Qatar company registration

DOING BUSINESS IN QATAR IN 2022

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Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC efficiently and effectively assists our Clients i) determine what type of business entity to register in Qatar ii) what class of business license to apply for iii) how a Qatari national sponsor will help iv) banking and cash flow considerations v) immigration and recruitment strategies and vi) office rental solutions.

Compare different Qatar entities Joint venture Fast business setup solution 100% foreign-owned company Free-zone company IECO Representative office Branch office
Also known as WLL WLL WLL WLL IECO RTO Branch
Best use of company? All products and services Close a customer deal now Specific industries Manufacturing and export trading Engineering services Marketing & research Specific projects
How soon can you invoice Clients/sign sales contracts? 1 month 2 weeks 2.5 months 2.5 months 2 months Cannot 2.5 months
How soon can you hire staff? 1 month 2 weeks 2.5 months 2.5 months 2 months 2 months 2.5 months
How soon can you sign a lease agreement? 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks
How long to supply corporate bank account numbers? 6 weeks 4 weeks 3.5 months 3.5 months 3 months 3 months 3.5 months
How long to supply company registration/tax numbers? 1 month 2 weeks 2.5 months 2.5 months 2 months 2 months 2.5 months
Corporate tax rate on annual net profits? 10% 10% 10% 10% 10% 0% 10%
Limited liability entity? Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Government approval required for foreign owners? No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Resident director/partner/manager/ legal representative required? Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Minimum paid up share capital? none none none none none none none
Can bid for Government contracts? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Corporate bank account location? HSBC Doha Bank Standard Chartered HSBC QDB Standard Chartered Citibank
Can secure trade finance? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
VAT payable on sales to local customers? none none none none none none none
Average total business set up engagement costs? US$ 28,599 US$ 64,444 US$ 36,549 US$ 33,475 US$ 30,914 US$ 34,795 US$ 34,800
Average total engagement period? 3 months 4 months 4 months 4 months 3.5 months 3 months 4 months


See full table

Accounting and tax considerations Joint venture Fast business setup solution 100% foreign-owned company Free-zone company IECO Representative office Branch office
Statutory corporate tax payable? 10% 10% 10% 10% 10% 0% 10%
Legally tax exempt if properly structured? No No No Yes No No No
Group HQ tax incentives? No No No No No No No
Must file an annual tax return? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Must file annual financial statements? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Must appoint an auditor? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Access to double taxation treaties? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Withholding tax on payments to foreign shareholders? none none none none none none none
Company Registration Joint venture Fast business setup solution 100% foreign-owned company Free-zone company IECO Representative office Branch office
Resident director/partner/manager/ legal representative required? Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Minimum number of shareholders/partners? 2 2 1 1 Parent company Parent company Parent company
Maximum shareholding for foreigners? 49% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Minimum statutory paid up share capital? none none none none none none none
Minimum recommended paid up share capital? US$55,000 US$55,000 US$55,000 US$55,000 US$55,000 US$55,000 US$55,000
Security deposit to be kept with Government? No No No No No No No
Shelf companies available? Yes Yes No No No No No
Time to incorporate a new entity? 1 month 2 weeks 2.5 months 2.5 months 2 months 2 months 2.5 months
Can easily convert to a PLC? Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Public register of shareholders and directors? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Can have preference shareholders? Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Business Considerations Joint venture Fast business setup solution 100% foreign-owned company Free-zone company IECO Representative office Branch office
Good entity for trademark registration? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Can secure an import and export license? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes

Sponsorship by a local citizen required? No
Our Client needs to travel to Qatar for business set up? No
Temporary physical office solutions available? Yes
You need a local resident as bank signatory? No
Can be wholly foreign owned? Yes
The entity will likely be regulated by? Ministry of Economy and Commerce
Minimum number of directors/managers? 1
Monthly VAT reporting to the Government? No
Must sign an office lease agreement during incorporation? Yes
hareholders & directors documents to be attested/translated? Yes
Each foreign director needs a personal income tax number? No
Foreign director needs a residence visa? No
Maximum number of staff allowed? No maximum number for any entity
Expatriate to local staff ratio? No
Can secure residence visa for business owner? Yes
Other useful information
This country has signed free trade agreements? Yes
This country is a member of WIPO/TRIPS? Yes
This country is a member of the ICSID? Yes
Average custom duties suffered? 4.4%
Government foreign investment approval required? Yes, if > 49%
Average monthly office rental? (US$ per sq m) US$ 55
Minimum statutory monthly salary? None
Average monthly US$ salary for local skilled employees? US$ 11,500
US$ deposit interest rate? (1 year average) 0.6%
Overseas remittance currency controls? None
Banking considerations
Multi-currency bank accounts available? Yes
Corporate visa debit cards available? Yes
Quality of e-banking platform? Good
Crowd funding available in this country? Yes

Qatar business setup summary

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  • Benefits and problems

    Benefits of Qatar company registration

    Qatar business registration services

    • A Qatar company offers our Clients several taxation benefits including:
      • Qatar has a territorial taxation system. Therefore, dividends received from other countries will be not subject to corporate tax in Qatar. Consequently, a Qatar company is an excellent way to book global profits while legally minimizing international tax;
      • Qatar does not impose i) value added tax (VAT) ii) export tax or iii) capital gains tax. Furthermore, corporate tax is imposed at a relatively low rate of 10%;
      • There is no withholding tax imposed on dividends repatriated to non-resident shareholders. However, relatively low withholding tax rates of 5% and 7% are imposed on royalty payments and interest payments respectively;
      • Foreign nationals employed in Qatar are not required to pay personal tax or social security contributions. Consequently, Qatar is an attractive location for expatriate employees.
    • Our Clients are likely to enjoy certain miscellaneous benefits in Qatar including:
      • Foreign companies setting up industrial plants in Qatar enjoy i) natural gas priced at US$0.60 – US$0.75 per million Btu ii) electricity at US$0.0178 per Kwh iii) industrial land at a nominal rent starting at one Qatari Riyal (US$1 = QR3.64) per square meter per year iv) no custom duties on imports of machinery, equipment, and spare parts v) no export duties vi) 10-year tax holidays and vii) excellent telecommunications facilities;
      • Our Clients will also benefit from the availability of cheap labour and existence of easy recruitment procedures in Qatar. Plus, due to liberal immigration policies, it is easy to import skilled and unskilled labor;
      • In Qatar, English is the primary business language and is spoken by 60% of the population. Foreign investors interested in doing business in Qatar can easily communicate with employees, customers and suppliers;
      • To aid imports and exports, Qatar boasts 5 modern sea ports, 2 international airports, and modern roads connecting Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A major causeway connecting the country to Bahrain has been planned for 2015.
    • Qatar is a lucrative country for i) manufacturing, ii) logistics and iii) distribution businesses due to the provision of following key benefits in this sector:
      • A total of US$7 million has been invested by the Qatar government in the “Own Your Factory” initiative. This enables both Qatar-based and multi-national entrepreneurs to establish a manufacturing company or a factory in Qatar in just 72 hours;
      • Possibility of a complete exemption from paying corporate taxes for all foreign entrepreneurs investing in Qatar for a period of 3 years. However, this would be decided on a case-by-case basis and is subject to government’s approval;
      • The government is setting up numerous Manateq companies throughout the country to develop and promote investment in industrial zones, logistic parks, special economic zones and warehousing parks in Qatar.
    • Qatar free zones offer 100% foreign ownership in qualifying industries. The major Free Zones include i) Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and ii) Qatar Financial Center (QFC). You may refer to this webpage for entry criteria and permitted activities in QSTP and this page for QFC.
    • Article (2) of the Foreign Investment Law also offers certain exemptions applicable to certain sectors including agriculture, health, education, tourism, exploration of natural resources, energy and mining, business consultancy, technical consultancy, information technology, cultural, sports and entertainment. Investors setting up in these fields can apply for 100% foreign ownership, subject to Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) approval.

    Problems with Qatar company registration

    • Since 2017, Qatar was placed under a diplomatic and trade embargo by GCC countries. Multi-national Clients’ will find it difficult to trade within the Middle East. For example:
      • The embargo has closed air, land and sea links between Qatar and the four Arab countries. The land border with Saudi Arabia is closed for imports and exports;
      • Because of the disruption to supply chains, imports of food and raw materials to Qatar are more expensive, and lead times for deliveries are longer. For example, because feeder cargo ships can no longer serve Qatar from major trans-shipment hubs like Jebel Ali in the UAE, cargo must now pass through countries with which Qatar has good relations, including Oman. This increases shipping times and freight costs.
      • Qatar residents are also affected by the air blockade. For example, what was once a quick 45-minute direct flight from Doha to Dubai now takes several hours because of a change of aircraft in Kuwait or Oman.
      • Because regional air links are severed, Qatar is also a less attractive place to live. Weekend trips to the UAE or Bahrain are impractical.
      • Because Qatar is less attractive for expatriates, it is harder to recruit skilled employees. Consequently, businesses must pay higher salaries.
      • Because Qatar has deepened diplomatic ties with Iran and Turkey, there is a risk in future that companies doing business from Qatar will find it more difficult to do business with the United States and other western states who have tense relations with Tehran and Ankara.
      • This long-term crisis will lead to i) a decline in Qatar’s sovereign and bank ratings ii) further falls in the value of the Qatar stock exchange and iii) further eroded investor confidence iv) new diplomatic measures from the US and western countries if Doha deepens ties with Iran and Turkey v) Qatar’s resignation or expulsion from the GCC and vi) high profile logistics disruptions during the 2022 World Cup football tournament.
    • It is expensive to operate a business in Qatar because:
      • A vast majority of foreign companies must appoint a 51% Qatar national shareholder. The minimum annual fee payable to a Qatari nominee shareholder is US$40,000;
      • The cost of Qatar company can be high due to the following reasons: i) multiple government fees during company registration ii) compulsory office rentals iii) compulsory hiring of staff and iv) high paid up share capital of US$55,000;
      • During the registration process, the authorities frequently request documents to be attested by the Qatari Embassy in the country of origin of our Client. This is both a costly and time consuming exercise. To overcome this problem, our Clients appoint Mr. Aidan Healy as the temporary nominee shareholder, director and bank signatory;
    • Our Clients will also face negative consequences due to following issues:
      • It can be challenging to find quality local employees Qatar. Consequently, foreign investors will be forced to import expatriate workers. Furthermore, the government has a strategic goal to increase the proportion of Qataris in both the public and the private sectors, which will make it harder for local companies;
      • If a Qatar business cannot pay creditors, then the business owner must personally do so. Debt and financial irregularities are considered serious offences, and the owners may not be allowed to leave the country. This risk is greater if loans are owed to Qatar-based banks;
      • A majority of company visas and licenses are sponsored by Qatari nationals, giving the latter indirect control over the business;
      • In disputes over business and investments, Qatar business practices and laws favor Qatari nationals over foreigners. Disputes with Qatari shareholders and agents cause serious problems for foreign investors. Furthermore, Qatar Courts can impose precautionary restraint on foreign company assets pending adjudication of a commercial dispute. Consequently, foreign entrepreneurs with Qatari companies should select international binding arbitration for dispute resolution.
    • The process to de-register a Qatari company is time consuming and challenging and can take up to 8 months to complete, depending on the company’s structure. This is because the following must be completed:
      • Appoint a liquidator to review the assets and liabilities of the business who, will all going well, will issue a report confirming that there are no outstanding debts; then
      • Submit the de-registration application together with a liquidation report to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI); then
      • Apply to cancel the company’s Municipality or Trade License with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME); then
      • Place an advertisement in 2 Arabic local newspapers for at least 45 days; then
      • Submit a final balance sheet and liquidation request documentation issued by MOCI to the General Tax Authority (GTA) at the Ministry of Finance. Moreover, the audited financial statements and tax declaration must be submitted to GTA to issue a No-Objection Certificate; then
      • Lastly, supply the No-Objection Certificate to the MOCI, which then officially approves the closure of the Qatari company and cancels its Certificate of Registration.
    • There are numerous restrictions on import in Qatar, such as a ban on i) pork products, ii) e-cigarettes as well as on iii) alcoholic beverages. Moreover, Qatari law does not permit importation of goods and services from Israel.
    • Obtaining approvals from various government agencies, especially for regulated industries like transport, can be challenging because i) most procedures are not standardised and our Client can be referred to multiple departments to obtain approvals and ii) government staff are not very knowledgeable and may give conflicting information.
    • Clients setting up their company in Qatar to trade withing the GCC may face logistical difficulties due to the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its neighbours the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
  • Best uses for a Qatari company

    1. Qatar is an attractive jurisdiction for setting up regional headquarters for the MEA region because:
      • Most cities in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) do not view foreign companies in a positive light. By contrast, Qatar boasts favourable laws for foreign entrepreneurs which are aimed at protecting investors’ interests;
      • Doha is one of the most liveable cities in the MEA region, comprising a cosmopolitan and multi-cultural population. The country boats highly developed infrastructure for tourism, banking, entertainment and business. It has high quality office and residential accommodation, reliable power and utilities, first class hotels, hospitals, schools etc.
    2. Our Clients may wish to setup a financial services company in Qatar because:
      • Along with Dubai, Qatar will be a financial capital of the Middles East and Africa. The Qatar Financial Center has hundreds of financial companies, insurance companies, banks, and asset management companies. Earning tax free profits within a liberal economy free of exchange controls.

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For additional information on our company registration services in Qatar, please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi