There are various ways in which one can establish legal presence here in Doha. Choosing one of these vehicles will depend on the type of business you are looking to establish and the aims and services of your business. The most commonly used vehicles in setting up in Qatar are the following:

  • Setting up a foreign branch
  • Incorporating an LLC
  • Establishing a Trade Office

Many foreign investors set up in Qatar by incorporating an LLC. The Foreign Investment Law 2000 stipulates that if a company wants to establish legal presence in Qatar – at least 51% shareholding must be held by a Qatari partner. Despite this, Al Jassra Corporate Services as the Qatari partner does not take 51% share of the profits.

For more details, contact us!

Legal disclaimer: This is a general overview of the types of business that can be conducted in Qatar. It should not be taken as comprehensive advice nor should it be taken that any content provided herein is professional legal advice. Al Jassra Corporate Services shall not be held responsible for any liability arising from the reliance of any information contained herein, including any claim for loss, damage or expense.

Setting up an LLC

The process below is a general guide into how an LLC is set up in Qatar.

Incorporating your company

In order to engage in any commercial activity in Qatar, a company must apply for membership at the Qatar Ministry of Commerce and Industry and also obtain a Commercial Registration Certificate (CR). This is an application form which must be accompanied by supporting documents. A company must also obtain a Trade license, Signage license and Immigration Card to 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.

Banking

Whereas before, the Commercial Companies Law stipulated that the minimum share capital of a LLC is QAR 200,000; this has now been repealed.  Shareholders are now able to agree on the value of share capital they deem fit. With this being said, some banks may require a minimum amount to be deposited into the company bank to open the company’s account.

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.

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).

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.

Procedure for Company Formation in Qatar

STEP-1

Reserve a unique company name at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI)

Agency: Ministry of Commerce and Industry

The company should submit the suggested name and activities of the company at the Commercial Registry at the MOCI. There are various rules that must be abided by when choosing a company name. Some of these include; having to have a meaning in Arabic, not including words such as ‘Qatar’ and to refer to the trade activity in the name – unless it carries a trademark. These change regularly and so its always best to check the full list of constraints at the MOCI.  Once the name is reserved, the company will be provided with a certificate for the respective period.

STEP-2

Obtain approval of the commercial companies control department on the articles of association

Agency: Ministry of Commerce and Industry

The Articles of Association will then need to be printed out and submitted to the companies department at the MOCI for approval. The commercial companies control department will then review the articles and ensure that they are in compliance with the laws and regulations in effect.

STEP-3

Authenticate the Articles of Association

Agency: Authentication Department of the Ministry of Justice

The articles must be prepared in the standard format of the Ministry of Justice in the Arabic language. These must be stamped by the commercial companies control department before the parties can proceed to sign them 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-4

Register with the Commercial registry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the one stop shop of Ministry of Commerce and Industry

Agency: Ministry of Commerce and Industry

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

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.

It is to be noted that there are no certificates to be issued from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, however it will be mentioned on the Commercial Registry certificate itself of the company that the latter was also registered at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry

STEP-5

Obtain the trade and signage licenses from the Municipality of Doha (one stop-shop counter at the MOCI)

Agency: Ministry of Commerce and Industry

The following documents should be submitted to Department of Registration and Commercial Licenses at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry

  • The original signed lease agreement of the offices where the company’s head office will be located. The said agreement should be in Arabic or dual language English/Arabic.
  • An indoor and outdoor photo of the building where the offices will be located.
  • A copy of the certificate of ownership of the leased property.
  • A copy of the certificate of building completion.
  • A copy of the Commercial Registry of the company.
  • The ID copy of the person who will sign the application forms.
  • A copy of the civil defense certificate: there should be one certificate for the property and another one for the leased office.

In case the owner of the leased offices is a company, the following documents are required:

  • A copy of the Commercial Registry certificate of the owner of the leased offices; and
  • ID copy of the authorized signatory on behalf of the owner of the leased offices.
  • The Trade License application forms

The following documents should be submitted to issue the signage license:

  • The sketch for the signboard where the name of the company should be written in Arabic and English; and
  • The signage application form

The fee for obtaining a new trade license is QAR 10,020. The municipality usually sends inspectors to the contemplated premises of the company prior to granting the Trade License.

STEP-6

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

Agency : Public Revenues and Tax department at the Ministry of Finance

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

  1. Articles of Association
  2. Copies of the ID cards of the company founders and partners
  3. The Commercial Registration of the company (CR)
  4. Trade License
  5. Certificate of the company premises’ registration (and registration number) at the Water and Electricity Authority (Kahramaa)
  6. Certificate of appointment 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; the company can start business operations upon obtaining the trade license.

STEP-7

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.

Certain documents must be stamped by the company seal before submission to the competent authorities. In order to make a stamp, the following documents will be in principle submitted to the respective shop:

  • A letter signed by any authorized signatory on behalf of the company requesting from the shop to make a stamp for the company;
  • The ID/passport copy of the authorized signatory who signed the letter mentioned under item 1 above; and
  • A copy of the Commercial Registry of the company