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Driving in Dubai

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Are you wondering about driving in Dubai? Expat.com brings you practical guidelines below, from traffic laws to getting your license.

To drive in Dubai, you will need a local driver's license. There is a list of 36 countries for which no driving test is required. Moreover, you can transfer your license if you belong to any of these 36 countries. If your home country is listed, you must get a letter from your national embassy or consulate confirming the validity of your license, then have it translated into Arabic before submitting your application to the Police department. A photocopy of your passport is mandatory, and fees will apply. You should then be able to transfer your license.

If your country is not part of the 36 countries listed, you need to take driving classes and take driving tests at a local driving school. In order to register in a driving school in Dubai, you need to take an eye exam and provide a “no-objection letter” from your employer. A temporary driver's licence will be issued during your driving sessions. You will then need to take practical and theoretical tests. Once you pass the test, you will receive your local driver's license. Fees apply.

Converting 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 translations 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 the fees amount 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 licence transfer form 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 Dubai. 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.

In order to apply for a license, you will need your Emirates ID, your passport, your visa and resident permit, passport sized photographs, a no-objection letter from your sponsor, and you would need to take an eye exam and show the results.

Traffic laws

The United Arab Emirates government has fixed heavy penalties against certain offences on the road, especially regarding driving under the influence of alcohol. There is a system of black points used by the Dubai Police and the RTA which eventually leads to the confiscation or suspension of your driving license if you have repeated offences. You might have to pay fines and you can even be jailed if you are tested positive after a breathalyzer test. Note that the use of mobile phones, getting dressed in your vehicle, and applying makeup while driving is also prohibited. You should also always wear your seatbelt when driving.

 Important:

Offensive gestures, such as rude hand signs or swearing at other drivers can lead to fines or even land you in jail, or in some cases, even get you deported. Do not give in to road rage.

If you are involved in an accident, you should move your vehicle to the side if it is obstructing the way to other motorists. Do not leave the scene of the accident. Call the police and wait for them to arrive to deal with the issue.

 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 you a car if you are younger than 21 years old.
  • Due to the high temperatures in the region, it is highly recommended to get a car with an air conditioning system.
  • There is zero tolerance in Dubai for speeding or drunk driving.

Useful Numbers:

Police: 999
Ambulance: 998
Fire brigade: 997

 Useful links:

Government of Dubai - Owning a car in Dubai
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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Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
1 Comment
Guest
Guest
8 years ago

The article requires some correction. He is recommending to buy a car with air-conditioning. This is kind of funny. You do not have an option, all cars sold in the UAE are fitted with air-conditioning. So the only choice you have is to switch off the a/c if you don't need it. On acceptance of selected foreign driving licenses, you have to still obtain an UAE drivier license by doing simple paperwork and payment. If your contry license is not recognized, then you have to go through approved driving schools to obtain UAE driver license. It used to be among the toughest in the world to obtain, and not as easy as for example in the USA. However nowadays with the driving schools playing a major role, it is relatively less difficult. The Metro rail is just getting in place; the public bus service is good but very slow and not suitable for meeting appointments or your work schedules; taxis are good, expensive and the reliability depends on your day's luck. Roads in UAE are among the best in the world. It is left-hand drive like in the Europe or US. There is no such thing as a 'temporary driving license'. You simply cannot drive (other than learning in an L-boarded car) until you pass driving tests and get a regular license. The annual 'technical inspection' is not for renewal of license. It is a procedure for renewal of car registration. Your car has to be in reasonably good condition, and all insurances and fines have to be fully paid up before registration is renewed. The driving license itself is normally valid for 10 years. However due to recent increases in road accidents, they have started issuing license on an yearly basis. There are any number of speed detection radars on UAE roads. It is not a question of zero tolerance, there is some tolerance.

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See also

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