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Opening a bank account in Qatar is a relatively easy process – as long as you know what is expected of you. In this post, we’ll look at what you need to know about opening a bank account here, including what documentation you’ll need to provide and what types of accounts are available.

Do you need to open a bank account in Qatar?

If you are living and working in Qatar, you will need a Qatari bank account. A few years ago, Qatar introduced its Wage Protection System, which stipulates that all workers employed in Qatar must have their wages paid into a Qatari bank account in Qatari Riyals.

Aside from the legal side of it though, having a Qatari bank account simply makes life easier. Having a transaction account for example, will give you access to a Visa or Mastercard debit card, which allows you to withdraw cash at ATMs, to pay for items in person at the checkout, and to buy stuff online.

What do you need to open a bank account in Qatar?

Opening a bank account in Qatar is usually pretty easy – but you will be expected to provide certain documentation. As an expat, you will typically need to provide:

  • Your passport, plus copies of the information and visa pages.
  • Your residency/work permit, plus copies.
  • A ‘no objection’ letter from your Qatari employer, stating your monthly salary.

Some banks may also ask you to provide:

  • Two passport photos.
  • Your tenancy agreement to establish your residential address.

Once your application has been approved, the bank will provide you with a letter for your employer, confirming that they will receive your salary payments into the new account.

What happens if you don’t have a residency permit? As bank accounts are only offered to expats who hold a residency permit, you must be a dependent of someone who has a residency permit if you don’t have one yourself. Then, you simply need to get permission from the permit holder to allow you to open an account.

Which bank should you choose?

Just like home, there are a number of banking options to choose from in Qatar. The banking industry is supervised by the Qatar Central Bank, which oversees local commercial banks such as Ahli BankCommercial Bank of QatarDoha BankQatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB)Qatar Islamic BankInternational Bank of Qatar and the Qatar National Bank (QNB).

Most local banks have services in both English and Arabic, and offer account types you would be familiar with at home.

You may also choose from a range of international banks, such as Arab Bank, Bank Saderat Iran, Barclays Bank, BNP Paribas, HSBC Bank Middle East, Mashreq Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and United Bank Limited (UBL). If you already bank with one of these banks at home, sticking with them can provide an easy way to manage your finances as you transition to Qatar.

On the other hand, if you want to open a new account in Qatar, you may want to check with your employer before doing so, as they may be able to guide you through the process. You may also benefit from favourable terms by opting for your employer’s bank of choice.

What should you look for in a bank account?

Comparing the options on offer can help you make the right decision. Just as you would at home, find out what products and services are available, and choose the one that best suits your needs.

For example, you may choose to bank with Commercial Bank of Qatar to take advantage of its special package for expats. Helping to simplify your transition, it offers perks such as:

  • Free QAR 2,000 pre-loaded onto a Visa Infinite Credit Card when you arrive,
  • Free mobile phone and SIM,
  • Free executive service to find a home,
  • Free welcome kit,
  • Free monthly international money transfers,
  • Immediate approvals on loan applications,
  • The opportunity to remit money to your new account right away,
  • Access to a dedicated Personal Relationship Manager.

Can you open an account before you arrive in Qatar?

Some banks allow you to open an account before you arrive in Qatar, but you will usually be asked to provide certain documentation to support your application, either from home or when you get to Qatar.

For example, the Commercial Bank account mentioned above allows foreigners to apply before they arrive in Qatar, or within three months of their arrival.

Types of Banking Products

In terms of everyday banking, there are three main types of accounts to choose from in Qatar:

  • Current accounts allow for day-to-day access to funds, and generally have no monthly fees as long as there is a minimum balance kept in the account.
  • Savings accounts typically offer a higher rate of interest, but access to funds may be limited and a minimum account balance may be required.
  • Fixed-deposit accounts are used for long term saving, providing higher rates of interest with limited or no access to funds until the account matures.

You may also be able to apply for other banking products such as credit cards and loans. Check with your bank to see what’s on offer, and what application criteria applies.