- Download our Moving to Qatar Guide (PDF)
As a country with one of the world’s highest per capita income, Qatar's inhabitants need adequate infrastructure to protect their earnings. As such, expats generally find that banking in Qatar, with its well-maintained network of local and international banks, is quite easy.
Money in Qatar
The currency used in Qatar is the riyal (QAR), which is divided into 100 dirhams. Riyals can be found in the following denominations:
- Notes: QAR 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500
- Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 dirhams
The riyal is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed rate of 1 USD to 3.64 QAR for the Qatar Central Bank's sales and purchases of USD with banks that operate in the country. New arrivals can easily get local cash at the airport and banks. Remember, though, that when exchanging currency, banks charge for the service, so the rate may vary.
Banking in Qatar
The banking industry is supervised by the Qatar Central Bank, which oversees commercial banks such as Ahli Bank, the Commercial Bank of Qatar, Doha Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, International Bank of Qatar and the Qatar National Bank (QNB). These offer comprehensive online banking services.
Most local banks have services in both English and Arabic and offer familiar account types found in most global destinations.
Alternatively, expats can open an international account with banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. This kind of account may benefit those who would like to consider offshore account options, or those who already have an account with one of these service providers in their home country. Some expats also report that they prefer the convenience and security of having their finances centralised.
Banks in Qatar are generally open from Sunday to Thursday between 7.30am or 9am and 1pm, but many are also open in the afternoon and on Saturday mornings. During the months of Ramadan, these hours may vary significantly.
See more on opening a bank account in Qatar.
Opening a bank account in Qatar
Opening a bank account in Qatar is a relatively simple, stress-free process, and many banks make it possible to open an account before moving to the country. International banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered big banks such as the Commercial Bank Of Qatar and QNB allow new customers to open online accounts. However, in order to support an online application, you will likely be required to provide documentation such as a copy of your passport photo page and a letter from your employer in Qatar.
Those opening a bank account will need to provide documentation including a copy of their passport, a valid residency or work permit and a Qatar ID card, passport-sized photos, and a certificate or letter from their Qatari employer stating their monthly salary. Banks may require either a minimum balance or salary, often of QAR 5,000 or more. Expats who open an online account before arriving in the country will have 90 days to present their local Qatar ID to the bank.
Once the application has been approved, the bank will provide the applicant with a letter for their employer, confirming that they are happy to receive salary payments into the new account.
Qatar also has an officially-appointed banking ombudsman affiliated with Qatar's Central Bank, accessible to anyone who has a complaint against a bank and needs assistance.
Credit cards and ATMs in Qatar
ATMs are readily available in Qatar and, more often than not, accept both local and international credit and debit cards. While most ATMs function 24 hours, it may not be guaranteed, and using ATMs operated by banks other than one's own, or using a credit card to withdraw cash, normally incurs extra charges.
Taxes in Qatar
One of the great attractions of relocating to Qatar is that no personal or income tax is levied against individual salaries or allowances, even as an expat. This means that, while in Qatar, an expat's gross salary will be paid to them without any deductions.
That said, expats are strongly advised to research whether a double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) exists between Qatar and their country of origin; if there isn't, they will be liable to pay tax in their country of origin on the money earned in Qatar. We recommend that expats working in Qatar check this online and consult with tax specialists if necessary.
While income is not taxed, certain goods are, including tobacco, carbonated and energy drinks, and special-purpose goods such as alcohol. This means the prices of these items are much higher, affecting the cost of living.
"I feel that I can live a better quality life here and still be able to save money as the pay in Qatar is more than my country and it’s tax free." Read more in our expat interview with Rima, a Jordanian expat.
Are you an expat living in Qatar?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Qatar. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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