Banking Basics for Expats in Qatar

Banking Basics for Expats in Qatar By Rithika Thomas - March 07, 2023
Banking Basics

Banking Basics

Managing money and a well-function bank account is a priority in our daily lives, especially for expatriates who are moving countries. So it is important to know the banking basics of the country you are moving to. In Qatar, according to the new Wage Protection System 2015, all expatriates working in the country need to have a local account.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, 20 commercial banks are currently operating in Qatar: 12 national banks (4 of which are Islamic) and 8 international banks. They operate through 223 local branches, and Qatar Central Bank supervises them all.

In general, banks in Qatar are open from 7:30 to 13:00 – Sunday to Thursday. However, some banks – such as HSBC, and some QNB and Al Sadd branches in Doha – are also open on Fridays and Saturdays. The banks in shopping malls have more flexible hours and are often open from 10:00 until 22:00.

Banks in Qatar

The major commercial banks:

  • Qatar National Bank
  • Doha Bank
  • Commercial Bank
  • Ahli Bank
  • Qatar Development Bank

Although, expats can open an international account with the following banks:

  • Mashreq Bank
  • HSBC Bank Middle East
  • BNP Paribas
  • Bank Saderat Iran
  • United Bank Limited (UBL)
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Barclays Bank

Banking Services in Qatar

Types of Bank Accounts

  • Current accounts: This kind of account is used for everyday banking, and its paid interest rates are usually low. Generally, they don’t have monthly fees, as long as a minimum balance is maintained (around 3,000 QAR). Some banks offer unlimited transactions.
  • Savings accounts: Typically, savings accounts pay a higher rate of interest than current accounts, but lower than fixed deposit accounts. It is easy to withdraw from savings accounts, but your bank may only allow you a maximum number of withdrawals each month – after which it will probably charge a fee. Most savings accounts require a minimum balance of around 5,000 QAR.
  • Fixed deposit account: This account is mainly for long-term saving and usually offers interest rates higher than either current or savings accounts. These accounts require a minimum account balance of approximately 20,000 QAR. You may not have access to your money until this account matures. You can open savings or deposit accounts with any retail bank in Qatar.
  • Overdrafts: before you write a check in Qatar, you must ensure that you have adequate funds in your account because issuing a check without them is considered a serious criminal offence. Unauthorized overdrafts attract substantial penalty charges. Prosecutions are common and punishments can be harsh, including prison terms.

Opening a local account

Expats will need to apply in person with documents that generally include:

1. Passport, plus copies of information and visa pages

2. Copies of Residency/work permit

3. A No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the expat's Qatari employer, stating their monthly salary

4. Two passport photos

Once the application has been approved, the bank will provide the applicant with a letter from their employer, confirming that they are happy to receive salary payments into the new account. It is worth noting that changing banks at a later date may be difficult, as your existing bank would be required to authorise this.

The dependents of the visa holder cannot open a bank account in Qatar without formal permission of the head of the household. In other terms, the visa holder has to sponsor his own wife or children so that they can open their own bank accounts.

Banking fees in Qatar

Typically, current accounts in Qatar are free of administration fees as long as you maintain a minimum account balance. However, you will have to pay a charge when you set up standing orders with other banks in Qatar or abroad; issue payment orders; replace damaged or additional cards; withdraw cash from ATMs outside of Qatar; pay annual credit card fees; or ask for a new checkbook.Β 

Taxes in Qatar

One of the great attractions of relocating to Qatar is that no personal or income tax is levied against individual salaries, even as an expat. This means that, while in Qatar, an expat's gross salary will be paid to them without any deductions whatsoever.

By Rithika Thomas - March 07, 2023

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