Driving 101: Getting your driver’s license in Qatar

Tayyaba Imran, Magazine Writer

(Photo/ Expatica)

Acquiring a driving license in Qatar is quite the accomplishment for an international student in Qatar Although the country offers accessible public transportation, being able to drive across the country (or even beyond) gives you a chance to explore Qatar, road-trip with your friends and, most importantly, avoid hefty Uber costs to get to places where public transportation is not available.

The process of getting a driver’s license, however, can be complicated. If you are interested in getting a driver’s license in Qatar, read on! We have put together a cheat sheet for you on the essentials of the driver’s license process in the country.

Step 1: Find a driving school that fits your schedule

All driving schools in Qatar are administered and regulated by the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Traffic, therefore, they all have a similar curriculum. However, it is important that you make sure which school works the best for you in terms of driving instructors, timings and facilities.

Here are some of the functional driving schools in Qatar:

Doha Driving Academy

Al Khebra Driving Academy

Alijarah Driving Academy

Dallah Driving Academy

Gulf Driving Academy

Karwa Driving School

Qatar Driving Learning Institute

Once you choose your driving school, you will be required to take an eyesight test that will determine if you are eligible to secure a license.

Step 2: Application Process

It is important for you to first establish where you fall in terms of the prerequisites for obtaining an eligible driving license in Qatar. People who already have a license in their home country and people with an international license can convert their existing license to a Qatari one, provided their country of nationality falls under the “List of Exempted Countries.”  The countries in this list are the UK, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Korea, and Malaysia. In addition, if you have a license from any of the countries the Qatari government has specified, you may take the driving test without having to take any classes.

However, if you do not have a license from the countries mentioned above, you are required to take driving lessons. Once you have cleared your eyesight test through an optician present at your school or an accredited clinic, it is time to apply for your driving course.

Each driving school varies in terms of what documents they require for registration; however, the following documents are generally required throughout driving academies in Qatar:

  • Valid Qatar ID
  • Eye Test Receipt
  • Passport size photograph (quantity varies across schools)

You are required to provide these documents along with an application form that asks for your general information.

Step 3: Choosing the right course for yourself

Most driving schools, such as Doha Driving Academy, offer a variety of courses depending on your convenience, availability and past driving experience in your home country. For example, if you already own a license in a different country, but this country does not fall under the list of countries exempted from the test or the driving course, you are still eligible to take the “Half Course” for driving, which has fewer classes and a lower fee.

The “Full Course” is designed for beginners where they are able to learn the basics procedures about driving. As the government has specified, for every beginner learning to drive, at least 15 hours of theory classes and 35 hours of practical classes are mandatory. On the other hand, students who are license holders in their home countries are eligible for half courses that act as a refresher before they take their final test.

You can also choose between VIP courses or regular courses. Choosing a VIP course decreases waiting time on tests and registration. In addition, students get the liberty to choose their test dates and their own driving instructors.

The Doha Driving Academy offers the following courses:

Motor Vehicle Course (Car) Full

Duration: 45 training sessions – (Theory: 5 & Practical: 40)

Price: QAR 3650

Motor Vehicle Course (Car) Half:

Duration: 25 training sessions – (Theory: 5 & Practical: 20)

Price: QAR 3100

VIP Motor Vehicle Course (Car) Full

Duration: 45 training sessions – (Theory: 5 & Practical: 40)

Price: QAR 5700

VIP Motor Vehicle Course (Car) Half:

 Duration: 25 training sessions – (Theory: 5 & Practical: 20)

 Price: QAR 4200

Step 4: Prepare for your theory test

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, all driving schools used to hold in-person theory classes where the curriculum revolved around traffic signs, traffic rules and basic information about traffic laws in Qatar. However, during the pandemic, driving schools have withheld in-person classes and introduced alternatives for their students.

Doha Driving Academy has introduced an application for prospective students where they can access theoretical lessons and even take mock exams online to prepare for their actual test at the academy. The preparatory period for the test varies upon your course level and course type, although the whole process of acquiring a driver’s license will generally take 90 to 110 days.

Step 5: Take the theoretical test

 Right after the registration and application process, you will be given a tentative date for your test where you are required to arrive at your driving school. Prior to the test date, students either taking full or half courses are required to prepare through resources provided by their school.

Previously, approximately two months ago, students were required to take a test with 20 questions out of which 19 had to be correct. However, according to a representative at Holoteq, an information technology firm responsible for the distribution of theoretical tests for driving schools, students now have to answer 40 questions in 30 minutes without a single error as the government has tightened the application and test process to ensure security.

Your test scores will be displayed on the screen immediately after you take the test. After clearing the test, you will have to choose a schedule for practical lessons.

Time to take the wheel!

Step 6: Start your Practical lessons

As you begin your lessons with your instructors, you can choose the type of car you want to drive, e.g., whether you prefer automatic or manual operation.

According to Doha Driving Academy, with the help of your driving instructor, you will start learning the fundamentals of driving like perpendicular parking, L parking, reverse parking, parallel parking and general road test. Usually, to prepare for driving, your driving school will provide you with additional facilities like traffic simulation where you can have an immersive experience before you drive on an actual road.

Upon approval of your instructor, you will be given a tentative test date where you are required to take a practical driving test.

Step 7: Take your Practical test

The day has come when you finally get your driving license!

In a test with a traffic police officer, it is determined if you are prepared to drive in Qatar. In this test, you will be asked to perform multiple parking techniques, drive in a gated area within your testing center and finally, to test your proficiency, your examiner will take you on the road. During the test, you are also required to answer further questions about traffic laws and signs. As this test is solely administered by the Traffic Police department in Qatar, the types of questions asked vary and are dependent on the examiner’s discretion.

The practical test is relatively challenging, however, with proper preparation and practice, passing is achievable.

Just after you finish your practical test, your examiner will tell you whether you have failed or passed the test. If you pass, the Traffic Police department will issue your license immediately after. However, unfortunately, if you fail, you will be required to wait for one week and pay QAR350 to retake the practical test.

Driver’s licenses in Qatar for residents remain valid for five years and can be easily renewed through the Hukoomi website

Getting your driving license is one step ahead towards adulting! Good luck!

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