Qatar Is Relaxing Visa Rules For Travelers On Short Visits

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I’m an unabashed fan of Qatar Airways and that’s primarily because the airline offers some truly fantastic Business Class deals from various cities in Europe to any number of cities in Asia. Unsurprisingly all of Qatar Airways flights route through their home base in Doha so, although this can take a little longer than a direct flight, it also offers an opportunity to visit Qatar.

Qatar’s New Transit Visa

Unfortunately, in the past, Qatar’s visa regulations have been nowhere near as easy-going as those you’ll find when you visit their neighbors in Abu Dhabi and Dubai – they even charge for entry when you arrive at their immigration desks – and that has, understandably, put a few people off from visiting.

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But things are about to change.

Per Qatar Airways:

Qatar Airways, Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar’s Ministry of Interior announced today a revised tourism visa scheme available to passengers transiting through Doha in a move to promote Qatar as a world-class stopover destination.

The new transit visa structure now allows passengers with a minimum transit time of five hours in Hamad International Airport, to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days), without the requirement to apply ahead of time for an entry visa.

This is a significant increase from the previous transit visa scheme, which allowed travellers with a minimum layover of eight hours to spend a maximum of 48 hours (two days) in Qatar. This increase is designed to make stopovers easier and more attractive to Qatar Airways’ global passengers, and aims to deliver additional value to the local economy while strengthening Qatar’s position as an attractive tourist destination.

The good news continues (emphasis is mine):

The Qatar transit visa is free of charge and available on arrival at Hamad International Airport to passengers of all nationalities, upon confirmation of onward journey and completion of passport control procedures.

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To Sum Up

The new Qatar transit visa is:

  • For stays of up to 96 hours (4 days) – more than enough time to have a good look around
  • Free
  • Issued upon arrival in Qatar – so no need to visit a consulate
  • Open to travelers of all nationalities

Ok, so you didn’t have to visit a consulate before but this is still a nice improvement on what we had before.

Nowhere in the press release does it mention when this new visa will be available…but there’s a good chance that this is available right now.

The Qatar Airways press release talks about “the new transit visa now……” so the word “now” implies that the scheme is already up and running…but I’ll update this post as and when I get more concrete information.

Bottom Line

Clearly this is an economic move by Qatar (they want tourists to stay in Qatar, spend their money and boost the economy) rather than anything born out a of a wish to make travelers’ lives easier…but I’m not complaining.

As someone who will be transiting though Qatar quite a bit next year and as someone who would like to be able to see a bit of the country without too much bureaucratic hassle I think this is great news.

Qatar Airways is a massive player for travelers looking to travel between Europe and Asia/Australia both in comfort and at a good price so anything that makes transiting though Doha a little easier (and cheaper) is all around good news.

All images courtesy of Qatar Airways