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As a country with one of the world’s highest per capita income, Qatar'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 quite easy.
Money in Qatar
The currency used in Qatar is the riyal (QAR), which is subdivided into 100 dirhams. Riyals can be found in the following denominations:
Notes: QAR 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500
Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 dirhams
The riyal is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed rate of 1 USD to 3.64 QAR for the Qatar Central Bank's sales and purchases of USD with banks that operate in the country. New arrivals can easily get local cash at the airport and banks. Remember, though, that when exchanging currency, banks charge for the service, so the rate may vary.
Banking in Qatar
The banking industry is supervised by the Qatar Central Bank, which oversees commercial banks such as Ahli Bank, the Commercial Bank of Qatar, Doha Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, International Bank of Qatar and the Qatar National Bank (QNB). These offer comprehensive online banking services.
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 would 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 or 9am and 1pm, but many are also open in the afternoon and on Saturday mornings.
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 generally need to apply in person with the following:
- Valid residency/work permit and Qatar ID card
- A certificate/letter from the Qatari employer stating monthly salary
- Banks may require either a minimum balance or salary, often of QAR 5,000 or more
- Some banks require passport-sized 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.
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 needs assistance.
Credit cards and ATMs
ATMs are readily available in Qatar and, more often than not, accept both local and international credit- and debit cards. While most ATMs function 24 hours, it may not be guaranteed, and using ATMs operated by banks other than one's own or using a credit card to withdraw cash normally incurs extra charges.
Taxes in Qatar
One of the great attractions of relocating to Qatar is that no personal or income tax is levied against individual salaries or allowances, even as an expat. This means that, while in Qatar, an expat's gross salary will be paid to them without any deductions whatsoever.
However, 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 be liable to pay tax in their country of origin on the money earned in Qatar. We recommend that expats working in Qatar check this online and consult with tax specialists if necessary.
While income is not taxed, certain goods are, including tobacco, carbonated- and energy drinks, and special-purpose goods such as alcohol. This means the prices of these items are much higher, affecting the cost of living.