Obtaining a Qatari Driving Licence
New residents wishing to drive here need a Qatari driving licence. The procedure is simple; go to one of the registered driving schools in Doha and there you can complete all the paperwork and receive instruction, if necessary, in the same place.
Some national driving licences are recognised as valid by Qatar and you need only take an eye test before you are issued with a valid Qatari licence and you are set to go.
In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, certain professions (approximately 240) will preclude you from gaining a licence. However, if you have the personal sponsorship of a Qatari national, or your spouse, then your profession is not important.
The police have offices in all the driving schools and you can even take your eye test there.
You are allowed to drive with your national driving licence (if it is recognised by the State of Qatar) for one week, or alternatively you may use an international driving licence for up to six months, after which it is compulsory to have a valid Qatari licence. To use an international driving permit issued by your country of origin, you must also hold a valid driving licence that is recognised by the State of Qatar.
If your ‘home’ licence is not considered valid by the authorities you will have to take a driving test.
For those applying for a driving licence for the first time, as well as those who have to take a test:
• The minimum age for learning to drive in Qatar is 18.
• You will need four passport-size photos (with a white background), your Qatari ID, your eye test receipt, and a copy of your sponsor company ID, plus a letter of permission from your sponsor. This includes female applicants sponsored by their husbands and men sponsored by their wives. Please check the current requirements with your driving school upon application.
• Complete an application form at a driving school
• If you are learning to drive for the first time, enrolling for a full driving course will cost in the region of QAR3,500. These courses include 50 hours of driving lessons and 10 of theory.
• Drivers who have licences which cannot be directly changed to a Qatari licence can choose from a ‘half course’ (20 hours practical, 10 hours theory, QAR2,900) or a refresher course customised to your needs.
• There are separate courses for heavy-duty vehicles, and for motorcycles.
• There is a charge of QAR50 per test.
• All who wish to get a licence must enrol themselves in either a half course or a full course.
• Licences are for manual or automatic cars. If you hold a manual licence you may drive an automatic, but not vice versa.
The Driving Test
To get your driving licence, you will have to pass the following tests:
Theory test: The test is taken digitally and applicants need to score at least 18 out of 20. The test comprises 20 multiple-choice questions, many of which deal with traffic laws.
L parking: This is the first test you do outside in the yard, and you make a right turn up the slope.
Box or perpendicular parking: The box parking is the second test done in the yard. It’s like parking in a regular parking lot.
After the Traffic Department completely automated the Parking and L tests for getting a driving licence, there is no room for any complaint of unfairness in evaluation from trainees. It is based on land sensors and surveillance cameras used inside and outside the vehicle.
Road test: If you pass your theory and parking tests, your examiner will take you out of the yard testing grounds onto the real road to test your proficiency. You may also be asked to do a hill-start before leaving the yard. In order to develop the highest standards of transparency and eliminate complaints from trainees who fail driving tests, smart cars have been introduced in some driving schools.
Once you have passed your driving test, your driving licence will be issued while you wait. A licence for non-Qataris will cost QAR250 and is valid for five years.
Note that all transactions at the Traffic Department must be paid for using either a credit or debit card or by using the Ministry of Interior eCASH card.
A temporary Qatari licence
Apply in person at the Traffic Police office in one of the driving schools within seven days of your arrival in Qatar. You will need your valid national driving licence and passport along with copies, and three passport-size photographs with a white background. If you need to wear glasses while driving you must be wearing glasses in the photos. The cost runs to QAR10 for the card and QAR150 for the application. You will also need to take an eye test, usually available at the driving school, and you may have to do a half course.
Temporary Qatari driving licences are valid for the duration of three months but may be extended on application.
International driving permit
To obtain an international driving permit you must be in possession of a valid Qatari driving licence. Take this, your passport, two passport-size photos and QAR150 to any reputable travel agency or driving school.
Getting your car tested for a road permit
Vehicles more than three years old must pass an annual inspection before the Traffic Department will renew the road permit or estimara. New private vehicles will be issued with a registration valid for three years.
Take your car to a Fahes testing site. Mandatory periodical vehicle inspections for all applicable vehicles is carried out at fixed and mobile vehicle inspection centres. Fixed stations are open from Saturday – Thursday 7 am – 4:45 pm (Wadi Al Banat & Mesaimeer West 6 am – 9:30 pm); mobile stations open from Saturday – Thursday 7 am – 3 pm. A map of Fahes stations can be found on fahes.com.qa, to help you find the station nearest to you. Check the website for up to date timings.
Since 1 July 2018, the fee for inspecting a private car has increased from QAR75 to QAR150, and you need to take your expiring estimara with you. Check with the main switchboard in case of changes in timing. Toll free 800 3835, 4021 7777, fahes.com.qa
In addition to a satisfactory vehicle report, make sure that you renew your insurance policy as there has to be a full year’s insurance on the vehicle at the time you take it for the estimara. Take your renewed policy and the vehicle report to your local Traffic Police and they will issue your new estimara, though now you could have everything done at one location with Fahes.
The cost of renewing a driving licence is QAR250, in addition to a QAR20 delivery fee, if applicable. A driving licence may be renewed only within six months ahead of or upon its expiry date. Renewing your licence is simple and easy and can be processed through Hukoomi. Your new licence will be delivered to your office by QPost. You can also renew a driving licence via the Metrash2 app.
You will be asked to disclose any changes to your health that may affect your ability to drive since your last licence application. If, for instance, you have been prescribed glasses, you should apply through the Traffic Department and retake the eye test.
The Traffic Department is located on Khalifa Street, Madinat Khalifa and is open daily
7 am – 11 am and 4 pm – 7 pm, except Friday. hukoomi.qa, gov.qa
Metrash – SMS Service
Metrash is a free electronic service provided for the public by the Ministry of Interior. Residents of Qatar can receive an SMS alerting them to traffic violations, driving licence expiry and car registration expiry.
Metrash 2 With Metrash 2, citizens and residents can access more than 150 services of the Ministry within and outside the country. Smartphone users can download Metrash 2 on the App Store and Play Store. Activation of Metrash 2 services requires that there be a mobile number registered in the applicant’s name. The service can be activated via SMS or a Self Service Kiosk.
Smartphone users who have the Ministry of Interior’s Metrash 2 application can send photos of traffic violators directly to authorities.
Log in and go to ‘Communicate with us’ and then click on ‘Contact us’. Enable GPS on your phone, select ‘Take photo’, write your comments and then click on the ‘Send’ button. It will reach the concerned department.
For support and enquiries, call 234 2000, moi.gov.qa
Traffic Law No 19 of 2007 introduced a system of tough penalties for traffic offences. They include points and fines for speeding, parking violations and using a hand‑held phone while driving. These, and other measures for road traffic safety, are a priority for the government as part of Qatar National Road Safety Strategy 2013–2022.
The second five-year plan (2018–2022) was launched at a glittering ceremony at the InterContinental Doha led by the Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, HE Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is also Chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC). The previous day Brigadier Mohammed Al Malki, Senior Vice Chairman of the NTSC, had announced the successful conclusion of the first five-year plan (2013–2017) of the Strategy; in raw terms, the number of deaths on our roads was reduced from 235 in 2013 to 178 in 2016. When the final figures for 2017 are released it is confidently predicted that the downward trend will continue. In terms of deaths per 100,000 of population, the rate was more than halved, from 14 to 6.93; this seems an encouraging achievement, considering the rapid increase in both the population and the amount of traffic now on our roads.
The main causes of road accidents continue to be reckless and negligent driving, dangerous overtaking, illogical lane changing, especially at intersections; and using the phone while driving.
Road rage is on the increase in Qatar. Motorists are warned to be aware of drivers ‘tailgating’ and flashing their lights to force the driver ahead to move out of the way, even if there is no space to safely move into. Drivers changing lanes without signalling are a constant problem and drivers often weave through the traffic, continuously changing lanes at high speed. You may experience bullying tactics including overtaking from the right and then slowing down as a ‘punishment’ to the driver who failed to move out of the way.
Cameras and radars are installed at intersections in an effort to catch those who race through red lights. The installation of many more is planned, including sophisticated advanced radar systems which allow for the recording of accidents and booking of reckless drivers.
The penalty for not stopping at a red light is QAR6,000 and seven penalty points. Traffic lights flash on green before changing to amber and red. At roundabouts, between signals changing from green to red, they will flash amber for a time for drivers to proceed with caution.
Minor accidents If you are involved in a minor traffic accident within Doha city limits, you must move the vehicles involved to a safe place. Get the information of the driver of the other vehicle(s), ie name, ID number, car registration number, insurance details and mobile number.
Drivers can now skip a trip to the Traffic Dept by reporting the incident via the Metrash2 app. Either of the car owners can report the accident, giving their Qatar ID numbers, car registration numbers and providing photos of both cars.
Since May 2016, drivers also have the option of going to one of five new traffic investigation offices at insurance companies.
Major accidents If anyone is injured, neither of the vehicles may be moved and the police are to be notified immediately (dial 999). You will be required to report, with your documentation, to the relevant traffic department (you will be advised which one by the attending patrol officers).
Be aware that terms/conditions of Comprehensive and Third Party insurance policies vary depending on the underwriter of the policy. It is advisable that you check your policy documents to ensure you are sufficiently covered in the event of an accident. If your car is in the garage for over 15 days after an accident it is mandatory for insurance companies to provide a substitute car; this rule only applies to those cars waiting for genuine imported parts.
For a list of Traffic Violations, and the penalty for infringements, go to moi.gov.qa
To check violations registered to your car, go to moi.gov.qa/TFCViolations or sign up for notifications on Metrash2 via SMS.
We also found on the internet (point2.doc) what seems to be an accurate list:
Some laws to be aware of are:
• The driver and front-seat passenger must both wear a seat belt.
• It is illegal for children under the age of
10 years to travel in the front seat.
• Intoxicated drivers are subject to stringent punishment, including deportation.
• Always carry your driving licence with you
while driving, with your vehicle registration and insurance documents also readily available.
Dust storms Dust-laden winds called shamal can be quite fierce and sudden, tending to blow between March and August, and can seriously compromise visibility on the roads, making driving extremely hazardous. When driving in a dust storm, turn on dipped headlights – not fog or hazard lights – and drive slowly. Use the centre line or the edge of the road as a guide.-
Fog may occur between November and January and can drastically reduce visibility. Slow down and use dipped headlights and your fog lights.
Rain/thunderstorms There can be a fair amount of rain during the winter months, especially during December and January – limiting visibility, causing flooding on some roads, and reducing sandy areas to mud-baths. Be especially vigilant during the first rainfalls of the season as any oil spills on the road make driving particularly treacherous.
Beware of drivers using their hazard lights while driving in fog, mist, rain and dust.
Petrol Stations and Other Services
WOQOD stations, in addition to providing fuel, offer a wide range of services such as window cleaning, car-washing and oil change; there is a convenience store (Sidra) and usually an internet café, ATM, Ooredoo payment machine, fast food and even a children’s play area. Stations now cover the country, and you can pay by card or cash.
A few non-WOQOD stations may only provide fuel, but other small independent companies can easily be found for other services such as checking tyre pressure, repairing tyres (aptly named ‘punctury’), oil and water levels, and car wash facilities.