From alcohol laws to fan IDs, you could be caught out if you don’t read up before you go.
The FIFA World Cup has kicked off in Qatar, running until 18 December. 1.5 million visitors are expected to travel to the small middle Eastern nation for the tournament.
If you're one of them, there are a number of entry requirements you’ll need to abide by. From fan ID cards to rules and regulations around alcohol and nicotine, it's easy to get caught out if you aren’t informed before you leave.
So here’s everything you need to know about travelling to Qatar for the World Cup.
What do I need to enter Qatar for the World Cup?
Football fans will need a Hayya Card - a form of fan ID - to enter the country. These cards will be needed for entry from 1 November until 23 December. Even if you aren’t planning to attend any of the matches you’ll need one.
Match ticket holders can apply through the online portal and bring an additional three people who don’t have tickets. Once you have your Hayya Card you can use it for multiple entries to Qatar during the World Cup and you’ll be allowed to remain in the country until 23 January 2023.
The Hayya Card will also give you free access to public transport on match days including the bus, metro and tram.
Do I need to do a COVID test to enter Qatar?
You no longer need to take a pre-departure PCR or rapid Antigen test to enter Qatar if you arrive after 1 November. You also don’t have to pre-register on the government’s Ehteraz health app prior to arrival as travellers did in the past.
World Cup visitors won’t need a COVID-19 vaccination certificate either.
But it is worth investing in a travel insurance policy that covers your trip and any planned activities. Qatar has good emergency medical facilities but private treatment can be expensive.
How do I book accommodation for the Qatar World Cup?
The booking process for accommodation looks a bit different to previous World Cup events. Regardless of whether you are attending a match, visitors are being pointed towards the tournament’s official booking agency website for hotels, villas, apartments and fan villages.
If you stay in the country for longer than 24 hours, you’ll need to have your booking validated when you apply for your Hayya Card. This applies even if you plan to stay with family or friends during the tournament and you’ll need to register your accommodation on the Hayya Portal website.
Can you buy alcohol in Qatar?
Laws in Qatar might be very different from your home country - particularly when it comes to alcohol and e-cigarettes or vapes.
Alcohol cannot be purchased from shops in Qatar and bringing alcohol into the country is illegal. The legal drinking age is 21 years old.
In a last minute u-turn, FIFA announced just before the tournament started that alcohol would not be sold inside the World Cup stadiums. Non-alcoholic beer Bud Zero will be available inside the arenas.
Alcohol will only be available inside the fan zone, FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and at licensed hotels, restaurants and bars.
Fans have been advised to check nicotine consumption rules in the country as it is prohibited to use or bring e-cigarettes into the country.
Vaping has been banned across Qatar since 2014. If you break this rule, you could face fines of up to 10,000 riyals (around €2,694) or even a prison sentence.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and intimacy in public, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, can be considered offensive. The World Cup host has said “everyone is welcome,” adding that there won’t be any restrictions on friends or unmarried couples staying in the same hotel room.