The Ministry of Interior (MoI), Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority, have launched an e-visa platform through which visitors to Qatar can directly apply for tourist visas, Qatar News Agency reported Friday.
Tourist visa applications can now be completed on the new e-visa platform, which is currently in pilot phase, at www.qatarvisaservice.com.
This new service is set to ease visitor access to Qatar, as it offers a more efficient and transparent visa application system, with standardised fees. Previously, applicants for tourist visas were required to submit their applications through accredited Qatar-based entities, such as hotels and tour operators. Now, travellers can apply directly and track the status of their application online.
Tourist visas will cost $42, including the service charge, with payments made online using a Visa or MasterCard. Documents required to complete the application include, passport scans, personal photographs, a scan of the passengers airline ticket, and the address they will be staying at when in Qatar. Passengers who are traveling on Qatar Airways will have the added convenience of having their ticket validated automatically as the visa service will be linked to the airlines booking platform.
The average timeframe for a response is 48 hours from when all of an applicant’s documents have been received. Once a traveller's application is accepted, they will receive an e-visa by email.
The launch of the online visa service comes as Qatar steps up efforts to boost visitor arrivals, having introduced a new free-of-charge transit visa in November 2016. The new transit visa structure now allows passengers with a minimum transit time of five hours in Hamad International Airport, to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days), a significant increase from the previous scheme which allowed transiting passengers to remain in Qatar for 48 hours only.
The Qatar Visa Service is a result of partnership between Ministry of Interior, Qatar Airways, and Qatar Tourism Authority. The agreement was signed in September 2016 with the aim of enabling Qatar to identify and implement visa solutions for its visitors, while capitalising on Qatar Airways expansive international footprint.
Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs Director General Brigadier Mohamed al-Ateeq said "we look forward to working with our partners on the second phase, which will include additional services, such as renewing visas."
Airport Passports Department director Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Rashid al-Mazroui said "As we progress through the pilot phase in the coming weeks, we will add several more visa types to the system, with the objective of enhancing the experience of all visitors to qatar."
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar al-Baker, said: " With the recent launch of the free transit visa for visitors to Qatar and our incentive to provide stop over passengers with free hotel accommodation through the +qatar campaign, alongside this new streamlined application, I am confident that we will continue to see qatar emerge as a leading stopover destination."
Qatar Tourism Authority’s chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim recalled that the new transit visa scheme introduced last November has resulted in a 53% increase in the number of stopover visitors to the country in March 2017 compared to March 2016.
“We look forward to welcoming more visitors thanks to the increasingly convenient online visa service.”
How to apply
All visas are approved and issued at the sole discretion of Qatar’s Ministry of Interior. Here are the steps in applying for a tourist visa:
Step one: Visit www.qatarvisaservice.com to register and fill in the visa application form.
Step two: Upload required documents and make payment via a Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card.
Step three: Receive updates and e-visa via email or log back on to track status online.
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