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5 February 2018 01:37 pm

Qatar Guide: Tips for expats leaving Qatar

Ashlee
Ashlee
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As you all know, I’ve said ‘salam’ to Qatar last summer, yet here I am on ILQ refusing to leave! On my ranting blog, you’ve read about my expat life and the beginning of my repatriation. However, I’ve been asked about my experience leaving Qatar. Everyone’s experience is different as expatriating or repatriating is not a cut-and-dry type of experience. Thus, the following tips are solely based on my experiences and those shared with me by others who have left Qatar in the last year or so.

Give yourself enough time

(Image for illustrative purposes only. Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images)

Many of us move either willingly or unwillingly. Whether it’s the end of our employment contract or it’s just time to go elsewhere, we need time to get our things together. When possible, give yourself enough time to get your things in order. Usually, your employer provides your flight ticket out of Qatar so make sure to communicate the necessary time frame you’ll need. Expats have 90 days to exit the country from when their residence permit (RP) is canceled or expired, before they’re fined for overstaying on a daily basis. A lot of logistics take much longer than that so make sure your employer doesn’t cancel your sponsorship until the date agreed upon. I was able to request about three weeks before I left which was a good amount of time for me. If all else fails, and you’re lucky enough to be from the long list of nations allowed an on-arrival visa, take care of the top priority logistics and come back into the country to finish off all else. However, know that the cost of that extra trip is on you, not your last employer.

Clearing financial accounts

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Qatar is very strict on not allowing expats to exit before clearing all debts. If you’ve taken out a loan or have any credit card debt, you’re going to be forced to clear those balances before you can leave the country. Banks will hold your end of service deposit for a minimum of 48 hours until you are cleared. Should you know ahead of your deposit, like I did, go straight to your bank and have everything cleared. The bank will provide you with a signed and stamped letter to provide to your employer as well for extra assurance. From my experience, most banks are helpful and try to make it easier, but it can still take at least a week, so make this task your first priority. 

Clearing out accommodation

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Unlike most expats, I was not living in a company accommodation. I received an allowance and had been living in my last apartment, with my own furniture, for almost three years. Once I knew I was leaving, I reached out to my landlord to let him know of my departure. As I was leaving a few weeks after the end of my contract, he was kind enough to let me stay longer in lieu of receiving my security deposit.

If this is not an option for you, there are plenty of furnished, serviced apartments for short-term leases, but they aren’t always cheap – and many will not be licensed to allow pets to stay with you, which was my dilemma. You’re responsible to turn in your accommodation the way you received it. If you’ll be shipping your furniture, this is your second priority, find a shipping company that can at least pick up your packed furniture and handles all the exporting tasks for you. Be on top of it; I had to deal with three shippers because I was leaving in the summer which, for whatever reason, causes shippers to take their sweet time (unprofessional, I know!). I was not planning to ship any of my major pieces of furniture, thus posted my items for sale. Whatever I couldn’t sell, I reached out to a couple organizations to take them as donations.

Sell or ship your car

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Again, unlike most expats, I owned my own car. This can be a smart investment if you are staying in Qatar long term. However, selling a car in the summer is extremely and utterly brutal! I had to not only lower the price at least three different times, I couldn’t sell the car before I exited in late August. Post your car up for sale as soon as possible because this can be a slow process depending on the time of year you are exiting. Check the classifieds on ILQ among others to get an idea of what your car’s value should be. Be cautious that not all car dealers buy-back and, if they do, they’ll do it for so much less in order to re-sell it for a profit. However, shipping your car is an entirely longer process.

If you’re hiring shippers for your furniture, make sure they can also handle vehicles. You should be able to ship your car and furnishings in a 20x20 container. At the moment, shipping by road is out of the question until this unnecessary blockade is lifted. Should the process take longer than your time in Qatar, as was the case with a few of us, you'll need to transfer the car out of your name in order to be able to exit the country. My friends trusted me to do so until the buyers finalized the sale, or the shippers finalized the car export which I had to sign the release for. And, since my car didn’t sell before I left, my friend had the car in her name until it was sold, four months later. I hope everyone is as lucky as we were to have trustworthy friends by our side.

Pet relocation

(Miss Doha sleeps. Photo credit: mshala.co)

This might have been one of the simplest of my tasks, which I still don’t understand why it was made to be a hassle. Kindly note, not all airlines will take your pet, and I’m not sure why. My employer was going to use a different airline but I had to request and pay the difference for my flight home with Qatar Airways – which is the only one allowing pets on long-haul flights into the U.S. Once you’ve confirmed your pet on your flight home (which can cost from $250-$400 USD or QR 910-QR 1,460), you’ll need to do three simple things.

One, make sure whatever requirements for the country you’re exporting your pet too are completed. Most countries ask for vaccination records, microchip number, and necessary importing fees paid upfront. Two, at least a month before your flight, have your pet vaccinated. I would also recommend having them bathed and confirm their microchip scans properly. My little girl, Ms. Doha, was well taken care of over the years at the Dr. Tamimi Vet Clinic in Katara. Three, head with the records to the Animal Resources Department of the Ministry of Environment. There, you’ll pay QR 10 for approval documents to export your pet.

Please, if you’re not going to relocate your pet with you, I urge you to rehome them before you leave. If you leave them out on the streets, you are guaranteeing their death as many domesticated pets don't survive. Remember, your pet was part of the family, all they gave you is love, and that's all they ask for in return.

(Photo credit: mshala.co)

These are just a few tips from my rant, No Longer Living the Confused Expatriate Life? Of course your experience may be different, but I hope these tips are helpful should, and when, the time comes. Be sure to comment below with any tips you may have for your fellow expats leaving Qatar.

Until next time, salam!

(Words by Ms. Hala

From: No Longer Living the Confused Expatriate Life?

Exclusive to ILQ from mshala.co)