Qatar - Consular Information Sheet
July 19, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Qatar is a traditional emirate, governed
by the Al-Thani family in consultation with a council of ministers,
an appointed advisory council and an elected municipal advisory
council. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation
of the country's customs, laws and practices. Qatar is a modern,
developed country. Tourist facilities are available. Qatar is
not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
nor to any other bilateral or multilateral consular accord.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required.
For further information, travelers may contact the Embassy of
the State of Qatar, 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite 200, Washington,
D.C. 20016, telephone (202) 274-1600, fax (202) 237-0053, or the
Consulate General of the State of Qatar, 4265 San Felipe Street,
Suite 1100, Houston, Texas 77027, telephone (713) 968-9840, fax
(713) 968-9841. Additional
information is available on the internet at http://www.traveldocs.com.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of the relationship between the
child and an accompanying adult and, when the child's parent(s)
or legal guardian is not traveling with the child, permission
from that adult for the child's travel. Having such documentation
on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Qatari law does not recognize dual nationality.
Persons who possess Qatari citizenship in addition to U.S. citizenship
are considered Qatari citizens by the State of Qatar and are subject
to Qatar's laws. Qatari citizenship imposes special obligations,
particularly with regard to child custody and exiting or entering
the country. For additional information, see Dual
Nationality flyer or contact the U.S. Embassy in Doha.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Americans in Qatar should exercise
a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains
concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against United
States citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans
should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required
travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with
suspicion. In addition, American citizens are urged to avoid contact
with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence
of the objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left
unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all
times. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to
take the same precautions. In addition, U.S. Government facilities
may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to
time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure
CRIME: Crime is rare and generally not a problem for travelers
in Qatar. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be
reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S.
Embassy or Consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables,
protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling
abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets, A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
For Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa. They
are available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Basic modern medical care and medicines
are available in the government-run Hamad General Hospital and
the privately run American Hospital in Doha. Serious medical problems
requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United
States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often
expect immediate cash payments for health services.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your
trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare
provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses
you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available
via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and
other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers
at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299),
or via their Internet
site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Qatar is provided for general reference only,
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of public transportation: Good
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Good
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Good
Availability of roadside assistance: Poor
Travel by road in Qatar is generally safe, although safety regulations
in Qatar are not consistent with U.S. standards. Roads in Doha
and Qatar's highway system are well planned and engineered. Informal
rules of the road and local customs, however, may prove frustrating
for first-time visitors. The rate of automobile accidents due
to driver error is higher than in the United States. In rural
areas, poor lighting, wandering camels and horses, and high-speed
driving are other factors of concern.
For specific information concerning Qatari driver's permits,
vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact
either the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Washington, D.C. or
the Consulate General of the State of Qatar in Houston, Texas.
additional general information about road safety, including links
to foreign government sites, see the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
AVIATION OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial service
by local carriers at present between the United States and Qatar,
nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Qatar's civil aviation
authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards
for oversight of Qatar's air carrier operations. For further information,
travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within
the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.htm.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. As a result of the August 23, 2000 crash of a Gulf
Air flight in the Persian Gulf, DOD has recommended that military
commanders use air carriers other than Gulf Air for DOD official
travel, at least until investigation of the crash is complete.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Qatari customs authorities enforce
strict regulations concerning importation into Qatar of items
such as alcohol, narcotics, pork products, firearms, or anything
deemed pornographic by Qatari authorities. While importation of
religious material for personal use is acceptable, importation
of religious material for the purpose of proselytizing is not.
It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the State of Qatar in
Washington, D.C., or the Consulate General of the State of Qatar
in Houston for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Pets entering Qatar require an import permit from the Ministry
of Agriculture. Cats with proper documentation are allowed to
enter with no difficulty, but some breeds of dogs, especially
large dogs, are not admitted. Application forms for import permits
may be obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture through a sponsoring
employer. A copy of the pet's health certificate and vaccination
record must be submitted with the application.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Qatari laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Penalties for drunk driving and other alcohol-related offenses
are treated with severity and may result in heavy fines, imprisonment,
or expulsion from the country. Penalties for possession, use or
trafficking in illegal drugs in Qatar are strict, and convicted
offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Homosexual
activity is considered to be a criminal offense, and those convicted
may be sentenced to lashing and/or a prison sentence, and/or deportation.
IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENT: U.S. citizens, particularly
those of Arab descent, are encouraged to carry a copy of their
U.S. passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by
local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Qatari employers/sponsors have
customarily held on to the passports of their foreign (i.e., non-Qatari)
employees during the terms of their employment in Qatar. Foreign
nationals, including U.S. citizens, may not leave Qatar without
the permission in the form of exit visas from their employer/sponsor.
Islam provides the foundation of Qatar's customs, laws and practices.
Foreign visitors are expected to remain sensitive to the Islamic
culture and not dress in a revealing or provocative manner, including
the wearing of sleeveless shirts and blouses, halter tops and
shorts. Western bathing attire is worn at hotel pools and beaches.
THIRD COUNTRY VISAS: The United States Embassy in Doha
cannot assist U.S. citizens in Qatar to obtain third country visas
for unofficial travel.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living
in or visiting Qatar are encouraged to register at the Consular
Section of the U.S. Embassy in Qatar and obtain updated information
on travel and security within Qatar. The U.S. Embassy is located
at the Al-Luqta District on 22nd February Street, P.O. Box 2399,
Doha, phone (974) 488-4176. For after hour emergencies, American
citizens may contact the duty officer at (974) 553-1085. On the
Internet, you may reach
the Embassy website at http://www.usembassy.org.qa. The workweek
in Qatar and for the Embassy is Saturday through Wednesday.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 2,
2000 to update information on Entry Requirements, Safety and Security,
Medical Insurance, Criminal Penalties, Special Circumstances,
the Embassy's phone number; to revise the section on Children's
Issues; and to add the section on Third Country visas.