When you first move to the UAE, there are a number of logistics to get sorted.
Visa, medical, Emirates ID and bank account are the main one.
And for those of us who want to drive here, getting a driving licence is an important one too.
But how do you do it?
Well, here's a step-by-step guide to getting your licence.
So buckle up – what are you waiting for?
Getting on the road in Abu Dhabi can be a complicated process, but don’t let that scare you off. First things first, you need to find out what the requirements are for getting a UAE licence (which you need as a resident if you want to drive or buy a vehicle). Some international licences can be transferred after a simple eye test, but some require further steps. To get an Abu Dhabi licence, you must have a residency visa registered to Abu Dhabi, and you must be over 18 years old. Once you can tick these boxes, there are different ways to go about obtaining your licence, depending on your prior licence and country of origin.
You have: An international licence
You cannot drive using the international licence – you must obtain an Abu Dhabi one. But the good news is, this is simple – your international licence can be transferred over directly. To get your Abu Dhabi licence, you must visit the Abu Dhabi Drivers License Department (location below) with the following documents:
• A passport photo
• Original and one copy of your passport
• Emirates ID
• Original and one copy ofyour foreign driving licence
• A copy of a valid Abu Dhabi residency visa
•A letter of no objection from your employer or visa sponsor
•An Arabic translation of your existing licence (this can be obtained at anytranslation outlet in the city).
When you visit, you will be required to take an eye test and then you will be able to collect your Abu Dhabi licence. It will cost Dhs200 in processing fees.
Abu Dhabi Drivers License Department, 2nd and Al Dhafra Street, Al Mushrif, opposite Mushrif Mall (600 577 7777).
You have: A licence from home
The Abu Dhabi traffic department does recognise some foreign licences, which means you’ll have to go through a process similar to transferring an international licence. For this to be the case you must own a current licence issued by one of the following countries:
• GCC countries
• New Zealand
• South Africa
• South Korea
If your country is not recognised, see ‘No licence at all’, below, as you will have to participate in the theoretical and practical testing. If the licence is in this list then it will need to be translated into Arabic, and you will need the same paperwork as for the international licences (above) to take to the Abu Dhabi Drivers License Department.
You have: No licence at all
If you’re starting from square one, you will need to obtain a learning permit. To do this, you need to sit a theory test.
Firstly, you need to go to Emirates Driving Company and open a driving file. This will enable you to participate in theoretical courses. The light-vehicle education course costs Dhs830, and the theory test is Dhs50. Emirates Driving Company administers the eight units you need to pass to be given a licence:
Lesson one: Traffic rules, road markings and road signs
Lesson two: Inside city limits
Lesson three: Outside city limits
Lesson four: Driving under difficult conditions
Lesson five: Critical situations
Lesson six: Driving behaviour and road manners
Lesson seven: Vehicle knowledge
Lesson eight: Safety
Once the classes are taught – over a two-hour period – trainees sit a theoretical test to apply for a learning permit.
After the learning permit is obtained, drivers must take practical lessons. The number of lessons is dependent on the driver’s capability but is generally 30 hours for complete beginners, 20 hours for intermediate learners or 10 hours for advanced students. The lessons are conducted in a contained environment within a driving rink.
Once you are ready to take the practical test, administered by the Emirates Driving Company, your instructor will give you a ‘certificate of readiness’, which you must present to the Emirates Driving Company to book your practical test.
Once you pass your practical driving test, you must take your certificate to the Abu Dhabi Drivers License Department in Mushrif (listed above) as proof of your completion.
Emirates Driving Company, Musaffah, www.edcad.com (02 551 1911).
Drive to succeed
Al Aqeed Driving School
Dhs100 for one hour
Jawazat Street, Rimal Medical Centre building, mezzanine floor (02 642 4577).
Al Harbi Driving School
Dhs75 for 45 minutes.
Hamdan Street, behind National Bank of Umm Al Quwain (02 671 6177).
Santana Driving School
Dhs75 for one hour
Ground floor, Gigi Pharmacy building opposite Habib Bank, Old Passport Road (02 633 2059).
Al Muqadam Driving School
Dhs75 for one hour
Hamdan Street, near Mariyah Cinema (02 677 4750).
Dhs75 for one hour
Opposite Ameer Pharmacy. Meet in Musaffah Driving Institute (02 642 0006).
Tawfiq Motor Driving
Dhs75 for 45 minutes
Pick-up only. Male and female instructors available (02 633 2059).
About the Emirates Driving Company (EDC)
The EDC was founded in 2000 as a part-Government-owned initiative to administer road safety awareness and licensing. The EDC works in partnership with Swedish Road Authority to ensure a high-quality driver education system.
Open Sunday-Thursday 7.30am-3pm, next to Dalma Mall, Mussafah, www.edcad.com (02 551 1911).
Fast rules of the road
• Children under the age of 10 are not allowed to ride in the front seat of a vehicle.
• High-beam lights are required on roads with no overhead lighting and only to improve the view ahead (not for signalling).
• Driving while intoxicated is strictly prohibited, regardless of the amount (prescribed medicines should be checked with a doctor or pharmacist).
• Mobile phones are not to be used while driving.
• Overtaking in circumstances of reduced view is prohibited.
• Seatbelts are required for the driver and front-seat passenger.
• Speed limitations must be obeyed.
Read the Abu Dhabi Road Code 2011, www.abudhabi.ae.
Did you know?
• Pedestrians must only cross the road at designated areas – zebra crossings and traffic signals – otherwise they are liable for a Dhs100 fine for jay-walking.
• Indication is obligatory – if you change lanes without indicating, you are liable for a Dhs200 fine.
• Pedestrians have right of way on zebra crossings.
• You get black points for traffic violations – drivers with 24 must surrender their licence.
• You can move the vehicles to the side of the road in an accident if there is no dispute as to who was at fault. If there is any doubt about fault, it’s best to leave the cars in place until police arrive on the scene.
• If you are in an accident and it was your fault, you will get a pink form. If you are deemed to not be at fault, your slip will be green.
Just here for a visit?
Visitors can drive on an international licence, provided visitors are on a tourist visa in Abu Dhabi. Generally to obtain a hire car, an international licence is required.