Depending on your nationality, obtaining a local driving license can be very easy or surprisingly difficult. Certain nationalities are able to transfer their existing driving licenses without having to undergo any extra training or take a driving test.
The current list of countries whose citizens can exchange their licenses with no test are:
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.
This list does change from time to time and you should check for any updates with the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) on 800 9090.
Transferring an Existing Driving License
If you are a citizen of one of the countries above and you have a UAE residence visa, you have to apply for a long-term 10-year driving license if you want to drive. Be aware that you are not allowed to drive on an international driving license if you have a residence visa and you cannot obtain a UAE driving license until you get your residence visa. The timing here can be all important.
First of all, you must take an eye test. You can have this done at any optician, clinic or hospital. You should explain that this test is for a driving license. You will need two passport-sized photos for the eye exam and there will usually be a small fee.
Drivers with Greek, Canadian, Turkish, Japanese and South Korean nationalities will also need to provide an official translation of their driving license. This can be obtained from the relevant consulates.
Canadian citizens must also produce a letter from their consulate confirming that their license is genuine.
The following documents should be taken to any traffic police licensing office. This includes the traffic department on Sheikh Zayed Road before you come to Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Traffic Department, Driving License Section in Al Ghusais (see http://www.dubaipolice.gov.ae/dp/english/e_services.jsp?Page=A26&Id=13579&num2=INF&mainporid=842 for more information about locations).
- passport with valid residence visa and copy
- current driving license and copy
- 1 passport sized photo
- eye test certificate
- a no-objection letter from your employer, or sponsor
- translation of driving license (if necessary – see list above)
- consulate letter (for Canadians)
- an AED 100 application fee
Applying for a New License
If you have never driven before, or if you do not come from one of the countries whose citizens can exchange their licenses with no test, you must first undergo training from an authorized driving school. To register at one of these schools and obtain a provisional license for use while you are learning, you must provide them with:
- your passport with a valid residence visa and a copy
- a no-objection certificate from your sponsor
- eight passport-sized photographs
- an eye test certificate
Authorized Driving Schools:
- Al Ahli Driving School – 04 341 1500
- Belhasa Driving School – 04 324 3535
- Dubai Driving Centre – 04 345 5855
- Emirates Driving Institute – 04 263 1100
- Galadari Driving School – 04 267 6166
You must pass the several practical tests including garage parking, a signal test and a road test. Once you pass all the tests, you will be given an approval paper and may apply for your full UAE driving license. English-speaking examiners are available.
After you arrive in Dubai, your residence visa will take about a month to come through. If you want to drive before then you must use an international driving license. If you don’t have an international license, you can apply to the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) for a temporary six month license.
If you have an exchangeable driving license and are taking up residency in Dubai, you first need to take an eye test specifically for this purpose. You can do this at any optician. Remember, you will need to take along with you two passport-sized photographs.
If you are do not have an exchangeable driving license, you will also need to take a driving test. You will have to produce the test certificate along with the documentation detailed below.
The following documents must be taken to the Dubai Traffic Department, Driving License Section in Al Ghusais between 7.30 am and 2.30 pm on any working day:
- your original passport with a valid visa and a copy
- your original driving license and a copy
- eye test certificate
- one passport size photograph