Driving License for Expats in the UAE

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If you’ve bought a car in Dubai, grabbed the keys, and are planning to take a drive, you will have to wait if you don’t a license to drive in the UAE! Driving in Dubai without a driving licence or holding a license that is not authorised to operate the type of vehicle in question is a criminal offense. It is punishable by imprisonment and a fine, or one of these penalties, and applies to both UAE nationals and ex-pats.

As a result, expats in the UAE are required to either transfer their eligible licences to the authorities to obtain a valid one in the country or apply for a new one. So if you are an expat and would like to know how to get a licence for expats in UAE, you will find all the relevant information and steps discussed in this article.

The article will also address some of the most common questions expats have about driving license in Dubai as well as tips on how to pass your road test.

Best Car Insurance in UAE

Some of the best and the cheapest car insurance quotes in Dubai are:

*Above mentioned prices are for Nissan Altima S2.5 L, 2017 model.

Driving Licence

Driving licences are official documents issued by the RTA allowing an individual to operate a motorised vehicle on the roads of the UAE roads. The RTA also plays another role concerning driving licence as it appoints driver and vehicle agencies to provide trainees with theoretical and practical training.

Eligibility Criteria and Required Documents

Listed below are the major eligibility criteria and the required documents as specified by the RTA for ex-pats seeking to apply for a driving licence in the UAE:

  • The applicant must be at least of the age of 17 years (for motorcycles) and 18 years (for cars)
  • Must be having a valid passport with a copy of the visa or residence page (original and copy)
  • An Emirates ID (original and copy)
  • At least two passport-size photographs
  • Sponsor's or employer's official NOC (No Objection Certificate)
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Emirates Driving Licence Procedure for Expats

While the process to obtain driving license for expats may initially appear complicated and time-consuming, it is reasonably straightforward if you are aware of the key details involved. To ensure that sufficient road safety is maintained, the UAE government focuses on extensively evaluating each candidate's ability during their driving test.

Ex-pats who acquire a driving licence in the UAE will be able to drive with confidence on the marvellous roads of the country. However, such applicants would need to follow these steps first:

  • Training at a driver and vehicle licensing approved agency by RTA
  • Successfully passing the appropriate tests
  • Obtaining a license after paying the required fees

Each step of the process has been explained in detail in the following sections

  1. Training Program in an RTA-Approved Driver and Vehicle Agency

With the approval of the RTA, vehicle and driving licensing agencies in the UAE train, assess, and qualify drivers (as per its high standards) to ensure safe and convenient transportation for all. Notably, these vehicle and driver license agencies are one-stop sites for both theoretical and practical training, and issuing learner's licence on the completion of the training.

The major driver and vehicle licensing agencies authorised by the RTA in Dubai are:

  • Dubai Driving Centre
  • Emirates Driving Institute
  • Galadari Driving School
  • Al Ahli Driving School
  • Belhasa Driving Centre
  1.  Required Tests

To obtain a driving license, you will be required to pass these major tests as discussed below.

  • Tests of Fitness and Vision

You are required to clear fitness and optical tests from the appropriate driver and vehicle licensing agencies approved by RTA to apply for a driving licence as an ex-pat. An approved doctor or a medical body authorised by the RTA will furnish a medical report regarding your mental, physical, and optical health. It should be noted that the last aspect related to vision also includes the categorisation of the devices for enhancing vision like contact lenses and glasses.

  • Test of Knowledge/Theory
    • A theoretical test will be administered to assess your knowledge and understanding of traffic laws, driving risk perceptions, and safety procedures.
    • To standardise the theoretical test, all the driver and vehicle licensing agencies make the assessment using an electronic system that connects all the driving institutes.
    • The theoretical test is available in a number of languages for your convenience.
  • Yard Test

Before being allowed to take the road test, candidates are required to clear this level. The applying individuals have to demonstrate competency related to parking in different situations, emergency brakes, and more.

  • Final Assessment 

A final on-road test will be administered to assess your readiness and competency, where you will be driving on the road along with the examiner.

RTA/Driving License

Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Dubai
Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Sharjah Transfer Car Registration
Driving License UAE Driving License in Dubai

Taking the On-Road Driving Test

As the final on-road assessment can prove challenging for new drivers, given below are some tips that explain how to pass the test in one shot and easily obtain a driving licence.

  • Dress professionally to make a good impression and avoid inconvenience while driving.
  • Avoid sunglasses, as your eye movements are checked while you are driving.
  • Be sure to follow the examiner's instructions instead of questioning their directives.
  • Make sure that your mirrors and chairs are adjusted, and secure your seatbelt as well.
  • Ensure that your car’s handbrake and gear are in working order before you start.
  • Drive safely within the speed limit.
  • Make sure to stop at all the stop signs before entering the main road. Moreover, even if such a lane is clear, wait for at least three seconds before proceeding.
  • Drive at a safe distance from the car in front of you.
  • Check your side mirrors and rear-view mirror before changing lanes.
  • Wait at least 3 seconds before entering a T-Junction.
  • Avoid applying hard brakes as they may indicate a lack of driving judgement on your part.
  • While the driving part is crucial, don’t forget to park on the side of the road as instructed by the examiner.
  1. Fees

Depending on whether you pass the final road test on your first attempt, the Dubai driving licence fee may range between AED 4,500 and AED 7,000. As you would need additional practical training before retaking the test if you fail the first time, you may have to pay extra for that. Other than that, the driver and vehicle licensing agency selected by you also influence the price of the license.

Points to Remember in the Driving Training

  • To obtain a driving licence, you will be required to provide all the specified documents and complete all training at a driver and vehicle licensing agency in accordance with the law.
  • Female applicants have to make sure that an NOC is issued in case they have to receive training from a male trainer.
  • All lectures and practical training hours must be attended as per the schedule and times arranged with the driver and vehicle licensing agency. If an individual misses any training hour or part of it, they must attend another one and may pay fees for the rescheduling.
  • The trainee must show up for the test at least half an hour prior to the scheduled time. Anyone who fails to meet this deadline can be considered failed.
  • Avoid carrying electronic devices including phones, communication devices, and more to the driver and vehicle licensing agency site that may assist you in solving the questions for the knowledge examination.
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Transferred Licenses

Dubai is a popular destination for expats with driving licenses to transfer their licenses. As per the RTA, 32 countries are listed for transferrable licenses in Dubai including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and others. The fee to open a new record for obtaining a licence through the transfer starts at AED 200.

Citizens of any of those 32 countries with a license from one of those countries (same or different) will be able to easily avail of a licence without any difficulties. You can, for instance, go to the RTA with a valid Japanese or Saudi driving licence and get a UAE license within an hour or so if all your requirements are met and all your documents are in order.

Documents Required for Transferring Licenses 

  • Original and a copy of passport
  • Copy of the residence Visa
  • Original and a copy of the driving licence
  • Translation of the consulate letter (if required)
  • Passport photographs
  • An eye test certificate (only from centres approved by the RTA)
  • Sponsor's letter of non-objection

Driving Without Licence: Associated Risks

If you drive without a licence in the UAE, you put yourself at risk for the following:

Penalties

Don’t take these offenses lightly, as you can get a fine of up to AED 5,000 and face prison for up to 3 months if you engage in driving without having a valid driving license with you. Some other fines related to the same are tabled below:

Traffic fines

Offense

Penalty (AED)

Allowing others to drive a vehicle without their own driving license

500

Violations of the driving license

300

Driving a commercial vehicle without the required license

200

Driving with a suspended license

200

Failure in showing a driving license when requested by authorities

200

Driving without carrying a driving license

100

Prison Term

As mentioned earlier, you can be jailed for up to 3 months if you are found driving without a valid licence in Dubai.

Possession of the Vehicle

If you are a regular offender regarding the driving license laws in the UAE, your car might be seized by the authorities. In such cases, substantial fees and fines have to be paid to get your vehicle released.

Driving Ban

For violating the driving licence laws, a temporary or permanent driving ban can be imposed by the authorities. This can negate the ultimate goal of driving a car, which is to ensure comfortable transportation.

Skyrocketed Insurance Costs

You can expect higher premiums if you have a record of driving without license, as your insurance provider may note the occurrence as an indication of your poor driving record.

Crime Registry

As driving without a licence in Dubai is recognised as a criminal offence, the same will reflect in your record. This can have a negative impact on your applications for jobs, admission to educational institutes, and more.

Procedure for Renewal of Driving License

Everyone who obtains a Dubai driving licence must keep track of the expiration date of the driving license. If you fail to renew your licence in the stipulated time frame, you will be charged a fine of AED 10 per month. Another aspect to remember here is that if your licence has expired for more than 10 years, you will be required to retake all the tests.

For a Dubai driving licence renewal, follow these steps:

  • Visit the official RTA website.
  • Click the "Services" tab.
  • After clicking the dropdown menu, you will be able to access the “Driver and Vehicle Owner Services”.
  • Choose "Driving Licence Request" and follow the steps as specified on the website there.
  • The service fees for the same are AED 120 for individuals younger than 21 years and AED 320 for those older than that.

Note: While the driving licence is one of the most crucial documents related to driving a car in the country, having proper car insurance in UAE is also essential for adherence to the law and your financial security.

Check out the best plans for car insurance in UAE in the ‘car insurance’ section on policybazaar.ae.

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