So you want to get out there and explore everything the Emirates has to offer? Great idea!
But before you do, you’ll need a set of wheels. So how do you go about applying for, and earning, your driver’s license in the UAE?
And how does that differ for nationals versus expats?
In this article, we’ll take you on a quick tour of driver’s licensing — covering the steps you’ll need to take, and the paperwork you’ll need to provide, as a local or visitor in the UAE.
8 steps to getting a driver’s license in the UAE
Driver’s licenses don’t come cheap, and they also require quite a bit of effort to obtain. But, of course, it’s all worth it once you’re in the driving seat!
Here’s what you’ll need to do to get one:
Register for a driving school
The official UAE government website has a useful list of recommended driving schools for you to take a look at. There are 9 in total across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah.
To register, simply drop into a branch or register via the school’s website. You’ll need the following documents:
- Copy of your passport (to prove that you are over 18 years old)
- Copy and original of your Emirates ID
- 2 passport photos
- An eye test report
- No objection letter from your sponsor (if required by the traffic department)
Get your learner’s permit
This will be issued by your driving school once you have completed the registration process.
With this temporary license, you’ll be able to attend all your driving lessons for up to 6 months, when the learner’s permit will expire (so make sure you remember to renew if you have to!).
Attend 8 mandatory theory classes
Your first taste of learning to drive will be entirely classroom-based.
If you need added flexibility, it’s worth knowing that schools like Dubai Driving Centre now offer e-learning access — so you can pick up on your theory classes, wherever you are.
Pass your theory test
Your theory test will be held at an RTA centre after you have completed all of your theory classes. If you want to squeeze a little extra practice in, you can download the RTA Theory Test app, which is full of mock tests and practice questions.
Then, once you pass your theory test, you’re ready to get behind the wheel!
Start your practical training
Most driving schools offer lessons in blocks of 10-20 hours, and you will need to do at least 20 hours if you are a new driver.
This will give you enough time to cover the basics, as well as parking, manoeuvres and driving on different types of roads. When you’ve clocked your hours, and honed your skills, it’s time to face the big day…
Pass your practical test
When the day of your practical exam comes the best thing you can do is work on staying calm and relaxed. You’ve already put the work in, so stressing on the day will only tire you out. If in doubt, visualize yourself driving your dream car through the desert beauty of Liwa Oasis.
A friendly reminder: your practical test will cost AED 250, so give yourself a bit of time to save up if needed.
Consider additional lessons for highways
Now you’ve got your license you can go out there and explore the UAE!
At this stage, your lessons will have covered driving up to 80 km/h, as well as some off-roading. But if you want to build your confidence before you head out onto the fastest roads, consider some additional tuition — it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Get yourself some wheels!
After all this hard work and effort, you’re gonna want the freedom of having your own car, right? But car ownership in the UAE doesn’t come cheap.
So have you considered Invygo?
At Invygo we offer a range of cars perfectly suited to new drivers, such as the Ford Figo and Nissan Micra, all available with an affordable monthly payment. Why not check them out here?
Okay, so what about expats?
We mentioned a little earlier that things can be a bit different for some expats. So let’s finish things off by taking a look at what the process looks like for them.
Expats from 36 countries are able to convert their license to a UAE license without delay. These include the USA, UK, most of the EU, Japan, South Korea, and South Africa.
To do this you’ll need to bring the following documents to your local licensing department:
- A passport photo
- Original and copy of your passport
- Emirates ID
- Original and copy of your current driving license
- Copy of residency visa
- No objection letter from your sponsor
- An Arabic translation of your current license
- Eye test results
This shouldn’t set you back more than AED 800, a small price to pay to enjoy some truly stunning driving!