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; you can also 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 only (seven days from arrival).
You can alternatively 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.
Temporary Qatari licences
If you wish to drive for longer than a week you need to apply for a temporary 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. Fees: QAR10 for the card, 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 three months, but may be extended on application.
Holders of international and temporary licences are restricted to driving rental cars only. Driving without a licence of any kind is a criminal offence.
The Traffic Department headquarters at Khalifa Street, Madinat Khalifa is open daily (except Friday) 7 am – 11 am/4 pm – 7 pm.
Converting a non-approved licence
If your home country’s 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. Check up to date requirements when applying at your driving school.
• Complete an application form at a driving school (see Useful Numbers in this section).
• If you are learning to drive for the first time,
a full driving course will cost around 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 those 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: A digital test; applicants need at least 18 correct from the 20 multiple-choice questions, many of which deal with traffic laws.
L parking: The first test taken outside in the yard, with a right turn up the slope.
Box or perpendicular parking: The second test done in the yard, similar to parking in a regular 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. The licence fee for non-Qataris is QAR250 and is valid for five years.
Note: All transactions at the Traffic Department must be paid for using a credit/debit card, or the Ministry of Interior eCASH card (see Living in Qatar in the Discovering Qatar section for information about eCASH cards).