Qatar is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The country’s economy primarily relies on oil and natural gas. However, Qatar has plans to diversify and reduce its reliance on these sectors and focus more on tourism and financial services. Anyone wanting to set up a business in Qatar is aware of the booming industries and their share in the economy of the country. But starting and launching a business in Qatar can often be seen as a long, confusing, expensive, and grueling process. The information available out there can sometimes be ambiguous and perplexing, and to make things worse, one often gets conflicting pieces of advice from different people.
For the most part, investors wanting to incorporate a business in Qatar have the obvious choice of forming a Limited Liability Company, and the ground rule for company formation in Qatar is that a non-Qatari can invest in Qatar only through a joint venture and all the other business entities must have one or more Qatari residents or must have 100 percent Qatari-owned entities holding no less than 51% of the share capital.
Features of a Limited Liability Company in Qatar
- In order to start Qatar LLC company, a minimum capital of QR 200,000 is required
- An LLC in Qatar can carry out an unlimited number of contracts simultaneously
- It is mandatory for an LLC formation to have a suitable office space prior to obtaining a trade license
- Corporation tax is 10% on the profits of the company
- The profit share for the company does not need to reflect that of the shareholding
- Minimum 2 shareholders and 1 director is mandatory
How to Set Up an LLC in Qatar?
To start things off, you are required to get the following three pieces of documents to be fully incorporated and perform all the necessary activities to run and grow your business in Qatar. They are:
- Commercial Residence, commonly known as CR
- Trade license
- Computer card which is to issue Residence Permits (RP) for your employees
The following steps are undertaken for opening a business in Qatar:
1. Register Your Trade Name
The first and foremost step for LLP registration is to decide a name for your company that is unique and not already registered in the Company Registrar. Once you have decided on the same, you are required to register the name at the Ministry. Note that if your desired name doesn’t have a meaning in Arabic, you will have to pay an extra QAR 1,000.
2. Draft Articles of Incorporation
An article of Incorporation is a standard document which lists all the shareholders of the company, their ownership, rights etc. Once your trade name is registered, get the Articles of Incorporation typed, listing all the shareholders and their ownership stakes.
3. Issue the CR
Submit your Articles of Incorporation so that you can get a CR for your enterprise. The officials will ask you about the type of business activity your company is conducting since every activity has different rates. The price can range from QAR 1,500/year to QAR 7,000/year. So, you add your business activities, pay the respective fees for each of them, pay the processing fees, and have all your shareholders there in person to verify their identity. And you will then be issued your CR.
4. Get the Trade License
After receiving your CR, the next important step is to get a Trade License, in order to get an office space that is approved by the MEC (Ministry of Economy and Commerce) for conducting your business. The first step here is to fill out the requisite application form from the MEC website, and submit it to the MEC, along with the following documents:
- A copy of the ID of each of the authorized persons in your business
- A copy of your CR
- A copy of your Articles of Incorporation
- A photo of your office building from the outside, which shows the blue plate that has the address information
- A photo of your office inside the above building, showing a signage with the name of your business on the door to your office [note that the MEC will send a person to inspect your place, so make sure you have proper signage]
- The building completion certificate and a copy of the ID of the building owner
- Rental acknowledgment, ownership instrument, and Civil Defense approval
- Authorization letter in real estate rents (in case of subcontracts)
After submitting the documents, a representative from the MEC will come and inspect your office. Once the inspection is successful you will get an SMS within 24 hours confirming an issue of Trade License. After which you can collect the same from MEC which is usually charged at QAR510 with an additional QAR 10 as inspection fees.
5. Computer Card
Before you apply for your Computer Card, you will need to get an official company stamp that will be used on all your official paperwork. For this, you can go to any major printing press and order an official company stamp. They will ask for a copy of your CR, Trade License and ID copies of the shareholders. This usually takes a day to get done, and it should cost you less than QAR200. Now it’s time to apply for a Computer Card without which you cannot hire any full-time employee for your company as you can’t issue them a Residence Permit. A Computer Card is issued by Immigration. You will need the following documents to get the card:
- The requisite application form, which has been duly filled. It will ask for the names of the individuals who want to be on the Computer Card as the signing authority. Also, there will be a place on the form for you to imprint your company’s stamp
- A copy of your CR
- A copy of trade license
- ID copies of all the shareholders in the company
- ID copies of individuals which needs be on the computer card
Once you get done with all these pieces, you are good to start your Limited Liability Company in Qatar.