Deciding to live, and work in a foreign country, whether long – or short-term, brings new challenges and excitement. Qatar will provide you with plenty of both, as well as a unique insight into a culture that may seem very different from your own, yet on occasion surprisingly familiar. That is the spice of life!
We hope the information here will answer some of the inevitable questions that arise when settling into a new country, and help provide you with a smooth transition.
Survive the first week:
- Useful documents: You need to prove your identity in Qatar for all government and commercial transactions, so it is advisable to have a good supply of passport-size photos and several copies of the passport of each member of your family. Copies of your marriage and birth certificate are sometimes in addition to the passport.
- Learn some Arabic: It is amazing what a few words in the local language can do to break the ice even if the rest of the conversation is in English!
- Inshallah: You will probably hear this word more often than in any other in reply to any request. It literally means "God willing", but this should not be equated with a "yes". It may mean "I will try" or "I will think about it" and may even be used in response to an impossible request because people genuinely want to help even if it is difficult. Arabs rarely say no to your face since their culture dictates that you, as the guest, receive the highest regard and greatest hospitality and should not be upset.
Get an entry visa:
- There are several types of visa available for entering Qatar. Many of the can be applied for online at the Ministry of Interior website www.moi.gov.qa/English and the site also gives information on visa regulations.
- Only local sponsors may obtain Work permits. A person employed in Qatar may not work for anyone other than his or her sponsor. Sponsorship cannot be transferred until an employee has worked with the original sponsor for at least 2 years, and has been granted a release letter by that sponsor.
Get a residence permit:
- The law requires that any expatriate wishing to reside in Qatar must obtain a residence permit for himself as well as each member of his family unless they fall into exempted categories, including investors and owners of commercial and residential buildings. You will need a Qatari sponsor to obtain a residence permit. The sponsor will arrange for a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Interior in Qatar before you arrive, and this will be stamped on your passport upon entry. NOCs arranged after entry on other types of visas (such as tourist visa or business visa) require that you leave the country and re-enter before starting the residence permit procedure, which must be initiated within one month of entry by all applicants.
All residents driving vehicles in Qatar are required to hold a valid Qatari driving license. These are obtained after the residence permit has been issued, and usually involve driving and eye tests.
Medical and fingerprinting procedures:
You must complete the following procedures to get a residence work permit or family residency.
- Blood-type certificate: This can be obtained from any clinic for both adults and children. You must have this certificate before going for your medical test.
- Medical test: This includes a blood test (not to be confused with blood type) and a chest X-ray for adults only. It is carried out by the Medical Commission in Abu Hamour and costs QR 100.
- Fingerprinting: A few days after completing the medical test, you will be asked to go for fingerprinting; the building is located in Suhaim Bin Hamad Street.
- Collecting the permit: The permit is usually ready after 10 days; you can collect it from the Immigration Department in Gharrafa. It will be stamped in your passport.
Renew a residence permit:
- Your sponsor must renew your residence permit, but you can renew your family residence visas within 72 hours with an optional home delivery service through Q-Post's e-Residence online extranet service. Application forms are available at the relevant counter in the General Post Office's main building on the Corniche. The form should be completed and signed by the applicant and submitted along with a valid passport, ID, one photograph and the relevant fee either to the post office or Immigration Department. The residence permit will be processed and delivered within 72 hours. For more details, call 446 4446, visit www.qpost.com.qa or email email@example.com
Apply for an exis visa:
Get a liquor license:
- All residents, except wives and dependent children under the sponsorship of their husbands or fathers, require an exit visa from their sponsor to leave the country.
- The purchase and transportation of alcohol by individuals in Qatar is permitted only under strict regulations. To check if you are eligible to obtain a personal liquor permit and the procedures involved, telephone Qatar Distribution Company, Permit Department, on 469 9412 or 469 9413, or visit www.qdc.com.qa