Sunday 25 August 2019 (UAE)

Dubai Driving License

How to get a UAE or Dubai driver's licence (license)

Exchanging home country licence without driving test

  1. Get a UAE residence visa stamped in your passport first.
  2. Collect the following documents (copies might not be necessary but chance of needing them increases if you don't have them):
    • Home country driving licence with copy.
    • Two passport sized photos.
    • Passport with residence visa and copies.
    • 300-400 dhs cash (it's probably about 300 dhs or less). Bring cash, not cheque or credit card.
  3. You will need to do an eye test. In Dubai sometimes this can be done at an optician approved by the Dubai RTA (most shopping malls will have a glasses shop where this is possible). Sometimes this is done at the RTA traffic department. It seems that as soon as we update this page the policy changes to the opposite of what we say. Go to a shopping mall on your way to get a driving licence, go to a spectacles shop and ask if you can do the eye test. If you have to do it at the RTA they'll tell you.
  4. In Dubai visit an RTA traffic office. In other emirates visit the traffic police department.
  5. Go to the driving licence counter and fill in an application form. You might have to pay money at a separate counter. Then wait while driving licence is printed and issued.
  6. Remember to ask for your home country licence to be returned to you - it should be given back at the same time.

Exchanging home country licence with driving test

Driving in Dubai news and updates

Lost driving licence replacement machine in Dubai - 26 Dec 2013
Driving licence ban in Sharjah lifted - 01 Sep 2013
Minimum age for driving licence in UAE - 23 May 2012
04 October 2010 - renewal of driving licences in other emirates
05 July 2009 - Pay fee to remove black points

It might be possible to remove some points by paying a fee (AED 100 per point) and attending lectures (AED 200 per lecture) at the Al Qusais (Al Ghusais) police station in Dubai. Maximum 4 lectures or 8 points once per year per driver so if you've got 32 points or more, this won't save you (Gulf News report 05 July 2009).

27 April 2009 - renew Dubai driving licence online
16 April 2009 - VIP licence applications

Now even driving licence lessons have a VIP option. Pay lots of money and get your license in less than a week, according to a report in The Xpress. Emirates Driving Institute offers this option for just over AED 15,000 for beginners, or AED 8,600 if you already have a licence from somewhere else. Cheaper options are available at the Galadari Driving Center and the Dubai Driving School - AED 8,000 for beginners and AED 5,000 if you already have a licence. If you have a driving licence from another country, bring two copies, attested by your embassy or consulate (along with NOC, eye test, passport copies and original, and 6 photos).

Driving licence valid after UAE residence visa cancellation - 21 January 2009
24 August 2008 - Dubai driving licences valid only 1 year

New driving licenses in Dubai will only be valid for 1 year (renewable), at least for the first 3 years, according to the RTA. On the fourth renewal, drivers will get a licence that is valid for 10 years (same as the current validity), as long as they have a relatively clean record. If, during the 1 year period, they have clocked up a bad driving record, they'll have to go back to Go and do another driving test. Exactly where the line is drawn between bad driving and not too bad, has not yet been detailed. Lucky residents with driving licenses from one of the countries that can do a Dubai licence exchange, will be exempt from this new rule. As the RTA governs traffic in Dubai only, it's unclear at the time of the news if other emirates will continue with new licences for 10 years, or make a similar change. No date seen for implementation of the new rule.

The Gulf News reported: "A driving licence will be issued with one-year validity and will be renewed twice for one year each time before a driver is given a 10-year validity licence," said Engineer Ali Mohammad Al Jasem, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Licensing Agency at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

In the past there have been conflicting or incorrect media reports about RTA announcements, sometimes exacerbated by RTA officials themselves contradicting each other, so a wait and see attitude might be the order of the day.

01 March 2008 - Points system to be implemented in the UAE

The new Unified Federal Traffic Law comes into effect across all the emirates of the UAE on 01 March 2008. Penalties for various driving offences will become harsher, and a black points system will be implemented (not an entirely new thing - the deduction of points has been around but rarely or never implemented). The cut off is 24 points in a year, after which a driver loses a licence based on the following:

Points will expire after a year so it's only the total you collect within a 12 month period that you have to worry about. If a vehicle is spotted doing a point collecting activity, the owner is assumed to be the driver, and gets the points. If someone else was driving, they need to be sent to the cop shop to get their points, within a month of the offence, otherwise the vehicle may be impounded.

Apparently Government owned vehicles are exempt from the points system. What? Isn't it the driver that gets points, not the vehicle?

UAE driving licences from any emirate

According to the Gulf News 19 February 2008, a police official who did not want to be identified said that UAE residents could apply for their UAE driving license an any emirate, it doesn't matter which emirate their residence visa is from. This is apparently part of the new Federal Traffic Law that takes effect from 01 March 2008. How that works in practice remains to be seen. In Dubai, the RTA is in charge of issuing licences, not the police.

A Khaleej Times report 26 August 2010 seemed to say that it is possible to get a driving licence issued in an emirate different from where you live, or where your UAE residence visa is issued, based on a answer from the CEO of the RTA Licensing Agency, Ahmed Hashem Bahrozyan: When asked whether those with visa from one emirate and working in another would be issued driving licences from the place of their employment, Bahrozyan said that there is a Ministry of Interior policy regarding the issue, which is that the employee has to produce proof of his employment in the particular emirate from where the person wants a driving licence. "The person has to produce convincing proof that, for example, he/she works for an Abu Dhabi-registered company and currently serves in its Dubai branch, than we can open a driving file here, it is as simple as that."

March 2007 update
October 2006 - Sponsor NOC now needed
Countries that can exchange driving licenses in the UAE
Getting a Dubai driving license with a driving test

In Dubai, since the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) took over the driver testing from the police in 2006, it sounds like it has become more difficult to pass a driving test, not that it was easy previously. Don't expect to pass first time round. Stories of people having to repeat the driving test 10-20 times are common, although some of those drivers might be trying to use driving tests as a course of driving lessons. An additional irritation is that you may need to another 1-2 weeks of driving lessons which will cost you a few hundred dirhams.

03 February 2008 update: The RTA says, contrary to earlier reports, they are not increasing the number of lessons that learners need to do. It will remain at 40 lessons (there were earlier reports it would be increased to 120 lessons).

Usually you'll need to go to a driving school in Dubai for driving lessons. It is also possible to arrange these privately but make sure they're from someone qualified/registered and they have a proper learner's car - easy to recognise because they have dual control systems and are painted an awful color.

In early October 2006, the rule requiring an NOC (No Objection Certificate or letter) from your sponsor was reinstated. You need this before you can start taking driving lessons.

After the driving school has decided you're a good enough driver (that may depend more on how much cash they've received as lesson fees, than on your actual driving skills), they'll make an appointment for you to do a driving test with the Dubai Traffic Department.

You could try making an appointment directly with the Dubai Traffic Department but it would make sense to do a couple of lessons first. Not because you don't know how to drive (there are many licenced drivers in Dubai who obviously fit that category) but because the driving school will, in theory, prepare you for the driving test (as opposed to teaching you how to drive safely).

The Dubai driving test involves answering some multi-choice questions on theory and then a short drive around the block. A surprise for many will be that the driving test car will contain several applicants at once, and you take turns. The tester may be obnoxious and/or inconsistent but remain calm and polite. If you get failed the first time, you might get the same person next time round. Note also that you do the test in a different car than what you had driving lessons in, so the brakes, transmission, controls will be different. Try and practice short drives in different cars, especially if you're being tested in a manual car. The clutch always seems to be difficult for beginners to get used to.

When you do the test, make it obvious that you are adjusting seat and mirrors before starting, checking mirrors and over your shoulder before changing lanes, checking the rear view mirror, etc (same anywhere really).

The driving test results are notoriously random - anyone who's attempted it is bound to have a story. Most people take more than one try before succeding. There was supposedly a wait of six days before you could do a re-test. The RTA changed this to one month late in 2006. It might be reduced according to comments in Mar 2007 from the RTA (see the Dubai driving license discussion). Check also if there is an extra fee for urgent applications to speed it up.

Although it's true that many people complain that it's impossible to pass the driving test in Dubai, you'll find it interesting while doing the test that some of your fellow examinees obviously have no idea how to drive in Dubai and should not be let anywhere near a car. Ever. Unless tied up, enclosed in a large bag and deposited in the trunk. You may have less sympathy for those who tell you stories of making their 20th attempt at getting a driving licence in Dubai after being in the car with one of them while they do their driving test in Dubai.

If you pass the driving test, then you'll get your Dubai driving license there and then - you'll need all the documentation listed in the previous section though.

Automatic vs Manual cars

In Dubai, if you do the driving test in an automatic car, your driving license will only allow you to drive automatic cars. If you do the driving test in a manual car, your Dubai driving licence will allow you to drive both automatic and manual cars.

Dubai Driving Schools
International Driving permits (licences) in Dubai

See main information page at International Driving Permit in Dubai.

The correct term is International Driving Permit (IDP) rather than International Driving License. It is not really a driving licence in its own right, but a document that confirms you have been issued a driving licence in the country which also issued the IDP. If you have one and want to drive in Dubai, then you can but you'll need to rent a car, or if you want to drive a private car then go to a police station and/or the Dubai RTA to get a temporary driving licence for Dubai. This might not be necessary for visitors with licences from the free licence exchange countries if they are first degree relatives of Dubai car owners - see section below about temporary driving licences. If you have a UAE residence visa then you cannot use an international driving license. You have to get a UAE driving licence.

If you are in Dubai and want to get an International Driving Licence for use overseas, then you'll need your Dubai driving licence, a copy, a couple of passport photos, 150 dhs (but bring an extra hundred just in case), and your passport with copies of information page and residence visa page.

You can get one from several locations:

Temporary Driving Licenses

Visitors of countries which can do a straight Dubai driver's licence exchange, are allowed to drive private vehicles without obtaining a temporary licence, according to the Dubai Police website (as of April 2009 or earlier, confirmation not found on the RTA website) as long as the entry visa is issued in Dubai, and the visitor holds a valid licence. If planning to drive in another emirate, then the visitor needs to obtain a temporary driving licence (costs 100 dhs, visit an RTA office). Before driving, confirm with your insurance company that the driver is insured. Update: the permission for visitors to drive a private car in the UAE without a temporary licence might only apply to first degree relatives of the car owner (father, mother, brother, sister, possibly children). Confirm with the Dubai RTA since rules sometimes change without notice, or are applied inconsistently.

Unconfirmed reports surfaced in December 2006 that the issuance of Temporary Driving Licenses was suspended, but this appears to have been due to confusion arising over changes in rules, or interpretation of rules. The relevant authority is the RTA (Dubai Road & Transport Authority) instead of the Dubai Police now and they appear to be implementing rules more strictly than the Dubai Police, and/or adding new rules. Confusion arises because of the different interpretations of rules and combinations of UAE visa, original nationality, original country of residence, country from which original driving license was issued.

Note that this means there is quite possibly variation in the way rules are implemented in different Emirates as the RTA is a Dubai organisation, not a federal UAE organisation.

A temporary driving license is issued if you want to drive a private car in Dubai but don't have a residency visa to be able to obtain a full UAE driving license eg visitors on visit visas, expats waiting for residence visa processing. You obtain it from a traffic police station (there's one next to Mall of the Emirates in Al Barsha) and it's valid for six months. Bring:

Note that if you want to drive a rental car in Dubai, you don't need to apply for a temporary licence but you do need to bring an IDP - International Driving Permit (required as of January 2007). The Dubai Police website seems to say (as of April 2009) that if you hold an IDP then your home country driving licence is not necessary but bring it just in case. Rental car companies may or may not ask for both.

Driving licence in RAK (Ras Al Khaimah)

You will need the following:

If you're not in the list of countries which allow you to change driving licence, you'll have to do 20 hours of lessons and then sit a driving test. Whether or not you're in the list, you will have to do a blood and eye test.

Driving without a UAE driving license in Dubai

Don't drive if you have no driving license. The car may not be insured if you crash, and it seems to be one of those traffic offences in Dubai which are treated quite harshly (as opposed to driving with no seatbelt which seems to be ignored or punished with a smallish fine). Chances are your car will be impounded if caught driving without a driving license.

Last update Tuesday 03-Jun-2014.
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