General

What is Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA)?

Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) is the organization responsible for the development and regulation of Qatar Free Zones. It was established in 2018 with a mandate to build world-class free zones to bring industry-leading companies to the zones that will contribute to Qatar’s continued economic growth and diversification.

QFZA operates through its own regulatory framework, granting companies streamlined access to markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Western Asia. The QFZA team has a very proactive investment attraction and business development ethos; its senior management is committed to attracting companies by connecting them with the growth opportunities available from the Qatar Free Zones. QFZA also facilitates a streamlined set-up process by providing company registrations, licensing, visas and a range of other services for companies to quickly start and maintain operations.

Is Qatar a competitive location to set up my business?

Qatar is forecast to be the fastest growing GCC economy in 2021 according to the World Bank, and has some of the world’s most exciting projects, including the FIFA 2022 World Cup and the North Field Expansion project which is significantly increasing Qatar’s natural gas output.

The nation ranks extremely high on a number of key metrics, including the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Competitiveness Report that scores Qatar:

  • 1st on internet penetration
  • 3rd on ease of finding skilled employees
  • 5th for availability of venture capital

Qatar’s systematic investment in its digital and physical infrastructure are some of the key reasons that are attracting the world’s leading companies to set up in Qatar Free Zones.

What export markets can I reach from QFZA?

The Free Zones are directly connected to both Qatar’s award-winning air and seaports, providing our investors access to global markets and supply chains. Over 60% of the world’s population is within eight hours fly-time and five days sailing time from QFZA.

  • Umm AlHoul Free Zone, a 3000-hectare area adjacent to Hamad Port. Hamad Deep Sea port currently provides shipping routes to over 65 destinations
  • Ras Bufontas Free Zone is a 400-hectare area adjacent to Hamad International Airport. Qatar Airways is one of the world’s largest air cargo carriers, serving over 160 destinations worldwide.

The Free Zones are also strategically located 20 minutes from Doha and approximately a one-hour drive from the Saudi border.

Our Free Zones provide streamlined access to both ports with no checks or barriers to access from the Zones.

What industries are permitted in the Free Zones?

We are focused on certain key sectors where Qatar has a strong value proposition. Within these broad areas, we are focused on exciting opportunities in a range of key sectors.

QFZA legislation sets out the list of permitted activities for the Free Zones.  The list of permitted activities is grouped in Sector Clusters as follows:

  • Construction & Real Estate
  • Consumer Goods
  • Media & Design Services
  • Energy & Environmental Technologies
  • Food & Beverages
  • ICT
  • Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences & Medical Services
  • Industrial Products & Services
  • Professional & Business Services
  • Financial Services & Insurance
  • Retail Trade
  • Leisure & Hospitality
  • Automotive & Transport Equipment
  • Logistics & Warehousing
  • Marine Activities & Services
  • Aerospace & Aviation Activities

We have developed a clear approach and the supporting regulatory, physical and digital infrastructure to support the types of activities that attracting to the Free Zones. We are creating specialized areas within the zones for these sectors, providing a platform for like-minded organizations to explore the possibilities for joint research, development and partnerships.

Investment Development

Can I own 100% of my business?

Yes, 100% foreign ownership is one of many incentives we offer to investors.

Am I subject to any local employment requirements?

No, there is no rule around employing a minimum number of local employees.

What type of business can I establish in QFZA?
Investors have the option to establish Limited Liability companies or Branch entities depending on the requirement of the company.
What are the benefits of locating within the Free Zones?

The free zones will give foreign companies a base from which to tailor their products and services for nearby markets across the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. The legal environment in Qatar’s free zones is based on a common law concept and is entirely under the jurisdiction of the Free Zones Authority, providing a seamless environment to conduct business.

Moreover, companies operating in Qatar will benefit from 100% foreign ownership, renewable 20-year tax holidays – zero corporate tax, zero customs duty, and of course no personal income tax – and access to a skilled and flexible workforce under a permit regime directly managed the Free Zone Authority..

Additional benefits include:

  • State-of-the-art infrastructure.
  • Streamlined access to award-winning air and seaports.
  • Mix of pre-built and land lease options to suit your current and future development plans.
  • Regionally competitive land pricing.
  • No restrictions on capital repatriation.
  • Strong intellectual property and data protection laws.
  • Access to investment funds for eligible companies.
  • Access to partnership opportunities.
What asset options do the QFZA offer?

We offer the following leasing options:

  • Land for self-build projects
  • Pre-built industrial & warehousing units
  • Offices, either fully-fitted or shell units
Can I purchase land or buildings in the Free Zones?

The land and buildings are lease-only.

What are the eligibility criteria for establishing operations in the Free Zones?

We are focused on industries and companies that have the potential to contribute significantly to Qatar’s diversification and growth.

Companies or investors intending to secure pre-built units or land plots and locate a business in one of the Free Zones must demonstrate that the proposed business activities within the Zone meet this requirement.

Potential Free Zone investors should also:

  • Operate in one of QFZA’s target sectors
  • Plan to use their position in Qatar to primarily trade in regional and international markets.
  • Demonstrate their ability to generate incremental added value to the national economy.
  • Demonstrate the financial capability to undertake the proposed investment.
How much will it cost to rent land, buildings or office space in the Free Zones?

Rates are regionally competitive. Specific pricing arrangements will be determined based on your land requirements, specific utility and location requirements which will be determined during the application process.

How do I arrange a site visit to the Zones?

Site visits can be arranged by your QFZA Investment Development representative as part of the application process – please email us at investors@qfz.gov.qa and we will tell you how we can support your expansion plans in the Middle East.

Are utilities available within the zone?

Yes, plots, units and offices are fully serviced. Electricity, water and sewage connections are installed throughout the zone and to the extremities of each plot.

Our digital infrastructure offers six-way telecommunications duct banks, redundancy networks, fully deployed 5G capabilities, and fiber-optic access points offering speeds of up to 1GBps.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in establishing a business in the Free Zones the first step is to complete an online enquiry on our website at https://qfz.gov.qa/enquiry.

Once we receive your enquiry, you will be contacted by a member of our Investment Development team to discuss your plans in more detail. QFZA will then determine if your proposed business plan is eligible for the Free Zones and, if so, will provide you with a formal application form to be submitted along with a License Application Fee.

How can I find out more?

For more information, email us at investors@qfz.gov.qa.

Will an Account Manager be assigned to help us with the registration & set-up process?

Yes, as a commitment to the ease of doing business, we provide a one-stop shop for investors, supporting you every step of the way.

A private account manager and onsite guidance will be assigned to guide you through the application, registration and licensing process to set-up your business alongside some of the world’s most recognizable company names.

Are visas issued through the Free Zones?

Yes – residency, work and sponsorship visas are all easily obtained through our dedicated iCARE team who will support you with everything you need to get you and your team up and running as quickly as possible.

Taxation, Customs, Imports, and Exports

Is there corporate tax?
There is a 20-year corporate tax holiday for all Free Zone investors.
Are the Free Zones customs duty-free?
Yes, all goods required to conduct economic activity in the Free Zones can be brought into the Free Zones and stored, manufactured, produced or processed therein, and then re-exported without being subject to customs duties and without any time limitation. The only exception is goods sold on to Qatar’s local market, which will be subject to regular customs procedures.
What type of licenses are required to import and export from QFZA?

The QFZA will issue tenants with the relevant license according to the nature of their business. This license, along with the Certificate of Incorporate, will allow the company to register on the QFZA Customs system and import and export as required.

Who is responsible for transport from Port to QFZA and what is the process?
Investors are free to use their own transport, or they may subcontract out the transportation requirements to a third party. The investor would need to be registered on the QFZA customs system and process the consignment on the system.
What is the process of securing partial clearance of a consignment from the port that would have a portion going to QFZA and another to mainland Qatar?
These would either need to be consigned separately or the investor may send the whole consignment to their QFZA entity, where it could then split and be shipped to the mainland. The mainland shipment would subject to standard duties.
Are bank guarantees or deposits required?
While bank guarantees or deposits are not required, customs guarantees will require the submission of a letter of guarantee to QFZA.

Security

Do investors require access permits for staff, laborers, employees and vehicles?
The security of our investors and their employees is a top priority. All staff and vehicles need to be registered to secure access to the Free Zones. A full security access policy will be shared with investors once their license is issued.

Storage & Inventory

Are tenants allowed to have offices in warehouses for inventory management?
Yes. Tenants can construct a warehouse with offices or choose to lease one of the QFZA pre-built units that incorporate both warehousing space and offices.
What is the process regarding the insurance of buildings and inventory?
All investors are required to insure inventory and also are required to have a minimum QAR20m third party policy.
What is the process for inventory management and cycle count at a QFZA-based warehouse?
The investor has full control over their own inventory management system. The investor will be expected to provide periodic or ad-hoc reports to customs authorities to enable balances-tracking between the customs system and the investor’s inventory management system.
What are the requirements and options regarding the storage of hazardous goods?
Depending on the type of goods or project, the investor may need to obtain environmental approval from QFZA. Our dedicated team will assist with the relevant approvals that will be required.