The legal age to drive in Qatar is 18, you must have a valid driver’s licence, car insurance and up-to-date registration for the car which must be renewed annually. All documents should be kept on your person while you are driving at all times.
Everyone inside the car must wear a seatbelt. Children under the age of ten are prohibited from sitting in the front seat. Speaking on the phone while driving is against the law and and there is a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. The legal limit is 0.0mg.
Breaking any of these driving regulations in Qatar can result in fines, between 300 and 6000 Qatari Rial (76€ - 1523€), and points on your licence. If your penalties amount to 14 points, your licence will be suspended for 3 months. Repeat offenders will receive a lower point allowance, longer suspensions and finally this could result in a complete ban of their licence.
The speed limits in Qatar are generally 60-100 kilometers per hour on city streets and a maximum of 120 kilometers per hours on highways. Qatar is a well developed country, however currently it is undergoing construction to its road system, this means that finding roads closed or blocked is a regular occurrence, and should be something you are on the lookout for.
With the governments commitment to crack down on road violation there are many speed cameras and radars to be found, specifically at intersections. There are also a number of plain-clothed police officers to monitor traffic at roundabouts and highways, so it is a good idea to stick to road regulations and not risk being fined, no matter how late you may be.
However, even with the government's attempt to reduce traffic violations, driving in Qatar is often described as chaotic and aggressive. There is a local rumour that most of the cars are painted white, not to reflect the heat from the sun, but because white is the cheapest option for covering scratches. This means that driving in Qatar can be risky and stressful for expats and it should be something to consider before venturing onto the roads.
Driving Licences in Qatar
All driving licences from foreign countries are valid in Qatar. However, if you are planning on driving in the country you must first visit the Traffic Department of the Ministry of Interior, located on Khalifa Street in Doha, within 15 days of arrival to verify that your licence is valid.
Those who have an approved licence can drive in Qatar for one week, if they wish to drive for a longer period of time they must apply for a temporary licence or a Qatar driving licence. An international driver’s licence is valid for 6 months or until your residence permit is issued, after which it must be replaced with a Qatar driver’s licence.
To apply for a temporary licence you must visit the Traffic Department of the Ministry of Interior. You should take with you: your valid driver’s licence, your passport (and a photocopy) and 3 passport sized photographs of yourself. This licence is valid for 3 months but can be extended once it has expired however once your residence permit is issued you must apply for a Qatar drivers licence. Temporary licence holders are restricted to driving hire cars only, as most insurance providers will not cover drivers with these licences in private vehicles.
If you wish to convert your current driving licence to a Qatar driver’s licence you will need to hold a Qatar residence permit. Residents from certain countries will have to take a driving test in order to convert their licence. If you hold either a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE) licence, or a licence from any of the following countries, you are permitted to obtain a full Qatar Driving Licence without having to pass a test: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA and Vatican City.
If you are not able to convert your licence you must complete 15 hours of theory lessons before taking your driving test. To apply for your licence you will need to take, your current valid driver’s licence, a letter of no-objection from your sponsor (in Arabic), a copy of the trade licence from your sponsoring company, a copy of your sponsor’s ID, your passport plus a copy, 3 passport sized photographs, your Qatar ID card and your completed application form in Arabic.
Translation typing services are available close to the Ministry. You will also have to complete an eye test. Once all this is completed you will be given your new licence which is valid for 5 years.
If you did not own a driver’s licence prior to your move, you must be 18 years of age to begin learning. You must attend an authorised driving school and complete a minimum of 15 hours of theory lessons and 35 hours of practical lessons before you can take the test. The test includes 4 parts, theoretical oral exam, reverse parking, straight parking and a road test. These are usually all completed on the same day with you being informed after each section whether you have passed or failed. Failure of one test means that you will be unable to continue to the next stage and you normally have to wait around a month before you can retake the test.. If you succeed, your licence will be issued immediately.
Authorised Driving schools in Doha include: