If you want to stay in the United Arab Emirates for an extended period of time for a job or vacation, you may find that getting a UAE driver’s license has a number of benefits.
One advantage is that you won’t have to rely on public transportation all of the time. The legislation and procedures for driving in the UAE, as well as obtaining a license, can be confusing, especially for newcomers or ex-pats.
Nonetheless, if you understand all of the stages and have the most up-to-date legal information on the real license in the United Arab Emirates, the process is rather simple. The good news is that once you’re ready, foreign driving permits from specified nations can be simply transferred.
We’ve included all of the pertinent information on the procedures, papers, fees, and peculiarities to be aware of while applying for a driver’s license in the United Arab Emirates.
Overview of Driving in The UAE
The first thing to know is that driving in the UAE is on the right side, which means that the driver must sit on the left side of the vehicle and drive on the right side of a dual carriageway. You must have your driver’s license, registration card or details, and Emirates ID on you at all times, according to the law. Also, be aware of the following speed limitations on UAE roads:
- Residential areas: 31 mph
- Urban areas: 50 mph
- Highways: 75 mph
Another thing to keep in mind is that cell phones must be used with a hands-free system. Seat belts are required for both passengers and drivers, and children under the age of ten are not permitted to sit in the front seat. The most significant traffic regulation is, of course, that driving while inebriated is strictly illegal, regardless of the amount ingested. You may lose your driving license for a length of time and spend up to three years in jail in addition to paying a fine of between AED 20,000 and AED 30,000 (USD 5,500 – USD 8,200).
Black Points System
When you disobey traffic laws, you are subjected to more than simply a fine. For traffic infractions in the United Arab Emirates, there is a black points system in place. The maximum number of points that an individual can earn is 24. You could be barred from driving any type of vehicle for a year if you exceed the limit. Each traffic infringement is allocated a different number of points. For example, if you drive while inebriated, you will receive 24 points right away. Distracted driving, on the other hand, can result in an additional four points. The black points are valid for one year before being wiped from the system and drivers being able to start over.
Driving Style of UAE Locals
The most difficult obstacle for drivers in the United States and Europe will be the general standard of traffic behavior. Despite the severe laws and taxes, many residents drive without seatbelts, speed, and talk on cell phones. Undertaking, turning without indicating, driving without lights, and a variety of other infractions are all widespread on UAE roadways. No matter how irritated you are with other drivers, do not make any hand gestures towards them because they may be interpreted as disrespectful. Swearing or making obscene hand gestures in public is also punishable in the UAE.
Despite the fact that the seven Emirates constitute one country, the requirements for getting documents to vary from one to the next. To avoid any complications, it is strongly advised that you obtain a driver’s license in the emirate where you were granted a residency visa. You should also bear in mind that possessing an Emirates ID is required when applying for a driving license in the UAE, regardless of where you are from or if you already have a license.
The minimum age to drive a car in the UAE is 18, however, you can apply for a license up to six months before you reach the legal age. If you are working or permanently residing in the UAE, you will not be able to drive with your home country’s driver’s license. In the United Arab Emirates, you must be 21 years old to rent an automobile.
When applying for a UAE driving license, you must consider various aspects, including your home country and the type of driving license you already hold. The UAE maintains a list of nations from which passport holders can easily transfer their expiring license to a UAE license. Because this list is continuously updating, it is strongly advised that you check the RTA’s official website for the most up-to-date information (Roads and Transport Authority). Furthermore, UAE residents are prohibited from driving in the UAE with a license issued in their home country, since doing so might result in a three-month jail sentence or a fine of up to AED 5,000. (USD 1,400).
Renewal of Driving License
GCC and UAE residents’ driving licenses are renewable after 10 years, whereas everyone else’s is only valid for 5 years. Renewals can be done online in most of the Emirates; just make sure you’ve paid all of your traffic penalties first. Those who delay renewing their driving license for more than a month will be assessed a monthly fine of AED 10 (USD 2.7).
Car owners in Dubai can use their smartphones or laptop to complete a variety of vehicle and licensing services. RTA currently offers 136 services tailored to drivers in Dubai, including learning and driving licenses, parking permits, and more. In terms of driving licenses, you can use your phone to apply for a new test-based driver’s license, a renewal, or an international driver’s license.
Driving with A Foreign Driving License
Tourists with driving licenses from specific countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United States, the United Kingdom, Malta, Bulgaria, Canada, and others, can use them in the UAE. The whole list can be seen on the RTA’s official website. Before hiring a car, check with the rental business to see if your home country’s driver’s license is approved or if you’ll need an International Driving Permit to drive in the UAE. Before traveling, one can apply for an International Driving Permit in their home country or place of residence.
Note that only a UAE resident with a valid UAE driver’s license can operate a UAE car registered by a third party. A tourist visa holder is not permitted to drive a private vehicle in the UAE unless the owner is a close relative. If any traffic fines are issued, the car owner is legally responsible for paying them.
Exchanging A Foreign Driving License
As previously stated, if you have a driving license granted by your country of citizenship, you may be able to convert it to a UAE driving license without having to take any driving lessons. The United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and other countries are among them. A valid driving license or one that is about to expire must be presented, and the applicant must be a citizen of the nation where the license was issued. In Dubai, you can apply for a new driver’s license by exchanging your old one through the RTA app.
The following is a list of the documents required to receive a license:
- Original plus a copy of the exception nations’ driver’s license
- Report of an electronic eye examination (can be done by any optician)
- Original and copies of a valid Emirates ID
- If the original license was not in English or Arabic, a legalized translation was required.
- 2 photographs the size of a passport
- Sponsor’s nod of approval (if required by the related traffic department)
Note: The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority announced in June 2020 that all inhabitants of the emirate are now permitted to open a file to obtain a driver’s license without the necessity for an employer’s No-Objection Certificate.
Fees for service can be expected to be as follows:
- Opening a file – AED 200 (USD 55)
- Issuing a license – AED 600 (USD 165)
- Handbook manual – AED 50 (USD 14)
- Knowledge and Innovation fees – AED 20 (USD 5.5)
The license is usually applied for and completed on the same day, which means you will have a brand new UAE license within hours of submitting your documents.
Following the presentation of the relevant documents at the service center, the following actions must be taken:
- The validity of the driver’s license is confirmed.
- If the customer is applying for the first time, a traffic file is created.
- The above-mentioned fees are paid at the center by the customer.
- The customer’s contact information is used to send an e-copy of the receipt as well as a text message.
- A message with a link to download a copy of the transaction receipt is sent to the registered phone number.
- The customer receives the UAE driving license once it has been granted and printed.
Getting A Driving License
If you are not a resident of one of the exempted countries, you will need to complete a few more steps in order to receive a UAE driver’s license. You must do the following:
- Be a UAE resident or national.
- Be in good health (entails an eye test)
- You must be at least 17 years and 6 months old.
- Participate in a training and qualification programme given by a recognized driving school.
- Pass the written and practical exams.
Note: The official website of the United Arab Emirates’ Government portal has a list of authorized driving institutes. Their services start at AED 2,500 (USD 680) and go up from there.
The following documents are necessary to access a traffic file:
- a copy of your passport and a copy of your visa page
- 2 passport photos (copy and original) for Emirates ID
- Report on an eye examination
- Sponsor’s letter of no objection (NOC) (if required)
You will be charged service fees, which include exam fees of AED 200 (USD 55) and Knowledge and Innovation fees of AED 20 (USD 5.5). The amount of lessons you’ll need is mostly determined by your prior driving experience. Learner drivers who do not have a valid driver’s license from any country are required to enroll in 20 lessons (10 x 2 hours).
Tests During Exam
When obtaining a driver’s license, you must pass four tests in total:
Theoretical test: Before the final on-road test, is conducted on the computer. It tests your knowledge of traffic regulations, safety procedures, and risk perception while driving. It usually comprises 35 multiple-choice questions and is administered at your preferred driving school.
Test your parking skills: This is done in the driving school’s parking lot. Angle parking, garage parking, parallel parking, an emergency stop, and slope/hill parking will all be put to the test.
Assessment test: This is essentially a practice test for the on-road exam. Your teacher will suggest the optimum time to schedule the assessment, which will allow them to plan for your on-road test. At this point, you will have only 10 minutes to demonstrate your driving skills.
On-the-road driving evaluation: The time of this test is not set in stone; it can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. You must bring your driving file, which includes two passport photographs and payment for the road test price, to your scheduled test date. Keep in mind that you may be riding in the same automobile as other drivers who are also on their way to work.
When you return to the driving center after the on-road test, you will be given your results right away. In the event of a failed attempt, you will be required to take an additional seven classes before being eligible to schedule another on-road test. If you pass, the examiner will give you an approval paper, which you must submit along with your Emirates ID and the driving license money to the pass counter. For local citizens, GCC nationals, and all other nationalities, your brand new UAE driving license will be issued immediately and will be valid for two years.
- Drunk or narcotic driving in the UAE can result in jail time, a hefty fine, and 24 points on your license.
- Despite tight traffic laws, UAE residents have unruly driving habits.
- Despite the fact that the minimum age to drive is 18, one can apply for a driver’s license six months before reaching the legal age.
- Residents of the UAE must hold a UAE driver’s license and are not permitted to use their home country’s documents.
- Individuals with tourist visas are allowed to drive cars registered in the UAE in the names of their close relatives.