Foreign travel advice

Qatar

Important COVID-19 Travel

Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home. You must not travel, including abroad, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so. It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes.

Check the rules that apply to you in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If you intend to travel to the UK from abroad, including UK nationals returning home, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 3 days before departure. If you do not comply (and you do not have a valid exemption) your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding and/or you may be fined on arrival.

Before you return to the UK you must provide your journey and contact details. You must self-isolate when you enter the UK from any foreign country except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption.

When you enter England from abroad (except Ireland), you must follow the new requirements for quarantining and taking additional COVID-19 tests. For those travelling from a country on the banned travel list you will be required to quarantine in a hotel. Different rules apply for arrivals into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If you are legally permitted to travel abroad, check our advice on your country of destination. Some other countries have closed borders, and may further restrict movement or bring in new rules including testing requirements with little warning.

Local laws and customs

Local laws and customs reflect the fact that Qatar is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK. You’re strongly advised to familiarise yourself with and respect local laws and customs.

In 2021, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 12 April and finish on 11 May. See Travelling during Ramadan

Be aware of cultural sensitivities when filming or photographing people and religious, military or construction sites. Some visitors attempting to film or photograph in sensitive areas have been arrested. If in doubt, seek permission. If you’re working as a journalist, you’ll need to get permission from the Qatar News Agency (QNA) to film or photograph as part of your work and enter the country on a visiting press permit. This permit will clear technical equipment like cameras through airport customs and provides other necessary information.

Importing drugs, alcohol, pornography, pork products and religious books and material into Qatar is illegal. All luggage is scanned at Doha Airport Arrivals Hall.  DVDs and videos may be examined and censored. Penalties for drug offences are severe, often resulting in prison sentences.

It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. British nationals have been detained under this law, usually when they have come to the attention of the police on a related matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour. Alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system. Don’t carry alcohol around with you (except to take it on the day of collection from the warehouse to your home).  The legal drinking age in Qatar is 21, and establishments serving alcohol will ask for original photo ID upon entry.

Swearing and making rude gestures are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.

Posting material (including videos and photographs) online that appear to insult, slander or are culturally insensitive, may be considered a crime punishable under Qatari law. There have been cases of individuals being detained, prosecuted and/or convicted for posting this type of material.

Qatar law also prohibits the importation, sale and purchase of electronic cigarettes, liquids and other similar products (eg electronic shisha pipes). The law applies regardless of quantity and intended use. Customs officials may seize and confiscate any such items found entering the country by any means, including in passengers’ luggage or sent by post.

You should dress modestly when in public, including while driving. Women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. Any intimacy in public between men and women (including between teenagers) can lead to arrest.

Homosexual behaviour is illegal in Qatar. There have been some reports of individuals being punished for homosexual activity and/or sexual activity outside marriage, particularly where there is any public element, or the behaviour has caused offence. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques (including post-dated and ‘security cheques’) and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills) can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine in Qatar. Bank accounts and other assets may also be frozen. You may also be liable for cheques that have been signed by you on behalf of a company.

If you have unpaid loans or financial commitments you won’t be able finish your employment in Qatar and exit the country. Any debt should be settled in full before your residence permit will be cancelled.