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How to set up a company in Qatar


Qatar is an attractive jurisdiction because of its very low tax rates and opportunities for company development in an economy with high GDP and high quality of life. While foreign investors have certain restrictions in terms of foreign company ownership, they can invest in Qatar by co-owning a company with a Qatari national. Complete information about how you can set up a business in Qatar can be obtained from our company formation specialists in Qatar.
 

What are the steps for opening a company in Qatar?

 
Foreign companies that want to expand their business to Qatar can open a branch or incorporate a new business entity. A requirement for doing business in the country for foreign corporations is to appoint a representative. One of our company registration agents in Qatar can help by answering your questions about the steps for business incorporation in the country. A few steps are mandatory for all investors who decide to open a company in Qatar:
 
  1. reserve a company name with the Commercial Registry and Trademark Department;
  2. open a bank account and deposit the paid-up capital;
  3. draw up the Articles of Association and submit them for approval from the Commercial Companies Control Department;
  4. authenticate the Articles of Association;
  5. submit the documents and register with the Commercial Registry belonging to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
  6. register for tax purposes and make a company seal;
  7. a trade license and signage license are obtained from the Municipality of Doha. Other special permits and licenses may be needed, as per the company’s activities.
 
The procedures described above are a summarized description of the steps that need to be achieved in order to have a registered and operational legal entity. We recommend seeking advice from our Qatar company registration firm. Our team of experts can help you understand the process and abide restrictions imposed in respect to foreign ownership.
 
 

What types of companies can I open in Qatar?

 
The most common types of companies in Qatar are the limited liability company, the public shareholding company, and the branch. Partnerships, joint partnerships, and limited partnerships, as well as joint ventures, are available business forms. Foreign investors in Qatar commonly choose to open a limited liability company. The majority of the business (51%) needs to be owned by a Qatari national or by a group of Qatari national shareholders.
 
The Qatar Financial Centre and the Qatar Science & Technology Park are two special investment zones where foreign company incorporation is encouraged and where investors benefit from a special tax regime and regulatory framework. Companies incorporated in the Qatar Financial Centre are subject to a parallel legal framework, modeled after the English Common law. Full foreign ownership is permitted here and companies incorporated under this special regime can access the Qatar local market. One of our company formation agents in Qatar can give you more information about this special Centre. 
 

Registering an LLC in Qatar

 
The registration of a limited liability company in Qatar is made with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The incorporation is not complex, however, it is recommended to pay attention to the following aspects:
 
  • A name verification and reservation need to be made before the documents are prepared.
  • The Articles of Association and the Memorandum of Association need to be drafted in Arabic and then notarized.
  • QAR 200,000 represent the minimum share capital which must be deposited in a local bank account.
  • Depending on the business, special licenses and permits are needed.
     
It is important to know that foreign investors in Qatar cannot have more than 49% ownership in the company. This is why a local partner is needed for opening a company in Qatar. 
 

Can I establish a branch in Qatar?

 
Yes, you can establish a branch in Qatar, respecting a few conditions in this direction. For instance, the first thing to do is to obtain a decree from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in Qatar. The incorporation of a branch in Qatar is a complex process, however, the procedure involves a series of documents to prepare, plus the approvals of the authorities. Among these, the declaration showing the intention of establishing a branch, made by the parent company, is needed. Moreover, The Articles of Association and the Memorandum of Association, a power of attorney and the certificate of registration for a foreign shareholder of the company from abroad are among the documents which need to be drafted at the Commercial Registry in Qatar. If you would like to set up a branch in Qatar, you should seek advice from our team of company formation agents in Qatar.
 

Can I purchase a shelf company in Qatar?

 
Yes, a vintage company in Qatar can be purchased by both domestic or international entrepreneurs wanting to start a business in Qatar and skip the registration formalities for opening a company from scratch in this country. The ownership transfer is the main process to consider when deciding on buying a shelf company in Qatar. It is good to know that a ready-made company is already registered in Qatar, it is kept on a shelf until it ages, has no activities, and therefore no debts. However, it is recommended to solicit company due diligence and make sure the vintage company you wish to purchase has no problems and no liabilities. It is good to know that a shelf company has a bank account, and thus, it is ready to activate on the market. Entrepreneurs from abroad have many reasons to consider purchasing a shelf company, and among these, the possibility of commencing the activities right away, as soon as the ownership transfer took place. Moreover, the company can be a good candidate for a bank loan, due to its clean history background and no liabilities. In-depth support for buying a shelf company in Qatar can be offered by our team of consultants at any time.
 

Can I open a holding company in Qatar?


Yes, holding companies can be established as limited liability companies and for QAR 10 million as minimum share capital for public companies. Holding companies are beneficial from a tax point of view because there is no withholding tax, VAT or wealth tax imposed. Just like in the case of other types of companies, holding companies in Qatar must be approved by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in Doha. We mention that a shareholding company in Qatar must be established by at least 5 stockholders, not exceeding 11. All shareholders need to agree on the type of holding company, whether private or public. Holding companies in Qatar can have control of several firms but without performing economic operations. The registration of a holding company in Qatar is not complicated, but as a foreign investor, you should solicit the support of a company formation agent in Qatar. Let us tell you more about how you can open a holding company in Qatar.
 

Liaison office in Qatar


A liaison office in Qatar is a representative office chosen by international entrepreneurs who are interested in presenting their business on the market. This is a great choice for businessmen who want to develop marketing activities and see what kind of clients they can target. A representative office in Qatar can be established without minimum share capital, it has no financial activities and cannot agree on signing contracts of any kind. Promoting the foreign business in Qatar can be easily done with the help of a liaison office in Qatar, mentioning that this office will act under the same name as the one of the parent company. All the formalities for registering a liaison office in Qatar start with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in Qatar, the institution that issues the needed approvals. All the formalities of a liaison office can be handled by one of our company formation representatives in Qatar.
 

How can I open a bank account in Qatar?


Opening a bank account in Qatar is not a complicated procedure, not even for foreigners in this country. International investors must open a bank account when the registration of a company starts. A copy of the valid passport and the company documents are needed for opening a bank account in Qatar. As for natural persons in this country, they will need to provide a letter from the company they work for if they want to open a bank account. 
 

Virtual office in Qatar


Virtual office services can be chosen by businessmen who do not want to set up a traditional office in Qatar in the first place. They can benefit from a complete package and a series of services. A notable business address, call answering and forwarding, secretary services, mail collection and forwarding, fax services and a virtual assistant are among the services comprised by a virtual office package. People can also ask for extra meeting rooms and bank statements collection. The costs for virtual office packages in Qatar can be requested from our company formation agents in Qatar. One of our specialists can also give details about how you can start a business in Qatar, mentioning that we can help you with the authorities in charge of the incorporation.
 

Company taxation in Qatar

 
Qatar has a low taxation regime, with a minimum number of taxes on corporate profits and no taxes on income from employment. The corporate tax rate in Qatar is 10%, with a higher 35% rate for gas and/or oil operations. There is no withholding tax on dividends, no capital duty, payroll tax or real property tax. Qatar does not levy a value added tax. One of our company formation agents in Qatar can give you complete details on tax compliance for companies.
 

Short details about the Trade Register in Qatar

 
The registration process of a company in Qatar starts with the Commercial Registry and the local offices, depending on the city you wish to operate in. The flux of foreign investors made the authorities in Qatar develop the one-stop-shop system, mentioning that all the formalities for registration are made in just one place. The Trade Register in Qatar is under the jurisdiction and control of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, meaning that all the approvals are issued by the Ministry. Moreover, the Commercial Registry allows entrepreneurs or natural persons to make company verifications, meaning that information about the name of the company, owners, number of employees, and the date of registration is available for anyone, free of charge. Instead of dealing with issues when registering a company in Qatar, you may seek support from our team of company incorporation agents in Qatar who can help you draft the documents with the Commercial Registry.

When opening a company in Qatar investors are required to register with the Commercial Registry and the Chamber of Commerce, within the one-stop-shop system in place with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The details about the company, available with the Commercial Registry include the name, contact details, authorized individuals, number of employees and the names of the company directors and managers.

You can search the public records by knowing the company ID. One of our company registration agents in Qatar can help you perform a Companies Registry search.
 

Company details for Qatar Financial Centre companies


Companies registered with the Qatar Financial Centre, a special investment zone, are under a different taxation and registration regime. The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) public register of companies is a separate one where individuals may find information on companies registered in this special investment zone.

Individuals can search the online database for companies registered and operating within the QFC via the online portal. The data available concerns the type of legal entity, the status of the company (licensed, suspended license, insolvency or inactive), its address, details about its founders/shareholders and information concerning the types of activities the company is licensed to perform in Qatar. All those wishing to use the QFC online portal for company verification must know the company’s name and/or QFC number.

 

Making investments in Qatar


Qatar is a well-known investment center that is found on the list of numerous international entrepreneurs who want to do business in this part of Asia. The economic stability, the experienced local workforce and the multitude of business choices are among the advantages of the business environment in Qatar. Here are numerous companies activating in the oil & gas sector, the most prolific in Qatar and the field in which foreign investors enjoy huge profits. The following data and information highlight a little bit the business direction and economy of Qatar:
 
  1. The USA, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore are the main FDI contributors in Qatar;
  2. Most of the foreign investments are directed to the financial services sector, construction, oil & gas, public works;
  3. Approximately USD 32,743 million was the total FDI stock registered in Qatar in 2018;
  4. The 2020 Doing Business report revealed by the World Bank ranks Qatar 77th out of 190 economies in the world;
  5. The corporate tax rate in Qatar is set at 10%, representing one of the tax advantages for international investors in this country;
  6. The inexpensive workforce and the great infrastructure are also important and solid business benefits provided by Qatar to foreign investors.


Moody’s credit rating for Qatar


In July 2017, Moody’s Investors Service set the rating of Qatar at Aa3.

An Aa3 rating represents the fourth highest rating in Moody's Long-term Corporate Obligation Rating. Obligations which are rated Aa3 are considered to be of high quality and have an extremely low credit risk.

The system of rating securities was first utilized by John Moody in 1909. The purpose of this rating was to confer investors a basic system of gradation in which the future connected creditworthiness of securities can be gauged. Our Qatar company formation consultants can further explain this aspect. We also offer help to open a company in Qatar.

The gradations of creditworthiness are pointed out by rating symbols, with each of them representing a group in which the credit features are mainly the same. There are nine symbols, starting with what is used to designate the least credit risk to the one symbolizing the greatest credit risk.

The rating of Aa3 considers certain credit strengths which characterize country's credit profile and mirrors Moody’s point of view that the sizeable net asset position of the domestic government and the great levels of wealth would continue to sustain the sovereign credit profile at the time the rating was issued.
 

Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Qatar


In August 2017, Standard & Poor’s Global Rating issued the credit report of Qatar, which maintained it at AA-.

Standard and Poor’s declared that they expected the ongoing boycott of the local economy to lead to a slower economic increase and hinder the fiscal performance. Our company registration agents in Qatar can provide further details related to this matter.

The rating affirmation mirrored the expectation that the local government would continue to manage the impact of the boycott while maintaining Qatar’s score rating at the same levels.
 
Qatar is ready for business and welcomes investors from all over the world. The energy industry is among the appealing sectors in which investors activate, considering that Qatar is rich in oil reserves and natural gas. Moreover, the authorities have improved the business environment, letting investors easily establish their presence in varied fields of interests.
 

Frequently asked questions

 

1. Why open a business in Qatar?

 
Qatar is one of the wealthiest country in the world. The reason for this is because of the governmental policies which have proven to be extremely successful. The country presents a favorable business environment due to the investment incentives, banking services, political and social stability, as well as infrastructure. 
 

2. What are the types of business entities in Qatar?

 
The business entity types in Qatar are:
 
partnership company;
limited partnership company;
• single person company;
holding company;
particular partnership company;
shareholding company;
limited share partnership company.
 
Our Qatar company formation advisors can provide all the necessary information on these types of business entities, as well as assistance related to setting up a company in Qatar.
 

3. What is the most popular business entity for foreign investors here?

 
The most popular form of business entity established by foreign investors in Qatar is the limited liability company (LLC). Most of the times, a foreign entrepreneur requires one or several local partners to get involved in the business and to act as the majority shareholder.
 

4. What are the main characteristics of an LLC in Qatar?

 
The main characteristics of an LLC in Qatar are:
A minimum share capital of QR 200,000;
An office space is necessary for at least one year lease to obtain the trade license;
At least 51% of the company has to be owned by a local citizen, except if an exemption was issued;
10% of the yearly net profits have to be kept inside the business until the legal reserve attains 50% of the share capital.
 

5. Can I open a branch in Qatar?

 
Branches in Qatar are utilized to effectuate specific governmental contracts. They must be authorized by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce to establish if the contract is “government qualified”. The branch in Qatar does not require a local partner. Our company registration agents in Qatar can provide more details related to this form of business.
 

6. What is a trade representative office in Qatar?

 
This business entity, usually named a “shop window”, is set up by foreign investors without having to present a local partner. However, the trade representative office cannot effectuate commercial activities in Qatar. Its sole purpose is to display its products or services.
 

7. What is the company taxation in this country?

 
Companies in Qatar which are owned by foreign citizens have to pay taxes on their profits. Local companies do not pay taxes, however, foreign partners must do so on their share of the company.
 
The tax rates start at 10% at profits between QR 100,000 and QR 500,000 and can reach up to 35% for income above QR 5,000,000.
 

8. How can a foreign company do business in Qatar?

 
A direct legal presence can be achieved in the country by setting up a branch of a foreign company.
 

9. What financial reports have to be filed yearly?

 
All taxpayers in Qatar have to submit accounts in maximum four months from the end of the financial year. 
 

10. Can foreigners acquire property in Qatar?

 
Ownership of property in Qatar is restricted to local citizens. Citizens from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries can own land without restrictions in three special areas managed by Qatar Diar.
 
Please feel free to contact our team of consultants for assistance during opening a company in Qatar, regardless of the business structure you choose.