machines (SSM) to 15 locations, with 24 hour service access for smart ID card holders at its headquarters, the main post office, Villaggio Mall, Landmark Mall, Royal Plaza, Lulu Hypermarket (D Ring Road branch), Hamad International Airport, MOI Services building in Mesaimeer, the Traffic Department, the Police Training Institute, Educations City Health Club and MOI administrative building. This allows residents to renew permits, collect exit permits, pay traffic violations, check expiry dates of passports, visas and driving licences and activate or renew eGate cards.
For more details check: gov.qa
Identity Cards (ID)
After obtaining your RP, you will be issued with an ID card. It is compulsory for all residents in procession of their RP to have an ID card and it is advisable to always have it with you as it is used in almost all transactions requiring identification in Qatar.
Your ID card has your name, date of birth, nationality, blood group and your personal ID number with the type of residency you have. Your ID card expires with your residency and so can only be re-issued with the renewal of your RP.
Smart ID cards
These will eventually replace the current ID card but at the moment are still optional. The Smart ID card gives you access to online transactions and e-government services via the MOI SSMs, such as; general enquiries, RP proceedings, exit and return permits, driving licence renewal and replacement and traffic violations and services.
If lost, report immediately to the Nationality and Travel Documents Department at MOI.
Cost: QR100 to issue
QR250 to activate e-services for five years.
All residents, except wives and dependent children under the husband’s or father’s sponsorship, must have an exit visa from their sponsor when travelling outside Qatar. Male dependent children over 18 years must also have an exit visa.
It is important then to check that all family RP’s and passports are valid before your trip because if not re-entry to Qatar may be blocked.
You can obtain a Multiple use exit permit, costing QR500 and valid for a year.
Valid for a week from issue date, cost:QR10
Valid for a week from issue date, cost: QR10
The mandoub within a company can arrange this on your behalf and all paperwork must bare the company’s stamp and sponsor’s signature
The Exit Permit must be presented with your passport at the immigration counter at Departures.
Ministry of Interior (MOI) Services
This electronic service allows residents to receive free SMS notifications on their phones about various MOI services like traffic violations and arrival and departures of dependents in Qatar
This advanced service is for Smart ID cardholders, giving them access to 35 MOI services online, at anytime or place via internet and smartphones. This includes visa, traffic, RP, exit permits, eGate and MOI enquiries.
The MOI only accepts credit, debit and eCash cards as forms of payment. The eCash card is a non-personalised pre-paid card issued by Qatar National Bank (QNB). A valid ID card or passport is needed in order to purchase the eCash card.
Reload: QR50 minimum.
See moi.gov.qa for all services and up to date information.
To access all government health facilities and enabling all residence to pay nominal fees for all treatment and medicines a health card is compulsory. This can only be issued after you have obtained your RP.
Health cards can be obtained from any health clinic or hospital.
- Two passport photographs
- Photocopy of passport and visa or ID
- Sponsors ID
- Electricity bill to confirm address
Depending on nationality, there are two procedures for obtaining a Qatari driving licence. Many national driving licences are valid in Qatar so all that is required of citizens of these countries is an eye test before being issued with a valid Qatari driving licence.
If your national driving licence is recognised you are allowed to drive with it for one week in Qatar. If you have an international driving licence you can drive with it for six months.
Temporary Qatari Licence
Apply in person at the Traffic Police office of any driving school within seven days of arrival in Qatar. Temporary driving licences are valid for the duration of your visa, but could be extended upon application.
- Photocopies of your valid national driving licence
- Photocopies of passport and take original
- 5 passport photographs with white background
- Cost: QR150 application
QR10 for card. You will be required to take any eye test.
International Driving Permit
You must have a valid Qatari driving licence. An international licence can be obtained from any large travel agency
- Valid Qatari driving licence
- Cost: QR125
If however, your country’s licence is not recognised then you will have to enrol with a registered driving school and complete a course. The minimum age for driving in Qatar is 18 years.
- 5 passport photos with white background
- ID card
- Company or sponsor’s ID
- Letter of permission from sponsor
It is advisable to check with the driving schools first about current requirements.
Vehicle Road Permit
All vehicles over three years old must pass an annual inspection before being renewed a road permit (estimara)
- Fahes in the Industrial Area, on the corner of Al Kassarat Street and 24th Street, from 6am-5:30pm (except Friday)
- WOQOD station Najma
- WOQOD station Wadi Al Banat zone near Lusail.
- Mobile testing centres operating in Abu Hamour, Al Wakra, Al Khor
Cost: QR75 and you need to take your expiring permit.
Before you renew your estimara make sure you have a full year’s insurance policy on the vehicle at the time you go for the test.
Take your renewed insurance policy and vehicle report to your local Traffic Police and they will issue with a new estimara.
Licence Renewals, Vehicle Registration and Fines Licence renewals, vehicle registration and fines can be done at any Traffic Department office.
These transactions can also be done online: gov.qa/wps/portal
Ladies section is only open in the morning
Cost of driving licence renewal QR250
Alcohol for home consumption is only available from Qatar Distribution Company (QDC), which also issue the permits.
You will need a letter from your employer addressed to QDC detailing your job description, salary, benefits and accommodation details, along with a copy of your passport and ID.
There is a refundable deposit of QR1000. There is no charge for renewal and purchases can only be made by a valid membership card holder.