Driving in Dubai, what you need to know

Have you ever wondered what is needed to drive in Dubai? A foreigner in the emirates will most likely need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive and rent cars. The permit is normally requested in the country that issued the foreign driving license and has a variable validity, normally one year. It is important to carry the IDP always together with the original driving license as the permit is basically only a translation of the official document.

The International Driving Permit (IDP), in fact, is an internationally recognized translation of your driving license which allows motorists to drive rental vehicles in a foreign country without the need for further tests and applications. IDP enables car users who are travelers and tourists to drive without being questioned by authorities or incurring fines.

Since 80% or more of Dubai is expatriates with a wide range of nationalities represented; therefore, an International Driver’s Document (IDD)—the only official translation of a person’s driver’s license—will come handy for those who wish to be a motorist there. However, the driving permit is not valid for residents operating private cars in the emirates.

Those who get a residence permit must get a Dubai driving license (requiring learners to attend driving classes and undergo a driving test) at an authorized driving school and are no longer allowed to drive with a foreign license, IDP. In other words, as a citizen/resident you must attend vehicle training from an authorized driving school in Dubai to attain a UAE license as it automatically becomes illegal to drive on your IDP!

Resident foreigners of some countries can apply for a transfer of the driving license in Dubai and will not have to undergo any tests. This provision includes citizens of Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. The list however can change and some restrictions apply.

For the UAE driver’s license, applicants will need to pass a theory test (comprising a total of 35 questions on road signals, hazards and guidelines on safe-driving) followed by a road test to demonstrate one’s driving and anticipatory skills. If you fail, you have to try again. The UAE driving license is valid for a 10-year period. A vision test must be passed when applying for a UAE driver license or to renew the license. One can get an eye test done at the driving school that will handle all paper-work with RTA or take the vision exam at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

UAE Driving Licenses can be obtained by adults (the minimum age is 18-years old). Aside from obtaining a valid driving license, one can renew their Dubai driving license online by filling in the form and paying the renewal fees. Visit the RTA website (rta.ae) – Go to Licensing Services – then click the Driving License Services. Do register first if you haven’t done so already to view a number of services that can be accessed online, in addition to accessing your profile. If you have any enquires, call RTA on 8009090.

It is important to note that, within the UAE, each emirate implements their own rules and regulation for those who need a Permit to drive a car, as some are able to drive a rent a car without producing an IDP and using their home country driving license. In addition, visitors are normally not allowed to drive non-rental cars in the UAE. A temporary UAE driving license would be required.

Driving in Dubai– what you need to know

One thought on “Driving in Dubai, what you need to know

  • November 20, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    I was soo happy to find out that I could get UAE Driving License without taking any test! :-) By the way I am from UK and enjoying my life here in UAE.


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