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The Ultimate Guide To
Employment in Qatar

Qatar Facts

Population size: 2,291,368
Currency: Qatari Riyal (QAR)
Capital city: Doha
Languages spoken: Arabic
Ease of Doing Business: 83

Employing in Qatar: What You Need to Know

Qatar’s employment landscape is governed by Labor Law No. 14 (2004) which provides minimum standards on working hours, vacation and public holidays, safety standards, collective agreements, worker committees and employment termination regulations. Certain employees in Qatar are not covered by the Labor Law, including Ministerial workers, members of the armed forces, and those in domestic employment.

Employers entering the Qatari labour market must be aware of the government’s initiative of “Qatarization”, which seeks to provide preferential employment to qualified Qataris in the public and private sectors.

Many companies in Qatar also adhere to religious holidays and work practices which should be observed or respected by any foreign workers and companies.

Key Factors to Consider When Employing in Qatar

The "Qatarization" initiative aims to increase the number of Qatari nationals in the workforce. The employment of Qatari nationals are given priority over foreign workers.

Companies must obtain residence and work permits for any expatriate staff hired.

Corporate employers must sponsor all foreign workers while they are in Qatar.

There are local religious customs and business practices which should be considered.

  1. Contracts

    In Qatar, employers should provide foreign workers with a contract of employment (Service Contract), or an official letter of agreement which specifies the conditions of employment. According to Qatari laws, it is not mandated that an employment contract between an employee and an employer must be in writing, where verbal agreement is possible, although written agreement is preferred. If an employment relationship is established without a contract, sufficient proof should be provided.

    The employment contract may be written in English, although it is the Arabic version that will be officially recognized by the Qatar Ministry of Labor. It is recommended to have any employment documents attested to by a notary, although it is not compulsory. In addition, the terms of the contract may possibly be changed, so proper precaution should be made.

    The contract should contain the following information:

    • Job title and description
    • Personal details including Qatar ID
    • Starting date of employment
    • Finish date of employment if applicable
    • Notice period
    • Probationary period
    • Salary
    • Days of annual leave
    • Employment benefits and other entitlements

    The employment contract takes precedence over local labour laws due to greater stipulations and terms, although there are laws that provide certain protection regardless of the existence of a contract.

    The duration of an employment contract is typically open-ended, moving from a traditional two-year contract to one that extends indefinitely until the assigned work is done or until either party wishes to terminate the contract. The duration of the contract may be extended given the mutual consent of the employer and the employee, and it is common for foreign workers to remain in Qatar for longer than 20 years.

    It must be noted that Qatar has job quotas for certain industries like service industries, where official employment for that particular role may not be filled by a foreign employee.

Employee Entitlements

Information Explanation
Statutory Working Hours ?

The hours in a working week varies between 40 and 48 hours dependent on company policy. In the month of Ramadan, the working day is legally reduced to 6 hours, although many companies apply this to Muslims only. The rest interval which includes prayer, rest and meals is between one and three hours per day.

Friday is typically a rest day, where either a Thursday or Saturday becomes the other rest day as part of a 5-day working week.

Overtime may be taken in addition to the standard eight hours per day up to a maximum of ten hours a day, unless it is necessary to prevent gross loss or dangerous accident. Additional working hours attract an additional 25% minimum of the basic wage for each extra hour worked.

Medical Leave ?

The worker is entitled to sick leave if they have been working for longer than three months and if the reason for sickness is proved through a medical certificate written by an approved physician. Any sick leave lasting two weeks or less provides full wage entitlement to the worker. Half pay applies to any excess weeks off up to an additional four weeks, and zero pay for any sick leave taken after that. Termination may occur after the twelfth week of sickness if a physician indicates the employee’s inability to work. Resignation by the employee may also occur, where the employer must pay any outstanding balance on his/her entitlements.

 

Annual Leave Accrual Entitlement ?

Workers who have completed one continuous year in the service of an employer in Qatar are entitled to annual leave with pay based on their basic wage. Leave is required to be no less than three weeks a year for those who have worked less than 5 years, and four weeks for those working longer than 5 years. The annual leave pay should be paid prior to the annual leave. The leave period lies on fixed dates specified by the employer, and no more than half of the annual leave each year may be postponed to the following year.

Qatari workers are also entitled to three working days each for Eid El-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, which are religious holidays, one working day for Independence Day, and three working days of the employer’s choosing.

Religious Leave

Muslim employees are entitled to leave without pay for up to two weeks for their pilgrimage that may occur once during the period of their service. The employer must specify the number of workers who are granted this leave according to work requirements.

Maternity Leave in Qatar ?

Female workers are entitled to maternity leave of 50 days with full pay once they have been employed for a full year. This period covers the time before and after delivery and is determined by a physician through the issue of a medical certificate indicating the date of delivery. In addition, females are entitled to a daily nursing period which comprise of a paid hour-long break every day for nursing duties.

Employers may not terminate a female worker’s service contract due to her marriage or because of taking maternity leave. Employers may not submit a notice of termination during this period.

 

Employment Termination

Information Explanation
Termination of Employment ?

Indefinite term

Under Article 49 of the Labour Law, the termination of an employee in an indefinite term arrangement may be initiated by either the employer or the employee with a written notice. The termination may be made without cause in this case, as long as written notice is provided.

Termination notice must be provided no less than one month prior to the termination date for workers employed for 5 years or less, while two months’ notice is required for those employed for longer than 5 years.

Terminating an employment relationship in this way requires the employer to pay the employee any wages and benefits due in full for the period of the notice, provided the employee conducts his regular duties in full during this time. The employer is obliged to pay this compensation in full even if they request the employee to not work for the full duration.

Fixed term

In a definite term arrangement, termination must comply with specific grounds under Qatar Labour Law. There are no legal requirements for either party to provide notice during the term, although termination without reason must be agreed upon by both parties. If the employee does not consent to the termination of employment, the employer is obliged to pay the employee wages and benefits, inclusive of service gratuity in full. The nature of these payments is dependent on individual circumstances.

Immediate effect termination

Termination may occur immediately in special circumstances where the employee or employer provides a reason for termination when a reason is not required. No written notice is required and no payments to the employee are required.

Probation

Information Explanation
Probation Period ?

The service contract may contain certain provisions that define the duration of a probation period for an employee not exceeding six months. An employee is entitled to repatriation costs during this probationary period if he/she does not pass probation. No more than one probation period may apply to an employee for any one employer.

The service contract may be terminated by the employer if the employee demonstrates their incapability of fulfilling the job duties of that role, with a three days’ notice.

Pension

Information Explanation
Pension Requirements ?

Qatar’s government pension system is regulated by the General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority (GRSIA) and supervised by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The pension scheme is applicable to Qatari citizens and is based on the final salary of the employee at the time of retirement. Employees must pay a monthly contribution of 5% gross salary, while the employer must contribute a further 10%.

It must be noted that foreign workers employed in Qatar are not eligible for pension schemes from the Qatari government and must manage their own arrangements.  Qatar does not have any obligatory state or employer-contribution schemes, especially for foreign expatriates. Foreign workers only have access to basic medical facilities and little else. There is increasing pressure for companies to provide corporate pension schemes and to advise foreign workers of arranging private medical insurance for greatest coverage.

GEO Solutions or DIY Employment in Qatar?

Companies entering Qatar must make a decision whether to use their own resources for a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach, or to use a Global Employment Organization to handle payroll and employment responsibilities.  A GEO or Qatarian Employer of Record solution makes it faster, easier and cheaper to deploy staff if they don’t have an Qatarian entity established that can run payroll.

A DIY approach will typically be delayed until there is a properly incorporated company ready to run payroll and may be a costly option.  Shield GEO can deploy foreign staff in 4-6 weeks and local staff in 48 hours. Additionally Shield GEO is responsible for all compliance issues related to the employment.

Outsourcing Employment Through a GEO Employer of Record Service

Using Shield GEO Employer of Record Services in Qatar

Compliance with local employment requirements is just one of the issues foreign companies face when employing staff in Qatar. For companies which intend to employ their staff directly through their incorporated Qatari entity, professional legal advice is recommended. Shield GEO provides an alternative path for companies to outsource the employment of their staff in Qatar.

As a Global Employer Organization (GEO), Shield GEO acts as the Employer of Record and ensures the employment is compliant with host country regulations regarding employment. In addition Shield GEO will handle payroll processing, tax and immigration. Using Shield GEO is the fastest and most cost effective way to deploy local and foreign workers into Qatar.

The Shield GEO solution is an attractive alternative where

– the company is looking to employ staff quickly

– the company doesn’t have an appropriately incorporated entity in Qatar

– the company wants to work within a defined budget

– the company wants to limit its initial commitment in Qatar

– the company needs help with tax, employment, immigration and payroll compliance in Qatar

Shield GEO can contract directly with the company to employ and payroll their staff in Qatar. Shield GEO supplies local employment contracts for the staff which ensure that local statutory requirements are met covering issues such as termination, probation periods, leave entitlements and statutory benefits.  Shield GEO is able to advise companies how to cover local employment regulations whilst still providing consistent global employment policies. Understand more about outsourced employment through Shield GEO.

Payroll

Payroll Qatar
Management Fee for Employer of Record Services / Monthly Payroll Costs

Please contact us for a quote

Notes

Shield GEO pays the employee on a monthly basis, typically on the last working day of the month although we can adapt to your preferred schedule. Income tax and social security (where applicable) are deducted at source and paid to the local tax authorities.

Currency ?

Qatari Riyal (QAR)

Tax Returns Supplied

Yes

Payroll and Tax in Qatar

Qatar's payroll and taxation system is unique in that many forms of standardized taxes are not applicable. Income taxes, social security taxes and sales taxes are not levied for individuals, while corporate income taxes are levied at a flat 10%. Proper care and attention to Qatar tax laws must be given to navigate the taxation system.

Your Payroll Options in Qatar

Information Explanation
Remote Payroll ?

A remote payroll in Qatar is where a foreign company, i.e. a non-resident company, payrolls a resident employee in Qatar. This applies to both local and foreign employees. One option for a non-resident company to payroll its employees (local and foreign) in Qatar is to use a fully outsourced service like a GEO or PEO which will employ and payroll the staff on their behalf.

Local Payroll Administration ?

In some cases, a company will register their business in China under one of the forms available, (RO, WFOE or JV) but prefer to have another company administer its payroll.  This can be accomplished through a payroll provider. It is important to note that the company, as the Employer of Record, is still fully responsible for compliance with employment, immigration, tax and payroll regulations. But the payroll calculations, payments and filings can all be outsourced to the payroll provider.

Internal Payroll ?

Larger companies with a commitment to Qatar may wish to run their own local payroll for all employees, foreign and local.  In order to accomplish this, they will have to complete incorporation, register the business and then hire the necessary staff.  There will be a need for in country human resources personnel who have the background needed to manage a Qatari payroll, and can fulfill all tax, withholding, and payroll requirements.

This approach carries significant cost and requires some knowledge of local employment and payroll regulations.  The company will need a local accounting firm and potentially legal counsel to ensure full compliance with Qatari employment laws.

Fully Outsourced Payroll & Employment ?

Companies can outsource the employment and payroll of their staff in Qatar to a GEO, like Shield GEO. This is possible for both foreign workers and Qatar nationals. This is the easiest, fastest and safest way to payroll staff in Qatar.

Shield GEO manages all aspects of payroll for workers in Qatar, including taxes, withholding, social security payments and other statutory requirements. Shield GEO becomes the Employer of Record and employs the staff on behalf of the client.

Staff are paid monthly with tax and social security deducted at source and paid to local authorities. Shield GEO will invoice the client monthly in advance of the payroll date. The invoice consists of the Total Cost of Employment (Base salary + Employers Statutory Contributions + Additional statutory contributions) and a Management Fee. Shield GEO provides the employees with payslips.

Read more about outsourced payroll and employment through Shield GEO.

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Tax Figures

Information Explanation
Corporate Income Tax ?

An entity that is wholly or partially foreign owned by a non-Qatar company which derives income from sources in Qatar is subject to tax in Qatar. This applies to any foreign share of profits generated in a joint venture while in Qatar.

There is a flat Corporate Income Tax (CIT) of 10% for most cases, while no CIT applies to entities wholly owned by Qatari nationals and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals. Companies operating in the oil and gas sector are subject to a 35% corporate tax rate

Income Tax Rate ?
Grossed income Tax Rate (%)
Sales Tax ?

Qatar does not levy and sales taxes or VAT.

Withholding Tax ?

Qatar’s tax law requires all entities registered in Qatar with a permanent establishment to withhold a percentage of payments made to non-residents. The withholding tax rates are as follows:

  • 5% of the gross amount of royalties and technical fees.
  • 7% of the gross amount of interest, commissions, brokerage fees, director’s fees, attendance fees and payments for other services.
  • No withholding tax on dividends.

Qatar has entered into double taxation treaties with over 50 countries, where withholding taxes on dividends, interest and royalties may differ.

Entities registered in the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) are no required to withhold taxes.

Other Tax ?

Custom duties – Customs duties applies to most goods originating outside of the GCC countries. The normal rate is levied at 5%, although some types of goods attract a higher rate such as tobacco, while some types may be subject to temporary import exemptions.

Property taxes – There are no property taxes in Qatar.

Time to prepare and Pay Taxes ?

41 hours

Time required to start a Business ?

8.5 days

Immigration and Work Permits in Qatar

The rules governing the employment of workers in Qatar are governed by law No.14 of 2004 of the Labour Law, administered by the Labour Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. For persons intending to work in Qatar, a permanent residency visa and a work permit is required to legally work in Qatar. The employer acts as the local sponsor for the employee and arranges the necessary appointments to obtain both the visa and permit.

Have your own Company?

The employment process for Qatar is much more complex than other countries due to the traditional kafala sponsorship system which binds the employee to the employer. Employers hold much more power over the employee in employment matters, where employees must obtain an exit visa and the consent of the employer before terminating their work and leaving the country. In addition, Qatarization places priority of employment to Qatari workers, while non-Qatari workers may only be employed if it is approved by the Labor Department, work permits are issued and if there is a need for such stuff. Careful consideration of these factors must be given prior to hiring employees in Qatar.

Process:

1. Registration of Business with the Immigration Department

The first step is to register the business entity with the Immigration Department of the General Directorate of Borders, Passports and Expatriate Affairs at the Ministry of Interior in order to apply for a work permit. The business entity becomes a worker’s sponsor upon obtaining an immigration card, which expires on the same date as the business’ trade license. A Representative Card must also be obtained so an appointed employee may act on behalf of the company when dealing with the Immigration Department and Ministry of Labour.

The required employer documents are as follows:

  • Completed application form for Immigration Card/Representative Card typed in Arabic, stamped and signed
  • Copy of passport of all authorized signatories, business owners and representatives
  • Copy of the Commercial Registration of the business
  • Copy of Trade Licence
  • Immigration card (For Representative Card application)
  • 2 colour passport-sized photos of representative

Cost: QAR 200 per application

2. Approval of Ministry of Labour

The business must apply for the approval of the Ministry of Labour for the amount of work permits that will be issued to foreign workers to be used in the following year prior to any hiring. This is done through a block visa application that will be considered by the Labour Department.

The following documents and information must be submitted to the Ministry of Labour by the employer:

  • Completed application form in Arabic
  • The total number of expatriates to be employed
  • Positions of each employee
  • Nationalities of the employees

Due to Qatarization laws, the Ministry will consider factors such as the existence of unemployed Qatari nationals who may fill the position and whether the position can only be filled by a foreign national in the process of approving work sponsorship of the company.

3. Employment Visas

It is the responsibility of the employer to obtain an employment visa for each employee that will be hired before he/she enters Qatar. There is a possibility of entry into Qatar of the employee under a visit visa, who can then apply for an employment visa, although work must not commence until the employment visa is acquired. It is the employer who will become each worker’s sponsor.

The following documents and information must be submitted to the Ministry of Labour by the employer to obtain an employment visa:

  • Completed application form in Arabic
  • Copy of the Commercial Registration of the business
  • Immigration card of the business
  • Copy of a valid employment contract between sponsoring company and employee
  • Copy of the employee’s passport
  • Four passport-size photos

Once the employment visa is acquired, a copy should be sent to the employee and the original lodged at the employee’s arrival airport prior to the employee’s arrival into Qatar. Employment visas are generally valid from one to five years.

Cost: QAR 200

Time: 2 – 4 weeks

4. Work Permit

A work permit must be arranged for within seven working days of the employee’s arrival in Qatar. Usually, this can only be done after an employment arrangement has been agreed upon. Before an application for the work permit is submitted, a medical certificate must be obtained indicating the health of the employee. The employee must take a medical test at a government-approved hospital, and requires a copy of their passport, employment visa, four passport-sized photos and a fee.

Once the medical certificate is issued, an application for a work and residence permit can be applied for, issued for one, two or three years.

The required employer’s documents needed for a work permit are as follows:

  • Completed application form from the Ministry of Labour
  • Employment contract
  • Medical certificate of the employee
  • Copy of the Commercial Registration of the business
  • Immigration card of the business
  • 2 passport-sized photos of the employee
  • Copy of the employee’s passport
  • Employment visa
  • Relevant educational documents
  • Biometric fingerprints test

Time: 2 – 4 weeks

5. Residence Permit

Once the employment visa and work permit are approved and copies are sent to the employee, the employee may travel to Qatar and collect the visa and necessary documents from the airport. In addition, a medical check-up and fingerprint scans must be taken. The residence permit application begins now which converts the work entry visa to a residence permit, where the employee may not leave the country. The residence permit application is lodged by the employer and must be commenced within 7 days of arrival.

The Labour Department must approve a dual language English and Arabic local contract under Law No.14 of 2004 in the Labour Law. The employee’s employment documents such as the employment contract must be presented for the application, otherwise other relevant documents such as payroll records and bank statements must be submitted.

The following documents must be submitted by the employer to the Ministry of Labour:

  • Completed Residence Permit application for in Arabic and English
  • Original medical certificate
  • Copy of the Commercial Registration of the business
  • Copy of the immigration card of the business
  • 2 passport sized photos of the employee
  • Original employee’s passport
  • Original employment visa
  • Sponsor’s passport if employer is an individual

Once the residence permit is issued, the employee may work under the employer until their employment terminates, which must be renewed every few years depending on each case.

Cost: QAR 1,200 per year

Time: Approximately 6 weeks

6. Exit Visa

An additional step for foreign nationals employed by a Qatari employer is that they obtain exit permits from the Ministry of Interior before leaving Qatar. The sponsor/employer holds the power to approving an exit permit to employees. The visa is valid for only seven days, and may be a multiple-exit visa.

Cost: QAR 10 for a single exit permit. QAR 500 for a multiple-exit permit.

 

Use the Shield Geo Solution?

Once you get in touch with us, one of our consultants will take all the work off your hands, coordinate with our local partners to get all the required permits organised, provide the processing time, costs, document-checklist and keep you informed through the process. Contact us to know more.

Types of visas in Qatar

Category Description of Visa
Qatar Tourist Visa

Qatar tourist visas may be obtained on arrival by visas from a selection of 33 countries. The purpose of this visa is for short-term stays for the purpose of leisure. The tourist visa is valid for two weeks and may be extended up to three weeks. A reservation at a hotel in Qatar or a relative residing in Qatar is required to apply and pay for the visa.

A Longer Tourist Visa may be obtained for up to three months’ stay and must be applied for prior at a Qatar embassy prior to arrival.

Required documents include: application submitted through a hotel manager, copy of passport, ID card of the hotel, ID card of the applicant.

Fees: QAR 100

Qatar Business Visa

The primary purpose of the Qatar business visa is for employees who will travel to Qatar and will work for a Qatari company for a short term. Only government-approved sponsors may sponsor business visas. The business visa is valid for two weeks and may be extended to four weeks. Any stay beyond four weeks requires an exit visa to leave the country. During this period, the employee may engage in limited business activities, but not direct work.

Requirements: The applying company must have prior approval by the relevant departments. The application form must be submitted through a company representative or owner. A copy of the passport of the employee should e provided. The ID of the company and the visa applicant is also needed.

Fees: QAR 200

Qatar Work Visa

Qatar work visas are arranged by the employer and are valid for 1 – 3 months. This is most applicable to employees who are intending to work for a Qatari employer for a period of time. To apply for a work visa, the employee must have a valid employment contract in place that must be approved by the Ministry of Labour. The employee must remain with the employer for the duration of work and must leave once the contracted job has been completed, unless there are provisions for the transfer of the employee to another employer.

To obtain the work visa, several medical tests must be conducted, including a blood test, fingerprinting, health check and a chest X-ray.

QAR: 200

Qatar Family Visa

Any employee who currently works in Qatar may become a sponsor of their family so they may travel to Qatar and live with the employee. There is no expiration date on a Family Visa and is valid as long as the employee continues sponsoring them. The family sponsor must arrange his/her family’s residence permits in advance.

The following documents must be provided by the sponsor: passport photos of family members, applicable birth, education and marriage certificates, bank statement indicating at least 6 months’ salary worth of funds, and an approval letter from work.

Fee: QAR 200

Qatar GCC Resident Visa

Any resident of a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) country and are in an approved profession may obtain a one-month GCC Resident Visit Visa through a Qatari embassy. The visa may be renewable for an additional three months. Proof of their profession must be provided during the application of this visa.

Fee: QAR 100

Setting up a company in Qatar

When setting up a company you may want to consider these factors:

  1. Business Factors

    Qatar is a relatively restrictive country in regards to foreign investments, in that shareholdings of incorporated entities must have at least 51% shareholdings by Qatari nationals. This is built upon the initiative of “Qatarization”, which intends to place priority of employment and power for Qatari individuals over foreign nationals. As such, it may be a complex and challenging environment to incorporate in Qatar. These factors must be considered, in addition to:

    • The industry and type of business that will be conducted
    • Nationality of the headquarters / individuals (s)
    • Presence of existing trade agreements or relationships
  2. Location

    Location will be another factor. Separate cities and regions may have different rules, costs and availability. Although Qatar is a geographically small country, it is always recommended to seek advice from relevant professionals, such as business or legal advisors, accountants and others depending on your needs.

  3. Language

    Qatar is a relatively multicultural region, with Arabic being the official language of Qatar and Qatari Arabic the local dialect. There is a prominent presence of English as the secondary language, particularly in commerce where there is a growing population of expatriates. Qatar also has a growing community of French-speaking individuals after Qatar had joined the French-speaking organization, La Francophonie in 2012.

All foreign companies seeking to incorporate in Qatar must be established under the Foreign Investments Law No.13 of 2000, known as the Foreign Investment Law. Companies must also comply with the amendment of Law No.1 of 2010 stipulating that foreign investments may be made in most sectors in Qatar given their legal presence is registered in Qatar. There are two restrictions placed on foreign companies under the Foreign Investment Law:

  • Foreign ownership is restricted to a maximum of 49% of a company’s capital, where at least 51% must be owned by a Qatari partner. This restriction does not apply in certain sectors such as agriculture, industry, healthcare, education, tourism, energy or mining, and does not apply to projects that contribute to Qatar’s development plans.
  • Certain types of businesses are restricted, such as investments into banking and insurance which requires approval from the Council of Ministers for each individual case. Foreign investment in commercial agencies and real estate trading is not permitted.

There are several forms of legal entities which foreign companies may incorporate:

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Partnership
  • Unincorporated joint venture
  • Branch/Representative Office

Branch/Representative Office

Both the branch and representative office are ideal methods for businesses seeking to establish a basic, limited presence in Qatar. A branch is relevant for foreign companies who intend to carry out business activities with a specific purpose or objective in Qatar. The representative office on the other hand is a restricted business presence which only allows marketing and administrative activities to be conducted. For both methods, ministerial approval from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce is required when applying for a branch contract or a representative office license.

Branch

A foreign company may open a branch in Qatar only if the company is awarded a contract by the Minister of Business and Trade for a project that contributes to public service or interest. Establishment of the branch office is governed by Article 3 of the Foreign Investment Law. The business must obtain a license to operate for the specific purpose and duration of completing the contract, and will expire once the terms of the contract have been fulfilled.

The projects that are approved for branch establishment must be approved by the Ministry of Business and Trade.  Business activities of the branch must adhere to the contract and in most cases are fully taxable. In addition, branches are considered the same entity as the foreign owner. Qatarization laws apply to branches, which give an advantage to Qatari businesses over foreign companies.

Representative Office

As of 2006, foreign entities may establish a Representative Trade Office (RTO) in Qatar with 100% foreign ownership. The representative office must not conduct financial transactions related to the company’s commercial activities in Qatar, and all functions are limited to marketing and administrative activities.

Some activities which a RTO may perform include:

  • Contacting clients to discuss service and product offerings of its foreign owner
  • Contact exporters and sellers of materials and removing barriers to transporting these materials
  • Administrative functions of handling product complaints and issues with distribution

A representative office is similar in nature to a branch, where a license application must be lodged to the Ministry of Business and Trade. Like a branch, the RTO is not considered as a separate legal entity may be fully owned by the foreign entity.

Processing Time: 4-8 weeks

Limited Liability Company

PLC

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is one of the most popular methods of incorporation for foreign investors as it requires a relatively small amount of capital and can be established quickly. LLCs are appropriate for many types of foreign businesses in Qatar, although are restricted from engaging in banking, insurance or investment activities for third parties. A newly incorporated LLC is considered as a separate legal entity.

Liability

Limited Liability: Liability of each shareholder is only limited to the capital they have invested in.

Minimum Ownership

There is a maximum foreign ownership cap of 49% for most business entities in Qatar except for certain sectors. Protective provisions may be implemented to preserve the foreign owner’s power over the LLC at the discretion of the Ministry of Business and Trade, such as the right of more than 49% of the company’s profits.

Number of Founding Members

2 to 50

Minimum Capital Requirements

Traditionally QAR 200,000 and a sufficient amount to accomplish the company’s objectives. Under the current Commercial Companies Law, no minimum capital is specified.

The company may not raise additional capital via public subscription.

Procedure

The procedure of incorporating a company as a LLC is as follows:

1. Reserving a company name

The founding partners must submit an application for New Company Registration and an appropriate company name to the Commercial Registry and Trademark Department at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The company name availability check, reservation and payment can be completed online. Fees differ for Arabic and non-Arabic company names.

Time: 1 day

Cost:

Arabic name: QAR 1000

Non-Arabic name: QAR 1500

2. Opening bank account and minimum capital deposit

The founding members must open a bank account at a banking institution and the start-up capital must be deposited. A confirmation is then sent from the bank of the deposit, and this amount cannot be withdrawn until incorporation.

Time: 1 day

Cost: No charge. Minimum capital must be available.

3. Authenticate the articles of association

The articles of association for the company must be submitted in Arabic in the format of the Ministry of Justice. The official document must be stamped by the Commercial Companies Control Department so that the parties may sign it at the Authentication Department. This is a one-stop-shop authentication process where all relevant signatories must be present.

The articles of association include:

  • Company name, “with limited liability” appended
  • Company location
  • Objectives of the company
  • Fixed term of duration
  • Start-up capital
  • Restrictions on the transfer of shares
  • Names of all shareholders
  • Distribution of profits/losses between shareholders
  • Name of persons related to company management
  • Capital structure

Any shareholders who are business entities must provide these documents to the Ministry of Justice prior to signing the Articles of Association:

  • Legalized and authenticated Board/Shareholders Resolution approving incorporation of the company and appointment of representative to sign the Articles of Association
  • Legalized and authenticated Certificate of Incorporation
  • Legalized and authenticated Articles of Association of the entity
  • Passport copy of the authorized representative

4. Register with the Commercial Registry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The founders must register with the Commercial Registry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry via the one-stop-shop at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The following documents must be submitted:

  • Completed and signed application form by the managers and representatives
  • Chamber of Commerce authorized signatories form
  • Authenticated articles of association
  • Copies of authorized signatories’ ID cards

Time: 1 day

Cost:

Chamber of Commerce registry: QAR 2,200

Commercial Registration: QAR 500 – QAR 5000

5. Obtaining trade and signage licenses from the Municipality of Doha

A Trade License must be obtained through submitting the following documents:

  • Commercial Registration Certificate
  • Signed lease agreement translated to Arabic
  • Picture of the premise
  • Copy of the title deed

A Signage License must be obtained through submitting the following documents:

  • Sketch of the logo that will be placed on the office entrance, including size and name of company in Arabic and English
  • Picture of the premise’s exterior

The Municipality of Doha sends inspectors to the premises of the company before granting the Trade License.

Time: 1 day

Cost:

Trade License: QAR 10,020

Signage License: QAR 50 – 150 per square meter

6. Registry of taxes and obtaining a Tax Identification Number (TIN)

Registration of taxes is done through the Tax Department of the Ministry of Finance. The following documents must be submitted:

  • Articles of Association
  • Copies of the ID cards of the company founders and partners
  • The Commercial Registration of the company
  • Trade License
  • Certificate of the company premise’s registration
  • Certificate of appointment of the company auditors

Once the business obtains a trade license, the company may commence business operations, but the registration of taxes must be lodged at the Tax Department within one month of incorporation.

Time: 1 day

Cost: no charge

7. Company Seal

A company seal must be made for the use of stamping documents prior to submission to governmental agencies.

Time: 2 days

Cost: Average of QAR 150

Advantages

  • Shareholders’ losses are limited to their initial investment
  • Partners may divide profits disproportionately to their shareholdings
  • One of the cheaper and faster methods of incorporation

Partnership

A partnership may come in the form of a General Partnership or a Limited Share Partnership Company. The General Partnership is an arrangement where two or more founding members engage in commercial activity in Qatar. Both partners have unlimited liability and the trade name will reflect the names of the partners. In Limited Partnerships, there are one or more joint partners and at least four trustee shareholding partners. The limited partners have a limited liability to only what they have invested, while the joint partners have unlimited liability.

Liability

General Partnerships have joint and unlimited liability for any general partners.

Limited Partnerships have limited liability for the limited partners and joint and several liability for general partners.

Minimum Ownership

There is a maximum foreign ownership cap of 49% for most business entities in Qatar except for certain sectors. At least 51% of the partnership shareholdings must be by a foreign national.

Number of Founding Members

At least 2.

Minimum Capital Requirements

No requirements for minimum capital for General Partnerships.

Minimum share capital of QAR 1,000,000 for Limited Share Partnership Companies.

Procedure

The procedure of incorporating a partnership is as follows:

1. Reserving a partnership name

The founding partners must submit an application for New Company Registration and an appropriate partnership trade name reflecting the main partners to the Commercial Registry and Trademark Department at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The partnership name availability check, reservation and payment can be completed online. Fees differ for Arabic and non-Arabic company names.

Time: 1 day

Cost:

Arabic name: QAR 1000

Non-Arabic name: QAR 1500

2. Opening bank account

The founding partners must open a bank account at a banking institution. Minimum share capital is not required to be deposited for partnerships.

Time: 1 day

Cost: No charge

3. Authenticate the articles of association

The articles of association for the company must be submitted in Arabic in the format of the Ministry of Justice. The official document must be stamped by the Commercial Companies Control Department so that the partners may sign it at the Authentication Department. This is a one-stop-shop authentication process where all relevant signatories must be present.

The articles of association include:

  • Company name
  • Company location
  • Objectives of the company
  • Fixed term of duration
  • Start-up capital
  • Restrictions on the transfer of shares
  • Names of all shareholders
  • Distribution of profits/losses between shareholders
  • Name of persons related to company management
  • Capital structure

Any shareholders who are business entities must provide these documents to the Ministry of Justice prior to signing the Articles of Association:

  • Legalized and authenticated Board/Shareholders Resolution approving incorporation of the company and appointment of representative to sign the Articles of Association
  • Legalized and authenticated Certificate of Incorporation
  • Legalized and authenticated Articles of Association of the entity
  • Passport copy of the authorized representative

4. Register with the Commercial Registry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The founders must register with the Commercial Registry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry via the one-stop-shop at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The following documents must be submitted:

  • Completed and signed application form by the managers and representatives
  • Chamber of Commerce authorized signatories form
  • Authenticated articles of association
  • Copies of authorized signatories’ ID cards

Time: 1 day

Cost:

Chamber of Commerce registry: QAR 2,200

Commercial Registration: QAR 500 – QAR 5000

5. Obtaining trade and signage licenses from the Municipality of Doha

A Trade License must be obtained through submitting the following documents:

  • Commercial Registration Certificate
  • Signed lease agreement translated to Arabic
  • Picture of the premise
  • Copy of the title deed

A Signage License must be obtained through submitting the following documents:

  • Sketch of the logo that will be placed on the office entrance, including size and name of company in Arabic and English
  • Picture of the premise’s exterior

The Municipality of Doha sends inspectors to the premises of the company before granting the Trade License.

Time: 1 day

Cost:

Trade License: QAR 10,020

Signage License: QAR 50 – 150 per square meter

6. Registry of taxes and obtaining a Tax Identification Number (TIN)

Registration of taxes is done through the Tax Department of the Ministry of Finance. The following documents must be submitted:

  • Articles of Association
  • Copies of the ID cards of the company founders and partners
  • The Commercial Registration of the company
  • Trade License
  • Certificate of the company premise’s registration
  • Certificate of appointment of the company auditors

Once the business obtains a trade license, the company may commence business operations, but the registration of taxes must be lodged at the Tax Department within one month of incorporation.

Time: 1 day

Cost: no charge

7. Company Seal

A company seal for the partnership must be made for the use of stamping documents prior to submission to governmental agencies.

Time: 2 days

Cost: Average of QAR 150

Unincorporated Joint Venture

Unincorporated Joint Ventures (UJVs) involve several parties pooling resources together to jointly control and manage a project. Individual contractors and principals may engage together in a project in Qatar for several reasons:

  • The large size and capital requirements of projects in Qatar may be difficult for individual contractors to enter in. Pooling financial and managerial resources will allow these projects to be undertaken.
  • High risk projects may distribute the risk among more parties through a UJV.
  • A UJV can have a single management team which combines the expertise of members.

Liability

Limited Liability.

Minimum Ownership

A UJV does not incorporate a new, separate legal entity. The allocation of liability between the participating members must be indicated in the company Memorandum. Third parties may have a right of action against individual venturers, and not the joint venture itself.

Number of Founding Members

At least 2.

Minimum Capital Requirements

No minimum capital requirements for UJVs.

Although UJVs provide many benefits, the accounting, legal and tax consequences of forming an UJV is complicated. Careful planning must be done to successfully establish a UJV. The process of incorporating a UJV is much more complex than other standard incorporation methods. Professional advice is recommended.

Joint Stock Company

PLC

A joint stock company can be formed with a minimum of five members. Each member may contribute negotiable shares, and have a limited liability to the extent of their investments. Joint Stock Companies (JSCs) incorporated in Qatar must have all Qatari shareholders, while non-Qatari members may subscribe in capital, particularly those who have foreign capital or foreign expertise.

Liability

Limited Liability.

Minimum Ownership

JSCs must have 75% minimum ownership for Qatari nationals.

Number of Founding Members

At least 5.

Minimum Capital Requirements

Public JSC: QAR 10,000,000

Private JSC: QAR 2,000,000

Process

1. Drafting of a memorandum and articles of associations, submitted to the Minister of Economy and Commerce.

2. The documents must be signed by at least five founders.

3. The incorporation is subject to authorization by decree, published in the official gazette.

4. Founders must present a bank certificate proving the subscription of between 10 and 20% of subscribed capital to the Companies Control Department in the Ministry of Economy and Commerce prior to public subscription.

5. Documents must include the company’s trade name, head office, objects, details of members, amount of capital, number and classes of shares, duration and assessment of establishment expenses.

6. At least one auditor must be appointed.

7. The company’s management is determined by a board of directors of between 5 and 11 members.

Outsourcing Employment Through a GEO Employer of Record Service

Whether to incorporate in Qatar and what sort of entity to setup are just two of the many choices companies must make when expanding into a new market.

If the company intends to have staff in Qatar they must also decide whether they will administer that employment internally or use a Global Employment Organization to handle payroll and Employer of Record responsibilities.  A GEO Employer of Record solution is an attractive alternative where

  • the company is looking to setup an office quickly
  • the company wants to work within a defined budget
  • the company wants to limit its initial commitment in Qatar
  • the company needs help with tax, employment, immigration and payroll compliance in Qatar

The complexity of employment regulations in Qatar makes the use of a GEO advisable coupled with local legal counsel to ensure full compliance with employment laws, for example the drafting of local contracts for workers.

Shield GEO provides a comprehensive service in Qatar allowing companies to deploy their staff quickly with reasonable, clearly stated costs and timeframes. The company contracts directly with Shield to employ and payroll their staff on their behalf in Qatar.

Shield GEO then becomes the Employer of Record. Shield GEO assumes the legal responsibility for these employees, sponsoring them on work permits, complying with local employment law and running their monthly payroll. Using Shield GEO is the fastest and most cost effective way to deploy local and foreign workers into Qatar. Read more about outsourced employment through Shield GEO.

  • Qatar Employer of Record Overview

Qatar Employer of Record Overview

  • Qatar Employer of Record Overview

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