If you are looking at how to start a company in Qatar or where to setup in Qatar, you should be considering the freezone options. In Qatar there are few legal company formation options including the Free Zones which makes the decision process much simpler than in many other GCC countries.
Free zones are designated areas whereby foreign companies can set up businesses, assuring them of a certain degree of autonomy over their enterprise. Free zones are common in Gulf countries and are often grouped for specific industries, such as media or technology. Freezones in Qatar, each have their own focus and advantages.
Free Zone Company: Qatar's main ‘free zones’
- Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Read more
- Qatar Free Zone (QFZ) Read more
- Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP)
QFC is not a true free zone as, although it offers 100% ownership, corporation tax applies at the same rate for mainland companies. There are also restrictions on activities in QFC, no ‘trading’ (sales and import) for example but you are allowed to do business in Qatar mainland, and this is particularly useful for service-based companies.
QFZ is a freezone under the Qatar Free Zone Authority (QFZA). There are currently three free zones operating under the QFZA and all are within 30 minutes of the country’s capital, Doha. QFZ has 100% ownership and a zero-tax regime, however, this free zone appeals to only a small number of specialised businesses. It should be borne in mind that as a general rule, government contracts are not awarded to companies that are not mainland companies with a local Qatari partner.
Benefits of the Qatar Freezones
Setting up a business in Qatar freezones offers core advantage such as 100% foreign ownership. Whilst this is key, there are limitations in accessing the free zones in Qatar and the success of your application will depend on your business activities. There may also be restrictions on where you can operate from and where/whom in Qatar you can conduct business with.
Top 5 things to consider before choosing a Qatar free zone:
- Purpose of the company / business activities
- Activity in mainland Qatar
- Lease facility requirements
- Number of Visas required
- Budget for setting-up
Qatar freezones represent an excellent option for foreign investors. They are considered separate from the domestic state ‘mainland’ area with regards to legal requirements and customs rules and as such have distinct benefits, including:
- 100% foreign ownership
- 0% Corporate tax
- Full capital repatriation
- Zero customs duties on imports
- Modern digital infrastructure
- Flexible structuring options
- A transparent, business friendly legal environment
- Access to an investment fund for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs)
- Numerous joint venture and partnership opportunities
They are mainly focused on three key sectors: logistics, technology and chemicals, where Qatar can provide unique advantages over other foreign investment destinations.