Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Get or Renew a Liquor Permit



[Note for tourists or visitors: you do not need a liquor permit to have alcohol at a bar, the permit only applies to purchasing alcohol at the one liquor store in Qatar. However, please be aware that you will need to bring your passport or Qatar ID card to the bar to be allowed entry. A drivers’ license or other picture ID is not good enough -- it has to be your passport/Qatar ID.]


[this post was last updated on November 28, 2016 as the QDC made an important change, removing the requirement for a deposit and instead instituting an annual fee. They also added a new email address.]

So my liquor permit was expiring this month so it was time to renew it. For those of you new to Qatar and looking for a liquor permit, or wondering what to do to renew it, here are the steps:


1) IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR A NEW PERMIT -- get a letter from your employer addressed to the Qatar Distribution Company confirming your name, ID number, position, basic salary, accommodation entitlement (or whether the company provides accommodation), and marital status. It has to be on original letterhead, signed and stamped by the company. You do not have to get this letter for renewing your permit.

[UPDATE -- two commentators have said you need a salary of at least QAR 4000/month to get a license]

Yes, this means your employer has to give you permission to get a liquor license. No letter, no license. Your HR department should know exactly how the letter should look, if they don't then chances are you work for a company that's not going to give you one. This also means that if you do not have a job you won't be able to apply for your own liquor license. I have a Muslim friend who is married to a Christian woman and because she is under her husband’s sponsorship she could not get her own liquor license.

In the past you needed a letter from your employer for a renewal, not anymore. If you are renewing your permit then the documents you need depends on whether any details have changed. The QDC now has a handy guide posted at the permit office, but due to changes from December 2016 ignore the last bit about a security deposit:



2) Prepare to visit the Qatar Distribution Company (“QDC”) by gathering your letter, your passport or Qatar ID, a pen to fill out the application, and some a credit or debit card to pay the fee (they now state on their facebook page that payment must be electronic, no cash). Renewals are NO LONGER FREE so if you are renewing you also need to bring payment as well as your Qatar ID, I don't think a passport will do it. QDC does have an email address as well, customerservice@qdc.com.qa (if that doesn't work try permit@qdc.com.qa), so you might be able to request the form in advance. I found just visiting them not complicated or time-consuming so just going there might be easier. As you'll need to pay a fee you can't complete the licensing process via email so you'll need to visit the QDC anyway.


2a) Fees? Yep, as of December 1, 2016 there is now a fee. In the past you just paid a refundable deposit but now they have moved to charging a fee instead. It is based on the validity of your Residence Permit, and the QDC say they'll pro-rata it if the Residence Permit expires earlier than a year.

1 year permit validity: QAR 150
2 year permit validity: QAR 250
3 year permit validity: QAR 350
4 year permit validity: QAR 450


3) Go to the QDC. This is not an easy place to find and there will not be signs directing you to it. It is in the Abu Hamour neighborhood close to Barwa Commercial Avenue and Safari Hypermarket. If you get a Marhaba guide on the main map it will be in sector F3, called "QDC". Hours are typically every day except Friday from 9am to 9pm. Note that the QDC is not open during the entire month of Ramadan.



Usually you can’t drive your car into the parking lot unless you show them your permit, either tell them you're here to get a new permit or park outside and walk in.

4) When you enter the building you'll see in front of you an ATM and a set of sliding doors with some security guards in front of it. That's the entrance into the liquor store, you can't go in there without a permit. Turn to your left and go through the doors on the far left, which leads to a staircase. Go up one floor, you'll see a small room with chairs. This is the waiting room. There will be a ticket machine that dispenses a number, and copies of the application form that you have to fill out if applying for a new permit.



5) The application form asks for name, address, a mobile number, e-mail address etc., as well as marital status and monthly salary. You have to complete this form for new permits.

One key thing it asks for is your religion. One of my Muslim friends told me that Muslims are not allowed to get a liquor permit but I've only ever heard it from him. Three commentators to this post have said it is possible for Muslims to get a liquor license so I think as long as your employer gives you the letter a Muslim can get a permit.


6) When your number is called you go into the permit office where they will take your documents and your ID card or passport. They will also take a picture of you for the permit. Make sure you're not wearing a hat because when they take your photo it might look something like this:



(Blah, my hair looks terrible!)


And then, if all things are good, they will give you your permit. They print it right there while you wait so you don't have to come back another time for it. You can now go downstairs and enter the liquor store.

Aside from the email mentioned above you can also call the QDC at 4429-9777.



PORK: the QDC is also the only place that sells pork. You do not need a separate license for this -- as long as you have a liquor license you can enter the store and buy pork as well.


78 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think technically that you just need the letter from your employer with the required information, they do not need to give permission. That said, certain firms with Islamic connections may refuse to provide the letter, so effectively they can deby "permission". The liquor lisence aapplication was the only time I was ever asked my religion in Qatar. My understanding is that if you answer Islam the application will be rejected, but that may come from the same source s your information.

Glen McKay said...

Yes, that's what I meant. The letter does not state that the company gives you permission but no letter, no license, so your employer does have a say if you can acquire a liquor license.

Anonymous said...

But the fact that they don't actually have to give permission makes it somewhat easier for more religious Muslims or Islamic firms to cooperate

Conall Brendon said...

Impressive article..nice work!

liquor store license

Youssef Abi Raad said...

Hi, I remember my friend used to renew his license by scanning the documents stated above and sending them to a certain e-mail in QDC and then just go and collect the renewed license. Got any idea about that?

Secondly, I have many Muslim friends who have the liquor license. For those who say that QDC refused their application, then it must be due to low income reasons OR they are just not willing to let their employer know that they use alcohol (It might a problem for most).

Glen McKay said...

Hi Youssef. Sorry, I don't know anything about scanning and sending the documents in advance. Maybe that was accepted before they set up their new processing offices. As a brief search couldn't find a QDC website I'm not sure that would work anymore.

Thanks for the mention about Muslims, I'll update the post.

Youssef Abi Raad said...

Hi, after renewing the license, i asked the staff about email documents for renewal and they said it still works. You would have to send the documents to "Permit@qdc.com.qa".

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your most useful blog. We are considering a move to Doha and have heard a bit about the liquor license but none of the blogs have ever said is how much liquor you get? I know it is based on income so can someone give me an estimate for a family of 4 (only two adults) in which only one is employed and is making approximately 150,000 (USD)? Do they only sell liquor or is beer sold there as well? Finally, I've been told that this store is the only one that sells pork and you need a license for that also. Is that correct? Is it the same license? Approximately what would my family’s allotment be?

Glen McKay said...

Thanks Youssef, I'll update my blog post.

Glen McKay said...

Hi there, thanks for stopping by.

Firstly, yes the liquor store sells beer, wine and spirits. Reasonable selection too, more than I expected it to have for a Muslim country.

Secondly, when I first got my license and saw the limit my first thought was, “Do they think I'm planning to host a wedding reception every month?”. I'm going to guess your limit will be around QAR 4000 a month, maybe even more. Unless you have a taste for real high-end cognacs and champagnes that will be plenty for your alcohol needs.

For comparison one beer will typically be QAR 8-11, and a bottle of standard spirits (such as Johnny Walker Red, Beefeater Gin, Jose Cuervo, Smirnoff) will be around QAR 125 a bottle. In the 7+ years I've been here I've only heard of one Western colleague who once reached his limit, that's because he was hosting what I imagine was a very big party.

Thirdly, the QDC is the only place you can buy pork. The same license is used to access the pork as it is sold in the same store. You don't need a separate license for it. I've never purchased pork from the QDC so not sure if it also goes against your monthly limit or whether you can just buy as much as you want. But given I expect you will have a significant limit, even if the pork goes against that limit I'm sure QAR 4000+ a month should be more than enough for your pork and alcohol needs.

Anonymous said...

Glen,

Thanks for your response. Very informative as are most of your posts. I think you are quite correct that I likely will never hit my limit. In fact, if I do I probably won't be able to work... and there goes the whole middle eastern adventure :) That's not going to happen.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

My friend is Muslim and he has a liquor permit.

Anonymous said...

Hi, does anyone know if QDC is open during Eid Al Adha??
Or does anybody have a contact number to check?

Thanks

Glen McKay said...

I'm not sure if it's open as I'm rarely in Qatar during Eid. Maybe ask them via email: permit@qdc.com.qa

jude shoemaker said...

HI...

What would be the minimum salary limit that is eligible to have a liquor permit?? any idea??

Thank you in advance..

Glen McKay said...

Hi Jude. I don't know for sure but I'm guessing anyone with a salary over QAR 10,000 a month should not have an issue. Under that I'm not sure because I don't know where they draw the line (8,000? 5,000?)

Anonymous said...

Hi...

I just want to clarify this;

1. basic minimum salary and
2. basic minimum package salary (including all allowances).

(e.g: i have a basic salary of 5k and my package is 12k including the housing and transportation allowances.)

which one of the this they will base in order to have a permit?

Glen McKay said...

I spoke to an HR person who does up QDC letters for his company, he said they put in the letter the salary and the housing allowance.

Anonymous said...

Hi...
Minimum basic salary is Qr.4000 and if your basic is Qr.10,000 you will get minimum limit of Qr.2500

Glen McKay said...

Thanks for the update Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

i am muslim. i have HR letter permission and salary also 4000 QR above and i am single possible get license

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to get a permit without a Resident's Permit? Will a letter from my Sponsor confirming that I will be getting an RP suffice?

Glen McKay said...

I going to guess that you'll need your residence permit to get the license. You'll just need to go to the bars for a drink until your RP clears.

Anonymous said...

How much beer/wine/whiskey can you buy at a time? per week? per month? per year?

Glen McKay said...

When you get your license you will receive a monthly limit in riyal of how much you can spend. You can buy up to your limit when you go to the store. So for example if your limit is QAR 2000 then you can use your whole limit in one trip to the store if you want. You can buy any combination of beer/wine/spirits up to your limit.

Anonymous said...

Hi, i dont have a permit and i want to get a permit in mt wife's name. She is on my sponsorship and she is working and drawing a salary more than 10K is it possible for her to get a permit?

Glen McKay said...

Hmmm, that's good question. I don't know the answer but my gut feeling would be no, I think it has to be off of a corporate sponsorship. Otherwise it's an easy loophole for people to get around limits by providing a letter listing a salary of whatever you want. It wouldn't hurt to ask the QDC though, maybe it's allowed. I don't know of anyone who tried.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've called the Permit office to inquire and was told that ladies under their husband sponsorship may apply provided they bring the letter and the ID of her sponsor.

Anonymous said...

Update:

I was able to get my permit! :)
Am under husband sponsorship so it is not an issue whether your are under company or family visa as long as you meet all other requirements.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much, your post was very helpful for me getting the license.

Anonymous said...

I recently just renewed my permit and was informed by that, for new permit, the letter from HR should also indicate that you are provided a housing allowance (indicating your current home address) or if your provided with a company accommodation (the address should also be indicated). I am not quite sure though if these applies to all.

Anonymous said...

Is it the Basic 4000 QR or Gross salary?

How the limit is decided?
Please explain

Thanks

Glen McKay said...

I believe the QAR 4000 a month is based on your salary NOT including housing allowances or other allowances. That's why the letter from your employer has to mention both your salary and housing. So you must make at least 4000 a month not including allowances.

I don't know exactly how the limit is calculated, whether it is a percentage of your salary (probably around 15%) or if there are bands, for example a salary of 4000-6000 gets a specific amount a month, 6000-9000 a higher amount etc.

Anonymous said...

If you got a combined limit like for example during the month of November and December. Both months has been combined in one month. If you consumed the combined credit limit on the month of November, will you able to get another credit limit on December? Please advise. Thanks in advance.

Glen McKay said...

My guess -- if the limit was combined for two months then that is all you would get to spend for the two months. If you used it all in the first month (and that is a LOT of alcohol) then you won't get another amount the second month.

Emmanuel Reyes said...

8000 basic with accom and tranportation service.. they will give me the letter my salary is manual not by atm.. is it ok?

Glen McKay said...

Hi Emmanuel. Someone else commented that the minimum salary was QAR 4000 a month so as long as you have that and the letter you should be okay. I don't think it matters if you are paid 'manually' or through a bank account.

If you get the letter then go to QDC and try for the license. Trying won't hurt.

Emmanuel Reyes said...

how about the signatory who will sign it the Hr manager or the owner of the company .. the one who i think will sign is the person who is authorize and always signing document and other papers.. will it be specifically the main owner of the company.. ?

Glen McKay said...

If your HR manager doesn't know who can sign the letter then they need to talk to QDC -- because if they don't know that then I doubt they know what the letter has to say.

Logically I doubt only the CEO or the owner can sign the letter. A large company with hundreds or thousands of employees would not be giving the CEO hundreds of letters to sign.

Emmanuel Reyes said...

how would they know if the signatory is the CEO ? i have a manager who who will sign it..

Anonymous said...

Emmanuel, They will go to your main office and ask who is the authorize person to sign such things and check if his signature matches the signature in the letter you attached in your QDC license application. If it does not match, boy you're in BIG trouble! You will be jailed for 5 years and will be given 500 lashes which will be divided in 5.100 lashes each year, every 4rth of July. KIDDING. (^_^)

You need a LETTER from your COMPANY in ENGLISH stating your basic salary(must be 4000 and above), accommodation allowance, transportation allowance, airfare allowance, etc.... The LETTER must be COMPANY stamped(where you are working) and signed by the right authority.

Emmanuel Reyes said...

i already tried it but they need my contract.. and mine is way far away from my saley on my contract.. so everyone need a contract.. idid not come back to push it.. i will wait another year till i have my salary on the paper..

Anonymous said...

What's the process for a lost add permit?

Glen McKay said...

I'm guessing you'll have to go back to the QDC, maybe they can look up your name on the computer and print you a new card? Otherwise they can tell you what you need to do.

Anonymous said...

I got my permenant Liquor permit yesterday.My basic salary is 11000 QAR.
M/s QDC has allocated a monthly limit of 1000 QAR??.Why this disparity???

Glen McKay said...

I made a comment above, "I don't know exactly how the limit is calculated, whether it is a percentage of your salary (probably around 15%) or if there are bands, for example a salary of 4000-6000 gets a specific amount a month, 6000-9000 a higher amount etc."

So it appears that for a salary of 11000 you'll get a limit of 1000 a month. I hope you weren't expecting to be able to spend half your salary on alcohol?

somasundaram jana said...

HI,

iam unmarried
My basic salary Qr.4750/- + Mobile allowance Qr.250 and company provided Accommodation and transportation.

Company not give any letter but i have Appointment (offer) letter with letter head
and have salary transfer bank statement

possible i get license

srivaksi

Glen McKay said...

Hi Somasundaram. You would need to ask QDC but my guess is that showing an offer letter is not enough. Point #1 of my blog post is that you need a letter from the company addressed to the QDC. Showing the QDC your salary offer is not a letter addressed to QDC.

As for your salary, two people have commented you can get a license with a salary of QAR 4000, so your salary amount is probably not a problem, but I think you need a letter from your company.

arun george said...

Hi, i am having the signature authority. Is it possible to get the liscence if both applicant and authorizer are same. Or my qatari sponsor to sign the letter?

Glen McKay said...

Hi Arun. I honestly do not know. I'm going to guess 'no', because otherwise everyone would just do their own letters and put down whatever salary they want, but since you have signing authority why not give it a try.

Anonymous said...

what about the Muslim and none Muslim thing can you explain that

Glen McKay said...

I just got back renewing my license. The post has now been updated with new information.

In regards to Muslims: in the past one Muslim told me that the QDC would not issue liquor permits to Muslims but three different people posted in the comments section of this post that it is not true and a Muslim can receive a license. You would need the letter from your employer though to get a permit.

Anonymous said...

One of my friend recently renewed his QDC Permit.After few days he got message to visit permit review office.When he called the QDC Office they told his card is blocked and he has to visit the permit review office.Any Idea???

Glen McKay said...

No idea really. Maybe his RP was close to expiring, or there was something else wrong with the paperwork that they figured out when reviewing the documents?

Ajay said...

Can i get a permit by showing 4000Qar with all my allowances includes accomdation,transportation,food and mobile etc

Ajay said...

Can i get a permit by showing 4000Qar with all my allowances includes accomdation,transportation,food and mobile etc

Anonymous said...

My friend visited the QDC Permit Review office.The matter was that last month he had purchased 4 cartons of BARDINET Brandy for a party.The QDC authorities were saying that A PERSON CANNOT USE 48 BOTTLES IN ONE MONTH.Their statement is valid and having logic.Hence,They reduced the permit limit from 3500 to 2000 and warned against the misuse of QDC Permit.My friend is also genuine in his reason,But no luck!!

Anonymous said...

i renewed my permit last saturday. but the next day ireceived an SMS from QDC saying "Youa are kindly advised to meet our revie office regarding your permit renewal" the lasttime i renewed my permit, i didnt received this kind of SMS fro QDC. what does it mean?

Glen McKay said...

Not sure, maybe they found an issue with the paperwork, or, if you look at the comment above yours, maybe you recently purchased a lot of alcohol and they have suspicions of misuse.

Anonymous said...

There is any official information passing from QDC to my company , when I applied for liquor permit ?

Unknown said...

What if your basic is 3800 Qatari Riyals? Then I guess you're doomed....

Ryan said...

What if your basic is 3800 Qatari Riyals? Then I guess you're doomed....

Glen McKay said...

You could always ask the QDC if you can still apply. If it turns out that your salary is too low then yes, you can't get a license. You'll have to go with overpriced drinks at bars if you want to drink something.

Anonymous said...

Damn that's too bad considering the black market rates.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glen ,

Informative Blog , also very active ..
When we apply for liquor license , there is any official inquiry / cross checking from the QDC to my company ? Because our HR ready to give the paper , But our sponsor may not interested in non Islamic activities .. :)

Thanks
John

Glen McKay said...

Hi John. They definitely don't at the time you receive your card, you get your card within a frw minutrs of providing the paperwork so they wouldn't have time to contact the sponsor. Do they notify the sponsor afterward? I don't know for sure but my hunch is 'no' since you have given them a letter from your employer. They'd contact HR if they thought something was fishy.

Anonymous said...

Glen , Thank you very much & appreciate your QUICK response ....
John

Anonymous said...

Dear Glen ,
If you don't mind , Could I get a sample letter format of Company letter to QDC ?
Thx
John Jacob

Glen McKay said...

Sorry but I don't have one and I'm not 100% sure how it is supposed to look. I suggest writing an email to the QDC and asking them for the format.

Sladjana Trifunovic said...

Hi everybody. I used to live in UAE last 4 years, 1 year in Dubai and 3 in Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi you can buy alcohol legal even without license but in Dubai not possible. My question is: if there is possibility to buy alcohol illegal from dealers? Are those dealers exist at all? I'm asking because in Dubai I had a possibility to get alcohol on this way. Call the guy, order, and he bringing on home address. It is a bit dangerous but still you have choice. Thanks

Glen McKay said...

I suggest if you want alcohol but don't have a license to just go to a bar and drink there. Why break the law getting alcohol from a dealer/smuggler? You can drink at a bar without hassle.

Don't break the law, you could wind up in a lot of trouble just to have some drinks.

Joshua Almanon said...

hi, do we have mobile apps or web site for qdc to check online balance that can only log in using qdc card number and etc,,,

Thanks

Glen McKay said...

Not to my knowledge, I searched Apple App Store and found nothing. But given your liquor allowance is monthly it should be easy to keep track of how much was spent at the QDC. It's not like people go to the QDC five or six times a month. I'd guess once or twice would be standard.

Anonymous said...

My friend was trying to renew his license but it was disapproved due to consistently consuming the monthly purchase allowance. QDC confiscated his license and took the deposit as penalty. Will my friend face any legal action or will it be up to confiscation of license and penalty only?

Glen McKay said...

Sorry, I don't know. Since they didn't call the police and have him arrested I'd guess that would be it. I've heard of people not getting renewed but this is the first time I've heard of them keeping the deposit.

Anonymous said...

Goodafternoon sir.. can i ask they gave me a letter having 10,000 package salary the letter is signed & sealed by my general manager.. they didnt indicate the basic.. is it possible to get license?thanks

Anonymous said...

Hi good day...my company gave me a permission letter having a 10,000 package salary signed and sealed by the general manager is it possible to get license?thanks

Glen McKay said...

My understanding is that the basic should be listed separately. Call the QDC at 4429-9777 and ask if having everything as one number is okay.