International Driving Permit Qatar
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driver’s License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
In comparison, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in Qatar?
Like several other countries, Qatar is also a party to United Nations Convention on road traffic. It allows tourists to drive vehicles while traveling the country if they hold a valid International Driving License. However, the country’s traffic laws are slightly different from other countries, as nationals of a few specified countries are eligible to drive in Qatar for one week without having an IDP if they hold a valid domestic driving license. However, this liberty is not available to every tourist, and the Traffic Department at Madinat Khalifa can verify the list of countries whose licenses are acceptable for one week.
However, if your stay in Qatar exceeds one week, you will have two options. The first option is to apply for a Temporary License with a maximum validity period of three months. The second option is to have an International Driving License, which allows you to drive in Qatar for six months. However, car rental companies do not rent vehicles to holders of temporary licenses. Hence, a valid International Driving Permit while traveling in Qatar is always advised.
Applying for an IDP
The process of applying for an International Driving Permit is swift and convenient, and this is where we can assist you with the best of our services. All you have to do for your international driving license is to provide us following documents and leave everything to us:-
- Complete details of your valid local driver’s license
- Scanned images of your valid local driver’s license
- Passport size photographs
- Payment of fee
For the issuance of a digital IDP, you will have to wait for just two hours after submission of the above documents, and the IDP shall be delivered to your email inbox. However, in the case of an express order, the same process shall be completed within twenty minutes.
As far as a printed IDP is concerned, the same shall be delivered to your postal address, and the delivery time shall depend on your selected delivery method. However, the delivery period generally ranges from two to thirty working days.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
Certain United Nations Agreements govern the international traffic rules, regulations, and laws on road safety. Qatar signed Vienna Convention on Road Traffic in 1968, on March 06, 2013. This international convention aims to ensure that uniform traffic rules are framed and implemented worldwide to maximize road safety and minimize the chances of road accidents.
To meet the objectives of the international conventions on road traffic, the contracting parties are required to ensure the proper application of traffic laws within their territorial jurisdiction by the imposition of appropriate fines. The prerequisites for improving road safety include implementing correct procedures for issuing a driving license, i.e., only after attending theoretical and practical courses, passing both theoretical and practical tests, and appropriate medical checkups as and when required.
In addition, the contracting parties to the international conventions are required to allow foreigners to drive vehicles in their country if they have a valid International Driving Permit (IDP).
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Qatar
A valid driver’s license lets you drive vehicles within the territorial boundaries of the country or state you are a citizen of, while IDP holders are eligible to drive cars outside the boundaries of their country/state as well. Further benefits of having an International Driving Permit are listed below for your reference.
International Driving Permits are recognized legal documents which find their strength in international conventions. At the time of issuance of the international driver’s permit, a valid national driving license is translated into the twelve most frequently used international languages, making its holder eligible to drive abroad.
Evidence of Your Domestic License
Anyone with a valid driver’s license is eligible to apply for an IDP, meaning having a domestic license is a prerequisite for issuing an IDP. Due to this fact, an IDP serves as documentary evidence that its holder has been issued a domestic license in his country/state.
Valid Identification Document in a Foreign Country
A valid IDP is a translated version of your local driving license. Hence, it contains all the relevant information required to prove its holder’s identity, including their complete name, identification number, nationality, etc. While traveling to a foreign country, an IDP serves as a valid proof of identity, letting its holder easily explore the world.
Eligible to Rent a Car
Car rental agencies working in Qatar do not rent vehicles to foreigners unless they present a valid International Driving Permit at the time of hiring services. Hence, IDP makes its holder eligible to hire vehicles in a foreign country.
Peace of Mind
Since an IDP is a legal document protected by international conventions, it serves as evidence of the fact that its holder is eligible to drive vehicles in their country, further proving the identity of the holder – giving the holder peace of mind that he can drive abroad without any fear of violation of traffic laws of the country.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Qatar
The traffic department of Qatar allows foreign visitors to drive in the country for one week based on their national driving license. However, this liberty is available to the citizens of specified countries only, the list of which may be verified by the Traffic Department of Qatar. The citizens of other countries must apply for either a temporary license which lets them drive for three months, or must have an IDP if they intend to drive in Qatar.
When should I get a Qatar Driver’s License?
A foreign driver’s license allows its holder to drive in Qatar for seven days if they belong to any of the specified countries included in the list maintained by the Traffic Department of the Ministry of Interior. However, if the tourist does not belong to any country on the said list, they can either apply for a temporary license for three months or can drive around the country for a maximum period of six months if they hold a valid IDP. However, after the expiry of six months, having a full local license becomes mandatory. A full license is issued to non-Qataris for a maximum period of five years as per the country’s laws.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Qatar
Since an IDP is not an independent license but is issued based on a valid local license issued by an individual’s country or state, the expiry of the local license makes the IDP invalid. However, the expiry of an IDP does not affect the validity of your local license. Hence, if your IDP expires during your stay in Qatar, you can contact the same authority which issued your original IDP and get it renewed after payment of the required fee; the same is the case with your local license. If your local driving license expires during your stay in Qatar, keep calm and contact the local authority that has issued that license. Submit an application for renewal along with particulars of an expired license, a couple of passport-size photographs, and payment of the renewal fee, and get your license renewed in no time.
Car Rental in Qatar
Qatar is a small country, and having a car at your disposal may make your visit more convenient. You can visit multiple sites in one day. Several car rental agencies are working in Qatar and offer a wide range of services at different rates, however, as fuel prices are low in the country, visitors can rent vehicles at very economical rates. The average rent per day is $31, while a pro-tip to find cars at even better rates is to book your vehicle at least one day before your arrival. Further, the off-airport car rental locations offer cheaper vehicles at cheaper rates than on-airport car rental locations. Weigh your options to get the best prices.
The most frequently hired vehicle in Qatar is Compact, while the minimum age to rent a car is twenty-one (21) years. In addition to the age limit, vehicles are not rented to new license holders as the car rental agencies require a valid license issued for at least one year before the vehicle is hired. The documents required to rent vehicles in Qatar are listed below:-
- Valid driver’s license or an international driving permit as holders of temporary licenses are not eligible to rent a car in Qatar.
- Copy of ID card or passport
- Credit Card
- Contact information
Driving and Safety in Qatar
Qatar is a safe place to drive vehicles as most roads are in good condition, marked by proper signage, speed cameras installed, and minimum traffic violations due to fear of heavy fines and strict penal actions. However, it is always better to invest some time in understanding the traffic rules of a country before the visit. Here are some of the traffic rules of Qatar for your reference:-
Do not drive without a license
Qatar’s first and foremost traffic rule is to drive vehicles only if you are a holder of a valid license, be it a valid Qatar driving license or an international driving permit. If someone is caught driving without a valid license, there will be a huge fine and chances of imprisonment. Further, if a non-license holder has an accident in Qatar, their insurance will become invalid, which means a substantial financial loss.
Minimum Age to Drive in Qatar
The minimum legal age to drive in Qatar is eighteen (18) years.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Qatar is a desert that is prone to extreme weather conditions. Due to scorching heat, the risk of car breakdowns increases. Further, sudden sand storms can reduce the visibility to zero, and don’t forget that camels may be wandering on the roads at night, which is nothing but a recipe for disaster on the dark streets. Hence, be vigilant while driving, keep your car in good condition, stick to the main roads and keep your mobile phones charged so that you can ask for help if required.
Insurance is Mandatory
Per the country’s laws, minimum third-party insurance is a must for vehicles, and you cannot get your vehicle registered without insurance coverage.
The drivers must have their valid driving license, vehicle registration documents, and insurance details at all times. Traffic police may ask for these documents at any time.
Left Hand Drive
In Qatar, vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road, and to overtake a vehicle, you have to choose the right lane. While entering the roundabouts, vehicles already on the roundabout must be given prioritized right of way.
Use of Seat Belts
The use of seal belts is mandatory for all passengers as per the traffic laws of Qatar. Children below the age of twelve are not allowed to sit in the front seat.
The maximum speed limit for built-up areas is 60 KPH, while for national highways maximum allowed speed limit is 120 KPH. Speed cameras are installed on almost all the roads, and heavy fines are imposed on speed limit violations.
Driving under the influence of alcohol
Qatar has a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol. In case of violation, heavy fines are imposed, and the violator may also be imprisoned for a specified period.
Use of Mobile Phones
The use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited while driving, and heavy fines are imposed if someone is caught driving while using mobile phones. However, hands-free devices may be used unless it causes to divert the attention of the driver.
Cancellation of License
Traffic police in Qatar have implemented the points system, which states that if a driver has fourteen points in twelve months, his license shall be suspended for three months. For repeated offenders, the license may be permanently canceled.
Top 3 Places to Visit in Qatar
The State of Qatar is a country in Western Asia, the capital of which is Doha. The country’s official currency is the Qatari Riyal, a Muslim country with Arabic as its official language. The country has a desert climate; hence, it deals with extreme weather conditions like sandstorms, very high temperatures, etc. While traveling to Qatar, you may enjoy visiting the following locations.
Souq Waqif is a traditional marketplace in the capital of Qatar. The gold section in the market offers a wide range of jewelry. You can buy intricate and beautiful headpieces, multi-layered necklaces, and many more items of your choice within your budget. In addition to purchasing jewelry at the Souq, you can hold a falcon in your hand as falconry is a famous traditional sport in the country. Not only falcons, but you will also get to see beautiful Arabian horses and camels in the camel pen. The market consists of shops selling traditional items like shoes, antiques, and handicrafts, which may serve as a souvenir from Qatar.
If you have a keen eye for art, Souq Waqif Art Centre is your go-to place to witness hand-painted tiles and amazing intricate woodwork. Souq Waqif is a diverse marketplace where you can find all the species and learn a lot about pearls. You will find the best cosmetics and enjoy a variety of foods as well.
Museum of Islamic Art and National Museum of Qatar
If you are interested in diverse Islamic Heritage, pay a visit to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), which is famous for its collections of Islamic Art from around the world. MIA has a wide range of metalwork, woodwork, ceramics, coins, paintings, and many other art pieces. The museum’s architecture is one of its kind, and its management arranges multiple knowledgeable events.
However, MIA is not the only museum in Qatar. The National Museum of Qatar is the one which includes Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani’s Palace, which is considered to be the heart of Qatari National Identity. The museum galleries represent three interrelated themes, including the natural history of the Persian Gulf, artifacts from Bedouin culture, and the establishment of the Qatari State till the discovery of oil. The collection of the museum includes almost 8000 objects which are inclusive of books and historical documents as well.
Who doesn’t like an entertaining place where you can have some fun while doing some shopping as well? Qatar offers this unique combination through Villaggio, a shopping and entertainment center. The mall provides almost everything visitors want, from clothing to jewelry, cafes to restaurants, movies, theme parks, and whatnot. Have fun at the mall and make your trip to Qatar even more memorable.
Can I drive a vehicle in Qatar without an IDP?
Yes, foreigners can drive vehicles in Qatar for one week without having an IDP if they hold a valid local license issued by their country/state. However, after the expiry of seven days, it is mandatory to either have a temporary license or an IDP.
Does an IDP Replace Your Native Driver’s License in Qatar?
The basis document always remains your native driver’s license or the license issued by your country/state. An IDP is just the translated version of your local license, and it becomes invalid as soon as your local license expires.
What is the legal driving age in Qatar?
The minimum legal age to drive in Qatar is eighteen years.
Is it safe to drive at night in Qatar?
Driving at night in Qatar may be challenging on the road, which does not have proper lights as you may come across camels on the road, which may cause serious accidents.
Is vehicle insurance mandatory in Qatar?
Yes, insurance coverage is a prerequisite for vehicle registration in Qatar, and drivers must keep their insurance details with them at all times while driving around the country.