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Driving in the United Arab Emirates

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Are you wondering about driving in the United Arab Emirates and if your driving license is valid there? Expat.com brings you practical information below.

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. Depending on the country your licence is from, you may be able to transfer it and drive in the UAE.

You will also have to be aware of the rules and laws that govern driving in the United Arab Emirates. There are strict laws when it comes to driving here in the UAE, and you need to ensure that you know them so you can avoid the penalties or have to go to jail. Remember it is also a Muslim country, therefore driving under the influence of alcohol, no matter how small your consumption, is a serious offence.

Transferring your driver's license

If you come from the following countries, you can transfer your license from your country to the UAE but you must obtain a translation of your driver's license or a certificate from your consulate: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Some countries require translation of the existing license into either Arabic or English by your embassy or a legally approved translation agent. These would be Turkey, Poland, Japan, Greece, and South Korea. If you are from Canada, you will need a driver's licence authentication letter issued by the Canadian consulate in the United Arab Emirates.

To transfer 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; and if applicable an Arabic/English 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 your ability to drive
  • an eye exam
  • a no-objection letter (in English and Arabic) issued by your sponsor/employer

You are advised to contact the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to check for the fees as well as the requirements as these vary among the different Emirates. In some emirates, your driver's license may not be recognized.

 Good to know:

Driver’s licences issued by the Gulf Cooperation Councils (GCC) are still recognized by the United Arab Emirates.

You are required to fill in the transfer form for a license at the nearest Traffic Department Driving License Section. Fees will apply. Thereafter you should receive your new license for use within the United Arab Emirates.

If your country is not listed above, your license will not be able to be transferred. Therefore, you will be required to take classes and pass the tests before being issued a licence. The number of classes you need to take will vary depending on the validity of your current license.

New license

If you are not a holder of a license currently, you may apply for one in the United Arab Emirates. This will be in the emirate you’re residing in. You have to go to a driving school and take a minimum of 40 classes. Once you pass all the tests, including the Roads and Transports Authority (RTA) test, you will be given your license. The fees are around AED5,500 for the classes and tests.

Traffic regulations

The United Arab Emirates government has fixed heavy penalties against certain offences on the road, especially for driving under the influence of alcohol. You might have to pay fines and you can even be jailed if you are tested positive for a breathalyzer test. Note that the use of mobile phones, getting dressed in your vehicle, and applying makeup while driving is also prohibited. Also, note that your driver's license may be suspended if you accumulate a number of offences.

 Important:

Offensive gestures, such as rude hand signs, and swearing to other drivers can lead to fines or even land you in jail. Do not give in to road rage, as this could even lead to your deportation.

If you are involved in an accident, you should follow the rules of the emirate in which you are. The rules vary in each emirate so it is best to know what rules are applicable where you are driving. The rule of thumb regardless of where you are is to call the police.  

 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 younger than 21 years old.

Useful Numbers:

Police: 999
Ambulance: 998
Fire brigade: 997

 Useful link:

Roads and Transport Authority

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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