Starting A Business In Qatar

Business Opportunities in Qatar

Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with its economic growth driven mainly by the oil and natural gas industries. Qatar has a per capita GDP as high as $94,000, which puts the country in the top 5 of highest per capita GDPs in the world. This is perhaps why many entrepreneurs and company owners seek to start a business in Qatar. The government of Qatar continuously strives to improve the business environment in the country, making it a lucrative arena for business owners and investors. There are numerous advantages of doing business in Qatar.

The natural gas and fossil fuel industries dominate the economy terms industries. However, the business landscape of Qatar has recently diversified, with players from different sectors setting up shops in Qatar. These sectors include tourism, technology, construction and manufacturing, information technology, healthcare, agriculture, education, media, and consultancy service.

Although setting up a company in Qatar is lucrative, it can also be a long and somewhat tedious process for foreigners who aren’t aware of the business rules and regulations. But we have you covered!

This article discusses the intricacies of establishing a business in Qatar, including the company registration in Qatar and the risks of doing business in Qatar.

Benefits of Starting a Business in Qatar

One unique aspect of Qatar’s business landscape is the Qatar Business Zone. While business owners can establish a business either in the free business zone or outside it, it is vital to know the distinction between the two before one decides where to start a business in Qatar.  

The two zones have very different laws, policies, regulations, and compliance that apply to companies. The free business zone has benefits such as full foreign ownership of shares, no restriction on foreign currency, no income tax, corporate tax, or taxation on foreign trade. When most business owners decide to start a business in Qatar, they choose the free business zone. This zone houses technology, logistics, maritime, manufacturing, and even petrochemicals businesses.

Setting up a company in Qatar comes with many benefits apart from access to the free business zone. Here are the many advantages of doing business in Qatar:

  • ~Qatar boasts a highly developed business infrastructure and an educated yet inexpensive workforce.
  • ~There is no income tax in Qatar on wages.
  • ~There is no taxation on revenue from exports.
  • ~Qatar’s corporate tax rate is as low as 10%.
  • ~Foreign business owners can transfer all their profits to their home countries.

There are supportive banking services available that understand the needs of business owners.

Requirements for Starting a Business in Qatar

The procedure for incorporating a company in Qatar is quite complex and lengthy.

To begin with, a business owner must meet several requirements to do business in Qatar set by the Commercial Companies Law. These requirements include - 

  • ~A Qatari founding partner.
  • ~Appropriate commercial registration with the Ministry of commerce and industry (MOCI).
  • ~All legal contracts must be in Arabic and English.
  • ~A minimum share capital of QAR 200,000.
  • ~A minimum of two shareholders or more, with Qatari shareholders owning 51% of the company.

Types of Business Structures in Qatar

As in most countries, Qatar has different business structures and companies allowed.  These are:

  • ~General partnership company
  • ~Limited share partnership company
  • ~Joint partnership company
  • ~Public shareholding company
  • ~Holding company
  • ~Joint venture
  • ~Limited liability company
  • ~Branch office of a foreign company
  • ~Representative trade office
  • ~Real estate
  • ~Commercial agency

Perhaps, the most common business structure chosen by most business owners in Qatar is the limited liability company (LLCs). Here are some facts about LLC in Qatar:

  • ~A limited liability company incorporated in Qatar requires a minimum of QAR 200,000 capital, with Qatari nationals owning 51% of the shares in the company. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one Qatari partner or multiple Qatari partners owning the majority shares.
  • ~The percentage of profits in the company cannot reflect its shareholding.
  • ~An LLC can only obtain a trade license if it has a suitable office space.
  • ~An LLC in Qatar cannot undertake investment-related activities such as banking or financing by the government. 
  • ~An LLC is charged a 10% corporate tax over its total profits in a fiscal year. 
  • ~An LLC can simultaneously carry out unlimited contracts.

Company Registration Process

Company registration in Qatar can be a lengthy process due to the detailed documentation.  And not just detailed, but the documentation also needs to be submitted within strict deadlines to Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce. 

At the outset, a company must have three essential documents for the company registration process in Qatar. These are:

  • ~Commercial residence, or CR, is a document issued by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. It states a company’s legality, name, and ownership. It is easy to get once one has the trade name and articles of incorporation listing all shareholders and their shares.
  • ~A trade license is dependent on the type of business structure a company has chosen. Getting a trade license is necessary to have a MEC-approved office space. To get a trade license, the company needs to submit the application form along with copies of identification of each of the business authorities, CR, articles of incorporation, photos of the office building and office space from the outside and inside, building completion certificate and the owner’s ID, and rental agreement. 
  • ~A computer card is a document identifying the signing authority of the company. It is a must for the Qatari members to be listed on the computer card. 

A company must also get the correct signage license, an immigration certificate if the owners are foreigners, and other licenses required for operations to begin. Plus, the business owner must have an experience certificate. 

Besides these licenses, there are a few other requirements for company registration in Qatar. These include - 

  • ~Residency permits for foreign business owners.
  • ~A valid bank account with any Qatari corporate bank under the company’s name.
  • ~Registration of company workers under the Ministry of Labor.
  • ~Registration with public taxes and revenues departments.

A foreign business setting a company in Qatar must submit an application to the Ministry of Economy and Commerce along with two copies of the contract signed between the foreign company and the Qatar government, two copies of a memorandum of the certificate, or an article of association of the international business, an approved power of attorney to a Qatari manager or head, and two copies of service agent agreements and commercial registrations.

Most importantly, all these documents must be translated to Arabic before submission. 

How Much Does it Cost to Incorporate a Company in Qatar?

There are various costs involved at different steps in the procedure for incorporating a company in Qatar. For example -

  • ~The company must show a minimum capital of QAR 200,000. 
  • ~If the chosen name does not mean in Arabic when getting a trading name, the business must pay an extra QAR 1,000.
  • ~A commercial residence can cost anywhere between QAR 1,500 per year and QAR 7,000 per year. 
  • ~Incorporation costs amount to over QAR 30,000 in the first year. 
  • ~Annual company costs amount to over QAR 5,000 from the second year onwards.
  • ~The average fee for Qatar engagement amounts to above QAR 100,000, including the company's incorporation, bank account, office address, and director residency.

Various trade licenses have their respective costs, as shown in the table below:

Business type Cost
Foreign-owned QAR 133,330
Free zone business QAR 122,280
Temporary branch of a foreign business QAR 126,706
Ongoing branch of a foreign business QAR 112,557
Representative office QAR 126,690
Subsidiary limited liability company QAR 125,950
Holding company QAR 124,950
Tax resident limited liability company QAR 112,557
Joint venture QAR 104,128
Limited liability company on employment visa QAR 124,950

Are Foreigners in Qatar on Certain Passes Allowed to Start a Business in Qatar?

As per Qatar’s business laws, a foreign investor can only start a business in Qatar if they have at least one Qatari partner and meet the minimum share capital requirement. 

There are various visas with which a foreigner can conduct business in Qatar. These include - 

  • ~A 72-hour business visa is issued on arrival and is used for short business visits.
  • ~Expat workers use a business visa for temporary contracts since it is only valid for three months.
  • ~An investor visa is used by ex-pats investing in business ventures in Qatar. Investor visa holders can stay in Qatar without any sponsorship, but they must show documents about property ownership, good behavior, and medical soundness.

Government Assistance for Foreign-owned Businesses

The government of Qatar lends extensive support to businesses in agriculture, education, healthcare, tourism, natural resources, IT and tech, and energy and mining. They are offered incentives by the government and even exempted from taxes for ten years. Moreover, the Qatar government also provides incubators and free economic zone provisions to attract foreign investors and business owners. 

One example is the Qatar Financial Center, which was opened in 2005 as a business platform for foreigners. Around 670 companies already operate in this zone and enjoy unique benefits such as full foreign ownership and exemption from trade taxes. 

How Can Multiplier Help?

To start a business in Qatar might seem challenging, but don’t be intimidated or discouraged. Delegating and outsourcing such tasks to company registration services can make the whole process seem like a piece of cake. Moreover, once your company is set up, Multiplier can help you with all your EOR and POR requirements to ensure the smooth functioning of your business.

One could argue that the real struggle for a company starts after the setup is done. Multiplier helps you ensure compliance with regulatory laws, maintain employee records, manage payrolls, and develop effective and beneficial employee benefits schemes. It is a one-stop solution for all your business requirements in Qatar.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to Reserve a Business Name in Qatar?

New businesses in Qatar can reserve their trade name online at the website of the Qatari government (www.moci.gov.qa).

How can I Create a Bank Account in a Corporate Bank in Qatar as an Expat?

To create an account in any corporate bank in Qatar, one has to provide their residency permit, a copy of the passport, residence visa, a letter of employment stating the monthly salary account, and two photos.

What is the Minimum Capital Requirement to Start a Business in Qatar?

To start a business in Qatar, one requires a minimum capital of QAR200,000.

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