- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Qatar Guide (PDF)
After securing accommodation, buying a car in Qatar will probably be an expat’s most expensive decision. Despite the country working at a furious pace to improve public transport infrastructure, having access to a vehicle in the emirate is a necessity for most.
Employment packages usually provide a transport allowance, but this doesn't necessarily include financing an automobile purchase. We recommend that expats who don't get any sort of allowance should make sure their salary at least 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 select a vehicle 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 venture into the desert that a four-wheel-drive vehicle allows. Others prefer easy-to-navigate and easy-to-park smaller cars. No matter an expat's preferences, there are no shortage of options 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 be bought directly 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 also good places to look at.
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 inspection are also good ideas. In Doha, many mechanics around Salwa Road, near the Industrial Area, provide this service at reasonable prices.
To finance the cost of the car, dealerships offer 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. Still, an expat's best bet is generally a car loan from banks in Qatar.
Banks, including Doha Bank, QNB and HSBC, offer varying loan packages for purchasing a vehicle, but tend to be limited to cars that are less than four years old. Qatari nationals are normally given higher loans than expats as well as longer repayment options. Still, provided expats meet their bank’s eligibility criteria, they can agree to repay the car loan in flexible monthly instalments, usually up to four years.
Used cars are often paid for in full at the time of purchase, though loans for both new and used vehicles are available. There are both pros and cons to buying new or used cars, but the most suitable option 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 histories of accidents, so it’s useful to ensure the car is certified by an accredited company.
Process of buying a car in Qatar
We recommend budgeting and planning finances before starting to search for a vehicle. This helps when deciding on the type of vehicle to buy, applying for a car loan and giving a down payment to the car seller and then monthly repayments thereafter.
Regardless of the car an expat buys, they will need to register the car at the traffic department and have a valid 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. There are no designated insurers for women or expats.
►For more about getting around, see Transport and Driving in Qatar
"The public transport in Qatar is excellent in terms of cleanliness, drivers and new vehicles, but it’s still limited and doesn’t cover all areas. I’d recommend buying or renting a car in Qatar." Read more in our expat interview with Rima, an expat living in Doha.
Are you an expat living in Qatar?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Qatar. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Alexandria was a research scientist and the lab manager of a small biotechnology company based in Doha, Qatar. She was born and raised in the USA and moved to Doha, via a 10 year stint in London, to pursue her career. She is married but moved to Qatar on her own, as there were not many job opportunities for her husband, and although this is not the most convenient of situations, it works for now.
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