Planning to venture beyond the airport in Qatar? International visitors now need to fork out for an eligible travel insurance policy. Here’s what that means:
Since the beginning of the month, the Qatari government has made it mandatory for international visitors to purchase an eligible travel insurance policy.
From February 1 2023, it became compulsory for any international traveller stopping in Qatar to carry an approved travel insurance policy.
While it is common to see a country introduce travel insurance as a visa requirement, Qatar has taken it one step further by dictating that travellers purchase a policy from a list of local insurance providers (of which there are 10).
Though travel remains somewhat uncertain, the new policy sparks debate about whether Qatar has introduced mandatory insurance as more of a revenue-raising tourist tax.
Will this impact you? Read on to find out more.
Who needs to purchase travel insurance?
Those who are simply transiting through Doha without leaving the airport won’t need to purchase Qatar travel insurance.
However, if, like many, you venture out of the airport on a layover, you’ll need to take out the cover as part of your visa – whether you plan to stay for one day or one month.
Even if you’re only planning to stay for one or two days, you’ll need to take out cover for the entirety of the visa you’ve applied for, regardless of whether you hold an existing Australian or international insurance policy.
So, if applying for a standard 30-day visa, you’ll need to be covered for the full 30 days, while extending your visa will mean you need to purchase a second policy.
The few exceptions appear to include passengers, air crew or military personnel with visas issued before 29 January 2023.
How much does travel insurance for Qatar cost?
Thankfully – not much. Purchasing travel insurance from an approved local provider will only cost you QAR50 (about AUD20), with the pricing dependent on the number of days covered.
As such, the coverage isn’t all that comprehensive, but every provider covers emergency medical treatment, Covid-19 cover (including isolation costs if you return a positive test) and repatriation costs.
It is possible for Australians to purchase the mandatory cover when applying for a visa on arrival, however, the Qatari government strongly recommends sorting it out beforehand.
Many travellers who have taken out other travel insurance have an issue with the principle of this added cost rather than the actual amount.
An additional $20 on top of airfares is neither here nor there, but this can quickly add up when you’re looking at covering a family of five.
In this case, it may certainly deter some travellers from stopping over in Qatar.
That aside, it is interesting that the Qatari government has made it mandatory to take up travel insurance from a short list of approved local companies.
Whether or not this is a revenue-raising tactic remains up for debate, but we would suggest always travelling with comprehensive travel insurance.
What do you think of Qatar’s new mandatory travel insurance?
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