Buying a Car in Qatar

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Buying a car in Qatar
After securing accommodation, buying a car in Qatar will probably be an expat’s next most demanding decision and expense. Given the lack of public transport options, having access to your own vehicle in the emirate is basically a necessity and, while some lucky individuals may be appointed a company car, the vast majority of employment packages will rather provide a transportation allowance, either monthly instalments or as one lump sum, to finance an automobile purchase.  
Expats unlucky enough to be promised neither should make sure that their salary more than adequately covers the cost of a vehicle and insurance.
Buying a car in Qatar, either new or used, is not as difficult as one might imagine, but it will take some time to make a selection and get all of the paperwork sorted out. 

A wide variety of cars can be found on the archipelago, from tiny hatchbacks to massive SUVs, and from older models to newly released, top-of-the-line automobiles. Some individuals may prefer the illusion of safety that a slightly larger 4x4 provides, as well as the days of dune bashing and desert driving that such a car allows. Others prefer easy-to-navigate smaller cars.

No matter what an expat's preference is, options are aplenty and, what’s more, petrol is cheap.

New cars vs. used cars in Qatar

Prices of new cars are reasonable, and not nearly as inflated as the prices of some imported items in Qatar.  
As in most countries, popular Asian brands such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan will be very economical, and it’s often easier to obtain spare parts for these makes. European luxury brands such as Mercedes and BMW are also on offer, but will be much more expensive. Used cars will, of course, be more affordable.

New cars can be bought directly from the dealership, and expats can take their pick from many well-recognised makes and models, including Honda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes, Volvo, and even Ferrari or Rolls Royce. Buying directly from a dealership is a straightforward process, as would probably expected in one's home country.  
Used cars can either be bought from a dealer or directly from the owner. A good place to start looking for used cars is via any of the online virtual marketplaces or classified directories that have popped up. 

Used car portals for Qatar

  • generally lists cars for sale by the owners.  
  • feature cars being sold from both private owners and dealerships.  
In both cases, expats shouldn't be afraid to ask questions, go for a test drive and try to negotiate a better price. In the case of a used car, ask how often the previous owner serviced the vehicle, and do take the vehicle to a reliable garage for an inspection. Salwa Road, near the Industrial Area, hosts a number of mechanics happy to provide such a service for a reasonable price.
Most banks in Qatar will offer car loans, usually up to two years, and dealerships will also have loan options, which often include one large down payment followed by three to four monthly instalments. Alternatively, some companies will offer loan schemes that then deduct monthly payments from the buyer's 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 option most suitable for an expat will always depend upon individual circumstances.
New cars will come with a dealer warranty, won’t have suffered any wear and tear from the desert, and will be in mint condition. They will, however, be much more expensive.
Given the high turnover rate of expats in Qatar, some great used car deals are available, and purchasing something for a high price right off the lot is often unnecessary. That said, used cars often come with mysterious histories, and a good rule of thumb is to try and find a vehicle formerly owned by an ‘expat lady driver’, as these drivers tend to be more gentle than, say, the average Qatari teenage boy.

Process of buying a car in Qatar

Regardless of whether or not the car an expat buys is new or used, they will absolutely need to be in possession of three things to be able to drive legally in Qatar – a driving licence, car insurance and the vehicle’s registration obtained from the traffic department.
If buying a new car, often the dealership will assist in appointing an insurer and handling the paperwork for the vehicle’s registration. When buying a used car, most people go with the same insurer as the previous owner as it saves time and effort.

Driving without car insurance in Qatar is illegal, and given the high rate of traffic accidents in the emirate, to do so would not only be a criminal offense, it would be incredibly foolish.
Insurance premiums are based on the value of the car (as determined by the insurer) and are paid annually. Some of the larger insurers in the country are 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.
Depending on the year, for a mid-range 4x4 you can expect to pay around 3000 to 4000 QAR per year. The fee for registering the car at the traffic department is also paid annually, which can be as much as 300 QAR. As of 2013, the initial registration for a new car is 100 QAR.

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