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Home Moving to Qatar Relocation Removals to Qatar: your relocation options
Last update on April 12, 2022
Gayatri Bhaumik Written by Gayatri Bhaumik

From relocation costs and processes to custom concerns and more, we break down everything you need to know about removals to Qatar.

Qatar offers many opportunities for expats and living there comes with many advantages. For example, the country has a reasonably high quality of life, a highly developing healthcare system, and numerous international schools for children. However, for expat families, arranging removals to Qatar comes with a host of considerations, as there are many formalities to complete before you can make the move. 

The logistics of getting your belongings to Qatar can also be a daunting prospect, so to help, this article covers the following topics: 

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Relocating to Qatar from abroad

If you are planning a move to Qatar, then you need to figure out all the logistics. Of course, the most important thing you will need to decide is how to move your things there. If you don’t have a lot to pack, then air freight might be the quickest and easiest option. However, for families and those with a lot of goods to move, sea freight could be a more affordable (if not slower) method.

How to relocate to Qatar with air freight

There are three civilian airports in Qatar. However, all international arrivals fly into Hamad International, which lies south of Doha and is the country’s main aviation hub. As such, all air freight to Qatar will arrive in the capital. And since most expats live there, this is also a convenient option.

a Qatar Airlines plane at Hamad International Airport

Of course, Qatar Airways, the national airline, also flies into Hamad international. This is also the world’s largest cargo carrier and reported a 4.6% increase in cargo volume between 2020 and 2021.

Who should use air freight?

Most expats will find that removals to Qatar via air freight are prohibitively expensive. As such, this wouldn’t be the relocation option of choice for most people moving to the country. That said, it can be a useful option if you need your things to arrive quickly, don’t have a lot to move, or if you don’t mind the expense. 

To expedite your move, it might be wise to send only the most important items by air freight, and the rest by a different method. Also, don’t forget that moving goods by air also takes a toll on the environment. Therefore, if you are concerned about your carbon footprint, it’s best to avoid this.

How air freight works

As with other options for removals to Qatar, beginning the air freight process requires you to work out how many belongings you are moving. You should also decide whether you can pack everything yourself or if you require professional packers. Then, you can start contacting companies for air freight quotes. However, once you have chosen a company, the real work begins. 

professional movers packaging cardboard boxes with a tape gun

First, you will need to get all the correct paperwork in order. For example, you will need to sign the contract with your air freight company and provide copies of your passport and visa. You may also need to present documents such as:

  • A detailed packing list
  • Air Waybill or Bill of Lading
  • Letter of employment
  • Personal authorization letter (in English and Arabic) 
  • Insurance certificate
  • Customs documentation 

Usually, your relocation company will help you sort out all the necessary documentation. Therefore, be sure to ask them if you need help. 

Once everything is in place, the move can begin. If you are using professional packers, they will come to your home and pack everything up properly for transport. The company will then transfer everything to the local airport and send it by plane to Qatar.

Once your goods arrive in Doha, they will have to clear the local customs procedures. Then, they will be delivered to you at your Qatari residence. Most international removal or air freight companies will offer a seamless door-to-door service. As such, you shouldn’t have to do much yourself.

In some cases, though, you may need to pick up your goods from the airport. In this situation, you will need to go to Hamad International with all your documents to help clear your goods through customs, then arrange local transport from the airport to your home. 

Air freight timings

Because air freight is the fastest relocation method, it doesn’t require a lot of time to arrange. That said, it is still good practice to make arrangements at least a few weeks before your move. If the move is sudden, however, your relocation company should be able to process it within a week or two. 

a Qatar Cargo plane being loaded with freight

Air freight transfers to Qatar usually take a few days. However, this of course depends on where your shipment is coming from. In general, though, you can expect the whole process to take at least a week or two from collection to delivery. Just bear in mind that your shipment could be delayed; for example, your goods could get held up at customs in Qatar, which will prolong the shipment time. For a rough estimate on shipment times, you can try using a transit time calculator.

Air freight costs

Because there isn’t a lot of cargo space available on flights, air freight can be very expensive. Your exact costs will depend on the weight and volume of your shipment. As such, most companies charge by volumetric (or dimensional) weight, although some use actual weight, depending on which is more expensive. In general, though, air freight rates range between US$1.50 and US$4.50 per kilogram.

Other costs may affect the price of your Qatar removals too, including fuel or security surcharges, terminal handling charges, insurance, and customs brokerage. Of course, there are ways to reduce your air freight costs if budget is a concern.

You will typically pay for your move upfront, and the relocation company will usually accept credit cards, bank transfers, and even cheques.

Packing options

As mentioned, removals to Qatar by air freight come with several packing options. If you only have a small shipment, then you could pack your things in boxes and suitcases and send them via an airline. However, if you are working with a relocation company, they will normally provide branded boxes and cartons for packing. 

suitcases stacked for transport

Unfortunately, air freight is not the most eco-friendly removals option. However, there are ways to minimize the environmental impact of your move. For example, you could ask your movers if they can give you plastic crates instead of the standard cardboard boxes. You could also try to minimize your use of materials like packing paper and tape. 

Finding an air freight company

Many airlines offer air freight or cargo services that can be an option for moving your belongings to Qatar. For example, United Cargo and American Airlines Cargo offer US-Doha cargo flights. Additionally, IAG Cargo books air freight shipments out of the UK on British Airways flights. There are also many courier companies with air freight services, including DHL and UPS.

Relocating to Qatar with sea freight

Qatar has four main ports which process arriving shipments. The most important is Hamad Port in the Umm Al-Houl district of Doha. However, other major ports include Ras Laffan, Masaieed, and Al-Ruwais. International shipments, however, will usually arrive at Hamad. 

Who should use sea freight?

Most expats looking at relocation options to Qatar will choose sea freight over other methods. This is because it is usually the most cost-effective option, especially compared to air freight. In fact, 90% of goods are sent around the world by ocean freight. 

For families moving with a lot of personal items, including furniture, sea freight is the best choice. It is also useful for goods that have to travel long distances; for example, from the US or China. Moreover, it is considerably more environmentally friendly than air cargo. However, the main drawback is that sea freight often takes a long time, so you may have to wait months for your goods to arrive. 

How sea cargo works

Generally, sea cargo works the same way as air freight. You need to work out how much you are shipping then contact removals companies to get quotes for your move. Usually, the company will come to your house first to visually inspect your shipment so they can decide which type of sea cargo shipping will work best for you. 

A professional mover packing belongings for transport

There are three types of sea cargo shipments: full container load (FCL, good for families and big moves), less than container load (LCL, for medium-sized shipments), and groupage (best for small shipments). The type of shipment will determine whether you get a personal container (FCL) or have your things grouped with other peoples’ shipments to go to Qatar. 

The biggest advantage of using sea freight is that your relocation company will take care of everything. As such, they will professionally pack your goods, deal with all customs formalities (you need the same documentation as for air freight), and take care of the full transport process. This door-to-door process means that you won’t have to lift a finger during the move. 

Freight timings

There are many advantages to sea freight, but the main disadvantage is its lengthy time frame. In fact, shipping your goods to Qatar by sea could take up to two months. However, once your belongings arrive in Qatar, your removals company will ensure that they clear customs. After that, they will deliver your shipment directly to your new residence. 

Maritime freight costs

Often, sea freight can be 12 to 16 times cheaper than air freight. Therefore, it is a far more affordable option for arranging removals to Qatar. Since companies calculate the cost of your shipment by its volume, it is important to understand how much you are shipping and decide if FCL, LCL, or Groupage is the best choice for you. Recently, though, prices have increased, and you can expect to pay around US$2 to US$4 per kilogram. 

In addition, there may be other costs such as: 

  • Inland transit charges
  • Documentation fees
  • Terminal fees
  • Customs charges
  • Insurance 

Packing options

If you are organizing your Qatar removals by sea freight, then packing will be a breeze. Generally speaking, your relocation company will take care of everything. This is because goods being moved by sea freight have to be packed carefully and according to specific guidelines. As such, your movers will ensure that your goods are adequately packed and protected for transport.

a container ship carrying cargo

The downside, however, is that this requires many disposable materials such as cardboard boxes, paper, bubble wrap, making sea freight a less eco-friendly moving option. That said, you can always ask if your movers can provide plastic crates for the move instead to minimize your waste and reduce your impact on the environment.

Finding a freight company

Because sea cargo is a popular choice for international removals to Qatar, many companies offer this service. Indeed, all of the big, full-service removals companies, including Allied Pickfords, will offer this. As well as asking for recommendations from people who have been through the process, you can also check the following sites to find a suitable freight company:

International relocation companies

Because expat life is an attractive option for many people, there are plenty of international relocation companies who can handle entire moves, from start to finish. As such, these companies can be a great option for seamless removals to Qatar. 

If you use a full-service relocation company, they will do everything from packing and unpacking your belongings to transporting everything from your home to your residence in Qatar. In fact, they will usually offer useful extra-mile services too, such as temporary lodging, pet or car transfers, visa assistance, finding schools for children, and more.

Because they offer so many inclusions, these companies often charge between US$1,000 and US$10,000 for an international move. However, this depends on how much you are moving, how far your goods must be transported, and the complexity of the move.

How to find an international relocation company

If you know people that have moved to Qatar, it’s a good idea to ask them to recommend a relocation company. However, you can also just do a quick Google search to find plenty of reputable movers. You can also search our Directory to find companies that specialize in removals to Qatar. 

Naturally, it is best to speak to a few companies before making a decision. This will help you find the best movers for your relocation and budget. There are several online platforms that can help you compare the costs of different removal options and get quotes. Some leading comparison platforms you can use are:

DIY versus using a relocation company

Depending on the specifics of your relocation, you may be thinking about whether to do it alone or just hire a company to take care of everything. Before you make the decision, though, here are a few things to consider:

  • Cost – Going the DIY route is more affordable than hiring movers
  • Time – If you don’t have the time to do the research, pack, and organize everything, hiring a company will make things a lot easier
  • Understanding – Do you fully understand the moving procedures for Qatar, including customs formalities? If not, using professional movers can be useful.

Relocating vehicles and pets

If you are planning to live in Qatar for a while, then it may make sense to bring your car and pets with you. However, this requires additional paperwork and costs, so be prepared for this. 

Cars 

Although Qatar does have some public transportation, it can be very useful to have your own car in the country. And because vehicles are generally quite cheap in Qatar, it might be worth just buying one when you arrive. Some expats also choose to import their own cars into the country.

However, just bear in mind that Qatar uses a left-hand drive and that you will need to exchange your driver’s license. Here is what you need to know about car relocations to Qatar: 

  • You need to have your Qatari residence permit before you import your car
  • There is a customs duty of 5% of the car’s value; however, this is often waived if you can prove that the car is over three years old and only for personal use
  • The car should not be more than five years old
  • You must have proof of ownership, the original purchase invoice or receipt, the original import manifest, and the registration certificate from your home country
  • The car should also have a current insurance policy; if arriving over land, you will have to purchase a temporary insurance policy in Qatar for QR100 then register your car locally within 14 days

Pets

Because Qatar bans the import of certain types of pets, you should check that your particular animal is allowed into the country. For example, you won’t be able to bring American Pit Bulls, Boxers, Great Danes, or Dobermans into Qatar. Similarly, Qatar doesn’t allow the importation of animals from certain countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Jordan, and Lebanon.

a dog being imported in a pet carrier

However, if your situation allows you to bypass these conditions, here is how to import your pet into Qatar: 

  • Get a pet passport
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped
  • Ensure your pet has all the necessary vaccinations, such as distemper, hepatitis, and rabies at least four weeks before traveling
  • Get a RATT blood test to ensure the rabies vaccine has been effective
  • Obtain an international health certificate within 10 days of departure; this needs to come from your vet
  • Get a pet import permit from Qatari authorities
  • Ensure your pet’s carrier is IATA approved so that your airline will accept it

Many relocation companies can help with moving your pets, but there are also companies that specialize in pet removals.

Customs and importing goods into Qatar

Because you will be transporting goods across international borders, you should expect to deal with customs formalities during the removal process. The General Authority of Customs oversees the importation of goods in Qatar and deals with customs formalities and duties. 

You or your removals company will need to present identification as part of the customs process. You will also have to show the Delivery Order, Bill of Lading, Manifests, and Packing List for your shipment. Of course, you will also have to pay customs duties. In general, there is a 5% tariff on the cost, insurance, and freight invoice value on almost all products entering Qatar. However, there are exemptions for diplomatic or consular imports, as well as personal effects and household items. Additionally, there is a 100% import duty on pork, pork products, tobacco products, and alcohol.

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