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.

Opening a bank account in Qatar

For those who don't go the international account route, opening a bank account in Qatar is a relatively simple, stress-free process. Expats will need to apply with a 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.

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 

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.

Excise taxes

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.

Expat Health Insurance

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Cigna Global Health Insurance

With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.

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