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Driving in the United Arab Emirates

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Are you wondering if your driver's license is valid in the United Arab Emirates? Here are some answers to your questions.

To be able to drive in the United Arab Emirates, you must be in possession of an international driving license or an Emirati driver's license. If you come from the following countries, you must obtain a translation of your driver's license or a certificate from your consulate: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States of America. In fact, you can convert your existing license.

Converting your driver's license

Foreign nationals holding a driver's licence issued in the following countries also have to produce a translation of their driver's licence or a letter issued by their home country's consulate :

Canada: a driver's licence authentication letter issued by the Canadian consulate in Dubai

Canada, Cyprus, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Turkey: a translation of the driver's licence issued by the relating consulate

To convert your foreign driver's licence, you are required to produce the following:

  • your passport (original and copy)
  • a copy of your resident permit (original and copy)
  • your original driver's licence, an arabic translation or a letter issued by your home country's consulate
  • 5 passport size identity photos
  • confirmation from health authorities that you do not have any diseases or illnesses that impede yoru ability to drive
  • a non objection letter (in English and Arabic) issued by your sponsor
  • fees of 360 dirhams (to date)

Note however that your driver's license may not be recognized in some emirates. On the other hand, driver's licences issued by the Gulf Cooperation Councils (GCC) are still recognized by the United Arab Emirates.

Once you have obtained a translation of your driver's license and/or the letter issued by the consulate, you will have to undergo an eye test either at the hospital, or at a clinic or at a private optician. Make sure to specify that the requested eye test is intended for the conversion of your driver's license.

In general, the eye test may be free of charge or quite affordable. However, you will have to produce two passport-size identity photos. Once you have completed the eye test, you will have to fill in the required conversion form at the nearest Traffic Department Driving License Section. Fees will apply.

Procedures should last a few minutes only before your new driver's license is issued.  

 Attention:

New driving licences will be issued for two years only, after which the renewal will be valid for 10 years for UAE citizens and five years for non-citizens.

Traffic regulations

The United Arab Emirates government has fixed heavy penalties against certain offenses the road, especially for dangerous driving under the influence of alcohol. You might have to pay fines and you can even be jailed if you are tested positive to breathalyser. Note that the use of mobile phones, dressing up and applying make-up while driving is also prohibited since some time. 

If you are involved in an accident in which someone is injured, you will be automatically arrested. Also note that your driver's license may be suspended if you accumulate a number of offenses.

Recent changes to traffic regulations have added further safety-concsious rules:

  • When driving in a residential area, near schools, or near hospitals, the speed limit will be 40km/h and you must drive in a safe fashion.
  • You are obliged to stop 5 metres away from any bus or public vehicle disembarking passengers at an authorised stop
  • Only children over the age of 10/ above 145cm in height may sit in the front seat, unless for certified health reasons.

 Good to know:

To be eligible for a license driver's licence, you must be at least 18 years old. Some car rental companies may refuse to rent a car if you are less than 21 years old.

Useful Numbers:

Police: 999
Ambulance: 998
Firefighters: 997

  Useful links:

Expat.com - Cars and Transportation in the United Arab Emirates Forum
Obtenir un permis de conduire à Abu Dhabi www.abudhabi.ae
Dubai Traffic Department www.dubaipolice.gov.ae
Police de Sharjah www.shjpolice.gov.ae

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