For current traffic regulations, see the Ministry of Interior?s Traffic Police website.
Driving: You must have a Qatari driving license to drive in Qatar. Do not drive on a U.S. driver?s license.
Requirements for newly arrived and prospective residents to obtain a permanent Qatari driver?s license:
- Written exam
- Road test
Requirements for short-term visitors to obtain a temporary Qatari driver?s license:
- Present U.S. driver?s license at any branch of Qatar?s Traffic Police
Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death in Qatar. The extensive use of roundabouts, numerous road construction projects, and high-speed driving can be challenging. In rural areas, poor lighting, wandering camels, and roads without shoulders create hazards.
Avoid arguments over traffic incidents. Qatari citizens who feel insulted can file a police complaint that can result in your arrest and overnight detention. Drivers are liable for persons injured in a traffic accident. Local police have held U.S. citizens overnight while ascertaining the extent of injuries.
Traffic Fines: Please be aware that traffic offenses are easily captured via well-placed cameras and the fines can be expensive in Qatar.
Public Transportation: Regulated and registered taxi services (Karwa, Fox Transportation, Uber and Careem to name a few) are widely available and generally safe to use. The Embassy recommends avoiding the use of unlicensed taxi operators or drivers who approach you and attempt to solicit business. When using public taxis or limousine services, do not allow the driver to pick up additional passengers along the way. To avoid cultural misunderstandings, females traveling alone should always sit in the back (never the front) seat.
Qatar Rail opened its first subway line in mid-2019. Additional lines will open in late 2019 and 2020. The rail service area is currently limited to Doha proper, but is an affordable option. Qatar Rail operates from approximately 8:00 am to 11:00 PM on weekdays.
Mowasalat Public Bus: Laborers and construction workers predominantly use this mode of public transportation. The front seats in the buses are generally reserved for women and children. The U.S. Embassy recommends the use of regulated taxi services rather than public buses.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Qatar?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Qatar?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Qatar should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings ( select ?broadcast warnings?)
Modern medical facilities and Western-style pharmacies are available. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services.
For information on the Qatari national healthcare system, see their website.
The Embassy is not able to pay for any medical bills. Please be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further Health Information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Exit Bans: Exit bans can be placed on people for various reasons, including:
- labor or financial disputes
- personal debt (including credit card debt and bank loans)
- outstanding contracts or leases
- traffic fines
- bounced checks
- pending legal matters
- gestures or behavior reported by Qataris that are viewed as ?offensive.?
U.S. citizens have been subjected to exit bans which bar them from leaving Qatar; some have also been placed in prison pending payment of debts. Once placed under an exit ban, you are barred from leaving the country until the case is abandoned or resolved by the court. This process could take months or even years. The Government of Qatar does not offer any social support for those who remain in the country, who must rely on local charities or help from family or friends.
Always carry a copy of your passport for proof of identity, or authorities may detain you for questioning.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be deported, arrested, or imprisoned.
Criminal penalties for certain offenses are harsher than those in the U.S.:
- Incidents involving obscene language, gestures, or insulting comments often result in arrest, overnight imprisonment, and/or fines.
- Alcohol-Related Offenses: Qatar maintains a zero-tolerance policy against drinking and driving. Penalties for public intoxication and other alcohol-related offenses are severe, including immediate arrest, heavy fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation.
- Illegal Drug Usage: Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and steep fines.
In case of arrest: Qatari authorities do not routinely notify the U.S. embassy of a U.S. citizen?s arrest. If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. If you are not allowed to do so, ask a friend or family member to contact the U.S. Embassy.
See our webpage for further information.
For more serious crimes, Qatari authorities may not allow U.S. Embassy officials to visit until the initial interrogation is completed.
Qatari police sometimes arrest U.S. citizens without providing access to legal counsel. You could be arrested for being a:
- Potential witness to a crime (including traffic accidents involving injuries; slander, traffic arguments, etc.)
- Relative of a suspect
- Crime Suspect
If arrested?regardless of the charge?you may spend 1-2 nights in jail before a hearing takes place. Once an arrest is made, only the Qatari Public Prosecution and Courts have the authority to grant a release.
See our webpage for further information.
Employment in Qatar: It is illegal for Qatari employers to retain your passport, except for visa and immigration processing. U.S. passports remain the property of the U.S. government and should not be outside of your control.
In the event of a contract or employment dispute, Qatari authorities refer to the Arabic language of a contract. Verbal assurances or side letters are not binding in Qatar.
Qatari law favors employers over employees. Employees have limited recourse in the event their employer terminates a contract early. If a sponsor files a complaint against an employee who departed Qatar, the employee may be barred from returning to Qatar, even on a subsequent tourist or airport visa. Many terminated U.S. citizens have been barred from departing Qatar because of pre-existing debts, despite having no way to earn income [see Exit Bans in Local Law section].
In most cases, transferring employment prior to the end of a contract requires the permission of the previous employer (which is discretionary) and is subject to approval by the Ministry of the Interior, though recent changes to the law allow employees to transfer to new employers without permission at the end of their contract, which can last up to five years. Additional mechanisms for transfering employer exist through the Ministry of Interior in cases such as bankruptcy, abuse, or repeated failure to pay an employee on time.
Faith-Based Travelers: Religion is a very sensitive issue in Qatar; treat any discussions on religion with care and caution. The law provides for a prison sentence of up to seven years for defaming, desecrating, or committing blasphemy against Islam, Christianity, or Judaism. The law also restricts public worship for non-Islamic faiths.
Proselytizing is against the law. Attempts to covert a member of another religion or even ?share your faith? can be considered ?proselytizing.? Penalties for such actions include deportation or imprisonment.
While you may import religious material for personal use, do not bring religious materials into the country for proselytizing purposes; this is prohibited.
Charitable activities, both religious and non-religious, must be approved in advance by the Ministry of Social Affairs.
See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations between men are against the law, even if relations are consensual. Penalties include lashings, lengthy prison sentences and/or deportation.
There is no law criminalizing same-sex sexual relations between women, though cultural norms are conservative. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access and accommodation is limited, given the scarcity of ramps, TTY or TDD communication systems, Braille signs, and/or appropriate restroom facilities. Public transportation is generally inaccessible.
Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips. Qatari regulations require children with Qatar residency permits to be enrolled in a school licensed by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, in a certified home schooling program, or in a formal boarding school abroad.
Women Travelers: Men occasionally verbally and/or physically harass unaccompanied expatriate women. In deference to Islamic culture, avoid wearing sleeveless shirts, halter-tops, or shorts. Only wear athletic clothing in public when engaged in sports activities.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Potential for Terrorist Activity: You may find useful security information specific to Qatar on the Overseas Security Advisory Council?s website.
Terrorist groups are very active in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests in the region. Government officials throughout the region are concerned about the potential return of foreign fighters following ISIS?s territorial losses in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. ISIS, al-Qa?ida, and affiliated organizations reportedly continue to plan attacks within the region against Westerners through assassination, kidnapping, hijacking, and bombing.
Please review the Worldwide Caution before traveling to Qatar.
- Practice personal security measures at all times.
- Monitor local media broadcasts and consular messages.
- Vary travel routes and times when possible.
- Be aware of your surroundings and local events.
Areas to Avoid:
- Large crowds and demonstrations
- Labor or work camps
- Venues and events frequented by Westerners. While the Government of the State of Qatar occasionally provides security for some events, the Embassy cannot gauge the adequacy of security in advance.
Crime: The crime rate in Qatar is generally low. Incidents of violence and petty theft are rare, but do occur. There is a large police presence throughout the country.
Victims of Crime:
- Report crimes to the local police at 999.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy at + (974) 4496-6000.
- Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
- More information on local resources and assistance can be found through the Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre hotline: 6693-3999, 6693-3108, or 6693-3919.
- See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy at + (974) 4496-6000.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy at + (974) 4496-6000 for assistance. Victims may also seek medical care through Hamad Hospital emergency room. Hamad Medical Customer Service in country phone number: 16060. If you are calling from overseas phone: +(974) 4439-5777.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
See the Government of Qatar?s website for visa information.
Requirements for Entry:
- Passport valid for at least six months
Be sure to leave Qatar before your visa expires. The Qatari Government charges as much as USD $55 for each day that you overstay your visa, up to USD $3,300.
For further information, see the Qatari government website.
Tourist visas: When traveling on a U.S. tourist passport, the Government of Qatar does not require prior visa arrangements and travelers may obtain a free visa waiver upon arrival, provided the traveler has six months validity in their passport and a return or onward ticket. The waiver is valid for thirty days from the date of issuance and entitles the holder to spend up to thirty days in Qatar, or multiple entries during the 30-day validity. The waiver may be extended for a further thirty days. More information can be found on the Qatari government website.
Residency Permit Holders: Former resident permit holders seeking to return to Qatar should carry a ?no objection letter? issued by their former sponsor.
- Police clearance certificate
- Authentication of education degrees
- Certified true copies of civil documents (marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc.)
- Occupational certifications from your home country
- Exit permits are no longer required for U.S. citizens working in Qatar to leave the country, with the exception of employees deemed ?essential? by their employers. Essential employees must still be granted an exit permit.
- If you owe money, you will be barred from exiting Qatar [See Exit Bans in Local Law section]. Qatari banks place holds on accounts to ensure all debts are paid before you leave.
- U.S. citizen family members with family residence visas do not need an exit permit to leave Qatar; however, sponsors (usually the husband/father) can elect to receive instant notification if family dependents are attempting to depart the country.
Qatar does not recognize dual nationality. If you hold Qatari citizenship, Qatari law requires that you enter and exit on your Qatari passport. Qatari authorities may confiscate your U.S. passport if you hold Qatari/U.S. dual nationality. Should this happen, contact the U.S. Embassy. The seizure does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship.
Military Personnel: Military personnel should consult the Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide before traveling, since different entry/exit requirements may apply. For further information, call the Host Nation Coordination Cell of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at 011-974-5551-0815.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors and foreign residents of Qatar. Medical exams are required for all long-term visitors and residents. For more details, please obtain information from the Embassy of Qatar before traveling.
Customs: Customs regulations are strict regarding alcohol, narcotics, pork products, weapons or weapons-related articles (hand cuffs, laser pointers, etc.), and pornographic/sexually-related materials.
See the State of Qatar?s website for specific information regarding Qatar customs requirements.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Qatar for information on U.S. ? Qatar relations.