10 Key factors for establishing and doing business in Qatar

Know your market

It is vital, if you are looking to do business in Qatar, that you take the time to learn about the market. Understanding your potential clients, the resources needed to approach the market and the local operational process & procedures of doing business in Qatar can help you make calculated decisions as to how to proceed.

01
02

get the right help

Establishing a business in a new country, such as Qatar, should be done on an informed basis. Getting the right advice beforehand and during the establishment will help ease the process, and mitigate falling foul of laws and practices unknown to you. The right advisors will guide you through the legalities and formalities that come with doing business in Qatar.

choosing the right partner

Except in specific circumstances, a wholly owned Qatari company or Qatari individual must own at least 51% of the share capital of a company incorporated in Qatar. Therefore, it is essential that you take the time to consider who to partner with. Having excellent communication with your business partner will not only ease the process of setting up and doing business in Qatar, but will also give you the assurances you need.

03
04

incorporating your company

In order to engage in any commercial activity in Qatar, a company must register with the Commercial Registry maintained by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in Qatar and apply for a membership at the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In addition, a Trade license, Signage license and Immigration Card must be obtained before the company can carry out business in Qatar. Additional licenses may be required depending on the activities of the company.

foreign documentation

Any legal document that originates outside of Qatar must be notarized before a Notary Public whose signature must be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country where it was notarized, and then stamped by the Qatar Embassy in or responsible for that country. This should be done as soon as possible to avoid delay in the establishment of your business.

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06

banking

The Commercial Companies Law stipulates that the minimum share capital of a LLC is QAR 200,000, (although the Ministry of Economy and Commerce may require a greater sum if the activities to be undertaken by the company are such that this amount is considered insufficient). This must be deposited in a Qatari bank account before the Commercial Registration Certificate is issued. Once the company is incorporated, banking functions will require a residency permit for activities such as issuing a cheque.

office space

In order to incorporate a company in Qatar, office space must be obtained. The size and 'fit-out' requirements of the office space will differ depending on the activities of the company, but a Trade license will not be issued without proof that the requirements have been met.

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08

taxation

A company must register with the Public Revenues and Taxes Department at the Ministry of Finance within 30 days of acquiring its Commercial Registration Certificate in order to obtain a tax card.

In most cases, a corporate tax rate of 10% will apply over the profit share assigned to the international shareholders. Additionally, withholding tax (between 5-7%) will apply for services provided in Qatar by companies not registered and incorporated in Qatar. Individuals, however, are not liable to pay tax on income or revenue.

visa requirements

In order to work and reside permanently in Qatar, a work visa and residency permit must be obtained. You will need to check your eligibility to legally be able to reside and do business in Qatar. If you are bringing your family with you, they will also require residency permits. Qatar operates under a sponsorship or 'Kafala' system. In most cases, the company will be the sponsor of the employee, who can in turn sponsor his/ her family. (Note: It is required to provide a Bachelor degree for certain jobs in Qatar before being able to obtain a residency permit).

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employees

In most cases, the company's relationship with its employees will be governed by the Qatar Labour Law. The Labour Law provides certain rights and obligations to both the employer and the employee, like minimum notice period for termination and end-of-service benefits. It also requires that each employment contract be drafted in Arabic and registered with the Ministry of Labour.

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Procedure for company formation in Qatar

STEP - 1
Reserve a unique company name at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce

Agency: Ministry of Economy and Commerce

The entrepreneur submits the application for "New Company Registration" and company name reservation to the Commercial Registry and Trademark Department of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. As of May 2011, company name availability check, reservation and payment can be completed online.

STEP - 2
Open bank account and deposit the minimum capital

Agency: Bank

When the startup capital is deposited, the entrepreneur receives a confirmation letter from the bank. This amount cannot be withdrawn until the company is incorporated.

STEP - 3
Obtain the approval of the Commercial Companies Control Department on the articles of association

Agency: Ministry of Economy and Commerce

Once the company name is approved and the capital has been deposited in the bank, the entrepreneur submits the articles of association to the Commercial Companies Control Department at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce for approval. The Commercial Companies Control Department reviews the articles of association to ensure that they are in compliance with the laws and regulations in effect.

STEP - 4
Authenticate the Articles of Association at the Ministry of Justice (one-stop-shop counter at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce)

Agency: Authentication Department of the Ministry of Justice

The company's articles of association must be prepared in Arabic in the standard format of the Ministry of Justice. The Commercial Companies Control Department stamps this official form before the parties can proceed to sign it at the Authentication Department. All authorized signatories must be present before the notary of the Ministry of Justice at the designated one-stop-shop counter for the authentication process.

The articles of association must include the following information:

  • Company name, annexed with "with limited liability"
  • Company location/head office address
  • Objectives of the company
  • The fixed term of duration
  • The startup capital and the manner in which it has been subscribed
  • The restrictions on the transfer of shares
  • Names of all shareholders
  • The manner in which profits or losses will be distributed between the shareholders
  • Names of persons entrusted with the company's management
  • The capital structure

If any shareholder is an entity rather than a natural person, the entity will need to provide the following documents to the Ministry of Justice before signing the Articles of Association:

  • Duly legalized and authenticated Board/Shareholders Resolution approving the incorporation of the company and appointing a representative to sign the Articles of Association
  • Duly legalized and authenticated Certificate of Incorporation or equivalent document
  • Duly legalized and authenticated Articles of Association of the entity
  • A passport copy of the representative authorized to sign the Articles of Association on behalf of the company
STEP - 5
Register with the Commercial Registry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the one-stop-shop of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce

Agency: Ministry of Economy and Commerce

The entrepreneur proceeds to a now single counter at the one-stop-shop of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in order to register with the Commercial Registry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The following documents must be submitted for registration with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry:

  • Duly completed application form signed by the appointed managers and company representatives
  • The Chamber of Commerce authorized signatories form
  • The original authenticated articles of association, along with the approved draft
  • Copies of authorized signatories’ ID cards

The following documents must be submitted for registration with the Commercial Registry:

  • Duly completed application form
  • Copy of the memorandum and articles of association
  • Copy of the receipt confirming the payment of the administrative fees due for the review of the memorandum and articles of association
  • Copy of the certificate of deposit of the startup capital at an approved bank in Qatar
  • Copies of the partners' ID cards

The fee for registering the company at the Commercial Registry depends on the company's scope of activity. The fee to register with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry depends on the capital of the company.

STEP - 6
Make a company seal

Agency: Seal maker

In practice, every company makes a company seal. This is mainly because certain documents must be stamped by the company seal before submission to governmental agencies.

STEP - 7
Register for taxes and obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN)

Agency: Tax Authority of the Ministry of Finance

To register for taxes at the Tax Department of the Ministry of Finance, the following documents must be submitted:

  • Articles of Association
  • Copies of the ID cards of the company founders and partners
  • The Commercial Registration of the company (CR)
  • Appointment and details of the company auditors

According to the tax law, every company must register for taxes at the Tax Department; otherwise, it will be subject to a fine. This step must be completed within a month of incorporation.

STEP - 8
Obtain the trade and signage licenses from the Municipality of Doha

Agency: Municipality of Doha

To obtain the Trade License, the following documents must be submitted to the Municipality of Doha:

  • Commercial Registration Certificate
  • Signed lease agreement (signed in Arabic or translated to Arabic). The company premises must be commercial and the lease agreement must be signed by the landlord.
  • Picture of the premises
  • Copy of the title deed

To obtain the Signage License, the following documents must be submitted to the Municipality of Doha:

  • A sketch of the logo that will be placed on the office entrance, including the size and the name of the company in Arabic and English
  • Picture of the premises’ exterior

The municipality usually sends inspectors to the contemplated premises of the company prior to granting the Trade License.

STEP - 9
Immigration Card

You must apply for an Immigration Card in order to start issuing visas and hiring employees. The application process is done at the Ministry of Interior – General Directorate of Borders, Passports and Expatriate Affairs (Immigration Department).

Content Source: World Bank and Al Jassra Corporate Services

 

Al Jassra Corporate services
P.O. Box: 23300, Doha, Qatar
+974 4429 4851
+974 4469 0734