How to Start a Business in Qatar

How to Start a Business in Qatar By Naveed - November 28, 2023
How to Start a Business in Qatar

Embarking on the journey of establishing a business in Qatar is a thrilling endeavor, brimming with opportunities in a vibrant and growing economy. Nestled in the heart of the Middle East, Qatar offers a strategic and dynamic landscape for entrepreneurs seeking to bring their visions to life. However, navigating the intricate web of legal requirements, cultural nuances, and administrative procedures demands careful planning and precise execution. In this guide, we'll embark on a comprehensive exploration, unveiling the essential steps and insights necessary to successfully open a business in Qatar. From understanding regulatory frameworks to forging vital partnerships, join us on a journey through the intricate tapestry of Qatar's business landscape, where innovation meets tradition and ambition finds its place in a thriving market.

Opening a business in Qatar involves several steps and considerations. Here's an overview of the process:

Research and Planning:
Identify the type of business you want to establish and conduct thorough market research.
Consider the legal structure suitable for your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, etc.). Develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your objectives, target market, financial projections, and operational strategies.

Select a Business Activity:
Determine the specific business activities your company will engage in and ensure they comply with Qatari regulations.

Legal Requirements:
Obtain a Commercial Registration (CR) from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI).
Choose a unique business name and get it approved by the relevant authorities.
Determine the necessary licenses and permits required for your business activity and apply for them.

Local Partnership/Sponsorship:
Foreign investors often require a local sponsor or partner to establish a business in Qatar. Ensure clear agreements are in place regarding roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing.

Capital Requirements:
Fulfill any minimum capital requirements, if applicable, based on the business activity and legal structure chosen.

Office Space and Location:
Secure an office space that aligns with your business needs and complies with regulations. Determine lease terms and negotiate rental agreements.

Register with Tax Authorities:
Register with the General Tax Authority (GTA) and obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) if required. Understand tax obligations and compliance.

Visas and Work Permits:
Arrange visas and work permits for foreign employees and partners. This involves sponsorship, residency permits, and other related procedures.

Bank Account and Finance:
Open a corporate bank account in a Qatari bank to manage business finances.

Compliance and Ongoing Requirements:
Ensure compliance with labor laws, regulatory filings, accounting standards, and other legal obligations. Maintain accurate records and financial statements as required by Qatari authorities.

Networking and Promotion:
Build a network within the business community in Qatar. Develop marketing and promotional strategies to establish your brand and attract customers. It's crucial to work with local legal advisors or business consultants familiar with Qatar's business environment to navigate the regulatory landscape efficiently. Keep in mind that the process might differ based on the nature of the business, and staying updated with current laws and regulations is essential for successful business operations in Qatar.

Types of Business Structures in Qatar

As in most countries, Qatar has different business structures and companies allowed.  These are:

  • General partnership company
  • Limited share partnership company
  • Joint partnership company
  • Public shareholding company
  • Holding company
  • Joint venture
  • Limited liability company
  • Branch office of a foreign company
  • Representative trade office
  • Real estate
  • Commercial agency

The most common business structure chosen by most business owners in Qatar is the limited liability company (LLC). Here are some facts about LLCs in Qatar:

A limited liability company incorporated in Qatar requires a minimum of QAR 200,000 capital, with Qatari nationals owning 51% of the shares in the company. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one Qatari partner or multiple Qatari partners owning the majority shares.

  • The percentage of profits in the company cannot reflect its shareholding.
  • An LLC can only obtain a trade license if it has a suitable office space.
  • An LLC in Qatar cannot undertake investment-related activities such as banking or financing by the government. 
  • An LLC is charged a 10% corporate tax over its total profits in a fiscal year. 
  • An LLC can simultaneously carry out unlimited contracts.

Requirements for Starting a Business in Qatar.

The procedure for incorporating a company in Qatar is quite complex and lengthy.
To begin with, a business owner must meet several requirements to do business in Qatar set by the Commercial Companies Law. These requirements include – 

  • A Qatari founding partner.
  • Appropriate commercial registration with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI).
  • All legal contracts
  • must be in Arabic and English.
  • Minimum share capital of QAR 200,000.
  • A minimum of two shareholders or more, with Qatari shareholders owning 51% of the company.

How Much Does it Cost to Incorporate a Company in Qatar?

The cost of opening a business in Qatar can vary significantly based on multiple factors. Several expenses are involved in establishing a business in Qatar, and these costs can vary depending on the nature of the business, its size, location, and the specific requirements set by the Qatari government. Here are some of the primary expenses to consider:

Legal and Administrative Costs:

This includes fees associated with registering the business, obtaining necessary licenses and permits, legal consultations, and drafting legal documents. Costs can vary based on the business structure chosen (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, etc.) and the complexity of legal procedures.

Capital Requirements:

Some business types may have minimum share capital requirements mandated by Qatari laws. The amount can vary based on the business activity and legal structure.

Office Space and Utilities:

Renting or leasing office space is a significant expense. Costs depend on location, size, facilities provided, and the duration of the lease. Additional costs include utilities such as electricity, water, internet, etc.

Sponsorship and Visa Costs:

Foreign investors often require a Qatari sponsor or partner to start a business in Qatar. Sponsorship fees and expenses related to obtaining visas or residency permits for employees and partners contribute to the startup costs.

Registration and License Fees:

Registering the business and obtaining necessary licenses from relevant authorities in Qatar involves fees. Costs vary based on the business activity and the regulations governing it.

Tax and Financial Obligations:

Understanding tax obligations, accounting, and auditing fees are essential. Qatar has specific tax laws, and businesses may need to comply with Value Added Tax (VAT) regulations.

Professional Services:

Engaging legal advisors, consultants, or business advisors to navigate the legal and regulatory landscape adds to the initial expenses.

It's important to conduct thorough research and seek advice from legal and financial experts familiar with Qatar's business environment to estimate the specific costs associated with establishing a business. Additionally, staying updated with the latest regulatory changes and requirements in Qatar is crucial for planning and budgeting accurately.

There are various costs involved at different steps in the procedure for incorporating a company in Qatar. For example –

  • The company must show a minimum capital of QAR 200,000. 
  • If the chosen name does not mean in Arabic when getting a trading name, the business must pay an extra QAR 1,000.
  • A commercial residence can cost anywhere between QAR 1,500 per year and QAR 7,000 per year. 
  • Incorporation costs amount to over QAR 30,000 in the first year. 
  • Annual company costs amount to over QAR 5,000 from the second year onwards.
  • The average fee for Qatar engagement amounts to above QAR 100,000, including the company’s incorporation, bank account, office address, and director residency.

Various trade licenses have their respective costs, as shown  below:

Business Types 



QAR 133,330

Free zone business

QAR 122,280

Temporary branch of a foreign business

QAR 126,706

Ongoing branch of a foreign business

QAR 112,557

Representative office

QAR 126,690

Subsidiary limited liability company

QAR 125,950

Holding company

QAR 124,950

Tax resident limited liability company

QAR 112,557

Joint venture

QAR 104,128

Limited liability company on employment visa

QAR 124,950

Procedure for Registering a Company

The comprehensive documentation required for company formation in Qatar might make the procedure time-consuming. Not only must the paperwork be comprehensive, but it must also be turned in to Qatar's Ministry of Economy and Commerce before the designated period. 

To begin the process of registering a corporation in Qatar, a company needs three key documents. These are the following:

  • The Ministry of Economy and Commerce issues a document known as a commercial residence or CR. It lists an organization's name, ownership, and legal status. Once one has the trade name and the articles of incorporation that list all of the shareholders and their shares, obtaining it is simple.
  • Depending on the kind of business structure a company has selected, it may need a trade license. Obtaining a trade license is required to have an MEC-approved office space. To obtain a trade license, the business must submit the application form together with copies of the owner's ID, the CR, articles of incorporation, the building completion certificate, pictures of the interior and exterior of the office space, and the business authorities' identification. 
  • A computer card is a record that shows who has signing power within the organization. The computer card must have the list of Qatari members on it. 
  • To start operations, a business must also obtain the necessary licenses for signage, an immigration certificate if the proprietors are foreign nationals, and other licenses. The proprietor of the company also has to possess a certificate of experience. 

There are a few more prerequisites for company registration in Qatar in addition to these permits. Among them are:

  • permission for residence for proprietors of international businesses.
  • a current bank account in the name of the business at any corporate bank in Qatar.
  • firm employees' Ministry of Labor registration.
  • registration with the Departments of Public Revenue and Taxes.

When a foreign business decides to establish a company in Qatar, it must submit an application to the Ministry of Economy and Commerce along with two copies of the contract that was signed between the foreign business and the Qatari government, two copies of the international business's memorandum of association or certificate, an authorized power of attorney to a manager or head in Qatar, and two copies of commercial registrations and service agent agreements.
Most importantly, all these documents must be translated into Arabic before submission. 


By Naveed - November 28, 2023

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