Banking, Money and Taxes in Qatar
Money in Qatar
The currency used in Qatar is the riyal (QR or QAR), which is subdivided into 100 dirhams. The riyal is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 1 USD: 3.64 QAR, and can be found in the following denominations:
- Notes: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500
- Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 (1, 5 and 10 dirham coins are not often found in circulation)
Banking in Qatar
Along with the industry supervisor, Qatar Central Bank, reliable commercial banks include Ahli Bank, Commercial Bank of Qatar, Doha Bank, Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB), Qatar Islamic Bank, International Bank of Qatar and Qatar National Bank (QNB). Expats are advised to approach one of these institutions when looking to open a Qatari bank account.
Most local banks have services in both English and Arabic, and offer the familiar account types found in most global destinations.
Alternatively, expats can open an international account for use in Qatar; both HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank have established a presence in the country. This kind of account may be of benefit to those who’d like to consider offshore account options, or who already have an account with one of the service providers in their home country. Some expats also report that they prefer the convenience and security of having their finances centralised in this way.
Banks in Qatar are generally open from Sunday to Thursday between 7.30am and 1pm, but many are also open in the afternoon and on Saturday mornings. Downtown Qatar National Bank branches are usually open on Fridays and Saturdays.
ATMs are readily available in Qatar, and more often than not, will accept both local and international credit and debit cards. Note that 24-hour access to ATMs is not always guaranteed, and that using ATMs operated by banks other than your own, or using a credit card to withdraw cash, will incur charges.
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. You will need to go into the bank yourself with the following documents:
- Passport, plus copies of information and visa pages
- Residency/work permit and copies
- A 'no objection' letter from your Qatari employer, stating your monthly salary (a helpful tip: often it is much easier to open an account at the same bank as your employer)
- Two passport photos (some banks only)
Once your application has been approved, the bank will provide you with a letter for your employer, confirming that they are happy to receive your salary payments into your new account.
The three most common types of bank account in Qatar are:
- Current accounts, with low interest rates, unlimited access to funds, and little or no monthly fees (provided you keep a minimum balance of 3,000 QR in your account). Ideal for everyday use.
- Savings accounts, with slightly better interest rates, but more limited access to funds, and a limited amount of free transactions every month. You will need to keep a minimum balance of 5,000 QR to maintain your savings account.
- Fixed-deposit accounts, which are ideal for long-term saving schemes. These accounts offer good interest rates but little or no access to funds until the investment has matured, and will require an initial deposit of at least 20,000 QR.
Telephone, mobile and Internet banking are popular in Qatar, with most banks offering these as free services to account holders. Some Qatari banks have drive-in facilities; while some large corporate companies have on-site banks.
Qatar also has an officially-appointed banking ombudsman. If you have a complaint against a bank and are in need of assistance, you can contact Qatar's Central Bank.
Taxes in Qatar
One of the great attractions of relocating to Qatar, is that there is no personal or income tax levied against your salary, even as an expat. This means that, at least while in Qatar, your gross salary will be paid to you without any deductions whatsoever.
However, before getting too excited, expats are strongly advised to research whether there exists a double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) between Qatar and their country of origin; if there isn't, they will have to pay tax in their country of origin on the money they earn in Qatar.