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To drive a car in most countries, you need a driving license issued by a competent local authority. However, a regular driving license has geographical limitations, meaning that you cannot use it beyond the boundaries of your country. While it may not pose any problem for most people, frequent travelers face considerable hassle, especially when arranging their convenient mode of transport. While public transport is the most viable option when travelling abroad, it can be time-consuming and may not allow you to enjoy your trip as planned.

To overcome this issue, you can opt for an international driving license that lets you drive on the roads of all the countries accepting such permits. With an international license, you can cut short your journey, explore new places, and enjoy your trip in style as you can rent a car to roam around just like a native commuter. The article below brings an insight into various aspects of international driving permits and the ways to apply.

What is an International Driving License? 

As mentioned earlier, a driving license is compulsory for driving a vehicle. Similar to driving a vehicle abroad, you need an international driver’s license (IDL). Also known as an international driver’s permit, it is a legal document that allows you to drive an automobile in a foreign country without any legal forms and formalities. With three conventions of the United Nation sanctioning the international driving permit, over 175 countries across the globe accept these licenses and let you drive a vehicle there. An international driving permit has a validity of 1 year. 

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Benefits of an International Driving License When Traveling Abroad

A driving license issued in the UAE is valid only within its geographical boundaries. However, as mentioned earlier, if you are on a business or leisure trip, and wish to drive a vehicle on your own, you can get an international driver’s permit in the UAE too. Besides allowing you to drive a vehicle at most international locations without any hassles, an international driving license benefits you in numerous ways on your international trips as mentioned below.

  • An international driving license signifies that you hold a valid driving license in your home country, which can also act as an additional identification document for you.  
  • The permit also facilitates the process of making insurance claims in case you or your family face unforeseen events like accidents, vehicle damage, etc., during an international trip
  • The international driving license is printed in 10 major international languages for easy understanding amongst law enforcement across the globe. Following are the languages printed on the IDL.
    • Arabic
    • English
    • French
    • German
    • Portuguese
    • Italian
    • Chinese
    • Spanish
    • Russian
    • Scandinavian

How to Apply for International Driving License in Dubai and UAE?

As individuals already holding a UAE driving license can apply for an IDL, the application process ends up being quite straightforward. Following a few simple steps, you can apply for an IDL online without any hassles, or visit the designated offices in person. However, you need a few documents during the application process.  

Steps to Apply Online for International Driving License 

To apply for IDL online, you can visit the official portal of ATCUAE and follow the steps mentioned below.

  • Log on to the ATCUAE website.
  • Fill out the IDL application form with all the required information. 
  • Upload the required documents and proofs in the prescribed format under the limit of 2 MB.
  • Once your form is successfully submitted, you need to pay an application fee of AED 170 with an additional VAT.
  • After successful payment, it can take up to 5 business days for your international driving license to be delivered to your address.

You can also follow the steps mentioned above on the official website of the Ministry of Interior, UAE.

Offline Application for International Driving License in the UAE

If you don’t prefer the online mode, you can always visit the following designated offices to apply for an international driving permit in the UAE. 

  • Emirates Post Offices 
  • Automobile and Touring Club, UAE offices in Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Al Ain, Dubai, Fujairah, RAK, Sharjah, Um Al Quwain and the Western Region
  • Emirates Post Offices
  • DNATA Office in Sheikh Zayed Road
  • All affiliate members
  • Ministry of Interior UAE offices

The offline application for IDL is quick and convenient, with the process usually being completed in around 2 hours. All you need is to visit any of the above-mentioned offices, fill out an offline application form, attach the required documents, and pay the application fee. 

Documents Required for International Driving License in UAE

Following are the documents required for an international driving license in the UAE. 

  • A valid Passport ID in original and a copy
  • A duly filled International Driving License form (it can be downloaded from the ATCUAE official website)
  • A valid Emirates ID for UAE nationals and residents
  • Passport size photographs
  • A valid driving license issued by a competent authority in the UAE
  • A valid visa from the embassy of the visiting country
  • An attested copy of flight or train tickets

International Travelers with IDL Visiting the UAE

Private vehicles are the most convenient way of travelling and exploring new places. Tourists, visitors, and individuals on business trips can drive rental cars on the roads of the UAE if they hold a valid international driving license. However, they need to keep certain things in mind as mentioned below.

  • Individuals need to carry their local driving license issued in their home country along with an international driving permit to rent a car in the UAE. 
  • Those who have applied for UAE residency are required to get a local driving license issued by RTA as the international driving license becomes insignificant after getting a UAE resident visa.

The UAE accepts foreign driving licenses from a few countries such as the USA. If you are a traveler from such countries and wish to drive a vehicle in the UAE, you can opt for license conversion. Converting your local permit to a UAE driving license is a great way to avoid the process of applying for an International Driving License. 

Things to Know Before Applying for International Driver’s Permit in the UAE

While it is convenient to apply for an international driving license in the UAE, you need to keep a few things in mind during the process.

  • To apply for an international driver’s permit, you need to have a valid driving license issued by a competent authority in the UAE.
  • You can apply for an IDL after you have gained 1-year driving experience in the UAE. 
  • As an applicant, you must be present at the designated office when opting for an international driving license.
  • The international driving license is applicable to cars, bikes, buses, and trucks (heavy and light).
  • You cannot replace a local driving license with an international driver’s permit. The IDLs are valid only for international travelers and tourists. 
  • The IDL is valid for a period of 1 year from the issuance date.  

The Road Ahead 

As a traveler, an easy commute is one of the fundamental requirements for trips. However, as the local driving license in your country has geographical limitations, you cannot use it worldwide. An international driving permit solves that concern, as you can visit almost any country without getting into the legalities and long formalities. Moreover, it also serves as a substitute identity proof in case you lose your passport or other identity cards. 

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