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United Arab Emirates – Driving Licenses

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country located in the Middle East, and driving is a popular mode of transportation for both residents and tourists. Here we will discuss the rules regarding driving licenses for foreign nationals in the UAE.

General Rules for Foreign Nationals

Foreign nationals can use their own driving license in the UAE for a limited period of time. Visitors who have a valid driving license from their home country can drive in the UAE for up to six months from the date of entry into the country. However, after six months, they must obtain a UAE driving license to continue driving legally.

Expats living and working in the UAE are also allowed to use their foreign driving license for a limited period. Residents of the UAE who hold a valid residence permit are allowed to drive with their foreign driving license for up to six months from their date of entry into the country. After this period, they must obtain a UAE driving license.

License Exchange and Driving Test

The UAE has agreements in place with certain countries that allow their citizens to simply exchange their foreign driving license for a UAE driving license. These countries include Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States.

If a foreign national’s country is not included in the above list, they must take a driving test in order to obtain a UAE driving license. The test includes a theory exam and a practical driving test.

Procedure for Obtaining, Renewing, and Exchanging a License

To obtain a UAE driving license, foreign nationals must submit the following documents to the relevant authorities:


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  • A valid passport and residence visa copy
  • A no objection certificate from their sponsor or employer
  • A valid foreign driving license and a certified translation if it is not in English or Arabic
  • An eye test certificate
  • Two passport-size photographs

Once these documents are submitted, the applicant must take a theory test and a practical driving test. The tests are available in multiple languages and can be taken at any driving school in the UAE. After passing both tests, the applicant will receive their UAE driving license.

To renew a UAE driving license, the applicant must submit their old license, a copy of their passport, a copy of their residence visa, an eye test certificate, and two passport-size photographs. Renewal can be done at any driving school or online through the RTA website.

Foreign nationals who are eligible to exchange their foreign driving license for a UAE driving license can do so at any RTA licensing center. They must submit their original foreign driving license, a copy of their passport and residence visa, and an eye test certificate. They will then receive their UAE driving license.

International Driving Permit

The UAE recognizes International Driving Permits (IDPs) issued by countries that are signatories to the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. IDPs are valid for one year and allow the holder to drive in the UAE for up to six months from the date of entry into the country.

Penalty System for Motoring Offences

The UAE has strict penalties for motoring offences. Minor offences, such as speeding or illegal parking, result in fines. More serious offences, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, can result in imprisonment, fines, and even deportation.

Foreign nationals who commit a motoring offence in the UAE may have their driving license suspended or cancelled, and they may also face deportation. It is important to follow traffic laws and regulations while driving in the UAE to avoid any legal issues.

Driving regulations and procedures can vary greatly from country to country, and it is important for foreign nationals to be aware of the specific rules and requirements in place in the country they are visiting or residing in. In the United Arab Emirates, foreign nationals can use their own driving license for a limited period, but must apply for a local license if they plan to stay long-term. The process for obtaining a license involves both theoretical and practical tests, and an International Driving Permit may not be recognized. It is crucial for all drivers to adhere to local traffic laws and regulations to avoid any legal trouble or penalties.


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