Do you wish to drive in Saudi Arabia? Here is some useful information to help you obtain a national driver's license.
Foreigners intending to settle in Saudi Arabia may wish to drive at some point of time during their stay. However, driving in the country can be quite complicated, especially if you are not yet aware of the traffic code and regulations. You are hence advised to inquire about these beforehand so as to avoid dangerous encounters. Note also that Saudi Arabia has a very developed transport network from which you can choose to move from one region to another. Its road infrastructure is also modern like in many neighboring countries.
Good to know:
Purchasing your own vehicle in Saudi Arabia can also be a considerable advantage due to low petroleum prices.
If you wish to travel privately, whether alone or with your family, you can either take a taxi or rent a car. Note that some car rental companies offer you the services of a driver alongside, especially if you are not yet used to the Saudi road traffic regulations.
If you still wish to drive on your own, you have to be well prepared to face local drivers' daily routine. In fact, Saudi drivers are famous for their dangerous driving: many of them are caught speaking on the phone while driving or passing red lights. You are less likely to find traffic police on Saudi roads. Thus, do not be surprised to see fights at road accident scenes, between young Saudi nationals and foreigners in particular.
Moreover, if you happen to be involved in a road accident, try to stay calm as you are more likely to be fined than the Saudi drivers due to your foreign nationality. You are also advised to have an Arabic-speaking friend or contact's phone number so that he can support your defense. Otherwise, only the other party's testimony will be taken into account. Having an English speaking insurance agent or taxi driver's number can also be a considerable advantage. Make sure to request a translation of the accident report before signing the document.
Recognized driver's licenses
Three different types of driver's licenses are recognized in Saudi Arabia during the first three months of stay: the UK driver's license, the US driver's license and the international driver's license. In the meantime, you will have obtained your Iqama visa which is a resident permit. Thus, your foreign driver's license will have to be converted into a Saudi driver's license, which will be mandatory thereafter.
Converting your driver's license
Unless you are a UK or US national, you will have to convert your driver's license as soon as you obtain your Iqama visa. This driver's license has a 10 years validity period and is issued following a computerized driving test. To apply for a Saudi driver's license, the following documents have to be produced:
- the green application form (which is available at the Saudi Ministry of Transport office, on its website or with driving schools in Arabic version only)
- your original Iqama visa along with a copy
- your original and valid passport along with a copy
- an authorization letter issued by your sponsor
- your original driver's license along with an official translation
- four color passport-type identity pictures
- your blood group test (can be obtained at a local hospital or clinic)
- reports of your eye tests (can be performed at a local hospital or clinic)
- tax payment bill (amounting to 435 riyals and issued by banks such as the Al-Rajhi Bank or Riyadh Bank).
Once you have submitted your application file, you will have to take driving lessons with a driving school and necessary indications from traffic police. Your colleagues or your sponsor can advise you regarding the most reliable driving schools. Finally, your new driver's license should be issued within a week.
Driving is prohibited to women under Saudi laws, whether or not they are of foreign origin. Hence, they are allowed to travel by car only with a male relative, their spouse or an authorized driver.
Ministry of Interior - Renewal or replacement or driver's license www.moi.gov.sa/wps
General Traffic Department www.moi.gov.sa/wps/portal/traffic/
Auto Driver Club - Road traffic signs www.adcidl.com