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Driving licence is a prerequisite to driving anywhere in the world. In addition to being an important identification document, your driving license in the UAE comes in handy when you apply for jobs and many other things. In short, getting a driving license in the UAE should be one of the first things you need to do when you relocate here as a resident. Since there are several small and big things involved in getting your driving license, here is a comprehensive guide to help you through the UAE driving license procedure. 

Who Can Drive in the UAE?

Any UAE resident, citizen or even tourist can drive in the UAE. If you are older than 18 years of age and hold a valid driving permit or a license, you can drive in the UAE. Tourists only need an international driving permit, while UAE residents and nationals must have a UAE-certified driving license. Driving licenses from a few countries can be exchanged for a UAE driving license without having to take a driving test. Motorbike licenses require you to be at least 17 years old. Basically, as long as you meet the generic legal and age-specific requirements, you can drive anywhere in the UAE. 

UAE Driving License Categories List

Driving license in the UAE can be segregated as per the category of vehicles available. For example, you will need a separate license if you want to drive both light motor vehicles and a forklift. Given below is the complete list of different Category of driving licenses in the UAE:

  • Category1- Two-wheelers Driving license
  • Category2- Light motor vehicles Driving license
  • Category3- Heavy trucks Driving license
  • Category4- Minibus Driving license
  • Category5- Heavy bus Driving license
  • Category6- Shovel Driving license
  • Category7- Forklifts Driving license

Driving License Eligibility Criteria in the UAE

As specified before, any UAE citizen or resident older than 18 years can easily get a driving license. You first receive a probationary license, which is later converted into a permanent one when you turn 21. However, the eligibility criteria for getting a license can change as per the type of license you are looking to get. Given below are the exact specifications:

  • Minimum 17 years old for two-wheeler and motorbike driving license.
  • Minimum 18 years old for light vehicle license in the UAE.
  • Minimum 20 years old for heavy vehicle license in the UAE such as tractors and trucks.
  • Minimum 21 years old for driving license for buses and similar vehicles.

How to Apply for a Driving License in the UAE?

Driving licenses in the UAE can only be applied by the driving school you register at. This is applicable if you are seeking a UAE driving license from scratch. All the applications are submitted in Arabic by the driving schools. Upon completion of your driving course, you get a probationary license if you are younger than 21 years of age and older than 18 years. Probationary licenses are renewed every year, while your basic UAE driving license is valid for either 5 or 10 years. Given below is the complete UAE driving license procedure to get a driving license in the UAE:

  • Register yourself at any of the available driving schools in your emirate. Submit the required documents for the admission process and begin your driving course. 
  • Get your eyes tested at your driving institute or a clinic and obtain the reports. 
  • You will first receive a learner’s permit or a temporary driving license. After that, your training will begin as scheduled.
  • Theoretical course is the first thing on your agenda. Complete it and take the internal assessment conducted by the institute itself. 
  • Once you clear the theoretical test, you will move on to the practical training part of the course. 
  • Upon completing your practical classes, an internal assessment will take place, which will include generic driving as well as a parking test. 
  • When you complete all your internal assessments, your driving school will apply for the final test. You need to get a date for the test and head to the nearest authority. 
  • An examiner will accompany you on your final road and highway driving test. 
  • Once you clear the final test, you get your driving license on the spot. 

Driving Tests in the UAE

No matter what kind of driving license you require, taking driving tests is going to be a huge part of the UAE driving license procedure. UAE driving tests are divided into three basic parts – the theoretical test, internal practical assessment and the final road and highway test. The theoretical test and the internal practical test are conducted by driving schools in the UAE for their students. Theoretical test contains 35 questions and a few video questions, while the practical test is about generic driving and parking skills. When you clear both these tests, you become eligible to take the road and highway tests conducted by the RTA and other similar organisations that handle driving license requests in the UAE. 

Once you have cleared the internal assessments, you are free to get a date assigned by the authorities for your final test. The test is conducted with an examiner in a car allotted by the authorities. Your overall performance as a driver is tested here. If you pass the test, the examiner hands over the approval papers right there and then. You simply need to take the papers to the assigned counter, have your picture taken and get the license. 

If you fail the test, you will need to take 7 supplementary classes before you can get another date to take the test. The test procedure will be followed once you get another date assigned for the final test. If you fail the final test multiple times in a row, you will have to take the internal assessments again and then the final driving test by the road and transport authority (RTA)

How to apply for a UAE International Driving License?

Just like you need an international driving license to drive in the UAE if you are a tourist, you will need a similar license to drive in other countries as a tourist or visitor. In addition to offering you freedom to drive overseas, an international driving license also serves as a great identification document. International driving permit in the UAE, unlike a national driving license, can be obtained using both online and offline methods. 

Online Application

The complete process of getting an international driving license in the UAE is far easier as compared to the process of obtaining a national driving license. All you need to do is fill out the application form available on several online platforms, upload the documents and submit the form. Given below is the complete process for the same:

Go to the official website of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE aka ATCUAE or visit the website/mobile application of the Ministry of Interior (MOI). 

Proceed to the international driving license application portal on either of these applications and get the application form. 

  • Fill the form properly and attach the required documents with it. Check the format of the documents beforehand as well as the maximum allowed size. The maximum size is 2 MB and the accepted formats for documents are PDF and JPG. 
  • Submit the international driving licence fee at the end and submit the application. 
  • Once processed, it will take 2-3 weeks for your international driving license to be generated and a few more days for it to be delivered to your home. 

Documents required for the online application of an international driving permit in Dubai are:

  • IDL or International Driving License form. It can be downloaded from the ATCUAE website and used both offline and online. 
  • A copy of your passport and the original
  • At least two passport-sized photographs 
  • Original and a copy of your Emirates ID
  • Your UAE national driving license and its copy

Offline Application

In contrast to most other things, the offline process to apply for an international driving license in the UAE is quite simple, simpler than even the online process. In addition to that, the number of places where you can apply for an international license offline is far greater in comparison to the online options. You can choose to go and submit your application at the branch of any of these entities in the UAE:

  • Any of the RTA offices
  • Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE)
  • Any affiliate members of ATCUAE
  • Any post offices in the Emirates
  • Dnata office, located on Sheikh Zayed Road 

As far as the application process is concerned, visit any of the aforementioned offices to submit your international driving license application. The application forms are available at the branches. Get one, fill it out and attach it with all the required documents. Submit the form and the documents along with the international driving license fee in the UAE. The fee here would be AED 170 + VAT. Unlike the online UAE driving license procedure, your documents will be reviewed and analysed immediately. Once processed, you will receive your international driving permit on the spot. The whole procedure, from application submission to getting the license, will hardly take an hour or so. The documents required here are the same as in the online process. 

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How to Apply for a Duplicate Driving License?

Driving license in the UAE is much more than just an identification document or proof of your driving skills and training. It comes in handy quite often and for many things too. Losing or misplacing your driving license in such conditions can be quite problematic. Luckily, you can easily obtain a duplicate driving license in the UAE without much work. The procedure for getting a duplicate license will differ as per your emirate. Following is the complete UAE driving license procedure for a duplicate license as per the emirates.

UAE Driving License Procedure for a Duplicate License

  • Visit one of the branches of the Road and Transport Authority of UAE. 
  • Get the application form for obtaining a duplicate driving license. 
  • Fill out the available form for a duplicate driving license and attach the required documents. You will also have to submit the old, damaged license if you still have it. 
  • Provide a new photograph if you want to get it updated. 
  • You may need to get your eyes tested again if your lost/damaged license is older than 5 years. 
  • Pay the fee for getting a duplicate driving license. Applicants have to pay AED 300 as the fee to get a duplicate driving license.  
  • Once done, finish the application and submit it. You will receive your new license almost immediately on the same day. 

Abu Dhabi and Northern Emirates Duplicate License Procedure 

  • Visit the online website of MOI of the UAE or the mobile app or go to a happiness centre to submit your duplicate license request. 
  • Obtain the application form and fill it out. Attach the required documents with it and submit it. Get your eyes tested if your original license is older than 5 years. 
  • Pay the duplicate driving license fee and make the final submissions. Add a recent photograph of yours. 
  • You will receive the license almost immediately if you submit an offline application. Online applications may take a while for completion. 

Documents Required for a Duplicate License in the UAE 

  • Recent passport-sized photographs
  • Original identification proof – Emirates ID
  • Reports of your eye exam, if applicable
  • A copy and the original passport 
  • A copy of your resident visa and its original

How to Renew Your Driving License in the UAE?

Renewing your driving license in the UAE is quite easy and can be done in a matter of minutes. The place where you renew your driving licence can differ as per the emirate you are staying in. Dubai driving licenses are renewed at RTA branches or on the website. Driving license for Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates are renewed on the Ministry of Interior website. The fee for renewing your driving license in the UAE is AED 120 for drivers younger than 21 years of age and AED 320 for older ones, which is the same for all the emirates. Given below is the complete process of renewing your driving license in the UAE:

  • Visit either the RTA website or the MOI website and go to the ‘services’ section. You can also visit the happiness centre or use the mobile application. 
  • Proceed to driver and vehicle owner services from there and locate license renewal portal. 
  • Fill out the renewal application form and attach the required documents. 
  • Pay the driving license renewal fee once you are done filling the form. 
  • That’s it for the renewal process. You can check the status of your request as and when you like on the RTA or MOI website. 

How to Exchange Your Home Country’s Driving License in the UAE?

You can get your original driving license converted into a UAE driving license if you are from one of the countries included in the list of exempted countries. The process of converting or exchanging your driving license is quite simple. The complete process may take a few weeks before your license finally arrives. Given below are the details:

  • Get your eyes tested and obtain the report. 
  • Either go to a branch of the RTA or a happiness centre depending on the emirates you live in. 
  • Submit the required documents:
  • Original driving license from your home country with a few copies 
  • An NOC from your employer, if applicable
  • A few passport-sized photographs 
  • Reports of your eye exam 
  • A copy of the Arabic translation of your driving license if it is not in English or Arabic
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UAE Driving License FAQs

Q1. How much does a UAE driving license cost?

Ans: The cost of your driving license in the UAE can differ depending on the emirate you reside in. Getting a driving license in Dubai can cost you up to AED 7000, while the average cost of getting a driving license in Abu Dhabi is AED 2300. The major part of your driving license fee goes into the driving classes you take. This is why you can even score a discount on driving packages in the UAE. 

Q2. Can I get a driving license in the UAE if I am a foreigner?

Ans: Yes, foreigners can easily obtain a driving license in the UAE if they have a resident visa. If you are a foreigner in the UAE on a tourist or visitor visa, you will need an international driving license to drive in the UAE. This will be made in your home country itself.

Q3. Which countries are included in the list of license exchange list for the UAE?

Ans: Also known as the exempted countries, there are a few countries around the world that have the same driving rules as the UAE. People from these countries can simply exchange their old driving license for a new UAE driving license. Given below is the list:

  • All Gulf countries 
  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Netherlands
  • Norway 
  • Portugal
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • South Korean
  • Switzerland
  • Sweden
  • Turkey
  • USA
  • UK
Q4. Can I drive in India with a UAE license?

Ans: No, you will need an international driving permit to drive in India. The national UAE car license will not be sufficient for that.

Q5. How difficult is it to drive in the UAE?

Ans: Driving itself is not very difficult in the UAE. Traffic regulations and rules are pretty stern in the UAE. You may have to learn the new rules as well as new lanes if your country has the left-hand side driving lane rules.

Q6. Can I drive a borrowed car in the UAE?

Ans: Yes, you can freely drive a borrowed or rented car in the UAE as long as you have a proper driving license. Both the national driving license of the UAE and an international driving permit are valid documents for driving in the UAE, depending on your visa type.

Q7. What kind of license is valid for tourists in the UAE?

Ans: An international driving license or permit is the license document that tourists require to drive in the UAE. 

Q8. Are driving classes available in all Emirates?

Ans: Yes, you can find plenty of driving institutes in all emirates. Most driving institutes have multiple branches all across the UAE, which means you will have enough options to choose from.

Q9. How much would it cost to exchange my original license for a UAE car license?

Ans: Expect to spend AED 800 to AED 1000 when you are aiming to have your license exchanged. This fee will include fee for opening driving file, fee for the issuance of license, fee for the driving handbook and knowledge and innovation fee. 

Q10. Is Saudi driving license valid in the UAE?

Ans: Yes, the Saudi driving license is valid in the UAE and can be exchanged for a UAE driving license without giving a driving test. 

Q11. Do I have to get a different license for driving heavy vehicles in the UAE?

Ans: Yes, different types of license are available for different kinds of vehicles in the UAE. You have to get a different license for every kind of vehicle you need to drive. 

Q12. Is India’s international driving license valid in the UAE?

Ans: Yes, the Indian international driving license is valid in the UAE for people present in the country with a visitor visa. 

Q13. Can residents drive in the UAE with an international driving permit?

Ans: No, anyone with a resident visa in the UAE must get a UAE car license to drive. The UAE international driving license is only valid for visitors. 

Q14. Is the UAE driving license valid in Canada?

Ans: UAE international driving license is valid in Canada if you are going on a visitor visa. If you plan to move to Canada, you must get a Canadian driving license to drive there.

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