The UAE is a fairly accessible country with various modes of public transport available including buses, metros, and trams. However, a car will often be needed to reach more inland and residential areas across the emirates. While it’s easy to hail a taxi, doing so every day can be costly, so getting a car will provide you with more value in the long run and give you more flexibility to get around. If you’re thinking of getting a driver’s license in the UAE, we have compiled a step by step guide that can help you identify the procedures involved in obtaining one.
Transferring your existing license
The UAE has identified a list of countries that are eligible for a license transfer. This means that if you have an existing license from one of the specified countries, you will not need to take any lessons or practical tests in the UAE. All it takes is a photograph, some paperwork, a short trip to the traffic authority outlet of the emirate you live in, and a small fee. The countries applicable for license transferring in the UAE are:
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
If you already have a license from any of the above countries, the main documents you require to transfer your license are:
- Your original driver’s license plus a copy
- Two Passport-sized photos
- A No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your employer or sponsor
- Emirates ID
- Resident Visa
- A certified RTA eye test which can be done at any optician
- A legal translation of your international license to Arabic which can be done at any typing center in the country
If your current license is from a country not listed above, you’ll need to read on.
Getting a new license
If you don’t already have a driver’s permit from any of the 30 countries that allow for a transfer or if you are just learning how to drive, you’ll have to go through a slightly longer process. Depending on your experience, you’ll have to take a few hours of classes and a road test before you can get your new license. Here are the steps you need to take:
Step 1: Register for your driver’s permit by opening a file in any driving school in the UAE. In Dubai, there are five main driving schools endorsed by the RTA – Emirates Driving Institute, Al Ahli, Belhasa, Galadari, and Dubai Driving Center. Other authorized driving schools across the emirates are Emirates Driving Company, Sharjah Driving Institute, Ras Al Khaimah Driving Academy, and Fujairah National Driving Institute. The documents required documents to open up a file and get a learner’s permit are:
- Passport (original and copy)
- Residence Visa
- No-Objection Certificate from employer or sponsor
- Receipt of Eye Test
- Eight passport-sized photos
Step 2: The training course begins with eight hours of mandatory theory lectures after which you must pass a theory test before moving to practical training classes.
Step 3: After passing the theory test, you will finally begin your practical classes where you learn how to drive and park in the driving school’s yard. After a set of classes, you will be able to take the yard test where you’ll be tested on five different kinds of parking.
Step 4: Once you pass the yard test, you can continue your classes on the roads outside the campus. The number of lessons you will be required to take varies depending on the prior experience you have. If you’re a beginner with zero to two years of experience, you will be required to take a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 40 hours of classes. If you have two-five years of experience, you need to take a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 30 hours, and if you’re an experienced driver with over five years of driving history, you can take a minimum of 10 and a maximum 20 hours of lessons.
Step 5: When you’re done with your mandatory lessons, you will have to take an assessment test where you will be tested on all your driving skills in the institute’s premises. Here they will test your driving and anticipation skills, as well as how smoothly you move around obstacles.
Step 6: The final step to getting your license is the final road test, where an examiner will test your driving abilities and skills along with a few other candidates. If you fail, you will need to take seven additional hours of classes before booking a new date for your driver’s test. If you pass, the examiner will give you the approval paper which you can submit along with your Emirates ID and the driving license fee to get your newly obtained license!
Once you have your new license in hand, you can choose from an array of used cars to drive off in. Here are a few tips you need to know while buying your first car.