How to open a bank account in Qatar. With the establishment of many local and foreign banks in the region, the process of creating a bank account has become fairly standardized and simple. If you’ve just moved to Qatar you may have already taken in some of the sights like The Pearl or The Corniche, visited the wonderful shopping malls, strolled through Souq Waqif or eaten out in great restaurants. But in order to keep enjoying these experiences, if you are working for a foreign company on a visa, being employed by a local Qatari business, or beginning your own startup, you will soon discover that opening a Qatari bank account as soon as possible will become a top priority. This has become especially important since Qatar’s Wage Protection System was introduced three years ago, which stipulates that all workers employed in Qatar must have their salaries and wages paid into a Qatari bank account in Qatari Riyals.
Founded in 1973, the banks in Qatar are regulated by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) and play a vital role in supervising banks and financial institutions, manage monetary policy, oversee the financial and insurance systems, and maintain the strength of the country’s banking system.
Although opening a new bank account in Qatar is quick and efficient, it is recommended that you set aside enough money to pay for necessary expenses as some banks take more days than others to set up your account.
An overview of banking in Qatar
There are 18 licensed banks in Qatar, 11 of which are Qatari financial establishments and seven are foreign institutions. Qatar National Bank (QNB) is the country’s largest commercial lender by profitability, deposits, and assets. It has a market share of more than 55% of banking assets of all banks in Qatar. Qatar Islamic Bank is the largest Islamic bank in the country, with 40% of total Islamic banking assets.
The two main types of accounts include the current account and a savings account. Moreover, it is possible to even open an account for children by their parents in Qatar.
Do you need a bank account in Qatar?
Expats working in Qatar will need to open a bank account quickly; the country’s wage protection system stipulates that all workers employed there must have their salaries and wages paid into a Qatari bank account in Qatari riyals. Most noteworthy, banks in Qatar are among the most modern in the Middle East. Customers can open an account simply upon walking into a branch, although some documents are required.
You may be able to manage your money using an overseas account if you can get your employer to transfer the money to your international account. However, in most cases, you will benefit from having a local bank account in Qatar. Furthermore, local bank accounts also ease the process of obtaining credit cards and taking out a home or car loan in Qatar.
Depending on the type of account you would like to open, the following are the documents you will be required to start a bank account in Qatar.
You will require an original passport and a copy.
Two passport-sized photographs.
You may or may not be required to present your Qatari ID.
Submit the bank account application form with relevant information and signature.
A copy of your visa page proving that you are a legal resident.
A signed official employment letter from your employer or sponsor stating your salary.
ATM Booths in Qatar
ATMs are spread across the country and are located at hospitals, shopping malls, petrol stations etc. All major credit cards are widely accepted. Withdrawing money from an ATM is free!
Opening Hours of Banks in Qatar
Banks in Qatar are generally open from 7:00 to 1:00 (Sunday to Thursday), however, some banks are open on Friday and Saturday. In order to offer convenience to customers, the banks in shopping malls offer greater flexibility with timings, and are often open from 8.00 am until 10.00 pm.
Types of bank accounts in Qatar
Expats banking in Qatar can expect their financial institutions to offer a range of bank accounts for everyday use. These include:
Current accounts: Available as single or joint accounts, current or checking accounts come with checkbooks, debit cards, and monthly statements. They may be subject to minimum balance requirements.
Savings accounts: Expats banking in Qatar can open savings accounts that are accessible via online banking. They come with debit cards and usually offer unlimited mobile, online, branch, and ATM access. Such accounts typically have no monthly account fees, and usually offer a higher interest rate than current accounts.
Ladies’ accounts: Many banks in Qatar offer banking services for women via specially designated bank accounts; these can be accessed at special ladies’ branches in some cases.
Children’s accounts: Expat parents may open bank accounts in Qatar for children under the age of 18. They typically carry restrictions on the number of transactions possible and have balance requirements such as a minimum of QAR5,000.
Expats living in Qatar may find that opening an offshore bank account is the best way to manage their finances. Aside from extremely cheap money exchange fees or no fees at all, an offshore account has low taxes and, in most cases, offers a multi-currency debit card, which is perfect for a world citizen. Other benefits that an offshore account can offer are complete transactions in several different currencies; full access regardless of where in the world you are; and 24-hour access and assistance. Some banks provide offshore bank services, but the type of account might vary. In Qatar, you can find this service in HSBC Qatar, PNB Paribas, and Standard Bank. You can read more in our guide to banking in Qatar.
Expats and business owners
New to Qatar account: Banks such as Commercial Bank of Qatar offer special accounts for new expats. On their websites, CBQ says it can open such accounts before expats move to the country, doing away with the need for upfront documents such as residence permits.
Business banking: Banking solutions for those who have their own companies in Qatar are generally restricted to bank account services.
Loans and investing
Loans and overdrafts: Customers banking in Qatar can take out personal loans easily, whether to buy a car or a home or to consolidate debt. Most banks also offer short-term and long-term overdrafts.
Mortgages: With Qatar’s property market now open to expats and foreigners, most banks now offer mortgages to expats and foreigners who meet their criteria. However, the mortgage sector is still maturing, so shop around before signing on the dotted line.
Investment accounts: Many retail banks in Qatar offer investment accounts for expats. High-net-worth individuals also have access to investment banks within the region, such as BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, KKR, Société Générale, and UBS. Minimum balances apply when accessing investment banking in Qatar.
How to open a bank account in Qatar
Opening a bank account in Qatar is a quick and easy process. You will need to have a few documents on hand, however, which vary depending on the kind of account you want to open.
As an expat in Qatar, the basic requirements for opening a personal savings or current account are:
Your original passport plus a copy;
A copy of your visa page proving you are a legal resident;
An official employment letter from your Qatari employer (or sponsor) stating your salary. It will need both a signature from you and from your employer. (You won’t need this for a savings account that requires a minimum balance);
Two passport-sized photographs;
A filled-out and signed bank account application form;
Qatar ID (some banks may ask for this)
If you are opening a bank account in Qatar for your wife or children, you are in effect their sponsor, so you will need to provide the sponsor’s letter.
How to open a business bank account in Qatar
Opening a business bank account in Qatar requires more stringent documentation procedures than with residential accounts. It can take up to four weeks before your business bank account is open and operational. You will require the following documents:
Company trade license
Certificate of registration
Company memorandum and articles of association
Board resolution empowering a company officer to open the account
Passport and residence visa copies for shareholders and authorized signatories
How can I sign up and begin online banking in Qatar?
Most banks offer a simplified registration procedure for their Internet Banking Service. You don’t need to visit the branch to register if you have a debit card. There are four simple steps To register:
1.Enter your Debit Card Number PIN
2.Create A User Name and Password
3.Accept Terms and Conditions
4.Login to Internet Banking
Banking fees in Qatar
Fees for accessing different services when banking in Qatar vary from bank to bank. You will find that charges for many transactions are cheaper when they are carried out online, while branch requests may be billed at a higher rate. All banks in Qatar are required to advertise these charges on their website, to display them prominently at branches, and communicate them to their customers.
Typical fees for a resident expat’s bank account in Qatar are as follows:
Account opening fees
Monthly minimum balance penalty
Using a GCC bank’s ATM in Qatar
Cash withdrawals at bank branches in Qatar
QAR10 (for withdrawals under QAR1,000)
New checkbook (the first is free)
Stop payment on lost checks
Returned check due to insufficient funds (first time)
Transfers to other local banks
QAR25+1% of the transfer amount
Lost debit card
Certified account statements, requested at branches
QAR10-25 depending on the period
Account closing fee (within the first year)
Some bank accounts also allow you to create an account online and collect your debit/credit card at the allocated card collecting centers.
Once your bank account has been approved and created, you will have access to many banking and e-banking services in Qatar.
All of the many ATM machines across Qatar can be used to withdraw cash. Although you will be limited if you wish to deposit your cash via these ATM machines as the depositing feature is based on which bank owns the ATM machine.
This can also be an indicator as to how you choose which bank account you wish to start an account with.
For more information, you can contact any of the banks via email or calls during their respective working hours.
Banks in Qatar
Here is a list of some of the most well-known banks in Qatar.
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