Qatar’s new free transit visa scheme comes into effect on Tuesday (1 November 2016), Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority have announced.
Under the new system, travellers with layovers of five hours or more at Hamad International Airport (HIA) can request a complimentary transit visa.
The scheme will allow transiting passengers of all nationalities to enter Qatar for up to 96 hours in between flights.
All visas are to be granted at the sole discretion of the Ministry of Interior.
The initiative to introduce the free transit visa is the result of a collaboration between Qatar Airways and QTA to position the country as a tourist-friendly destination and attract more international visitors, Qatar Airways said in a press statement.
Passengers can apply for their free transit visa through any of Qatar Airways’ offices or online.
To be eligible for the free transit visa, passengers must have :
- a confirmed ticket for a journey into Qatar, with a confirmed onward journey out of the country on a Qatar Airways-operated flight,
- a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the time of arrival in Qatar, and
- a valid email id to facilitate the visa process.
Visa applications should be made at least seven days (excluding public holidays) prior to arrival in Qatar and a maximum of 90 days.
Once approved, the transit visa will be valid for 90 days from the date of issuance and meant for a single entry into Qatar.
Passengers must hold a copy of the pre-approved transit visa at the time of boarding at their airport of origin as well as upon arrival into Qatar.
Restructured fares on Qatar Airways
To ensure that passengers make the most of the new transit visa, Qatar Airways said it has restructured its fares for international flights transiting through Hamad International Airport
“This will allow passengers to have a free stopover in Doha without any additional charges to their ticket, either on the outbound or inbound journey. However, passengers travelling from the GCC and Middle East on return tickets will be able to take a stopover in Doha on their outbound journey only without additional charges,” the statement explained.
To maximise on their transit through Qatar, visitors can explore Discover Qatar stopover packages offered by Qatar Airways Holidays.
These include desert safaris, city tours, visits to Katara – the Cultural Village, Souq Waqif, The Pearl-Qatar, museum and art gallery visits, architectural tours and hotel bookings, the statement adds.