An added benefit of living in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is that one can visit other nearby GCC countries by road. Most of these states offer visit visa on arrival to GCC residents of certain professions. During my stay in Khobar (Saudi Arabia), I have visited Bahrain several times as it’s just at an hour drive from my current city. You can read more about my Bahrain experiences by clicking here. However, Qatar is relatively far from Khobar.
Qatar border is around 300 km from Khobar city of Saudi Arabia and it takes further 90~100 km to reach Doha – the capital of Qatar. Total travelling time is around 4 hours plus approximate 1 hour for immigration and border crossing. This time for border crossing is variable depending upon the time you are crossing the border. During eid holidays, it could prolong up to 2~3 hours for whole immigration process. However normally, on weekends, it shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Qatar “Visit Visa on Arrival” Requirements
My below text is for guideline only based on my personal experience. One should always refer to the Qatar’s MOI official website for latest visa requirements.
Documents Required: No special document is required. Passport, original Saudi Iqama and Saudi Exit/Re-entry visa are sufficient.
Documents Validity: All documents (passport, Saudi Iqama and Saudi Exit/Re-entry visa) should have a minimum validity of three months.
Visa Duration: One month and can be extended up to three months.
Visa Fee: QR (Qatari Riyal) 100 per person
List of Approved Professions of GCC residents to Avail Qatar Visit Visa on Arrival: https://www.moi.gov.qa/site/english/departments/PassportDept/resources/2011/01/20_20401.pdf
Qatar “Visit Visa on Arrival” Procedure
The procedure of crossing Saudi-Qatar border is pretty simple. In fact, I have observed that procedure of crossing GCC states border is more or less same. So if you understand below, you can expect similar steps while going to UAE, Oman or Bahrain etc.
Saudi Arabia-Qatar Border Crossing
There are three steps for exiting Saudi Arabia. One doesn’t has to come out of car in this process. Everything can be done while officials remain in their booths and you remain seated in your vehicle.
Step-1: At first booth, you will be given a small white paper for vehicle export. They have installed cameras which will automatically detect your car number and the small paper will be given to you. At max, the guy may ask you about number of passengers in the vehicle. This small paper will be stamped at various booths during the process until it is collected by Qatari officials at the last step.
All immigration and customs booths on both sides are almost similar to below one.
Step-2: The second booth is for immigration. The official will collect passport, Saudi Exit/Re-entry visa and Saudi Iqama. After necessary entries in the system, he will stamp the passport with Exit seal and give you back all items.
Step-3: At this booth, the official will simply verify the exit-stamps on your passports and may match photos on passport by looking at you and will let you go. For women in veil, there is a separate women-only small cabin next to this booth. Veiled-women may have to go there for face recognition.
Now you have exited Saudi Border. There is a short length of road, around 10 km, between Saudi & Qatari border. I am not sure which state own this short patch.
Step-4: This is the first Qatari booth for immigration. GCC citizens do not require visa to enter Qatar, so they go directly in the vehicles queue for immigration. However, GCC residents need a visa. There’s a separate building beside immigration booth. If you are GCC resident, you have to park your car there and go inside the building to immigration counter to obtain a visa. Here, the official will collect your passport, Saudi Iqama and the small slip of vehicle export. He will inquire you about your destination in Qatar and your Saudi mobile number for entry in the system. He will also ask you for the visa fee. As I said before, Qatari visit visa fee is QR 100 per person. Be noted that Qatar immigration counter is cash free i.e. cash is not accepted for visa fee. So, you have to pay the fee through your credit card. If you don’t have a credit card, there is a Qatar National Bank (QNB) branch opposite to this immigration building. You have to go there and purchase an e-cash card which will cost you QR 30 in addition to visa fee. You can keep this card for your next Qatar trip or you can return it back to bank after paying visa fee for QR 20. J Qatari visit visa is a small bar-code sticker. If visa is granted, the immigration officer will paste the sticker on your passport and stamp it.
Qatar immigration building can be seen behind the vehicle’s queue.
Step-5: After getting visa, go back to your car and move to Customs booth. The official will ask for your driving license and your car’s registration. After some entries in system, he will return you all items and will give a slip (half of A4 paper size).
Step-6: Next booth is Custom clearance. Here, they will ask you to park your car and open car’s boot. Mostly, it’s just a formal inspection. Once satisfied, the official will stamp the half-A4 size custom clearance paper and will let you go.
Step-7: Now you have to drive to next booth which is for Vehicle Insurance for Qatar. Insurance fee is QR 96. You can also pay in Saudi Riyals. Cash is accepted here, no need of credit card. The guy will give you vehicle insurance paper. You have to keep this insurance paper with you throughout your stay in Qatar.
Step-8: This is the last booth. Here, the officials will ask for your iqama or passport for verification and will take both vehicle export and custom clearance slips. Congrats, you are done now and free to wander in Qatar.
Qatar-Saudi Arabia Crossing on Return
The process is almost same as above. A short description is below:
Step-1: First booth is Qatar customs. Here you will get a small paper of vehicle export.
Step-2: Next booth is for immigration. The official will stamp your passport with Qatar Exit Seal.
Waiting at Qatari immigration booth to get passports back.
Step-3: At third booth, he will simply verify exit seal on your passport. This is the last Qatari booth. Next after travel of few kilometers, Saudi border will start.
Step-4: Saudi official will stamp Entry seal on your passport.
Welcome back to Saudi Arabia.
Step-5: Customs check. They will ask you to park your car inspection. After that he will stamp on vehicle export paper as well as will give you another small paper of custom clearance.
Step-6: This is last Saudi Booth. They will verify Saudi Entry stamp on passport and will take both vehicle export and custom clearance slips. Congrats again, you have safely made your trip of Qatar.
One thing I noticed that all Saudi officials were male and were not fluent in English. On the other hand, on Qatari side, I saw both men and women and they were relatively good in English.
Also be careful in driving near border as I saw long queue of loaded trucks, most of them going to Qatar from Saudi Arabia. Seems that Saudi Arabia enjoys more share in cross country trade.
There are a number of speed cameras on Qatar highway, one speed camera every 8 km, I guess. However, speed cameras are scarce on Saudi Arabian side or perhaps, no fixed speed camera at all on KSA side.