Qatar travel guide
The eyes of the world are on Qatar right now. Following the discovery of oil in the 1940s, this small Gulf state has been catapulted from a small fishing and trading hub to one of the richest (per capita) countries in the world.
Fuelled by oil and natural gas revenue, Qatar is developing at breakneck speed. Everything from universities to shopping malls, five-star hotels to football stadiums are springing up across the desert floor.
Modern Qatar is, for all intents and purposes, a city-state. Over half of the country's population lives in and around the capital, Doha. Other towns and districts are interspersed between oil compounds that provide Qatar with most of its wealth. Beyond oil fields, the country has its share of natural beauty, with gorgeous beaches line the western coast while spectacular dunes surround Khor Al Adaid in the south. The large expense of Al Thakira mangroves near Al Khor on the eastern seaboard also provides a sharp contrast to the adjoining desert landscape.
While Islam is the predominant religion in Qatar, the society is refreshingly tolerant. Expats are free to practise other religions and their civil liberties respected. The press is also among the freest in the region.
While matching towards liberalisation, Qatar has not lost sight of its deeply ingrained religious and cultural heritage either. Alcohol is only served in hotel bars and restaurants, work calendars are very much decided by religious commitments such as Ramadan, traditional sports such as falconry and camel-racing remain popular pastimes. Indeed, much like the geometrically patterned Islamic Art found all over the country, Qatar is a complex, yet beautiful country.
11,627 sq km (4,489 sq miles)
240 per sq km
Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani since 2013.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid ibn Khalifa ibn Abdul Aziz Al Thani since 2020.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Qatar on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.
Check with your travel company for the latest information about commercial flights operating to and from Qatar.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Qatar.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Qatar
Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health has published advice on how to limit the spread of coronavirus.
With effect from 1 September 2022, the requirement to wear a face mask in closed public spaces has been removed. Citizens, residents and visitors are still required to wear masks in healthcare facilities, and when using public transportation.
Guidelines and regulations may change with little warning. Check the latest COVID-19 guidelines. Violations can incur a fine of up to QAR200,000 and/or a prison sentence not exceeding three years.
Hotels are open, including facilities (i.e. gyms, pool). Some hotels are being used as quarantine locations.
Public places and services
There are no limits on the number of people at social gatherings. Guidelines and regulations may change with little warning. Check the latest COVID-19 guidelines Ministry of Public Health website. You will only be asked to show your status on the Ehteraz app to enter health care centres. Visitors may wish to download the Ehteraz app and activate it on arrival in the event they should require access to healthcare facilities.
Playgrounds and exercise equipment in public spaces are open. Mosques are open but worshippers are reminded to follow the guidance on general prevention measures.
Healthcare in Qatar
In May 2022, Qatar announced that health insurance would be mandatory for everyone, including all visitors to Qatar.
Further guidance and updates will be published on the Ministry of Public Health website
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact the Ministry of Public Health’s helpline on 16000.
If you are confirmed to have COVID-19, you will be placed in isolation in one of the country’s medical facilities, or asked to self-isolate at home for 7 days, depending on your symptoms.
Emergency medical treatment is excellent but can be expensive. Routine treatment is available but expensive for visitors. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation to the UK or the country where you live.
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Qatar.
For information on financial support you can access while abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Help and support
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
The vast majority of visits are trouble-free and crime levels are low, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Don’t accept lifts from strangers. Use only licensed taxis or other recognised forms of public transport. If using apps, check licence plates and confirm with drivers the passenger name. Let someone know you are on the way home and the registration details of the car.
Female visitors and residents should take care when walking or travelling alone, and should use a reputable taxi company, particularly at night.
Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are relatively rare, but do happen. If the alleged attacker is found guilty, sentences can be severe. However, Qatari law places a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that the sexual relations were not consensual, especially when the victim consumed alcohol or where the alleged attacker was known to the victim. If the sexual relations are determined to have been consensual, either individual may still face prosecution for the offence of sex outside of marriage in certain circumstances. See Local Laws and customs page.
If you’re a victim of sexual assault, contact the British Embassy (00974 4496 2000) at the earliest opportunity for guidance about local procedures.
You should obtain a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) if you plan to drive on your UK licence. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
You can drive in Qatar with a valid UK driving licence for up to 6 months (with a valid IDP). If you’re staying longer than 6 months, you will need to apply for a Qatari driving licence and sit both the theory and practical tests.
If you’re planning to hire a car, check in advance what documents and information the car hire company will need.
If you’re living in Qatar, check the Living in Qatar guide for information on licence requirements for residents.
Road discipline is very poor; speeds are high and accidents are common. If you have an accident, stay with your vehicle until the police arrive and tell you that you may leave. It’s an offence to leave the scene of the accident, but if no one has been injured and it’s safe to do so, you can move your vehicle to a safer place. You’ll need to get a police report for insurance purposes.
The driver and front seat passenger must wear a seat belt at all times. You must not use a mobile phone while driving. Even minor expressions of ‘road rage’ like rude gestures can attract significant penalties. Offenders may be fined, imprisoned and/or deported. You may be banned from leaving the country until your case has been resolved. More serious cases may take up to 6 months to be heard. Driving in Qatar is on the right hand side. Flashing your lights in Qatar can mean a driver is coming through, rather than giving way.
Excursions to the desert can be hazardous unless in a properly equipped 4 x 4 vehicle. Always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone, and leave travel plans with friends or relatives.
It’s an offence in Qatar to drink and drive, and there is zero tolerance for it. Driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by a custodial sentence of between one month and three years, a fine of QAR10,000 to QAR50,000, or both. Offenders may also be deported.
Check the MeTrash2 app before heading to the airport for any trip, as any outstanding traffic violations will be listed here. An outstanding violation may result in you being detained at immigration and denied onward travel. Fines for all violations should be settled in full before you travel.
Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive, including near maritime boundaries and the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the southern Gulf. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected, and there have been occasional arrests. You should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports.
Regional tensions may also affect your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of maritime attack.
Take care when travelling by Dhow, as the safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available.
Regional developments continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. You should follow news reports and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations. There is the potential for increased tension on Fridays.
In the event of any incidents, you should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Terrorist attacks in Qatar can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests as well as public places, including restaurants, hotels, beaches, shopping centres and mosques. You should maintain a high level of security awareness and vigilance, particularly during significant high-profile events, and report anything suspicious to the local authorities. Avoid large demonstrations.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Local laws and customs reflect the fact that Qatar is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. There may also be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK but is in Qatar – for example giving somebody a cheque which bounces. You’re strongly advised to familiarise yourself with and respect local laws and customs.
For 2023, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 22 March and finish on April 21 but is subject to change. See Travelling during Ramadan
There is zero tolerance for drugs-related offences in Qatar. The penalties for the use of, trafficking, smuggling and possession of drugs (even residual amounts) are severe. Punishment can include lengthy custodial sentences, heavy fines and deportation.
Many people transit via Hamad International Airport on their way to other destinations. The airport makes use of the latest security technology, all bags are scanned and transiting passengers carrying even residual amounts of drugs may be arrested.
Some prescribed and over the counter medicines may be controlled substances in Qatar. If you need to bring in controlled/prescription medication into Qatar, ensure you carry your official doctor’s prescription, hospital note or a letter from your GP, detailing the drug, the quantity prescribed and dosage. This note or letter should also be signed by the doctor / consultant and stamped by the hospital or surgery. To find out how to get a document legalised for use in Qatar, visit Legalisation of UK documents for use in the State of Qatar.
For further information, contact the Qatar Supreme Health Council.
It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. British nationals have been detained under this law, usually when they have come to the attention of the police on a related matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour. For example, drinking in a public place could result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months and/or a fine up to QAR3,000. Alcohol is available only at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system. Don’t carry alcohol around with you (except to take it on the day of collection from the warehouse to your home). The legal drinking age in Qatar is 21, and establishments serving alcohol will ask for original photo ID upon entry.
Organisers of protest in Qatar are required to obtain permission from the Ministry of Interior. This must be done in advance and cannot be spontaneous.
Swearing and making rude gestures are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed and/or deported. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.
Be aware of cultural sensitivities when filming or photographing people and religious, military or construction sites. Some visitors attempting to film or photograph in sensitive areas have been arrested. If in doubt, seek permission.
If you’re working as a journalist, you’ll need to get permission from the Qatar News Agency (QNA) to film or photograph as part of your work and enter the country on a visiting press permit. This permit will clear technical equipment like cameras through airport customs and provides other necessary information.
There are strict privacy laws in Qatar. Posting material (including videos and photographs) online that appear to insult, slander or are culturally insensitive, may be considered a crime punishable under Qatari law. Individuals have been detained, prosecuted and/or convicted for posting this type of material.
Importation of Goods
Importing drugs, alcohol, pornography, pork products and religious books and material into Qatar is illegal. All luggage is scanned at Hamad International Airport Arrivals Hall. DVDs and videos may be examined, censored and confiscated.
Qatar law also prohibits the importation, sale and purchase of electronic cigarettes, liquids and other similar products (eg electronic shisha pipes). The law applies regardless of quantity and intended use. Customs officials may seize and confiscate any such items found entering the country by any means, including in passengers’ luggage or sent by post.
You should dress modestly when in public, including while driving. Women must cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. Both men and women are advised not to wear shorts or sleeveless tops, when going to government buildings, health care facilities or malls. If you do not dress modestly, you may be asked to leave or be denied entry to these locations.
Dressing modestly is especially important during the holy month of Ramadan.
Relationships outside of marriage
Any intimacy in public between men and women (including between teenagers) can lead to arrest.
Living together whilst unmarried is prohibited in Qatar, and sex outside of marriage, regardless of whether this is same sex couples or opposite sex couples, is illegal. This can lead to arrest and a potential court case where the judgement can include a fine, a custodial sentence and deportation once the sentence is complete. This is especially so where the behaviour has caused offence. See Local laws and customs page.
Due to the laws on sex outside marriage, if you become pregnant outside marriage, both you and your partner could face imprisonment and/or deportation. Doctors will ask for proof of marriage during ante-natal checks. An unmarried woman who gives birth in Qatar may also encounter problems when registering the birth of the child in Qatar, and could be arrested, imprisoned or deported. To get a birth certificate from the Qatari authorities, you must provide a marriage certificate and the authorities may compare the date of the marriage against the estimated date of conception.
Homosexual behaviour is illegal in Qatar. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Financial crimes, including fraud, giving somebody a cheque which bounces (including post-dated and ‘security cheques’) and non-payment of bills (for example hotel bills or car hire) can result in imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation in Qatar. Bank accounts and other assets may also be frozen. You may also be liable for cheques that you have signed on behalf of a company.
If you have unpaid loans or financial commitments you won’t be able to cancel your residence permit, and may find yourself subject to a travel ban which will prevent you from leaving Qatar including to go on holiday. All debts should be settled in full before you leave the country. Ask your bank for a certificate to confirm you have no outstanding debt once you have cleared the balance.
Equally, you may find that there is a block on your sponsorship which will prevent you from transferring to a new sponsor (employer) and any end of service benefits you may be entitled to could be used to offset the outstanding debt.
Should you be found guilty of committing an offence, the State of Qatar reserves the right to issue an Administrative Deportation order. This is regardless of whether the judgement included deportation. If you are employed in Qatar this will obviously impact your employment and may affect your ability to return to Qatar in the future.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Qatar set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Qatar’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
The requirements for entering Qatar can be found on the Ministry of Public Health website, along with full details of Qatar’s travel and return policy.
It is no longer possible to apply for a Hayya Card, and regular entry requirements are now in effect. If you entered Qatar between 1 November and 23 December 2022 on a Hayya Card, you are permitted to remain in country until 23 January 2023.
Visitors and residents entering from all countries other than China are not currently required to take a pre-departure PCR or Rapid Antigen test before travelling to Qatar.
All travellers (Qatar citizens, residents and visitors) regardless of vaccination status, entering Qatar from China are required to submit a negative PCR test result within 48 hours from the time of departure.
You will not be required to pre-register on the Ehteraz health application prior to arrival. However, entry into all public and private healthcare facilities still requires you to present the healthcare status on the Ehteraz app. Visitors may wish to download the Ehteraz app and activate it on arrival in the event they should require access to healthcare facilities. Changes to Qatar’s entry requirements do occur, please continue to check the Ministry of Public Health website for updates.
You may be required to pass through thermal screening or temperature checks on arrival into Qatar at air, land or sea ports.
If you are fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Qatar are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
If you are not fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Qatar are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
Children and young people
Entry requirements for Qatar are the same for all travellers aged 6 and above, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Minors age 0-5 years are exempt from testing requirements.
British nationals holding a Qatar residence permit no longer require prior approval to return to Qatar.
If you’re transiting through Qatar
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
Transiting through Qatar is permitted for travellers who meet the requirements of their final destination country.
There are no additional requirements for transiting passengers, even if you choose to use the transit hotel within the airport.
Travellers cannot remain in the transit area for more than 24 hours between flights, regardless of whether you are using the transit hotel within the airport.
Further information about transiting through Qatar can be found on the webpage for Hamad International Airport.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are visiting Qatar your passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date you arrive.
If you are a resident of Qatar your passport must be valid on arrival.
You can get a free 30-day tourist visa-waiver on arrival in Qatar if you’re travelling on a full British Citizen passport. If you’re travelling for any purpose other than tourism, and/or hold one of the other types of British passport, you must get a visa before you travel.
If you need to stay longer than 30 days, you must extend your visa waiver before it expires through the Ministry of Interior. If you fail to do so, you may receive an overstay fine, which must be paid before leaving Qatar.
You can find further information on visa requirements and extensions on the Qatar Ministry of Interior website
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Qatar. However, ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from Qatar. If you are seeking to exit Qatar on an ETD because your full validity passport has been lost or stolen, you must obtain a police report in order to do so. These reports can be obtained at any police station in Qatar. You should allow sufficient time to collect this report as they can take up to 2 days to be processed. Without this report you may experience difficulties at the airport. If the holder of the ETD is a new-born child with no previous passport or identification, an exit permit is required before exiting Qatar. These can be obtained from the Immigration Office in Al Gharrafa. If your destination is not the UK you will need proof of residency for your destination country. An emergency travel document does not grant you entry. You are responsible for checking you have the correct documents to enter your destination country.
Living and working in Qatar
If you’re applying for a residence permit, you will have to undergo a medical test including blood tests and a chest X-ray. The tests screen for diseases including, but not restricted to, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C. Testing positive may lead to further tests and possible deportation.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist are available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. Qatar has produced guidance on drugs that can and cannot be brought in by travellers.
For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
If you need to bring controlled/prescription medication into Qatar, make sure you carry it in its original packaging, accompanied by your prescription and an official letter signed and stamped by your doctor stating the type of medication and why it’s required.
Local medical care
Emergency medical treatment is excellent but can be expensive. Routine treatment is available but expensive for visitors. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The currency in Qatar is the Qatari Riyal (QAR).
UK credit and debit cards are widely accepted within the larger stores, whilst smaller or stand-alone local stores generally use cash, particularly in the Souqs.
ATMs are located in major shopping malls, some Souqs, hotels and on the street. As in any country, take sensible precautions when handling cash and credit cards in public or at cash machines.
There are limits to the amount of currency, financial bearer negotiable instruments, precious metals and precious stones that you can carry into or out of Qatar. This is currently set at QAR50,000. If you bring in or out more than this, you must complete a declaration form and provide any further information as requested by customs officials. Items to be declared include, but are not limited to:
- Currency – Qatari riyal or foreign currencies
- Financial bearer negotiable instruments – travellers cheques, money orders, cheques, promissory notes including those endorsed without restriction, incomplete, payable to a fictitious payee, signed but without the payees name
- Precious metals – gold, silver, platinum etc.
- Precious stones – diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, pearls etc.
Failure to comply with these rules could lead to fines or imprisonment, as well as seizure of such funds.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.