- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Qatar. You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for information on local travelling conditions.
- Statements by international terrorists have called for attacks against Western interests in the Gulf region, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests. See Safety and security.
- Medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia may be illegal in Qatar. See Health.
- There are strict laws on personal conduct, particularly in regard to intimacy and personal relationships, as well as the consumption and possession of alcohol. See Laws.
- Activities such as having cheques dishonoured, non-payment of bills, fines or hotel bills, outstanding personal loans and local credit cards, are considered fraudulent acts in Qatar and may result in imprisonment. If you become involved in commercial or civil litigation it is possible that you will be prevented from departing Qatar until the matter is resolved. See Laws.
- The Australian Embassy in Qatar is due to open later in 2016. In the meantime, the Australian Embassy to the United Arab Emirates will continue to provide consular assistance to Australians in Qatar.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Australian passport holders can apply for a 30 day visa upon arrival in Qatar. The visa fee is currently QR100 and is payable by credit card only. As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the Embassy of the State of Qatar or check the official State of Qatar E-Government English Language website for the most up-to-date information.
Medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia may be illegal in Qatar. Travellers have been detained and deported for carrying medication to treat HIV and hepatitis, or for testing positive to either illness. See Health for further details.
Qatari authorities have advised that visas will not be issued in Australian emergency passports. This applies to travellers seeking to enter or transit Qatar. If you lose your Australian passport while visiting Qatar, you will not be able to depart Qatar until you have obtained a full validity passport – a process which may take several weeks. If you lose your passport during transit, you will be required to return to Australia to obtain a new passport.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
Terrorists have demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct attacks throughout the Arabian Peninsula, including at places frequented by Westerners. Statements by international terrorist groups have called for attacks against Western interests in the region. These include references to residential compounds and military, oil, transport and aviation interests. There have been a number of terrorist attacks in the Gulf region in the past 12 months.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.
Civil unrest/political tension
Regional developments have an impact on public opinion in Qatar. You should be aware of local sensitivities to regional affairs, monitor the media and avoid protests and demonstrations.
Qatar has a low incidence of crime. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is rare but does occur. Banking and credit card fraud can also occur.
Unaccompanied women can be vulnerable to verbal and physical harassment. Women should take care when travelling alone in Qatar, particularly after dark.
Money and valuables
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 online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in Qatar. The combination of Qatar’s many roundabouts, road construction and high speeds make driving in Qatar challenging and dangerous. Driving on rural roads in Qatar may be dangerous because of unsafe driving practices, insufficient lighting, the presence of wandering animals and drifting sands.
Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly, which can significantly reduce visibility leading to road accidents. Although rare, rain in Qatar can lead to dangerous road conditions and flash flooding.
Avoid arguments over traffic incidents, as offensive behaviour, including obscene language and hand gestures is against the law. If you are involved in a driving accident, contact police and stay with your vehicle if it is safe to do so. You may only move your vehicle off the road if no one has been injured in the accident. It is illegal for a driver to leave the scene of an accident until permitted by the police to do so. For further advice, see our road travel page.
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, notably 4x4 adventure activities in the desert, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider. Always use available safety equipment, such as seatbelts, even if others don't.
Desert travel should only be undertaken in well-equipped vehicles with sufficient water, fuel, food provisions and a mobile phone. You should leave a copy of your travel itinerary with friends or relatives.
Travel by Sea
Travellers entering the Gulf area by sea should be aware that many areas are sensitive due to 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.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Qatar.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Qatar, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you are detained or arrested, the Qatar authorities may not automatically notify the Australian Government. As soon as possible, you should request police or prison officials to notify the Australian Embassy or Consulate in the United Arab Emirates.
Drugs and alcohol
Penalties for drug offences include long prison sentences. The presence of illegal drugs in the body is considered possession. See our Drugs page.
Medications that are available over the counter or by prescription in Australia may be illegal in Qatar. See Health for further details.
Travellers have been detained and deported for carrying medication to treat HIV and hepatitis, or for testing positive to either illness. Please contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate of Qatar if you have concerns.
It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. Driving with any alcohol in your system, and drinking alcohol outside licensed premises are illegal. Penalties include detention, substantial fines, prison sentences and deportation. Alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system.
It is illegal for Muslims to drink alcohol and corporal punishment may apply.
Commercial, civil, family and labour law
Australians have been involved in commercial and civil disputes where the local firms or courts have taken possession of their Australian passports. This effectively prevents them from leaving Qatar until the dispute is resolved. Activities such as having cheques dishonoured, non-payment of bills, court fines or hotel bills, overdue personal loans and local credit cards, are all considered fraudulent acts and may result in imprisonment.
Transit passengers with outstanding debts or criminal charges in Qatar may be detained upon arrival. Bail is generally not available to non-residents of Qatar who are arrested for crimes involving fraud. Debtors can be imprisoned until debts are settled.
Australians who 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 Dual nationals below.
Under Qatari labour law, employees are required to obtain their employer’s permission in the form of an exit permit before leaving the country.
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.
To comply with local Qatari requirements, Australian documents may require additional government legalisation before they can be used overseas. For details see our Legalising documents page. You should check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Qatar on local requirements for using Australian documents in Qatar.
Victims of sexual assault
It is possible for victims of sexual assault in Qatar to face arrest, detention or criminal prosecution for having sex outside of marriage, depending on the circumstances of the assault. Sexual assault victims should contact the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi or Consulate-General in Dubai, or the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra, as quickly as possible to obtain relevant information on these issues and guidance on what support services may be available. See Where to get help for contact details.Consular officers cannot provide legal or medical advice but can provide lists of English-speaking service providers who may be able to assist you in this process.
Qatar has strict laws in relation to personal conduct. Public displays of intimacy are illegal. Australians have been detained by police for obscene language or gestures, defamation, and more frequently, alcohol-related offences.
Homosexual activity is illegal in Qatar and may lead to severe punishment, including imprisonment and fines. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Sex outside of marriage is also illegal in Qatar. Foreigners have been imprisoned for having sex with people to whom they are not legally married.
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.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in early June 2016. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan in Qatar. For more information see our Ramadan bulletin.
There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Qatar and you should take care not to offend. Men and women should dress modestly with clothing covering the shoulders and knees. If in doubt, seek local advice. Tourist attractions, shopping malls, and other public places will often have their own specific dress codes displayed or available on their websites.
Information for dual nationals
Qatar does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the Australian Government’s ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Qatari dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend that you enter Qatar on your Australian passport.
The children of Qatari fathers automatically acquire Qatari citizenship at birth. Qatari fathers can prevent their children from leaving Qatar.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
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 high, depending on the level of health care required and length of hospital 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.
Dust and sandstorms occur regularly and can exacerbate existing respiratory issues.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas.
The Australian Embassy in Qatar is due to open later in 2016. In the meantime, you can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy 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
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision. The working week is Sunday to Thursday, in accordance with local practice.
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 if you are within Australia.
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 online 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.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Qatar often experiences extremely high temperatures. During the hottest months of the year, June to September, the temperature can exceed 50˚C.
Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly. Rain and thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor the media for the most up-to-date information.
- DFAT country information
- Austrade market information
- Advice for business travellers
- Advice for women
- the Australian Government's Stay Smart Online safety and security website
- the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) SCAM Watch website
- the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network website.