Travelling to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup? Here's what you need to know

A countdown installation for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha, Qatar.

World Cup football (also known as soccer, for our dozen or so North American readers) promises a world-class spectacle. The host cities usually put on quite the show for the millions of tourists who flock to their stadiums from overseas.

So it’s always a great time to not only see some of the world’s best players compete for the glory of their flags, but to take a dive into the best a host city has to offer – be it food, culture, history, or the natural world.

As always, when you’re travelling to another country, there’s a lot to get organised. You’ll need to sort out your travel money cards, find a credit card for overseas transactions and ATMs, and of course pack a travel insurance policy that covers your needs. 

Let’s get into it!

When is the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

The FIFA World Cup in Qatar runs from 21 November to 18 December 2022.

Qatar weather in November

Qatar is known for its hot, dry weather between May and October, and its cooler weather between December and February. But November is a transitional period, meaning you’ll still get warm weather, but not quite the scorching heat you’d see in the months prior. 

If you’re heading over to Qatar for the World Cup, then you’ll want to pack for warm days and slightly cooler nights.

But keep in mind that local customs make modest clothing the preference. There are also strict Islamic dress codes in Qatar, although visitors aren’t always subject to them. So it’s best not to bring anything too revealing or tight-fitting, out of respect for their cultures. As foreigners, women won’t need to bring a hijab or abaya, but dresses that go past your knees and cover your shoulders should do the trick. And the same goes with men – dressing modestly will do you favours with the locals.

Visas for Qatar during the FIFA World Cup

According to the Australian government’s Smartraveller site, those looking to enter Qatar during the World Cup will need to apply for and have an approved Hayya Card

The Hayya Card is a little different from a standard visa and they’re only issuing them to World Cup ticket-holders. In fact, Qatar isn’t actually issuing any regular travel visas between 1 November 2022 and 23 January 2023. So getting one of these is pretty much your only option if you’re heading over for the World Game. 

Visas and travel insurance

Typically speaking, if your visa is refused or you don’t actually have a valid one for the country you’re travelling to, your travel insurance provider won’t cover any claims resulting from that. This means cancellation fees and deposits for accommodation or activities won’t be reimbursed. The reason for this is that obtaining a valid visa is seen as your responsibility, and therefore within your control.

Local laws and customs in Qatar

Local laws and customs in Qatar differ greatly from those in Australia. So much so, that things which aren’t illegal here may carry serious penalties over there. 

Here are some examples of things which are best to avoid, should you land yourself a red card with authorities or the locals: 

  • Public displays of intimacy (regardless of your gender or sexual orientation), as it doesn’t align with their preference for modesty
  • Obscene language or gestures (even if your team’s opponents just scored a goal)
  • Taking photos of local people, particularly women, as it’s illegal there.
  • Same-sex relationships are also illegal in Qatar. However, it’s worth noting that host authorities won’t be placing restrictions on non-married friends or couples of the same sex (including LGBTQI+ people) sharing accommodation during the Cup.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and there are some which might surprise you to learn about. So check out the Smartraveller page for Qatar for more information. 

Alcohol in Qatar 

The sale and consumption of alcohol in Qatar is strictly regulated. In fact, authorities are creating new policies to facilitate the sale of booze exclusively during the World Cup. 

The drinking age in Qatar is 21, and alcohol is only available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars to visitors. It’s actually illegal to drink outside of these licensed premises, so there are no ‘roadies’ on the way to a match. In fact, it’s best not to be drunk in public at all, as it’s considered an offence in Qatar. Also, you’ll have to walk right past the duty-free bottle shops  at the airport, as importing alcohol into the country is strictly prohibited. Talk about a dry country! 

Qatar laws and your travel insurance policy

When it comes to an international travel insurance policy, the general exclusions section of the product disclosure statement (PDS) is always worth paying attention to. 

You’ll usually find that your insurance won’t cover a claim if it’s due to you breaking local laws. This means that if you end up in hot water with the authorities in Qatar, causing you to miss your flight home for example, then your insurance claim for travel delays and interruptions might be denied by your provider. That could leave you with a pricey, last-minute ticket home as your only option.

COVID-19 in Qatar

Entry requirements for Qatar have eased since the height of the pandemic, however they still take Covid quite seriously over there, with restrictions still in place and penalties for non-compliance. 

To enter Qatar you’ll need to have a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before boarding your flight and you may need to take another test on arrival. You may also need to quarantine on arrival, according to the Ministry of Public Health’s traffic light system, based on the risk of the country you’re travelling from. At the time of writing, Australian arrivals only have to undergo ‘standard health measures’ (a.k.a. No quarantine). 

COVID-19 travel insurance for Qatar 

When travelling overseas these days, it’s important to check if your travel insurance policy covers COVID-19. More often than not, there might only be a very basic level of cover (for things like medical and cancellation costs), or in some cases no cover at all for the virus. 

Another important thing to note is that Smartraveller advice levels play a big part in determining whether an insurance provider will cover your trip. 

In many cases, a travel insurance PDS will state that once a country is listed on Smartraveller as being a Level 3 – ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ or Level – 4 ‘Do not travel’, your policy will not provide coverage for that destination. That’s because it’s risky to go there and risky for you to stay there. 

During the pandemic, pretty much everywhere had a ‘Do not travel’ warning. But in Qatar, at the time of writing, the advice is at Level 2 – ‘Exercise a high degree of caution’. 

While advice levels can be affected by a country’s COVID-19 case numbers, it can also be affected by other factors like civil war or unrest, natural disasters, and terrorism threats. So, it’s always worth having a scroll through the Smartraveller site for your destinations.

Travel money for Qatar (prepaid travel cards, travel credit and debit cards)

When you’re heading overseas, there’s a fairly concrete chance you’ll need to pay for something at some point in time. But using your everyday bank card overseas can be costly due to the foreign exchange rate and ATM fees. However, you might be able to avoid fees while overseas by using one of the following:

  • Prepaid travel money cards
  • Travel debit cards
  • Travel credit cards

Prepaid travel money cards for Qatar 

A prepaid travel money card, sometimes known as a cash-passport, lets you pay for things in an overseas currency, avoiding the need to pay a currency conversion fee on your everyday debit card or credit card. 

Aussie dollars go in one end, Qatari Riyal comes out the other. 

They usually have a locked-in exchange rate, make it easier to budget while overseas (because you’ll have to feel guilty about loading more of your money onto it), and may be safer than carrying cash.

Just make sure you find a prepaid travel money card with a good exchange rate, low fees, and a variety of available currencies by comparing some of the available prepaid travel money cards

Travel debit and credit cards for Qatar

Travel cards are just debit and credit cards which are travel-friendly. This means that they might charge low or no overseas transaction or ATM fees, freeing up more of your budget for having fun while you’re away. 

Have a look at our travel debit card or travel credit card comparisons to see if you can find a travel-friendly card, or find out if the one you currently have holds up to standards. 

Also, if you’ve already sorted a travel credit card, it’s worth checking out if you're eligible for your card’s complimentary travel insurance that includes cover for COVID-19.

Travel insurance tips for Qatar

  • Excess fees. When making a travel insurance claim, you might need to pay what is called an excess fee. When you pay excess it’s essentially a certain part of the total value of your claim. The rest gets paid by the insurance provider. Excess varies from provider to provider, but usually the cheaper ones have higher excess fees. So, make sure you know what costs you’re up for in the event you need to make a claim. 
  • Pre-existing conditions. Travel insurance providers ask you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions at the time of purchasing the policy. If you fail to do so, the insurance company can reject a claim you later make regarding that condition. Also, remember that pregnancies are considered as a pre-existing condition.
  • Unattended baggage. Remember that if your bags go missing while you’ve left them unattended, your insurance provider may reject your claim. In fact, even when you leave your bags with the hotel concierge after you’ve checked out, that’s often considered ‘unattended’ in the provider’s eyes. So, leaving your luggage with the concierge at the hotel could result in your provider refusing to reimburse you for it, if it goes missing. 
  • Report incidents ASAP. Whether you’ve injured yourself, have had your bags lost by the airline, or had your purse stolen, you need to report any incident as soon as possible. Again, if you’ve read your policy’s product disclosure statement (PDS) carefully, you’ll know the exact documentation that you will be required to submit with your claim. Generally, these will be doctors reports, hospital bills, police reports, or receipts, depending on the nature of your claim. So, make sure you hold onto these when it comes to contacting your travel insurance provider.

To get you ready for kick-off, here’s a few international travel insurance policies for you to consider!

Compare travel insurance - last updated 11 August 2022

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