Qatar travel guide

About Qatar

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.

Key facts


11,627 sq km (4,489 sq miles)


2,788,000 (2019)

Population density:

240 per sq km





Head of state:

Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani since 2013.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid ibn Khalifa ibn Abdul Aziz Al Thani since 2020.

Travel Advice

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.

International travel

Direct flights from Qatar to England are prohibited.

From 8 June, direct flights can arrive in England from Qatar but they must arrive at dedicated terminals at Heathrow and Birmingham airports. Different requirements may apply for arrivals into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.

From 8 June, direct flights can arrive in England from Qatar but they must arrive at dedicated terminals at Heathrow and Birmingham airports. Different requirements may apply for arrivals into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. 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, and has introduced a number of precautionary restrictions on travel and events in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Public transport, including the metro and bus services, began running a limited service on 1 September 2020. No more than four people are allowed in a vehicle, if they are not part of the same family. The authorities may also stop vehicles to enquire about the reason for the journey.

It is mandatory to wear a face mask whenever you are outside your home, unless you are alone whilst driving a vehicle or exercising. From 22 May 2020, it is also compulsory to have Qatar’s contact tracing app, Ehteraz, downloaded and working on your smartphone whenever you leave the house. The authorities are deploying mobile patrols and setting up checkpoints to prevent social gatherings and check compliance with other measures.

Anyone violating these could incur a fine of up to QR200,000 and a prison sentence not exceeding three years, or one of those two penalties.


Hotels are open, and facilities (ie gyms, pool) have reopened subject to restrictions on capacity. Some hotels are being used as quarantine locations.

Public places and services

With effect from 4 February 2021 a number of restrictions have been implemented. These have included the reduction in numbers at gathering – 5 indoors and 15 outdoors, capacity restrictions in restaurants, malls and outdoor swimming pools. Capacity has also been restricted on the metro and buses. Playgrounds and exercise equipment in public space have also been closed. Mosques and hairdressers also have restrictions on capacity.

Schools continue to operate a blended approach to education – a mix of in person lessons and on line learning. For further details you should contact the school direct.

Healthcare in Qatar

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 coronavirus, you should contact the Ministry of Public Health’s helpline on 16000.

If you are confirmed to have coronavirus, you will be placed in isolation in one of the country’s medical facilities, or asked to self-isolate at home for 14 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.

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.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Qatar

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. As further information is available about the national vaccination programme, this page will be updated. Sign up to get email notifications.

There is a set priority criteria for access to the COVID-19 vaccinations based on age, occupation and pre-existing medical conditions. Registration for the vaccine can be done through this portal at the Ministry of Public Health.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It has authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for temporary supply and use in the UK. Find out more about MHRA approval for these vaccines.

British nationals living overseas should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider in the country where they reside. Information about vaccines used in other national programmes, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities. This list of Stringent Regulatory Authorities recognised by the World Health Organisation may also be a useful source of additional information. Find out more information about the COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organization COVID-19 vaccines page.


For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health has a coronavirus page with latest figures and advice on how to protect yourself.

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.


Around 20,000 British nationals live in Qatar, and approximately 130,000 visit annually. Most visits are trouble-free.

Although crime levels are low, female visitors should take extra care when travelling alone at night.

Only use registered taxis and don’t enter a taxi late at night unaccompanied.

If you’re a victim of sexual assault, you should contact the British Embassy at the earliest opportunity.

Road travel

You can drive in Qatar with a valid UK driving licence for up to 12 months. If you intend to drive using your UK licence in Qatar, you should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before travelling. If you’re staying longer than 12 months, you will need to apply for a Qatari driving licence and sit both the theory and practical tests.

From 28 March 2019, the IDP you should obtain is a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP). IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted for use in Qatar after this date. 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.

If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.

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 minor accidents are common. Qatar has a very high fatality rate for road accidents. If you have an accident, stay with your vehicle. 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 should 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. 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 (approx £2,150) to QAR50,000 (approx £10,770), or both. Offenders may also be deported.

Sea 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.

Political situation

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.

Terrorist attacks in Qatar can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

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 crowded places, including restaurants, hotels, beaches, shopping centres and mosques. You should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places. Avoid large gatherings and 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 other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK. You’re strongly advised to familiarise yourself with and respect local laws and customs.

In 2021, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 12 April and finish on 11 May. See Travelling during Ramadan

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.

Importing drugs, alcohol, pornography, pork products and religious books and material into Qatar is illegal. All luggage is scanned at Doha Airport Arrivals Hall.  DVDs and videos may be examined and censored. Penalties for drug offences are severe, often resulting in prison sentences.

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. Alcohol is available 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.

Swearing and making rude gestures are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.

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. There have been cases of individuals being detained, prosecuted and/or convicted for posting this type of material.

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 should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. Any intimacy in public between men and women (including between teenagers) can lead to arrest.

Homosexual behaviour is illegal in Qatar. There have been some reports of individuals being punished for homosexual activity and/or sexual activity outside marriage, particularly where there is any public element, or the behaviour has caused offence. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques (including post-dated and ‘security cheques’) and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills) can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine in Qatar. Bank accounts and other assets may also be frozen. You may also be liable for cheques that have been signed by you on behalf of a company.

If you have unpaid loans or financial commitments you won’t be able finish your employment in Qatar and exit the country. Any debt should be settled in full before your residence permit will be cancelled.

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you should contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus

Entry to Qatar

From 1 August 2020, British nationals currently outside of Qatar and holding a Qatar residence permit are allowed to enter the country, subject to receiving prior approval.

From 29 November 2020, any resident leaving Qatar will automatically receive their Exceptional Entry Permit, and there will no longer be a need to apply through the Qatar Portal website. This permit will be available to print from the Ministry of Interior website once the resident’s departure has been registered. Please ensure you have a printed copy with you when you travel.

For residents returning to Qatar after 29 November 2020, the quarantine period will be for 7 days. For those returning from a country not included on the Qatar Ministry of Public Health’s ‘Green List’, a mandatory 7 day hotel quarantine will apply. This will be at a government-approved hotel and must be booked through the Discover Qatar website.

From 22 December 2020, all residents arriving on flights originating in the UK will be required to stay at a designated hotel for their quarantine period. These must be booked through the Discover Qatar website.

From 25 April 2021, all residents returning to Qatar will need to provide a negative PCR test certificate, recognised by the Health Department in the departing country. This test having been taken no more than 72 hours before arrival into Qatar.

From 25 April 2021, all residents returning to Qatar will be exempt from quarantine provided they have completed a vaccination course as recognised by MoPH Qatar (namely Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson), their last vaccination dose having been administered 14 days prior to entry to Qatar and are able to provide a negative PCR test certificate recognised by the Health Department in the departing country.

From 29 April 2021, all residents returning to Qatar with previously booked hotel quarantine should be aware that all existing packages have been cancelled by Discover Qatar / Qatar Airways following amendments to mandatory hotel quarantine for those travelling from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka. To rebook your quarantine package, where appropriate, visit Qatar Airways Quarantine Booking travelling from UK. Information about the refund of your original booking can be found on the same page.

Further information on Qatar’s entry and arrival requirements can be found on the Ministry of Public Health website.

Following the opening of the air, land and sea borders between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, all arrivals to Qatar from the Abu Samra border crossing are required to undergo a COVID-19 test and obtain a virus-free certificate no more than 72 hours before travel. Further information can be found from the Government Communications Office statement here.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status

Qatar has not yet confirmed that it will accept the UK solutions for demonstrating your COVID vaccination status. You should follow guidance for alternative entry requirements. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination.

Transiting Qatar

Transit passengers travelling on to another destination can still transfer through Qatar, and many flights continue to operate. You should check with your airline or travel company for the latest information if you are planning to leave or transit through Qatar. Flights are subject to change or cancellation at short notice.

Whilst in transit at Hamad International Airport, you will receive regular thermal screening and temperature checks.

You should contact your tour operator, transport or accommodation provider for information on the impact on any existing travel plans.

Testing on arrival

Thermal screening and temperature checks will take place on arrival, as will a swab test for coronavirus.

Quarantine requirements

With effect from 29 November 2020, all residents returning from the UK will need to quarantine for 7 days in a government-approved hotel, at their own expense. This must be booked through the Discover Qatar website.

From 22 December 2020, all residents arriving on flights originating in the UK will be required to stay at a designated hotel for their quarantine period. These must be booked through the Discover Qatar webiste.

Data collection

Downloading Qatar’s track and trace app, Ehteraz, is mandatory for everyone in Qatar. You will be asked to show the app upon arrival.

Regular entry requirements


You can get a free 30-day tourist visa-waiver on arrival in Qatar. 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

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Qatar.

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 exiting Qatar on an ETD because your full validity passport has been lost or stolen, you must obtain a police report in order to exit Qatar. 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.

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Qatar on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Qatar.

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. 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 the 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 50,000QAR (approximately £10,200). If you bring in 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.

Travel safety

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.

Further help

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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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