Foreign Residents and Cars: Driving License in the UAE

12:06 am  |  27.11.2023

Traffic rules in the Emirates are practically no different from the rules of Western countries. The road system in the Emirates is right-hand drive. 

According to the legal framework of the Emirates, a driver must always carry with him:

  • Driver’s license.
  • Documents confirming that the car is registered.
  • Emirates ID.

Please note the applicable restrictions:

  • In residential areas, you can drive at a speed of about 45 km/h.
  • In the city itself, the limit is 70 km/h, and on the motorway, it is 110 km/h.
  • It is strictly forbidden to talk on the phone while driving; you can only talk using the speakerphone.
  • Everyone driving on the road must wear seat belts.
  • Children under 10 years old should not sit in the front seat. A child safety seat must be placed in the rear of the car.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs also leads to fines: the driver can have his license taken away in Dubai and be imprisoned for 36 months.

There are toll roads in the Emirates. Some people don’t even notice that during their entire stay in the country, they drove on toll roads. The toll collection system is based on automatic gates that do not contain barriers or payment points. To recognize the entrance to such a road, special signs with the inscriptions “Salik” or “Toll Gate” are provided.

In large cities, police officers are constantly patrolling the streets, as well as checking whether drivers are parking correctly. The police make sure that all drivers follow traffic rules, but there are almost no police officers on the highways.

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There are many video cameras on all roads in the UAE that record violations. It is not advisable for police to overtake cars. If you are stopped by a police officer, be polite. Greet the police officer and show your driver’s license and passport. Provide documents for the car. Never offer a bribe to a police officer. Those who ignore the demands of the police are subject to a fine of $109 – $218. If you have an accident in a rented car, immediately call a specialist from the rental company.

Driving Style in the UAE

The real problem for foreigners is the behavior of Emirati residents on the roads. Despite strict rules, fines, and other punishments, not every driver takes into account traffic rules; for example, residents of the country often do not turn on their turn signals. No matter how much the maneuvers of the local population disturb you, try to show a calm reaction. Never use harsh words or make hand gestures towards Emiratis. They may be taken as an insult. As a result, you will be fined.

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Driver’s License

Each emirate has unique requirements for obtaining a driver’s license. It is recommended to apply for a license in the emirate of intended residence.

A license in Dubai allows you to drive a car from the age of 18. You can rent a car from the age of 21. Please note that the application must be submitted six months before reaching the required age. If you permanently reside and work in the country, you will need to obtain a local ID.

How difficult it will be to obtain a license in Dubai depends on your nationality. There are approximately 30 countries whose citizens can simply replace their own driving license with an Emirati one. The list of these states changes regularly. It is advisable to check the latest information on the main RTA portal. If the state where the certificate was issued is not included in the list, you will need to undergo training and pass exams.

Driving in the UAE with a Foreign Driving License

If a foreign citizen arrives in the Emirates for a short period, for example, as part of a tourist trip or business trip, he can use a driver’s license from his state. However, this only applies to certain citizens: English, Maltese, Bulgarian, Canadian.

If you intend to rent a car, it is advisable to contact the car rental company in advance and clarify everything. This will give you time to complete your application to acquire international rights. The document can be issued in 10 different languages and is valid for 12 months. An international driver’s license in Dubai allows you to confirm your identity if you lose your passport or Emirates ID.

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Foreign citizens who only have tourist visas are not allowed to drive a personal car in the Emirates. The only exception is close relatives of the car owner. This is mainly due to the protection of the rights of car owners. In case of violations or accidents, they are the ones who bear responsibility. Fines are also issued against them.

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