Overview of Driving in The UAE
Overview of Driving
in The UAE
The first thing there is to know is that driving in the UAE is on the right side, meaning that the driver has to sit on the left of the vehicle and on a dual carriageway one will be driving on the right side. Legally, you must have your driving license, registration card or details and Emirates ID at all times. Moreover, keep in mind the following speed limits on the UAE roads:
Another point to remember is that mobile phones are forbidden to use unless it is a hands-free system. Both passengers and drivers have to wear seat belts and children under the age of 10 are not allowed to sit in the front seat. Of course, the most important traffic regulation is that drunk or intoxicated driving is absolutely prohibited, regardless of the amount consumed. Besides paying a fine of between AED 20,000 - AED 30,000 (USD 5,500 - USD 8,200), you may also lose your driving license for a certain period of time and spend up to 3 years in jail.
Black Points System
When you break the traffic laws, the punishment is not limited to just a fine. The Emirates has a black points system, where you can receive black points for traffic violations. The maximum number of points allowed per individual is 24. Once the limit is exceeded, you could be banned from driving any type of vehicle for a year. Each traffic violation has a different amount of points assigned to it. For instance, if driving when intoxicated you will receive 24 points immediately. Meanwhile, distracted driving can lead to 4 additional points. The black points are valid for 1 year and after that, they are deleted from the system and drivers can have a clean start again.
Driving Style of UAE Locals
The biggest challenge for US and European drivers will be the general standard of traffic manners. Despite strict regulations and fees, there are many locals who drive without seatbelts, speed and use their mobile phones. Other issues that are common on the UAE roads include undertaking, turning without indicating, driving without lights as well as many others. No matter how annoyed you get with other drivers, do not use any hand gestures towards them as the gestures can be perceived as rude. In the UAE, there are also penalties for swearing or making obscene hand gestures in public.
As of August 2021, gasoline prices are the following:
Despite the fact that the 7 Emirates are united as 1 country, the conditions for obtaining documents differ in each one of them. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to obtain a driving license in the emirate where you were issued a residence visa in order to avoid any problems. You also have to keep in mind that no matter which country you come from or whether you have a license already, having an Emirates ID is a must when applying for a driving license in the UAE.
The minimum age to drive a car in the UAE is 18, however, it is possible to submit an application for a license 6 months before turning the required age. If you are working or permanently living in the Emirates, you cannot use the driving license of your home country to drive here. The required age for renting a car in the United Arab Emirates is 21.
There are several factors to be taken into account when getting a UAE driving license, including your home country and the current type of driving license that you already have. The UAE has a list of specific countries of which passport holders are able to simply transfer their unexpired license over to a UAE one. As this list is constantly changing, it is strongly recommended to check the up-to-date information on the official website of the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority). Moreover, UAE residents cannot drive around the UAE with a license issued in their home country, as you could risk up to 3 months in jail or a fine of up to AED 5,000 (USD 1,400).
Renewal of Driving License
Driving licenses are renewable after 10 years for GCC and UAE nationals, while this is reduced to 5 years for everyone else. Renewals can be done online in most of the different Emirates, just make sure that beforehand you settle all your traffic fines. A monthly fine of AED 10 (USD 2.7)will be charged on those who delay renewal of the driving license for over 1 month.
To complete several vehicle and licensing services in Dubai, car owners simply have to use their smartphone or a laptop. Currently, RTA provides 136 services specifically for drivers in Dubai, involving learning and driving permits, parking permits as well as many others. In terms of driving licenses specifically, it is possible to apply for a new test-based driving license, renewal and an international driving license from your phone.
Driving with A Foreign Driving License
Driving with A Foreign
Tourists who hold driving licenses from certain countries, such as the GCC, US, UK, Malta, Bulgaria, Canada and others, can use them in the UAE. The full list can be checked on the official website of the RTA. When renting a car, speak to the rental company beforehand to find out whether your home country’s license is accepted or if you need an International Driving Permit to be able to drive in the UAE. One can apply for an International Driving Permit in their home country or country of residence before they travel.
Note: a UAE car registered by a third party can be driven by a UAE resident with a valid UAE driving license only. An individual with a tourist visa cannot drive a private vehicle in the UAE unless they are a close relative of the owner. If any traffic fines are incurred, the legal responsibility for paying them lies with the vehicle owner.
Exchanging A Foreign Driving License
Exchanging A Foreign
As we have mentioned previously, if you have a driving license issued by your country of citizenship, in certain cases it is possible to convert it into a UAE one without having to take any driving lessons. These countries include the US, UK, Ireland, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia and others. It is worth noting that a driving license has to be valid or within 1 year of expiry and the applicant has to be a citizen of the country where the license was registered. In Dubai, it is possible to apply for a new driving license based on exchanging the old one via the RTA app.
Below we have provided a list of the necessary documentation to obtain a license:
Note: In June 2020, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority announced that all residents in the emirate are allowed to open a file to obtain a driving license without the need of No-Objection Certificate from the employer.
Service fees can be expected as the following:
As a rule, the license is applied for and processed on the same day, meaning that you will receive a brand new UAE license within hours of submitting your papers.
After presenting the required documents at the service center, the steps are:
Getting A Driving License
Getting A Driving License
If you are not a resident of exempted countries, then you have a few more steps to complete in order to obtain a UAE driving license. You have to:
Note: The list of authorized driving institutes can be found on the official website of The United Arab Emirates’ Government portal. The cost of their services amounts to AED 2,500 (USD 680) as a minimum.
Necessary Documents and Fees
Documents required to open a traffic file are the following:
You will be required to pay service fees, including AED 200 (USD 55) in test fees and AED 20 (USD 5.5) for Knowledge and Innovation fees. The number of lessons you have to take highly depends on your previous driving experience. As a rule, learner drivers who do not possess any license from any country have to register for 20 lessons (10 x 2 hours).
Tests During Exam
There are 4 tests in total when applying for a driving license:
Once the on-road test is completed, you will receive your results immediately upon returning to the driving center. In case of an unsuccessful attempt, you will have to complete 7 additional classes before being able to arrange another on-road test. If you pass, the examiner will provide you with the approval paper which then has to be submitted at the pass counter, as well as your Emirates ID and the driving license fee. Your brand new UAE driving license will be issued then and there and will be valid for 2 years for local citizens, GCC nationals and all other nationalities.