Monday, January 09, 2012

How to Renew an E-Gate Card

[Last updated 5 June 2013]

There is a system in Qatar whereby for a fee a resident can apply for an E-Gate card, which allows you to bypass passport security in Doha International Airport. Instead of going through passport control you scan the card at an E-Gate booth, enter and have your fingerprint scanned, at which point once your identity is confirmed you continue on. It is an extremely efficient system and I have never taken longer than 2 minutes to go through (it's usually much shorter than that but once the booth wasn't reading my fingerprint so I had to go to the next booth). There has also never been a lineup at E-Gate, unlike passport control which can get quite busy. My friends and I joke that the only major inconvenience with E-Gate is that you're through so quickly you have to wait a while for your luggage to arrive at the baggage carousel.

E-Gate even saved me from missing a flight earlier this year. Eid is by far the busiest time at the airport and the crowds were so massive that it took me over 90 minutes just to check-in my bag. Then I saw that the lineup for passport control was 15 minutes -- just to get into the passport control room! Who knows how long you'd stand in line once you were in there. No lineup at E-Gate though, I was through in under two minutes and on my way. I know a few people who missed their flights that day because of the crowding. E-Gate is awesome.

So work sent me a reminder that I needed to renew my E-Gate card and were happy to help with the arrangements. It turned out to be a complicated process so I'm glad they sent me along with someone who knew what to do because there are no signs or information at the Immigration Office to tell you the steps. Here's how it works:

1) Work arranged for some electronic form (in Arabic) filled out in my name [update: try here for a form]. I had to bring this with me along with my ID card, old E-Gate card, and a credit card so that I could pay the fee. Oddly while I was instructed to bring my old E-Gate card no one actually asked for it or looked at it so maybe it's something you bring along just in case.

2) Go to the Immigration Building just off of the Shammal Road near Landmark Mall (heading towards the airport from Landmark). When you go through security (tell them you're here for e-gate and they should let you by) and enter the “courtyard” of the Immigration Building go to entrance number 2 on your left, this will open into a big room with lots of seats (over a hundred), to your left will be civil servants in booths with flashing numbers over them to indicate the next ticket number. Don't go to them or look for a ticket number, just go straight across the room, turn right at the snack kiosk, and go to what kind of looks like some large booths on the left wall. This is where you have your photo and fingerprint taken for E-Gate.

[Warning: a commentator said that ladies might be turned away if wearing dresses or Capri pants so ladies you may want to consider full-length pants.]

3) Two ladies were working the E-Gate “booths”. One of them will take your ID card and the piece of paper, take you to a booth, and then:

• take your picture
• scan your fingerprint
• have you write your signature on a special electronic pad

she will then sign the paper and give it and your ID card back to you.

4) From there go back to the entrance. You will see a big desk with two or three civil servants behind it (and probably a big crowd of people around them). This is where you get your ticket number. Go up to them and say you are here for E-gate. They will give you a number and then you sit down and wait for your number to be called.

5) When it is getting close to your number being called I recommend trying to move to a place so that you can quickly get to the booth. It's a big room and the guys at the desks seem to give about 20 seconds before they move on to the next number. When it is your turn give the person the document, ID card, and credit card. They will charge the fee for the E-Gate card to your credit card and they will keep both the piece of paper and your ID card. That is because they have a new system where they have integrated E-Gate with your ID card so they will issue you a brand-new ID card that has E-Gate built in.

6) They will then tell you to sit down and wait until they call you to collect your new card. They might tell you to come back to the booth after x minutes. Generally the wait is anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes.

7) Now you have to activate your E-Gate card (again no one has told us anything about activating the card so had I not been with someone who knew the process the next time I went to the airport my E-Gate card wouldn’t have worked). Head back to the scanning booths near the snack kiosk. Behind them are what looks like two ATM machines. You use these to activate your card. There was a gentleman standing there who did it for me, typing in my ID numbers etc.

That's it, new ID/E-Gate card! Overall it took about an hour but the Immigration Office, while busy, was not packed so you might want to assume it will take longer in case the office is busier.


Anonymous said...

I really need to get an e-gate card. The queues at the airport are crazy and you waste so much time just shuffling forward, feeling exhausted and depressed.

Anonymous said...

I think I need to get one. Very convenient. How do I apply or get an E-Gate card? What are the requirements and the procedures?

Glen McKay said...

I'll try to find out from work how to get that Arabic piece of paper I had to bring with me. You'll likely pay QAR 250 or more for the new card, depending on how many years you ant the card active (I think 1-3 years are the options)

Also, e-gate is not available for people under the age of 18 so traveling families still have to stand in line.

Anonymous said...

It would be even better if you opt for new qatar smart ID which includes the egate facility.

Check out this blog post about the new ID

Glen McKay said...

Smart ID was what I got. I just didn't get some of the other features noted on the website (work was only covering e-gate).

If you look atthe instructions for what to do on the website you linked to you will see the similarities to my instructuons.

Anonymous said...

Hey Glen,

What time did you go? I was wondering because they usually have a time for companies and a time for individuals. I went today and they kicked me out because i was wearing shorts! True story!

Hubba Bubba said...

Hey Glen,

What time did you go? I was wondering because they usually have a time for companies and a time for individuals. I went today and they kicked me out because i was wearing shorts! True story!

Glen McKay said...

This was around 11 in the morning and since it was a work day I went there from the office in my suit and tie. They kicked you out because you're wearing shorts!? Okaaaaaay, never heard of something like that happening before.

Did you manage to get your E-gate card eventually?

Hubba Bubba said...

I finally did today and it was so smooth that i was personally surprised by how efficient it was. A huge credit goes to you btw because i printed out the directions did exactly what you said so thank you for that! Cheers,

Glen McKay said...

No problem. Given there's no signage I figured the least I could do was provide the process to others. I don't know what I would have done if I wasn't with someone who knew the process.

Anonymous said...

Hello! What if I already have an id card w/ the chip for egate... can I just renew through one of the kiosks or do I have to go in and see the guys at the counter??

Glen McKay said...

Hi Miss E. If you already have e-gate activated but your ID is expiring then I think you need to go through the entire process to renew both ID and E-gate

If you have ID card with a chip but have not activated e-gate then I'm not sure. You'll have to go and ask someone there I guess. At a minimum you'll need to go to the "phone booth" area to get your fingerprint scanned.

Zio Fester said...

The best is yet to come!
Now that you have got you smart ID card (the Qatari ID card with the micro chip), you won't ever need to go through ALL this hassle to renew you e-gate. Because your e-gate will be incorporated in the smart ID card.

To renew the e-gate in the future, all you have to do is to find one of these e-government self service kiosk machines (like an ATM cash machine), I use the one in Landmark right in front of Virgin store.

You insert your smart ID, the machine verifies your fingerprints, and you find all sorts of services available such as paying your traffic violations amongst others.

you renew your e-gate and pay the fees with your ATM cash card then you get your receipt.

time required: 7 minutes.

Anonymous said...

I got my e-Gate with the new (chip) QID when I (or work) had to renew mine. I took my wife today to get her e-Gate incorporated in her QID as well. We were NOT allowed in the building. I was wearing my usual suit and tie and she was wearing completely covered top and below-the-knee skirt. "Dress not allowed!" we were told!!
Neither are Capri pants!
I wonder if football fans would be allowed in.

Glen McKay said...

Really! That's odd, I've been with some female co-workers and I don't recall any issues, and I don't think they were wearing full-length pants. Anyway I'll adjust the post for a warning.

Basil P said...

Dear Glen,

Your post was a great help while going about the process of renewing the egate cards of my wife and myself. The surprising thing was that even after all these preparations, it took nearly 2 hours for the whole process. We reached the immigration office at around 7.15 am on Monday and was able to get out a little after 9 am.

There were many funny incidents at the time of paying the fees owing to language issues. My wife has the new qatar id card and was asked to pay 200 qr as renewal fees for 2 years and was also not allowed to renew for 3 years (unknown reason). I was asked or rather had the privilege to be able to pay 300 qr for 3 years since i had the old id card and a separate egate card. At the time of leaving the counter, our impression was that her egate got renewed for 2 years @ 200 qr and mine would be renewed for 3 years. On getting our shiny new ID cards, we saw that both our egates have been renewed for 3 years :) Till now, I do not understand what the Q lady was trying to say and I was not willing to test her patience by asking further queries. The rule is to get things done by uttering the least number of words starting from "Salaam Walekkum.. "

I had also initially thought that my wife's egate could be renewed through the kiosk and I was not sure about taking her along and wasting her time. However, they informed me at the egate booth that a particular batch of Qatar ID cards starting with serial number "10xxxxxx" were defective and would be replaced free of cost at renewal time. So, it was good that I brought her along as well.

Thanks once again for the blog..

Glen McKay said...

No problem, glad the post helped you. It's the first time I've heard of the 10xxxxxx issue, hopefully almost everyone has renewed them by now.

Craig said...

Hi Glen

I have a two year residency visa but travel to and from Qatar every 28 days. Is it possible to get the EGate pass at the airport? According to Qatar Airways and also MOI webiste it says proceed to Security and Immigrations offices at departures or arrivals?

Any help greatly appreciated

Glen McKay said...

Apparently the airport does have an e-gate office, at least according to the airport website.

I visited it once many years ago when work first bought us e-gate cards but since then we've gone to the main Ministry headquarters. I assumed they closed the airport one but it looks like it's still there (somewhere)

Alaa said...

Thanks for the info

Anonymous said...

Hi Good blog.. I need to get E-Gate card traveling out 24 july. I have my smart id and had 1 year E-Gate card expired in last year. Can anyone help? Should i go to immigration or the kiosk?

Glen McKay said...

I've never actually tried those new kiosks at the mall before. I forgot about them, maybe give it a try and let me know if it worked. You could try the one at Landmark and if it doesn't work then the Immigration Building is close by.

Sometimes the chip needs to be updated with a newer version, the kiosk wouldn't be able to do that.

As you're leaving the weekend of Eid ABSOLUTELY get your e-gate sorted. This will be the craziest time at the airport and you could miss the flight due to long lines. A few years ago I would have missed a flight if not for e-gate, saving me 45+ minutes of waiting in line.