Since expat employees are not entitled to State pensions, they will normally only receive a gratuity at the end of their contract. The bonus, or "gratuity", at the end of an employment contract is offered if you have been employed for more than 1 year. The amount of this gratuity is agreed upon by the employer and employee, or equals at least 3 weeks' wage for every year of employment. Under Qatari law, Qatari employees may choose to receive either this gratuity or the pension accruing to him/her.
The State pension system in Qatar does not benefit expats.
The State pension plan for Qataris provides pensions to men ages 60 and over and women ages 55 and over who have paid 15 years of contributions. The minimum State pension payment is 75% of the worker's insured gross monthly earnings and the maximum is 100%.
There are no obligatory employer-contribution pension or insurance schemes in Qatar. However, as an incentive to attract qualified foreign workers, some companies may offer corporate pension schemes.
The details of these schemes vary by company (i.e. if you are employed by a multinational company these may be similar to schemes in your home country, whereas if you are employed by a Qatari company these may be very different). It is best to check with your current or prospective employer's HR department about the specifics of your company's pension plan.
Expats should take advantage of relatively higher salaries in Qatar to set up a private pension plan.
Some private companies do offer corporate pension schemes, but they are not obligated to do so. If you were paying into a state pension scheme in your home country before moving to Qatar you should continue to do so, if even at a reduced rate (i.e. Class 3 contributions in the UK).
When searching for a private pension plan, you should consider:
HSBC's Expat Retirement Calculator can help you decide what kind of private pension plan would most benefit your retirement goals.
A few countries have a bilateral agreement with Qatar that allow for years worked in Qatar to count to their State pension. Inquire with your state plan about the particulars.
If your country does not allow for years worked in Qatar to count toward your state pension, there may be an opportunity to buy back time once you have returned to your home country and are once again contributing to the pension plan. Again, inquire with your state plan about the particulars.
For example, if you are a UK national working in Qatar you may be able to transfer your UK pension into an offshore pension transfer known as QROPS (Qualified Overseas Pensions Schemes). This enables you to free yourself from purchasing a UK annuity, and creates a number of financial and tax benefits.
Many countries allow you to make contributions to their State pension system while living abroad in Qatar.
For example, in the UK you can chose to pay either Class 2 (employed or self-employed abroad) or Class 3 (unemployed abroad) contributions. In the UK these contributions are paid by direct debit every 4 to 5 weeks, or with an annual payment. If you chose to make contributions to the UK state pension while abroad, you benefit from certain state benefits and allowances when you return to the UK, and a full State pension in the UK.
It is uncommon for expats to retire to Qatar. Indeed, a recent HSBC survey reports that 30% of expats wish to leave Qatar before retiring (almost more than any other country in the world). However, if you do wish to retire to Qatar and collect a State pension from your home country, you should verify with your home country what the exact procedures for doing this are. Procedures, and eligibility, vary by country.
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