Buying a Car in Qatar

After securing accommodation, buying a car in Qatar will probably be an expat’s most demanding and expensive decision.

Given the lack of public transport, having access to a vehicle in the emirate is a necessity and most employment packages provide a transportation allowance rather than financing an automobile purchase. Expats unlucky enough to have neither should make sure their salary covers the cost of a vehicle and insurance.

Buying a new or used car in Qatar is not as difficult as one might imagine, but it does take time to make a selection and sort out all of the paperwork. Various cars can be found, from hatchbacks to SUVs, both old and new. Some prefer the safety and the chance to go desert driving that a four-wheel drive provides. Others prefer easy-to-navigate smaller cars. No matter an expat's preferences, options are aplenty and petrol is cheap.

New and used cars in Qatar

Prices of new cars are not nearly as inflated as the prices of other imported items in Qatar. Asian brands such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan are economical, and getting spare parts for these makes is easy. Luxury brands such as Mercedes and BMW are available too but are more expensive. Used cars are, of course, more affordable.

New cars can directly be bought from dealerships including Honda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes, Volvo, and even Ferrari or Rolls Royce. This is a straightforward process that will be familiar to many expats. Used cars can be bought from a dealer or directly from the owner. Online portals are good places to look too.

Expats should ask questions, go for a test drive and try to negotiate a better price for any car that interests them. Asking for the service history and taking it to a reliable garage for an inspection are also good ideas. A number of mechanics in Salwa Road, near the Industrial Area, provide this service at reasonable prices.

Most banks in Qatar offer car loans of up to two years, while dealerships have loan options that often include a large down payment followed by three or four monthly instalments. Alternatively, some companies offer loans that are deducted from their employee’s monthly salary.

Used cars are generally paid for in full at the time of purchase. There are both pros and cons to buying new or used cars, and the most suitable option always depends on an expat’s individual circumstances. New cars come with a dealer warranty and will be in mint condition but will be much more expensive. Given the high turnover rate of expats in Qatar, there are great deals on used cars and paying the high prices of new cars can be unnecessary. That said, used cars often come with mysterious histories, and a good rule of thumb is to look for vehicles formerly owned by female expats, who tend to be gentler than the average Qatari teenage boy, for example.

Process of buying a car in Qatar

Regardless of the car an expat buys, they will need to register the car at the traffic department, a driver’s licence and car insurance to legally be able to drive in Qatar.

With new cars, dealerships often assist with insurance and vehicle registration. When buying a used car, most people use the same insurer as the previous owner to save time and effort.

Driving without car insurance in Qatar is illegal and, especially given the high rate of traffic accidents, to do so would be foolish.

Insurance premiums are based on the value of the car (as determined by the insurer) and are paid annually. Local insurance companies include Qatar Insurance Company, Doha Insurance Company, Qatar Islamic Insurance Company, Qatar General Takaful and Al Khaleej Insurance; there are no designated insurers for women or expats.