Exchanging a foreign driver’s license in Qatar

Just moved to the desert state and ready to hit the road? Here’s all you need to know about exchanging a foreign driver’s license in Qatar.

Qatar driving license

By Valentine Marie

Updated 3-1-2024

When moving to a new country, your new surroundings can feel foreign and overwhelming. Therefore, it can be helpful to have your own transport to get around. This article outlines the different kinds of driving licenses available in Qatar as well as the rules on driving with a foreign driver’s license, and more.

It includes the following information:

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Driving licenses in Qatar

The legal driving age in Qatar is 18 for motorcycles and light vehicles. All license inquiries are handled by the Traffic Department and most must be handled in person, at the Traffic Department at Madinat Khalifa. Your driving license options in Qatar will depend on how long you plan to stay in the country, your passport, and whether you already have a driver’s license from your home country.

Convertible sports car in Doha

One-week rule

If your current license is from an approved country, you can use it for seven days from your arrival in Qatar. Most Western countries are approved countries but, to find the most updated list, visit the Traffic Department at Madinat Khalifa.

Temporary license

If you want to drive in Qatar for up to three months, you should apply for a Temporary License. You will need to bring your original license, your original passport (and copies), and three passport-sized color photos to the Traffic Department at Madinat Khalifa. Temporary Licenses are renewable.

International Driving Permit

If you have an International Driving Permit, you can legally drive with it for up to six months after you enter Qatar. This is a convenient option because it allows you to keep driving while you navigate the process of converting your license or getting a Qatari one. Keep in mind, though, that you probably won’t be able to buy a car with only an International Driving Permit; you will likely have to rely on rental cars.

Driving with a foreign driver’s license in Qatar

Qatar practices a one-week rule for new arrivals and tourists. If you hold a valid driver’s license from approved countries, you can use your normal license for up to a week. After a week, you will need to use a temporary driving license, an international driving license, or simply convert your current license to a Qatari one.

Exchanging a foreign driver’s license in Qatar

Expats from approved countries can exchange their licenses directly to a Qatari one and this is valid for five years. However, the list of approved countries can change, so be sure to check with the Traffic Department for the updated version. Also, keep in mind that the option to exchange a license is only available to expats with residence permits; so, if your Qatar ID is still being processed, you will need to wait until it is complete. Once everything is ready, go to the Traffic Department at Madinat Khalifa with the following documents:

  • Completed application form (in Arabic, available at Traffic Department);
  • Your original license;
  • A letter of no objection from your sponsor, written in Arabic;
  • A copy of your sponsoring company’s trade license;
  • A copy of your sponsor’s ID;
  • Your passport (and copies);
  • Three color passport photos;
  • Your Qatar ID card;
  • QR 250 fee

Getting a driving license in Qatar

If you don’t have a driver’s license at all, or if you are from a country that isn’t approved for exchanges, you will need to apply for a brand-new Qatari driver’s license. Unfortunately, this process is longer and requires you to enroll in driving school, attain at least 15 hours of theory, and at least 35 hours of practical driving lessons. Once you have done this, though, you can take your driving exam; this includes a theoretical portion, as well as a road and a parking exam. The good news is that once you pass, you get your license on the same day.

Women driving a car in Doha

Driving in Qatar

Qataris drive on the right side of the road. Fortunately, street signs are usually in Arabic and English. Of course, it is good practice to wear your seatbelt, even if it’s a short ride. This is important because many drivers in Qatar have a real need for speed – so unless you are ready to go well over the speed limit, stay away from the left lane. The ugly truth is that car accidents are tragically common. Another thing to bear in mind is that although you can consume alcohol in Qatar, there is no tolerance for drunk driving. Therefore, be sure to practice responsible drinking and call a cab if you are unsure if you are over the limit.

Getting a car in Qatar

Because a car is a virtual necessity in Qatar, some expats decide to purchase one of their own. The process is fairly straightforward. If you are looking to buy a new car, compare various dealerships, and be sure to take it on a test drive. Once you have settled on your ideal car, negotiated the price, and bought or financed it, you will need to register it with the Traffic Department and insure it with one of the many car insurance companies.

Car keys

Buying a used car can be a bit trickier because of the potential unknowns in prior treatment. If you do go down this route, however, be sure to buy a company-certified used car or one from someone you trust. As long as the car has a valid registration when you buy it, it also has valid insurance; this simplifies the process for new owners.