Australian Government advice for Qatar
When travelling to Qatar, you should always get travel insurance in case the worst happens. To help you ensure you travel safely, we have included the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Qatar.
This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 13 March 2014. It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. The overall level of the advice has been lowered. We now advise you to excise normal safety precautions in Qatar.
- You should exercise normal safety precautions in Qatar.
- Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- Terrorists have demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct attacks throughout the Arabian Peninsula at places frequented by Westerners, such as commercial and public areas. Further attacks may be planned and cannot be ruled out in Qatar.
- Statements by international terrorists have called for attacks against Western interests in the Gulf region, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.
- Medications that are available over the counter or by prescription in Australia may be illegal in Qatar. For more information see under Health.
- There are strict laws on personal conduct, particularly in regard to sex and personal relationships, as well as the the consumption and possession of alcohol.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Qatar. The Australian Embassy in the United Arab Emirates provides consular assistance to Australians in Qatar.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Qatar or check Qatar’s E-Government English Language website for the most up to date information.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.
Statements by international terrorist groups have called for attacks against Western interests in the Gulf region. These include references to residential compounds and military, oil, transport and aviation interests. We have in the past received reports that terrorists are planning attacks against Western interests in the wider Gulf region and attacks in Qatar cannot be ruled out.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers .
Civil unrest/political tension
Regional and political developments continue to impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues, monitor the media and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations.
Qatar has a low incidence of crime. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is rare but does occur.
Unaccompanied women can be vulnerable to verbal and physical harassment.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority .
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Traffic accidents are among Qatar’s leading causes of death. The combination of Qatar’s many roundabouts, road construction and high speeds by drivers make driving in Qatar challenging and dangerous. Driving on rural roads in Qatar may be dangerous because of unsafe driving practices, insufficient lighting and the presence of wandering animals. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Use of a reputable tour organiser may reduce safety risks associated with excursions to the desert. Excursions should only be undertaken in well-equipped four-wheel drive vehicles with sufficient water, fuel, food provisions and a mobile phone. A copy of your travel itinerary should be left with friends or relatives.
Women should take care when travelling alone, particularly after dark.
Travellers entering the Gulf area by sea should be aware that many areas are sensitive because of security issues and territorial disputes. In particular, maritime boundaries and the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the southern Gulf are the subject of jurisdictional disputes. There have been reports of arrests, detentions and inspections of vessels.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in Qatar, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter .
Penalties for drug offences include long prison sentences. The presence of illegal drugs in the body is considered possession. Medications that are available over the counter or by prescription in Australia may be illegal in Qatar. See the Health Issues section below for further details.
Australians who might engage in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. Decisions relating to child custody are based on Islamic law. See also Information for Dual nationals below.
An employer’s permission to leave Qatar, in the form of an exit permit, is required prior to departure under Qatari Labour Law.
Under Qatari sponsorship laws for employment, an employee wishing to change from one sponsor (employer) to another must obtain permission from their current sponsor in the form of a “No Objection Certificate” (NOC). Without the NOC, an employee must leave Qatar at the end of their employment and may not return for two years. Provision of an NOC is discretionary.
It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. Driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero and drinking alcohol outside licensed premises are illegal. Penalties include detention, substantial fine, prison sentence and deportation. Alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system.
The penalty for drunkenness and defamation may include corporal punishment if the offenders are Muslims.
Public displays of intimacy are illegal. Australians have been detained by police for displays of affection in public, obscene language or gestures and, more frequently, alcohol-related offences.
Homosexual acts and all kinds of sex outside of marriage are illegal and may lead to severe punishment, including imprisonment and fines. Foreigners have been imprisoned for having sex with people to whom they are not legally married. See our LGBTI travellers page .
It is illegal to harass women. Harassment includes unwanted conversation, prolonged stares, touching any part of the body, shouting, stalking or any comments that may offend.
The importation of pornographic material, pork products, alcohol, firearms and religious books and materials (other than those relating to Islam) is illegal and such items will be confiscated on arrival in Qatar.
Photographing public government buildings and military sites is prohibited. Taking photographs of local people, particularly women, without permission and where there has been no previous contact, is illegal and can lead to arrest or fines.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate if an Australian Citizen is detained or arrested, this might not be the case in Qatar. To ensure that the Australian Government is aware of your circumstances, you should request that the police or prison officials notify the Australian Embassy or Consulate in the United Arab Emirates as soon as you are detained or arrested.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin .
There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Qatar and you should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Men and women should dress modestly with clothing covering the shoulders and knees.
Information for dual nationals
Qatar does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Qatari dual nationals who are arrested or detained.
The children of Qatari fathers automatically acquire Qatari citizenship at birth. Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. You should consult a lawyer to resolve custody disputes. Qatari fathers can prevent their children from leaving Qatar.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia may be illegal or considered a controlled substance in Qatar. You should carry a copy of your prescription, a letter from your doctor and carry all medication in its original packaging. This applies while you are taking medication which is detectable in your system. Travellers, including those intending only to transit Qatar, are advised to contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Qatar before travelling for further information.
While public medical facilities in the major cities of Qatar are adequate, services may not be available in remote areas. For patients without travel health insurance, hospitals will require a guarantee of payment before commencing treatment. Costs can be very expensive, depending on the level of health care required and length of stay. In the event of a serious illness or accident or for complex medical procedures, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities could be necessary. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable.
Cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been reported in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Other countries outside the Middle East have also reported imported cases from returned travellers. See our MERS-CoV travel bulletin.
Where to get help
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Qatar. You can obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian Embassy which is in the United Arab Emirates:
Australian Embassy, Abu Dhabi
8th Floor, Al Muhairy Centre
Sheikh Zayed the First Street
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Telephone: (971 2) 401 7500
Facsimile: (971 2) 401 7501
The working week is Sunday to Thursday, in accordance with local practice.
If you are travelling to Qatar, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register on-line or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above mission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Qatar often experiences extremely high temperatures. During the hottest months of the year, the temperature can exceed 50˚C.
Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service . If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor the media for the most up-to-date information.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.