At the time of writing, this guide to getting a drivers license in Qatar is relevant and up-to-date, based on my personal experience. This post will be edited & updated according to feedback. Please feel free to share your experiences using the contact me page or via the comments section below!
This is a guide for those who already have drivers licenses from countries who do not need to go for driving lessons. The list of eligible countries can be found here.
There are 2 types of driving tests for getting a drivers license in Qatar: DIRECT & WITH LESSONS. If you have a valid South African drivers license, you will need to present it in order to qualify for the DIRECT driving test process (unless you want lessons which costs around 2500QAR for 10).
Note: I am writing this as a South African passport holder, if you hold another passport, your experience may be different.
Step1: Eye Test & Booking a Theory Test
I did this at Doha Driving Academy. I paid 50QAR to undergo a quick eye test. Ladies & men do this at the same place but ladies will jump the queue (sorry not sorry!). Once you pass the eye test, you head to the traffic department section (there is one at every driving school) to book your test date.
Then I paid 500QAR to receive the materials to study for the theory test. It involves downloading an app on your phone called “Driving test” and you will be scheduled to attend 2 training sessions where you will watch videos and do practise exams. My training sessions were cancelled due to covid and I did everything online via the app. The practise exams on the app are exactly what appears on the actual exam.
Step 2:Taking the theory test
Since the date I booked was cancelled (due to covid lockdown), I booked myself a new date when the testing centres opened. I did this through the Metrash2 app but you can visit the website here. You can book at ANY driving school/testing centre despite where you got the initial materials from. I went back to Doha Driving Academy for this. I found them to be disorganized and incompetent- do not recommend!
I suggest calling ahead to confirm the location & whether you will be allowed to take the test next day. Metrash2 does ask your gender when booking but sometimes it makes a mess. Testing is gender separate with one day a week (or month for some schools) being dedicated for ladies. If you show up on a day that’s not for your gender, you will have to rebook.
On the day of the test, show up at the appointed place, 30 minutes before your test time. Have your appointment card printed (it’s the one that’s e-mailed to you if you book through Metrash2 or the one they print and give you at the traffic department). Hand that in to the relevant person and wait for your name to be called.
The test lasts 20 minutes with 20 multiple choice questions but you should fly through if you did the practise exams. It only consisted of road signs (the easy ones!). You can get 18/20 and still pass. It’s done on a touch screen computer (bring your own sanitiser).
Once you pass, your result is recorded automatically so you know immediately whether you’ve passed or failed. This mean you’ve completed the first obstacle when getting a drivers license in Qatar. You can then proceed back to the traffic department section to book for a road test. At this point your QID number will show that you are registered for a direct test and so you will not need to book lessons.
WHY DO PEOPLE FAIL THE THEORY TEST?
They use outdated books to study from or just try to search for road signs online without purchasing the correct material. Things are constantly being updated. The app I used was updated twice while I was in process. So if you want to pass, make sure you’re studying the correct thing. Oh and they probably fail because they don’t bother to do the practice exams!
Step 3: Booking the road test
The next challenge in getting a drivers license in Qatar is the road test. If you choose not to book in person, you can book on Metrash2 for the road test. South Africans do not need to do the parking test (I believe this is only for 1st time drivers but I may be wrong). You can book your road test at any testing centre, it does not have to be the one you passed your theory exam at.
I personally recommend Karwa Driving School.
They were organized, helpful and they passed people who can actually drive and failed people who were most certainly not ready to be on the road. They only accept around 30 people per morning which means everyone gets done pretty fast. The less people they have to assess, the quicker you get your results.
Again, follow the procedure above about calling to confirm locations and whether your gender will be allowed to take the test on the appointed date. You are better safe than sorry. (Yes I am emphasizing this because it happened to me but Karwa was really efficient bout giving me the next available date).
Step 4: Taking the road test
This is the last step to getting a drivers license in Qatar. Arrive 30 minutes before your appointed test time with your appointment card printed out. Hand it to the person who will place you in the queue. While you wait, pay to rent the car you are going to use for the test. Its costs 350QAR and you can only pay by bank card.
Once you have paid, wait for your name to be called. You go as pairs out to the testing car(I think its a Toyota Camry). One person jumps in the back and the other person gets into the drivers seat. I recommend being the person who drives second (so you can investigate the terrain of the route and be prepared!). The traffic officer (likely to be a man) sits in the passenger seat.
Things they observe:
- Wearing the seatbelt
- Adjusting the seat
- Holding the steering wheel at 10 to 2 position
- Adjusting the mirrors
- Putting the car in the correct gear
- Releasing the handbrake
Thats what I did when I got into the car. The route was a simple straight road with a left turn, a U turn and I didn’t even have to park the car afterwards. I drove for around 5 minutes. Be intentional about:
-Using the indicators when turning/changing lanes
-Observing in mirrors and blind spot when turning/changing lanes
-Paying attention to the changing of the traffic lights
-Keep to the speed limit
-Keeping in the ‘slow’ lane and only overtaking when necessary
I noticed that the lady who drove before me, didn’t do many of these things and subsequently did not pass. (Who speeds during a drivers test anyway?!)
NOTE: The traffic officer ONLY SPOKE ARABIC. His English was severely limited. I asked him to use hand signals and that’s how I understood where he wanted me to go. Just a warning because I was not expecting that!
Once you have finished your test, you head back to the waiting room and your name will either appear on a screen with your result after around 10-15 minutes or you will receive an SMS from Metrash with your result. Your sponsor will also receive the same SMS.
It costs another 250QAR (an expensive morning!) to receive the license card which is issued on the spot using the photo on your QID.
Total cost: 1150 QAR
The entire process of getting a drivers license in Qatar can take from 1 week to 3 weeks depending on the availability of dates & your gender. I also advise wearing professional clothes when going for the drivers test as some people have said this helps (I didn’t think it mattered but since I was going to work afterwards, I was in my work clothes anyway).
If you have recommendations of testing centers, driving schools or any other feedback from personal experience regarding getting a drivers license in Qatar, please feel free to share in the comment box below!