Qatar launches online tourist visa service

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Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority, have launched an e-visa platform through which visitors to Qatar can directly apply for tourist visas.

Tourist visa applications can now be completed on the new e-visa platform, which is currently in pilot phase, at www.qatarvisaservice.com.

This new service is set to ease visitor access to Qatar, as it offers a more efficient and transparent visa application system, with standardised fees. Previously, applicants for tourist visas were required to submit their applications through accredited Qatar-based entities, such as hotels and tour operators. Now, travellers can apply directly and track the status of their application online.

Tourist visas will cost $42 – including the service charge – with payments made online using a Visa or Mastercard. Documents required to complete the application include, passport scans, personal photographs, a scan of the passenger’s airline ticket, and the address they will be staying at when in Qatar. Passengers who are traveling on Qatar Airways will have the added convenience of having their ticket validated automatically as the visa service will be linked to the airline’s booking platform.

The average timeframe for a response is 48 hours from when all of the applicant’s documents have been received. Once a traveller’s application is accepted*, they will receive an e-visa by email.

The launch of the online visa service comes as Qatar steps up efforts to boost visitor arrivals, having introduced a new free-of-charge transit visa in November 2016. The new transit visa structure now allows passengers with a minimum transit time of five hours in Hamad International Airport, to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days), a significant increase from the previous scheme which allowed transiting passengers to remain in Qatar for 48 hours only.

The Qatar Visa Service is a result of partnership between Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, Qatar Airways, and Qatar Tourism Authority.The agreement was signed in September 2016 with the aim of enabling Qatar to identify and implement visa solutions for its visitors, while capitalising on Qatar Airways’ expansive international footprint.

Director General of the Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs, Brigadier Mohammed Al Ateeq, commented, “Qatar’s Ministry of Interior continuously strives to make government services as smooth and efficient as possible. The roll-out of this phase of the Qatar Visa Service will optimise resources, while enhancing our visitors’ overall experience. We look forward to working with our partners on the second phase, which will include additional services, such as renewing visas.”

Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Rashid Al Mazroui, Director of the Airport Passports Department at MOI, said “This launch marks the first phase of the roll out of the online visa platform. As we progress through the pilot phase in the coming weeks, we will add several more visa types to the system, with the objective of enhancing the experience of all visitors to Qatar.”

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Doha is quickly emerging as a world class tourist destination and we are committed to our continued collaboration with Qatar Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Interior to facilitate the process by which passengers are able to visit our country. With the recent launch of the free transit visa for visitors to Qatar and our recent incentive to provide stop over passengers with free hotel accommodation through the +Qatar campaign, alongside this new streamlined application, I am confident that we will continue to see Qatar emerge as a leading stopover destination.”

Mr. Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at Qatar Tourism Authority, added, “Easing access to Qatar through visa facilitation is one of the crucial elements in achieving growth in the tourism industry, making a positive impact on our economy and enriching our society. We have already started seeing the impact of the new transit visa scheme introduced last November, with a 53% increase in the number of stopover visitors to the country in March 2017 compared to March 2016. We look forward to welcoming more visitors thanks to the increasingly convenient online visa service.”   

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