Monday 09 December 2019 (UAE)

International Driving Permit or License (IDP) in Dubai UAE

International Driving Permit (IDP) (not license) Dubai UAE

International Driving Permit (IDP) in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE information. An IDP can be obtained in the UAE, and an overseas IDP is recommended and might be necessary for driving a rental car in Dubai and UAE.

Remember that there is no such thing as an international driving or driver's licence (despite the headings on this page and many other references). What is commonly referred to as a licence is an International Driving Permit (IDP). It is an important distinction. An IDP on its own does not legally allow you to drive anywhere, even if rental car agents accept one without checking for your national driving license. The IDP is only a supporting document which verifies you have a valid national driving licence from the IDP issuing country, and is written in several different languages as a convenience for authorities and rental car agencies in different countries.

Driving licence rules, especially in the UAE it seems, appear to change frequently and/or be implemented inconsistently. Be wary of whatever you read (including this page, official government websites, and newspaper reports). Remember that within the UAE, each emirate might implement rules differently and/or have their own rules. Also, authorities sometimes sound like they contradict each other, and press reports of updates are only as accurate as information they receive. The IDP topic is especially notorious for conflicting information.

Those information conflicts could mean that you are driving legally in one emirate, but not necessarily in another. And drivers usually find this out the hard way - by having an accident resulting in no insurance cover, and/or a fine, and/or the car being impounded by the police. Be even more careful on some roads (Dubai Hatta road for example) or desert areas where you can be driving in another country's territory (Oman, possibly Saudi Arabia) without having gone through a border crossing.

Driving licence in the UAE summary

Any other variations on the previous points might or might not be valid depending on nationality, emirate, insurance company, which department whoever you're talking to belongs to, and his or her mood.

The UAE Embassy in UK website says (last checked 09 November 2010, unknown how correct it is or if still valid):

Obtaining an IDP in the UAE
Online applications for an International Driving Permit in the UAE
Driving on a foreign IDP in the UAE
Visitors driving privately owned vehicles in the UAE
GCC expat residents driving rental cars in the UAE
Locations and procedure for issuing a temporary driving licence in Dubai
ATC UAE licensed agents for issuing an IDP (as of 11 July 2006 - might not be up to date)

Post Offices in the UAE (Emirates Post) can issue IDPs from 10 July 2006. Organisations in italics not confirmed, or might no longer be authorised (list updated from ATC UAE information 25 July 2010).

References and press release information

The Roads and Transport Authority Dubai (RTA) says in their November 2008 driving handbook (note that this applies Dubai and not necessarily in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and other emirates):

Driving on a visa in Dubai

If you are not a permanent resident and want to drive on your visit to Dubai you must:

International Driving Licence restrictions

Generally you can drive a hire car using an international driver permit if you are on temporary stay (Visit Visa) only. However, you will need to check with individual car hire companies to see if they accept international driver permits, as some companies do not accept them. You will need to check that you have insurance cover if you are intending to drive outside the UAE. An International Driver Permit carried in conjunction with your foreign driving licence is required for driving in the UAE. You cannot drive using an International Driver's Permit if:

Eligibility to apply for a Dubai Driving Licence

If you hold a licence recognised by the UAE and have:

A press release 02 July 2007 from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said:

About the International Driving License (IDL) and Temporary License, the industry felt that the local license was more reliable than the international one. They added that holders of a UAE license could drive in the US and UK using the license.

The RTA officials explained that other emirates do not accept visitors to drive with their local licenses. Hence, if a driver makes an accident outside Dubai, he would be taken to court for driving without a license. Moreover, the insurance would not cover the accident. Hence, the present system offered more protection to visitors and car rental firms at a license exchange fee for certain nationalities listed on RTA website www.rta.ae.

Other visitors could use their international license.

It was clarified that the IDL could later be obtained from the UAE Touring Club at the Airport, for outbound passengers only.

The RTA will contact Ministry of Interior asking that UAE law be amended to allow for reciprocal use of domestic license with certain countries. The RTA said it would consider empowering reputed car rental firms to issue temporary license for domestic license holders of approved nationalities.

Last update Tuesday 12-Jun-2012. Page development 4L 5C.
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