Arriving in Qatar
On arrival at Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (HIA), flights are quickly prepared for disembarkment. Most passengers find themselves walking through air-conditioned jet-bridges to the Main Terminal building, or transported from the plane to the terminal by air-conditioned buses, quickly and efficiently.
Once inside the terminal, moving walkways and golf buggies help transport travellers to the Immigration Hall. There are even free-to-use strollers for tired babies and toddlers to relax in on the journey. The way to Immigration is signposted, and there are toilets and bathrooms along the way should you need them.
For weary passengers, it is a great start to their arrival in Doha, and, as much as possible through official processes like passport control, the airport is designed to make the journey through to the Arrival Halls quick, easy and comfortable.
Keep in touch with loved ones, check-in on social media, or surf the web as soon as you land - HIA provides free internet access throughout the terminal, just search for ‘Free Internet by HIA’ and stay connected.
Prepaid calling cards are available in Duty-Free and can be used at any one of the telephones located throughout the airport.
Immigration is on the Ground Floor level of the airport. Escalators and lifts are available from the Arrivals concourses.
All passengers heading through Immigration will need a passport and a visa, or to be eligible for visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry.
For more information on visa requirements, take a look at our comprehensive Visas article.
If you require a visa-on-arrival, depending on the type of visa, you may have to pay a fee to the Immigration officers. No cash is accepted at the Immigration desks - all transactions must be via a credit or debit card.
If you need to pay for your visa fee with cash, then you will need to visit the bank counter, opposite the information desk at Immigration, before you approach a passport control counter. The bank will charge a small fee for processing your cash payment. All major currencies are accepted.
As in most airports, the Immigration process is relatively slow and involves some lengthy queues. Official sources estimate the waiting time to be around 35 minutes. However, depending on how busy the airport is, the waiting time can be more like an hour. The best advice, other than trying to be patient, is to bring a bottle of water, a snack and some entertainment with you, especially if you have kids - games, movies or books on smartphones or tablets are worth their weight in gold!
Beat the Queues
If you want to bypass the queues at Immigration and relax in one of HIA’s numerous lounges while your documents are processed, then you could sign up to Al Maha services. Al Maha offers several services, for varying fees, including speedy immigration clearance.
For more information, read our Special Services articles.
Alternatively, if you are a Qatari national, an expat in Qatar or from one of the GCC countries, and you have an e-gate card, you can bypass the Immigration queues by using the E-Gates to the right of the main Immigration counters.
An Information Desk, located before the Immigration counters, is available if you require any assistance. A Medical Centre is also located before the Immigration counters to provide medical assistance as required. The Medical Centre can be contacted on +974 4010 9222.
Toilets and bathrooms, and prayer rooms, are also located in the Immigration Hall.
Once through Immigration, your hand luggage will need to be security screened before entering the baggage reclaim area. Screening is a relatively quick and painless procedure, but it is worth noting that alcohol, pork products and any more than 400 cigarettes (as well as weapons, firearms, ammunition and narcotics), will be confiscated.
Baggage can be reclaimed at one of nine baggage carousels or one of two oversized luggage belts. Large monitors, located just beyond Security Screening, screen information to direct you to the correct baggage reclaim belt for your flight.
Two Baggage Services counters, for any issues concerning lost or damaged baggage, are available at the far end of the Baggage Reclaim Hall.
ATMs and a currency exchange counter are located adjacent to the exit to the Arrivals Hall via Customs.
If you have a little time before you depart from the airport, or you are looking for some last-minute gifts, check out the Duty-Free shopping area in the middle of the Baggage Reclaim Hall. You can also purchase maps here of Doha and Qatar in preparation for your onward adventures.
All passengers need to walk through the Customs area to access the Arrivals Hall. Choose either the ‘Nothing to Declare’ or the ‘Something to Declare’ route, depending on what you are bringing into the country.
Customs is responsible for collecting tariffs and for controlling the flow of goods into and out of a country. Each country has laws and regulations for the import and export of goods, which its customs authority enforces. The import or export of some goods may be restricted or forbidden.
In Qatar, the following goods should not be brought into the country:
- Alcoholic beverages (cannot be imported under any condition);
- Pork products;
- More than 400 cigarettes;
- Weapons, firearms and ammunition;
- Illicit material.
The following items must be declared; you may have to pay taxes or duties on those items:
- Foreign currency, jewellery and precious stones exceeding permitted limits;
- Restricted weapons and firearms;
- Personal items and gifts whose value exceeds QAR 3,000 (USD 825).
If you are in possession of any prohibited items, or which are subject to customs duties and other fees, you need to choose the ‘Something to Declare’ route through customs.
For more information on tariffed goods and prohibited items, check the General Authority of Customs website.
Once in the Arrivals Hall, you can begin to think about your onward travel plans to Doha and beyond. The Arrivals Hall, complete with 50ft palm trees, has several large seating areas for family, friends and others waiting to pick up passengers.
There are a variety of facilities in the Arrivals Hall to sustain the weary traveller, including:
- Duty-Free shops;
- Lost property and Baggage Services counters;
- ATM’s and currency exchange counters;
- WC’s and bathrooms.
Lifts and escalators are provided to the Car Park entrance on the First Floor, and taxis and buses can be accessed via the Ground Floor.
Check out our Onward Travel article to help you plan your journey from the airport into Doha and the surrounding areas.
If you require special assistance, Hamad International Airport provides ‘barrier-free’ access and a variety of facilities and services to support disabilities. From the minute you park your car or arrive at the airport, to the moment you board your plane or leave from the airport, the building is designed to be accessible, and staff are trained to make the airport experience more comfortable.
To find out more about how HIA can assist you on your journey, read our Special Services article.
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