Banking, Money and Taxes in Qatar


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The Riyal (QAR), the currency in QatarAs the country with the world’s highest per capita income in 2012 (according to the IMF), the emirate'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 easy.
 

Money in Qatar


The currency used in Qatar is the riyal (QAR), which is subdivided into 100 dirhams. The riyal is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 1 USD to 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

 
The industry is supervised by the Qatar Central Bank, which oversees commercial banks such as Ahli Bank, the Commercial Bank of Qatar, Doha Bank, Qatar International Islamic Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, International Bank of Qatar and the 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, with banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank having 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 will, more often than not, 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 one's own, or using a credit card to withdraw cash, will incur extra 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. Expats will need to apply in person with the following documents:
  • Passport, plus copies of information and visa pages
  • Residency/work permit and copies
  • A 'no objection' letter from the expat's Qatari employer, stating their monthly salary (a helpful tip: it's often easier to open an account with the same bank as the employer)
  • Some banks require two passport photos
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.
 
The three most common types of bank account in Qatar:
  • Ideal for everyday use, current accounts offer low interest rates, unlimited access and minimal monthly fees (and require a minimum balance of 3,000 QAR)
  • Savings accounts have slightly better interest rates but more limited access to funds, and a limited amount of free transactions every month. They require a minimum balance of 5,000 QAR to be maintained.
  • Fixed-deposit accounts are ideal for long-term saving schemes and offer good interest rates but access to funds until the investment has matured is very limited, and they require an initial deposit of at least 20,000 QAR.
  • 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 even have on-site banks.
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 is in need of assistance.
 

Taxes in Qatar

 
One of the great attractions of relocating to Qatar is that no personal or income tax is levied against individual salaries, even as an expat. This means that, at least while in Qatar, an expat's gross salary will be paid to them without any deductions whatsoever.
 
However, before getting too excited, 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 have to pay tax in their country of origin on the money earned in Qatar.


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