Residence Permit

The Road to Doha

In individual’s first priority upon moving to Qatar is, usually, to sort out their residence permit (RP).  Entry into the country requires a visa, which you can buy from the Customs desk at the airport on arrival, but this is strictly a tourist visa which only lasts for three months.  If you are planning on staying in the country longer than this and working, then you must obtain an RP.

RPs are acquired with the help of your sponsor; this is your employer if you’ve come here to work, or an immediate family member (husband, wife, parent) if you do not work and are considered under their sponsorship.  Thus, everyone is Qatar is accounted for, and everything you do is linked back to your RP as it is an official form of identification.

The RP process is a bit long-winded but nothing too intense; it’s not particularly pleasant but I suppose it could be worse.  Firstly, you need a proper work visa, which starts with a visa application, authorized by your employer, filled out in Arabic and sent to the requisite government office.  While waiting for this application to go through, you should take advantage of your free time and go to a medical clinic to have your blood group determined.  Most clinics know exactly what needs to be done and can fill out the appropriate ‘RP blood group form’ for you.  You should also have some passport-sized photos taken (on a blue background!) as you’ll be needing a few of these in the future.

Once the visa application is returned and the blood type is determined, all individuals must proceed to the Supreme Council of Health (way, way, way, on the outskirts of town) in order to have the necessary medical examination.  The medical exam consists of a chest X-ray and blood test, and is, by far, the most tedious portion of this whole exercise.  For my medical exam, the events unfolded as listed below…

1) Arrive and show security guard on the door documentation and receive number ticket.

2) Take documentation and number ticket to one of two ladies who fill out a registration form in Arabic.

3) Wait until number is called, pay for medical exam and get Medical Commission barcode form.

4) Wait for number to be called, get chest X-ray, get appropriate barcode form stamped.

5) Take barcode form to blood-drawing counter, receive blood collection vials, get blood drawn, get appropriate barcode form stamped.

6) Go home and wait for results.

At least, that’s how I think the process should go as it was a bit chaotic in there with at least 100+ women waiting around to get the same things filled, stamped, X-rayed and drawn as me.  Also, although my company employ someone to help with the admin portion of the RP process, and this man was able to meet me at the Supreme Council of Health with my documentation, the examination centre has strict ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ sections and I had to go in alone, not speaking a word of Arabic; every time I was pointed to go somewhere I hoped it was in the right direction.

All in all, the actual medical exam bit was not bad, it was the waiting that killed me.  I arrived at the clinic at 8am and by the time I was ready to leave it was nearly 11:30 and I was (literally) emotionally and physically drained; at the blood-drawing counter I saw the 2 women in front of me get one vial each so when the woman behind the counter scanned my barcode and produced no less that three vials, my eyes widened in disbelief.   She noticed my surprise and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, ‘sorry’.  The nurse who took my blood attributed the 3 vials to my profession, I guess the words ‘laboratory’ and ‘research scientist’ bring up a few red flags.

Once this huge medical examination task is out of the way, the only thing left to do is have your fingerprints taken at Civil Defense’s offices (way, way, way on the outskirts of town) and wait for all of the processing to go through, simple!


About Alexandria Lipka

Alexandria is the Lab Manager of a small biotechnology company based in Doha, Qatar. She was born and raised in the United States, where she received her undergraduate degree, before moving to the United Kingdom to work and further her studies. After 10 years in a rainy, grey London, she decided she might like living in the desert.

13 Responses to Residence Permit

  1. Maryam says:

    Hi Alexandria,

    I will be traveling to Qatar to teach primary children. HR have asked that I get some passport photos done on a blue background for my visa. What type of blue is it? I am from the UK and our photos are done on a white background. The photo shop I’ve been to have asked me to bring them a sample of the blue. I would be very grateful for your help. Thank you.

    Best wishes,

    • Alexandria Lipka says:

      It’s a light blue background (sorry but I couldn’t find and examples for you).
      If it’s possible for you to wait until you get to Qatar to get them done, every photo shop has the background and is familiar with taking the photos.

  2. ralpha ekene says:

    How do i get both work and resident permit in Qatar from nigeria without having any sponsor.

    • Alexandria Lipka says:

      You cannot get a Residence Permit in Qatar without a sponsor.

      • Loki says:

        Dear Alexandria,

        Is it true that you can not leave the country as a woman and her child without the signature of your sponsor. (this being your husband).


  3. kelvin iyke says:

    How do i obtain a tourist visa to Qatar?

  4. Adesope Adedamola Bukky says:

    What are the likely questions to be expected in the enbassy for the procurement of the visa?

  5. aly says:

    Hi Alex,

    i would like to know more about the medical test prior to Obtianing the residency permession, what kind of tests i should go through and what for? is it only Blood test or urine tests also?


  6. guy kelly says:


    Do you know approx how long to expect for obtaining sponsorship VISA. I’ve been told I have to go ahead first and then my wife and kids can follow. Could they come in on tourist visas. It will be tricky as we have a 5 yr old and 1 yr old


  7. Kim says:

    Can a US Company sponsor an employee to work in Qatar? Or must it be a Qatar based company? I am having trouble finding a clearly written sponsorship requirements. I can find stuff that refers to sponsors, but nothing defining “sponsor”.

    Thanks so much!

  8. Johnson says:

    I have been giving a 5 year Qatar entry visa.And i was told to wait for the work or residence permit.But am confused because i dont know if the visa is genuine or not.It was just a printed paper.Also,how long can i wait for RP.I need your help please.Best wishes

  9. ifeanyi says:

    hi alex thanks for your good work in this site,please when i reach qatar,can i still do double job(i mean have two jobs at a time)and a good job that will fit my degree bsc computer engineering……

  10. Raj says:

    Dear Alix,

    Thanks for your feedbacks on this site,

    I haved a got a business visa for 3 months to qatar, can plz let me know how much time to get the residency visa in qatar if my sponcer offers for me.

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