How to apply for a new business permit? What do W.L.L. and L.L.C. stand for?
Whether it is a small, medium, or large enterprise, starting a business in Qatar requires a commercial license for legal purposes.
Local investors may submit a request to the Commercial Registration and Licenses Department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) to obtain a new commercial license.
If you are a foreign investor or a non-Qatari planning to invest in the country, here are some helpful information provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI):
There are general rules for setting up and operating a company in Qatar.
For example, a company must be Qatari owned; it must be headquartered in Qatar.
The company can take different forms depending on its size, relationship between participating entities, and desired structure – either singular, as part of a larger group, or within a holding company. Accepted types of companies allowed to operate in Qatar include:
• Joint Company
• Limited Partnership Company
• Particular Partnership Company
• Shareholding Company
• Equities Partnership Company
• Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Foreign business owners and investors will almost always form a private Limited Liability Company (L.L.C.), also called W.L.L. or WLL - “With Limited Liability,” to operate within Qatar. LLC or WLL means the business can be an entity of sole proprietorship, partnership, or a company.
The company must have a minimum authorized share capital of QR200,000 and two shareholders and a maximum of 30 shareholders. Generally, foreign investors can own up to 49% of the share capital, while the other 51% must be held by one or more Qatari partners.
A Limited Liability Company or LLC (or WLL) is the most common and de-facto form of company in Qatar. In an LLC, the majority of the company has to be owned by Qatari nationals, with their shares adding up to 51%. 49% is the maximum that can be owned by a foreign national in an LLC company. Nowadays, government is providing 100% foreign ownership for certain category of Businesses like Agriculture, manufacturing, health, education, tourism etc., but these business setups need to be approved by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.
In some instances, the Minister of Economy and Commerce may grant permission for foreign investors’ shareholding to exceed 49% up to 100% within certain sectors and provided the business (or project) is compatible with Qatar’s development plans. Other factors taken into consideration are whether the company (or project) adequately exploits available domestic raw materials, provides new products or establishes new technologies, and has the interests of national cadres at heart.
Basically, so long as the business is beneficial to Qatar and in the supported industries, a foreign investor or investors can maintain a controlling stake in the company.
The Commercial Companies Law outlines all required documentation, procedures and conduct required of the company. In all matters involving written legal contracts, the language used must be Arabic and the Arabic version of a contract will always take precedence over the English translation.
Can I register a company without a local partner?
Under Qatari Investment Law No. 1 of 2019, any non-Qatari investor may invest in all sectors except banks, insurance companies, commercial agencies or any other field as per a decision by the Council of Ministers.
Do investment activities require licenses from competent authorities?
Non-Qatari investors should obtain the necessary licenses for some activities as required.
Does Qatar provide incentives to investors?
• A land can be allocated for a foreign investment project by way of use or renewable rent
• A non-Qatari investor may import necessary goods to launch, operate or expand his projects
• A non-Qatari investor may be exempted from income tax
• A non-Qatari investment project is exempted from customs fees on the imports of necessary machinery and equipment.
• The Council of Ministers may offer incentives and other benefits for investment projects after on the Minister’s proposal.
• Non-Qatari investments shall not be directly or indirectly subject to expropriation or other similar actions, unless such actions are undertaken for the public good and in a non-discriminatory manner
• A non-Qatari investor is free to transfer all his investments from and to Qatar without delay
• Transfers shall be made in any convertible currency.
• A non-Qatari investor may transfer the ownership of his investment to any other investor or relinquish it in favor of a national partner in case of a joint venture.
Should an investor open a bank account in Qatar?
A non-Qatari investor wishing to establish an investment project in any of the permitted sectors must open an account with a bank operating in Qatar.
When can an investor launch his business?
Following the approval of the competent department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of a non-Qatari investment project, the investor can proceed with the project after obtaining the commercial registration and license from relevant authorities.
According to the Hukoomi, Qatar's e-Government portal, you need to follow the below process to obtain a business certification so your shop or company will be legally documented:
• Log in to the Investor Services, entering the username and password.
• Select “Commercial Licenses” service and enter all the required details.
• Attach the following documents.
- Copy of personal identification document of each of applicant, owner and managing director.
- Building Completion Certificate or equivalent document that needs to be licensed.
• Rental Agreement Form or equivalent (Rent Deposit Receipt by the Rental Disputes Settlement Committee or the court, or what serves to reopen a dispute record).
• Real Estate Rental Authorization Form (in case of sublease).
• Third party approvals on some commercial activities.
• Approval of the Civil Defense (for some locations depending on the case).
• Review and adopt application data summary.
• Pay appropriate fees to have the commercial license issued.
• Download and fill out the paper form, signed by the authorized signatory, then submit it to the public service officer at MOCI or any of its branches.
• Attach the above-mentioned, required documents.
• Pay appropriate fees.
- MOCI headquarters in Lusail City - First Floor (Check Google Maps)
- All MOCI branches clarified on MOCI website
• This service is also available on MOCI mobile app by selecting “General Services” then “Investor Services”, then choosing “Commercial Permit Services” and “New Commercial Permit”, and following the online instructions.
• You can check the service information page on MOCI website.
Fees apply according to the company activity and type.