Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Free import of:
Alcoholic beverages are not to be imported under any condition.
Local laws and customs reflect the fact that Qatar is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK. You’re strongly advised to familiarise yourself with and respect local laws and customs.
In 2021, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 12 April and finish on 11 May. See Travelling during Ramadan
Be aware of cultural sensitivities when filming or photographing people and religious, military or construction sites. Some visitors attempting to film or photograph in sensitive areas have been arrested. If in doubt, seek permission. If you’re working as a journalist, you’ll need to get permission from the Qatar News Agency (QNA) to film or photograph as part of your work and enter the country on a visiting press permit. This permit will clear technical equipment like cameras through airport customs and provides other necessary information.
Importing drugs, alcohol, pornography, pork products and religious books and material into Qatar is illegal. All luggage is scanned at Doha Airport Arrivals Hall. DVDs and videos may be examined and censored. Penalties for drug offences are severe, often resulting in prison sentences.
It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. British nationals have been detained under this law, usually when they have come to the attention of the police on a related matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour. Alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system. Don’t carry alcohol around with you (except to take it on the day of collection from the warehouse to your home). The legal drinking age in Qatar is 21, and establishments serving alcohol will ask for original photo ID upon entry.
Swearing and making rude gestures are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.
Posting material (including videos and photographs) online that appear to insult, slander or are culturally insensitive, may be considered a crime punishable under Qatari law. There have been cases of individuals being detained, prosecuted and/or convicted for posting this type of material.
Qatar law also prohibits the importation, sale and purchase of electronic cigarettes, liquids and other similar products (eg electronic shisha pipes). The law applies regardless of quantity and intended use. Customs officials may seize and confiscate any such items found entering the country by any means, including in passengers’ luggage or sent by post.
You should dress modestly when in public, including while driving. Women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. Any intimacy in public between men and women (including between teenagers) can lead to arrest.
Homosexual behaviour is illegal in Qatar. There have been some reports of individuals being punished for homosexual activity and/or sexual activity outside marriage, particularly where there is any public element, or the behaviour has caused offence. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques (including post-dated and ‘security cheques’) and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills) can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine in Qatar. Bank accounts and other assets may also be frozen. You may also be liable for cheques that have been signed by you on behalf of a company.
If you have unpaid loans or financial commitments you won’t be able finish your employment in Qatar and exit the country. Any debt should be settled in full before your residence permit will be cancelled.
Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Customs Union which came into effect in 2003. In accordance with the GCC Customs Union, Qatar maintains a 5% tariff on a wide range of products. Basic food products such as wheat, flour, rice, feed grains and powdered milk are exempted from tariffs. The tariff on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, pork, and pork products are 100%. Qatar also has a 20% tariff on iron bars and rods, non-alloy hot-rolled steel and 12-millimeter steel bars. Qatar maintains a 5% tariff on all textile imports. Projects funded by the Qatar Industrial Development Bank can be granted a customs duty waiver for the import of machinery, raw materials and other industrial inputs.
Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.
Last published date: 2020-11-18
All importers are required by law to have an import license. Import licenses are issued only to Qatari nationals, or to the Qatari partner in a limited liability partnership and must be registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This regulation also applies to wholly foreign owned entities operating in Qatar.
Import Licenses: All imported meats, including beef and poultry products, require a health certificate issued by the country of export and a “Halal” slaughter certificate issued by an approved Islamic center in that country.
In order to clear goods from customs zones at ports or land boundaries in Qatar, importers must submit a variety of documents, including a detailed customs declaration, bill of lading, certificate of origin, pro forma invoice and import license. Information on specific requirements should be obtained from the Customs and Ports General Authority. Inspection of goods is generally conducted at the customs station, or as directed by the Director General, in the presence of the owner or his representative.
Since April 1, 2011, Qatar Customs has required official invoices, an official certificate of origin (COO), and packing lists for shipments destined to Qatar (airport and seaport). Shipments without these documents will not be cleared under any circumstances and shall be returned back to origin.
It is mandatory to write the HS CODE of the commodity in the official invoices and COO, otherwise shipment will not be accepted for clearance.
‘COUNTRY OF ORIGIN’ OR ‘MADE IN’ fields are mandatory for each piece, on materials, and on cartons.
The ‘COUNTRY OF ORIGIN’ OR ‘MADE IN MARK’ details on the shipment should match the information on the official invoice, COO, and on the materials (Any discrepancies will cause the shipment to be returned to the origin).
For goods originating from Europe: mention clearly on the COO the country of origin. Example: ‘Country of Origin: European Community – UK’. If the products are made in two countries, the country of origin should be both countries in the COO, invoice, and on the materials. Example: ‘European Community – UK & POLAND’.”
P.O. Box 81, Doha, State of Qatar
Phone: +974 4441-1149
Fax: +974 4441-4959
In Qatar, the letter of credit (L/C) is the most common instrument for controlling exports and imports. When an L/C is opened, the supplier is required to provide a certificate of origin and a certificate from the captain of the ship or from the shipping agency stating that the ship is allowed to enter Arab ports. An Arab Embassy or Consulate or an Arab Chamber of Commerce should notarize both documents in the exporting country.
A letter of credit initiated in Qatar is usually endorsed with transshipment clauses. It is customary in Qatar for importers to build their L/C’s computations on “cost and freight (C&F)” basis, and not C.I.F. Qatari merchants prefer to have insurance coverage provided by local and international insurance companies, to cover damage in transit to the goods covered under the L/C.
Pets – birds (the maximum size of a falcon), domestic cats, domestic dogs and other similar sized domestic animals if having required documentation may enter the country.
The following procedure must take place:
The Qatar Distribution Company is the only source for the importation of alcohol, pork, and pork products. Military and security items are forbidden unless licensed by local authorities. Narcotics, flammable and radioactive products are also banned. Any products that violate trademarks are also banned.
Firearms: special permission from Ministry of Defense, Govt. of Qatar, is required and should be obtained in advance.
Jewelry, precious metals or stones with a value equal to or higher than Qatar Riyal-QAR 50,000.- must be declared on arrival.
Cats and dogs require:
Dogs must have a rabies anti-body test certificate showing a blood titre result of at least 0,5 IU/ml. and be vaccinated against rabies, 1 month prior to shipment, Canine distemper virus (CDV), Canine parvo virus, Infectious canine hepatitis and Leptospirosis.
Per year, only 1 cat or dog aged 4 months or older per passenger is allowed.
Larger or dangerous, aggressive breeds require a special permit from the Ministry of Interior. All cats and dogs must be registered at the Doha Veterinary Centre within 48 hours.
Birds (up to falcon size), cats, dogs and other similar sized domestic animals may be permitted to accompany passengers and be processed through the arrivals and departures terminal if the animals are:
Larger animals must be processed through the Cargo Terminal.
Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in Qatar.
Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with a destination outside Qatar.
Currency Import regulations:
Local currency (Qatar Riyal-QAR) and foreign currencies (other than Israeli currency): no restrictions. Amounts equal to or higher QAR 50,000.- must be declared on arrival. This includes jewelry, precious metals or stones if its value is equal to or higher than QAR 50,000.-.
Prohibited: Israeli currency.
Currency Export regulations:
Local currency (Qatar Riyal-QAR) and foreign currencies (other than Israeli currency): no restrictions. Amounts equal to or higher than QAR 50,000.- must have been declared on arrival. This includes jewelry, precious metals or stones if its value is equal to or higher than QAR 50,000.-.
Prohibited: Israeli currency.
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you should contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
From 1 August 2020, British nationals currently outside of Qatar and holding a Qatar residence permit are allowed to enter the country, subject to receiving prior approval.
From 29 November 2020, any resident leaving Qatar will automatically receive their Exceptional Entry Permit, and there will no longer be a need to apply through the Qatar Portal website. This permit will be available to print from the Ministry of Interior website once the resident’s departure has been registered. Please ensure you have a printed copy with you when you travel.
For residents returning to Qatar after 29 November 2020, the quarantine period will be for 7 days. For those returning from a country not included on the Qatar Ministry of Public Health’s ‘Green List’, a mandatory 7 day hotel quarantine will apply. This will be at a government-approved hotel and must be booked through the Discover Qatar website.
From 22 December 2020, all residents arriving on flights originating in the UK will be required to stay at a designated hotel for their quarantine period. These must be booked through the Discover Qatar website.
Further information on Qatar’s entry and arrival requirements can be found on the Ministry of Public Health website.
Following the opening of the air, land and sea borders between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, all arrivals to Qatar from the Abu Samra border crossing are required to undergo a COVID-19 test and obtain a virus-free certificate no more than 72 hours before travel. Further information can be found from the Government Communications Office statement here.
Transit passengers travelling on to another destination can still transfer through Qatar, and many flights continue to operate. You should check with your airline or travel company for the latest information if you are planning to leave or transit through Qatar. Flights are subject to change or cancellation at short notice.
Whilst in transit at Hamad International Airport, you will receive regular thermal screening and temperature checks.
You should contact your tour operator, transport or accommodation provider for information on the impact on any existing travel plans.
Thermal screening and temperature checks will take place on arrival, as will a swab test for coronavirus.
With effect from 29 November 2020, all residents returning from the UK will need to quarantine for 7 days in a government-approved hotel, at their own expense. This must be booked through the Discover Qatar website.
From 22 December 2020, all residents arriving on flights originating in the UK will be required to stay at a designated hotel for their quarantine period. These must be booked through the Discover Qatar webiste.
Downloading Qatar’s track and trace app, Ehteraz, is mandatory for everyone in Qatar. You will be asked to show the app upon arrival.
You can get a free 30-day tourist visa-waiver on arrival in Qatar. If you’re travelling for any purpose other than tourism, and/or hold one of the other types of British passport, you must get a visa before you travel.
If you need to stay longer than 30 days, you must extend your visa waiver before it expires through the Ministry of Interior. If you fail to do so, you may receive an overstay fine, which must be paid before leaving Qatar.
You can find further information on visa requirements and extensions on the Qatar Ministry of Interior website
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Qatar.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Qatar. However, ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from Qatar.
If you’re applying for a residence permit, you will have to undergo a medical test including blood tests and a chest X-ray. The tests screen for diseases including, but not restricted to, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C. Testing positive may lead to further tests and possible deportation.
Around 20,000 British nationals live in Qatar, and approximately 130,000 visit annually. Most visits are trouble-free.
Although crime levels are low, female visitors should take extra care when travelling alone at night.
Only use registered taxis and don’t enter a taxi late at night unaccompanied.
You can drive in Qatar with a valid UK driving licence for up to 12 months. If you intend to drive using your UK licence in Qatar, you should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before travelling. If you’re staying longer than 12 months, you will need to apply for a Qatari driving licence and sit both the theory and practical tests.
From 28 March 2019, the IDP you should obtain is a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP). IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted for use in Qatar after this date. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.
If you’re living in Qatar, check the Living in Qatar guide for information on licence requirements for residents.
Road discipline is very poor; speeds are high and minor accidents are common. Qatar has a very high fatality rate for road accidents. If you have an accident, stay with your vehicle. It’s an offence to leave the scene of the accident, but if no one has been injured and it’s safe to do so, you can move your vehicle to a safer place. You’ll need to get a police report for insurance purposes.
The driver and front seat passenger should wear a seat belt at all times. You must not use a mobile phone while driving. Even minor expressions of ‘road rage’ like rude gestures can attract significant penalties. Offenders may be fined, imprisoned and/or deported. You may be banned from leaving the country until your case has been resolved. More serious cases may take up to 6 months to be heard. Flashing your lights in Qatar can mean a driver is coming through, rather than giving way.
Excursions to the desert can be hazardous unless in a properly equipped 4 x 4 vehicle. Always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone, and leave travel plans with friends or relatives.
It’s an offence in Qatar to drink and drive, and there is zero tolerance for it. Driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by a custodial sentence of between one month and three years, a fine of QAR10,000 (approx £2,150) to QAR50,000 (approx £10,770), or both. Offenders may also be deported.
Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive, including near maritime boundaries and the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the southern Gulf. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected, and there have been occasional arrests. You should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports.
Regional tensions may also affect your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of maritime attack.
Take care when travelling by Dhow, as the safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available.
Regional developments continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. You should follow news reports and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations. There is the potential for increased tension on Fridays.