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Most people moving to Qatar will need to open a local bank account. Opening a bank account in Qatar is relatively easy, and most of the local banks are used to opening accounts for foreigners due to the country’s large and diverse expat population. Read on to learn about the account opening process, the types of bank accounts available and the recommended banks for expats living in Qatar.
Will I need to open a local bank account in Qatar?
Most expats arriving in Qatar will need to open a local bank account, particularly anyone who is planning to live here for an extended period. A bank account is needed for salary deposits, and to make regular payments while living and working in the country.
Here are some of the reasons why expats in Qatar may require a local bank account:
- Salary deposits. Employers are required by law to pay all salaries and other work-related payments into the employee’s Qatari bank account in Qatari riyals.
- Living expenses. Opening a local bank account in Qatar will make it much easier to manage daily living expenses, pay rent and utility bills, and make day-to-day payments like groceries. Rent and utility bills and club memberships can be easily paid online or via direct debit.
- International money transfers. Many expats will need to send money back to their home country or receive funds from abroad. Having a local bank account will simplify this process and may result in lower fees for currency exchange and international transfers.
- Savings and investments. Those who wish to save money or invest in Qatar or internationally can do so through a local bank account. Banks in Qatar offer various savings accounts, fixed deposits, and other investment options.
- Access to financial services. Local banks in Qatar provide access to a range of financial services, from loans and credit cards to online banking.
- Residence requirements. In some cases, obtaining or renewing a residence permit in Qatar may require proof of a local bank account, especially for expatriates who work and live in the country.
While it is not mandatory for all expatriates to open a bank account in Qatar, most employers and government departments will only make or receive payments from individuals with a local bank account. Having a local bank account in Qatar will make daily life much easier for those living and working in the country.
Types of bank account in Qatar
Before opening a bank account in Qatar, it's important to research the specific account types offered by different banks, compare their features, fees, and interest rates, and choose the one that best suits your financial needs.
Here are some common types of bank accounts found in Qatar:
- Current account or checking account. A current account is a transactional account that allows the account holder to deposit and withdraw funds freely. It often comes with a cheque book and a debit card, making it convenient for day-to-day expenses and bill payments. Most expats will need to open a current account or salary account.
- Savings account. This is a basic account designed for saving money. It typically offers a modest interest rate and allows the holder to deposit and withdraw funds as needed.
- Fixed deposit account. Fixed deposit bank accounts offer higher interest rates compared to savings accounts but require the account holder to lock in their funds for an agreed period, usually ranging from one month to several years.
- Currency accounts. Some banks in Qatar offer accounts denominated in a foreign currency, such as USD, EUR, or GBP. These accounts can be useful for expats and mitigate currency exchange risk.
- Investment accounts. Most retail banks in Qatar offer investment accounts for both locals and expats, but some high-net-worth individuals also choose to open an account with one of the global investment banks within the region. Options include BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and UBS. Minimum balances apply.
- Business accounts. Qatar's banks provide a range of business accounts, including current accounts and savings accounts tailored to meet the financial needs of businesses and corporations operating in the country.
- Joint accounts. Joint accounts allow two or more people to share ownership and access to the same account. They are commonly used by couples, family members, or business partners who want to manage finances together.
- Salary accounts. Many employers require employees to open salary accounts with a specific bank in Qatar. These accounts are used for salary deposits and often come with benefits such as reduced fees and access to credit facilities.
- Islamic accounts. Islamic banks in Qatar offer Sharia-compliant banking products, including savings and current accounts that adhere to Islamic finance principles.
- Online and digital accounts. Today, most banks offer online or digital-only accounts that can be managed entirely through mobile apps or online banking platforms. These accounts typically come with convenient features such as instant transfers and bill payments.
Which are the best banks for expats in Qatar?
There are 20 commercial banks in Qatar, with eight international banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. There are over 200 local branches, which are all overseen by the Qatar Central Bank. Most banks in Qatar offer a variety of account types to cater to the diverse financial needs of local residents and businesses.
Here are some of the more popular options for expats opening a bank account in Qatar.
Qatar National Bank (QNB). Qatar National Bank is the largest and one of the oldest banks in Qatar. It is known for its extensive network of branches and ATMs both in Qatar and internationally. QNB offers a wide range of banking and financial services, including retail banking, corporate banking, and international banking.
Commercial Bank of Qatar. The Commercial Bank of Qatar is one of the leading banks in the country, offering financial products and services to individuals, businesses, and institutions.
Doha Bank. Doha Bank is another major bank in Qatar, providing a wide range of services, including retail and corporate banking. It also has an international presence with branches and subsidiaries in several countries. Website:
Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB). Qatar Islamic Bank is one of the main Islamic banks in Qatar and provides a range of Sharia-compliant banking and financial services.
International banks in Qatar
HSBC. HSBC has a significant presence in Qatar and has operated in the region since 1954, offering a full range of banking and financial services to both retail and corporate clients. HSBC is a popular option for expats and foreigners living in Qatar and has three branches in the country. A bank account with HSBC can easily be opened in advance of moving to Qatar.
Standard Chartered Bank. Standard Chartered operates in Qatar and offers a variety of banking services, including corporate and institutional banking, retail banking and wealth management.
UBS. UBS serves high-net-worth individuals and institutions in Qatar, providing wealth management and investment services.
All banks in Qatar are overseen by the The Qatar Central Bank.
How to open a bank account in Qatar
Opening a bank account in Qatar is a straightforward process for residents and non-residents alike, but there are some specific requirements and procedures to follow. The process can usually be started online, whether the prospective account holder is about to move or has already arrived in the country.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to open a bank account in Qatar:
- Research the various banks and types of account that best suits your financial needs and preferences.
- Gather the documents required for opening a bank account. Most banks will ask for the following:
- Valid passport and two passport photos
- Qatar Residence Permit or Work Permit, and a Qatar ID issued by the Ministry of the Interior
- Proof of residence (such as a utility bill or rental agreement)
- A letter from your employer, confirming your initial monthly salary
- Some banks will require a letter of employment or proof of income from the applicant's employer
- Complete the bank's account application form. This can usually be done online in advance of moving to Qatar, although some expats choose to do this in a branch after arrival where they can be guided through the process.
- Be prepared to make an initial deposit as required by the bank. The minimum balance requirement varies from bank to bank and depends on the type of account.
- The account holder will be asked for their signature and some banks may require biometric verification (such as fingerprint or iris scan) as part of the bank account opening process.
- Once the application is approved, account details will be sent, including the account number and any associated debit or credit cards.
- Most banks in Qatar offer online banking services, which can be set up once the account is opened.
Some FAQs of opening a bank account in Qatar
- Can I open a bank account before arriving in Qatar? Some banks will only allow residents of Qatar to open bank accounts but other banks, such as HSBC and Commercial of Qatar, allow people to apply for a new bank account from your country of origin once the immigration papers are sorted out.
- Is Internet banking possible with banks in Qatar? Yes, nowadays all the banks have online platforms, and internet banking is widespread.
- Can I use ATMs to take cash out from my home bank account? Yes, ATMs can be found throughout Qatar, and cash withdrawals are free.
- What are the typical opening hours for banks in Qatar? Most branches will be open between 8am and 1pm, Sunday to Thursday.
- Is there a minimum salary to open a bank account in Qatar? A minimum monthly salary of around QAR 5,000 is required by some banks. Alternatively new customers can make a one-off deposit. This will depend on the bank, The Commercial Bank of Qatar require QAR 10,000 (October 2023). Deposits can be made in Qatari Riyals or an international currency.
- Can women open a bank account in Qatar? A male expatriate (the head of the household) will usually need to sponsor their wife or child if they want to open a bank account in Qatar. Many local banks offer specially designated bank accounts for women which in some cases can be accessed at special ladies' branches. Women will still need to provide their sponsor's letter.
- Do banks issue cheque/check books? Cheque books are still commonplace in Qatar, and landlords will often ask tenants for post-dated cheques when renting property. Cheques usually take two or three days to clear. Most banking apps allow users to deposit cheques online.
- Are credit and debit cards widely used in Qatar? While more and more businesses now accept debit and credit cards in Qatar, around a half of all payments are made using cash.
- Can expats borrow money in Qatar? It is relativley easy to get a loan when buying a car in Qatar, but a 15% deposit is usually expected, at a minimum. Banks in Qatar also offer personal loans to expats. There is usually a ceiling of QAR 400,000 for expats and the repayments are normally spread over 4 to 5 years.
- Closing a bank account at the end of an assignment. Expats leaving Qatar should start the process of closing their bank account at least a month before their departure date. This can only be done in-branch and foreigners will need to get a no-liabilty letter to confirm the account has been closed and that there are no outstanding debts, otherwise there is a risk of being stopped at the border. Some employers will notify the bank once the contract has been terminated, and all debts will need to be settled before the final salary payment.
Expat Health Insurance
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