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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.