Expatriates from places such as Australia, the UK and other European countries are now required to take the necessary tests to get a driving licence in Qatar, it is learnt.
Earlier, they could get one by just presenting the licence issued in their home country and clear the eye test.
A British embassy spokesperson told Gulf Times that new requirements apply to all new applicants but not to those seeking renewals.
“No requirement to undertake lessons, can proceed straight to the theory/practical tests,” the spokesperson said. “The British embassy is liaising with local authorities to establish the reasons for the change. We understand the new requirements apply to all nationalities previously able to exchange without a test,” the spokesperson added.
The embassy has informed British nationals in the country about the new regulation, saying UK licence holders are now required to pass practical driving, theory and eye tests at a government-approved testing centre in Qatar.
British visitors holding valid full UK licences may still drive for up to seven days from arrival, or up to six months if held in conjunction with a valid international driving licence.
“Those seeking further information should enquire in person at the Traffic Department headquarters (Madinat Khalifa),” a recent letter to members of the UK community in Doha posted online said.
According to reports, citizens of other European countries and Australia, for example – who would earlier get a Qatari licence on presenting their licence from their native country – are also required to take the tests now.
Swedish ambassador Ewa Polano said she, too, has heard “quite a lot about this” from colleagues though she is waiting for a confirmation if the new rule applies to Swedish nationals as well. “But most probably it is the same for Sweden and other European countries,” she added.
Meanwhile, sources from various driving schools in Doha told Gulf Times that getting a Qatari driving licence, especially for those without any driving experience, remains “very difficult.” Besides the “low passing rate” in tests, some 240 categories of workers are also ineligible to get a licence, sources point out.
A learner at one driving school said it takes a number of months to get a schedule for theory lessons, and another two or more months to start road practice.
Getting a schedule for the theory, parking and road tests is another long wait, he added.
After failing to clear the road test twice last year, he said his only option was to re-register, hoping to obtain a driving licence in a second attempt.