Basic Laws and Regulations in Qatar

Before planning a trip to any destination, it is important to know that you should not break the law of the country at any point of time, else, even the embassy may not be able to assist you. For this, it would be wise to keep yourself updated about the basic laws in the destination that you plan to visit or reside in. Here are some basic laws followed in the State of Qatar.

Qatar society, it is said, is not as liberal as the UAE or Bahrain, but is definitely more liberal than Saudi Arabia. Qatar applies Shari’a Law to all aspects of family law, inheritance and certain criminal acts. Being a traditional Muslim community, people will settle disputes based on Sharia court or Islamic court, applicable to Sharia Law or Muslim Law.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Qatar strictly bans eating, drinking and smoking in public from dawn to sunset.


General rules applicable to expats in Qatar

Entry/Exit Requirements

Visitors can enter Qatar through two main border points at Sauda Nathil and Abu Samra if travelling by land, through Doha International Airport if travelling by air, and through ports of Doha and Mesaieed if travelling through sea.

Qatar grants tourist and visit visas at border points for nationals of more than 33 countries. However, others will have to apply for it in advance. Visas issued at the border are mostly short-term Tourist Visas, which can be extended for another month, if required. Visitors who do not fall into the list of non-visa categories, will have to obtain a Tourist Visa in advance through their embassies.

Qatar has restrictions for HIV/AIDS visitors, and does not permit individuals with HIV/AIDS to live in the country. Medical exams are a must for all long-term visitors and residents. This information can be verified at before travel.

All expats should carry a copy of their passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and citizenship is easily available. Earlier, the employers were holding the passports of employees during their stay in Qatar. But, the 2009 Law has forbidden this practice, and employers are no longer permitted to hold employee passports, except for visa and immigration processing. The nationals carry their Qatari Identification Card for identification, rather than passports. Also, foreign nationals are not allowed to leave Qatar, without taking permission in the form of exit visas obtained by their employer / sponsor.



Customs Regulations

Visitors are charged taxes by the Customs General Authority for carrying certain goods at the point of entry. Carrying alcoholic drinks is strictly forbidden.

Items such as pens, watches, cameras, perfume, portable radio-cassette players, cosmetics and lighters are considered duty-free goods in Qatar. Visitors bringing in duty-free goods will have pay deposit for temporary importation, which is refundable on departure, usually 50% of value.

Certain other goods such as carpets, garments, accessories, clothing, chocolates, jewellery, are liable to duty. Visitors bringing in such goods may have to pay a deposit temporarily, which may be refundable on departure. However, people who are transferring their residence to Qatar, may be exempted from taxes.

Special permit is required for carrying firearms and ammunition. Among other prohibited items are knives, daggers and pornographic material. Taped video cassettes should be submitted for clearance by Customs before entering Qatar. Export of any antiquities or historical objects are not permitted, provided, an export permit has already been obtained from Director General of Museums, Qatar.

It should be noted that trafficking in illegal drugs can lead to mandatory death penalty in Qatar. Therefore, it is better not to get involved in drugs.

For bringing in pets into Qatar, you may have to first obtain an import permit from Ministry of Agriculture. While cats with proper documentations are permitted to enter without much hassles, certain breeds of dogs, particularly large dogs and breeds that are otherwise aggressive, are not allowed. Hence, application forms for import permit should be obtained from Ministry of Agriculture through a sponsoring employer. When submitting, a copy of pet’s health certificate and vaccination should be submitted with the application form.

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