On my travels, I’ve ended up in a load of random places due to flight connections, cheap routes etc. and the whole ridiculous (but nice) fact that it’s often cheaper to take a stop over than it is to fly direct. Such was the case on my first trip to Qatar back in 2011. I’ve now passed through Qatar twice on my travels and was able to get a visa on arrival both times I arrived in Doha. Here’s a guide to getting a Qatar Visa at Doha International Airport.
Arrival at Doha International Airport in Qatar
When you arrive in Doha International Airport, you’ll probably be in one of two situations:
1. In transit waiting for a connecting flight (in which case just head to the transit lounge and bide your time in the airport – currently the airport is bland and bereft of decent facilities except free Wi-Fi, but there’a the new Hamad International Airport coming soon…)
2. Ready to explore Qatar as a tourist/business traveller.
Both times I arrived I was able to get out and see the city of Doha, which is a cool up and coming place given the fact they are competing with cities like Dubai and New York for global recognition, skyscrapers and economy booms.
Plus Qatar will be hosting the 2022 World Cup – a fact you can’t shy away from on your visit. Banners advertising the 2022 World Cup are everywhere – even 11 years before the big event I saw them!!
How to Get a Qatar Visa at Doha International Airport
Once off the flight, you’ll have to board a bus from the plane to the arrivals hall. This is standard procedure in Doha – all incoming flights at present (correct as of December 2013) are landing far away from the actual airport terminal.
The bus will have a few stops – if you need to leave the airport then you’ll need a visa, so head to immigration. There will be a stop for immigration, arrivals and baggage claim and a separate stop for those passengers in transit.
What Nationalities Need a Visa to visit Qatar?
Most nationalities need a Visa for Qatar these days, including me (I travel on Irish and British passports). Visa on arrival applies to the following countries (and a few more):
Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom, France, USA, Canada, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand. EU Countries are included. For these countries there is no need to buy your visa in advance. Just get it on arrival at the airport. As usual, check your own situation before you board or book your flight – every nationality has different visa restrictions, most are fine for Qatar Visas on arrival.
What will you need to get a Qatar Visa at Doha International Airport?
Here are the only things you will need to get a Qatar Visa at Doha International Airport:
1. Yourself (a given).
2. Your valid passport with 6 months to run (from a country that is allowed a visa for Qatar).
3. Proof of your onward flight details (this should be within the next 30 days for most nationalities – it will not always be asked for, but I like to be well prepared so carry it just in case).
4. A Credit Card – Visa or Mastercard (this is essential – payment for a Qatar Visa is by credit card only. Only exceptional cases will it be possible to pay in cash).
There are NO FORMS to fill in, the queues are average and the process is very easy!
How much does a Qatar Visa on Arrival Cost?
As of 1st January 2014, the rate is fixed at 100 Qatari Riyals. This is paid on arrival at the immigration desk by CREDIT CARD ONLY. You will get a receipt for your payment. 100 Qatari Riyals works out at around $27 US Dollars. This is of course, subject to change.
How Long is the Qatar Visa on Arrival Valid For?
Again it will vary depending on your nationality, but on an Irish and British (and a large number of nationalities) you will be granted a 30 day stay. To extend this you’ll have to do so when in the country, or with prior approval for a longer visa.
Other Bits of Information About Qatar
– Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is the first Middle East country to do so.
– Qatar has only one real city – Doha.
– More than half the population live in Doha.
– More than half the population are rumoured to be “ex-pats” from countries such as India, Sri Lanka, England, Australia and USA.
– Qatar is one of the safest countries in the Middle East.
– Like most middle Eastern countries, Qatar prefers debit cards over credit cards
– Currency used in Qatar is the Riyal. As of January 2014, 1 US Dollar is equal to 3.6 Riyals.
– Qatar has only ONE Shop that sells pork and this is available only for non-Muslims.
– Qatar has only ONE Off-licence/Bottle Shop/Liquor Store and this is available only for non-Muslims.
– Qatar has an Irish Pub (it’s inside the Sheraton Hotel!)
– Qatar is ruled by a Sheik and since 2005 has been democratic.
– Qatar’s National Flag looks like the ones behind me in this photo (purple and white):
It’s an easy stop over to do folks and a day or two is enough. I’ve actually spent a total of 4 days in Qatar in my life, but both were stopovers yet I still got to see a good bit of Doha on them. I will write a bit more about Doha at some point, in the meantime, hope this guide helps you all work out your visa situation in time for 2022 World Cup!
George Harrison from the Beatles – While My Qatar Gently Weeps: