So, you’ve landed in Dubai, found some temporary accommodation, but now want to explore the emirate in more detail. With the metropolis being spread out, and prices in the centre (Downtown) being at a premium, doubtless you’ll be wanting to explore all affordable options for living, eating out, and getting groceries.

Dubai has an efficient public transport system comprising of buses and a modern metro system, but as a driver in your home country, you’re feeling that urge to drive and be independent in your exploration. But how do you get a driving licence in Dubai as an expat? This blog will explore your options so read on if you want to get back on the road in the UAE…….

You’ve already got a licence in your home country

As an already-qualified driver, this could make getting a driving licence in Dubai simpler, although this does depend on the country in which you passed your driving examination and awarded your licence. Some countries are eligible for licence exchange: this means that if you hold a valid Driving Licence from one of the countries specified by the RTA (Road Traffic Authority) in Dubai, the you won’t need to take further examination(s) in Dubai to obtain a UAE driving licence.

If you’re an already qualified driver, you’ll need to:

  • Check the RTA website for confirmation of whether your country is on the list of those eligible for licence exchange
  • Provide a copy of your original driving licence which must have been issued from one of the exception countries (note that holders of paper driving licences must submit a letter from the relevant Consulate)
  • Take an electronic eye test
  • Present an original, valid Emirates ID
  • Provide a legalised translation of the licence if it was not issued in English or Arabic

You have a licence currently but it’s not eligible for licence exchange

If you have a licence in your home country but that country is not on the RTA’s exception list, then you’ll need to qualify to have a licence to drive as an expat in Dubai. This entails successfully passing the following:

  • A Knowledge Test
  • A Practical Driving Test

As an experienced driver, this hopefully won’t cause you too many problems, although you might want to enrol with a local driving school and invest in taking a couple of lessons. They’ll be able to share with tips on driving on Dubai’s roads, which, although excellent, can be very congested with traffic flow layouts that may be unfamiliar to you.

How much does it cost to obtain a driving licence in Dubai?

Whether you’re exchanging an eligible home-country licence or obtaining one for the first-time ever, the costs are the same in respect of licence processing and issuance. The current total cost (source Dubai RTA and correct as at October 2022) is AED870, which may be broken down in 4 service fees applicable:

  • 200 AED for opening a file
  • 600 AED for issuing a licence
  • 50 AED for the handbook manual
  • 20 AED Knowledge and Innovation fees

What insurance cover do I need as an expat driver in Dubai?

The minimum level of insurance needed to drive in Dubai for all drivers, whether citizens or expats, is Third Party Liability cover. This is widely available in the market and is the most affordable policy since cover is restricted to your liability to other road users and pedestrians in respect of their damage or injury sustained as a result of your driving. This policy does not provide any coverage for your personally or your vehicle. If you want to insure your vehicle for risks including damage, loss or theft, then you’ll need to take out a comprehensive motor policy, which although more costly, may save you thousands in the event of an accident.

About Author

Rachel Al Mughairi

About Author

With over 34 years in the international insurance industry in a variety of senior management roles, and as holder of the Diploma in Insurance from the Chartered Insurance Institute, Rachel surely knows her insurance! With experience in London, continental Europe and the Middle East, Rachel is here to share her knowledge and help you understand more about insurance products in this easy-to-understand series of videos and blogs.