Exchanging a foreign driving license in the UAE

Exchanging a foreign driving license in the UAE 19 Jul, 2022

Checkout the complete guide which explains about how exchanging a foreign driver’s license in the UAE is a relatively straightforward process. Click here to know more!

Exchanging a foreign driving license in the UAE

To cope with the fast-paced nature of our busy lives, a functioning vehicle is vital. From getting to and from work, to running personal errands, it is convenient to own and travel in your vehicle. However, this cannot be possible without a valid driving license in UAE. As such, first-time drivers will require applying for a new license altogether. However, those that have a foreign driving license from driving previously, possibly in another country, have the convenience of exchanging their licenses for a driving license in UAE. This is a fairly straightforward process of submitting documents to the relevant authority, depending on the eligibility of the country.

To exchange a foreign driving license, first, it is important to ensure that the country license you wish to exchange from is eligible for the exchange/ transfer. Below are the countries eligible for the exchange in the UAE:

GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar

Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

North America: United States and Canada

Asia and Pacific: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, People’s Republic of China, Singapore, and South Korea

Africa: South Africa

*Note that driving licenses issued from the following countries mandate a translation from the country’s consulate. These are: Greece, Canada, Japan, Poland, South Korea, and Turkey

Note that if you are living, working, and studying in the UAE, you are not considered a ‘tourist’ and thus, your foreign driving license is not valid. Having said that, given that your license is from an eligible country, the rest of the process is fairly straightforward. the documents required for the process are as follows:

  • Emirates/ Resident ID
  • Passport with residence visa (Original & Copy)
  • Current driving license
  • Eye Test certificate (from an approved optician)
  • 2 Passport photos

Steps to Exchange a foreign driving license

To begin with, you will need an eye test from a clinic or optician approved by the health authority of your Emirate (For instance, DHA for Dubai). Inform those in charge that the test is for a driving license exchange. This is when you will need the two passport photos.

*Note: Some driving centres such as the RTA Driving Centre, have on-site opticians for your convenience. Double-check before going.

Next, visit the RTA Driving License Centre or the relevant authority in your Emirate, along with the above-mentioned documents.  You will be asked to fill an application form. Fill and submit along with all your documents.

Upon submitting, you will be asked to wait while your application is being verified. This is when a new file will be opened containing all your information. You will then be asked to pay the necessary application fees at the cashier.

Then, your name will be called in a short while, and your photograph will be taken right then and there.

You will be asked to wait, and within a few minutes, your driving license in UAE will be ready.

Regarding the above, if your foreign driving license is not from the eligible list of countries, you may need to re-sit for the theory and practical driving test. However, the number of classes may reduce, depending on how many years you drove for previously. Please contact the relevant authority of your Emirate for further clarification.

Tips for drivers with previous foreign driving experience

  • Remember that when converting your UAE driving license it will be valid for a period of 2 years initially, and for 5 years thereafter
  • Note that the driver will no longer have their previous foreign driving license from certain countries upon exchanging
  • Remember that driving in UAE is comfortable overall as the roads are well made and maintained. Moreover, the rules and regulations are strict and are in-place to ensure the safety for everyone
  • If you are driving in the UAE for the first time, a GPS map may help you get around the country. This would help you avoid things as traffic, accidents, alert you of surveillance, etc. Many applications on your smartphones allow this these days
  • If you have experience driving in a country with right-side driving, practice, and do not feel intimidated by the change. Know that it will take time to get used to the change, and drive safely
  • If you are driving in the UAE for the first time, familiarize yourself with the traffic rules and regulations of the country, Moreover, know that many violations have penalties in the form of fines and black points. Adhere to the rules, speed limits, pedestrian crossings, etc.
  • Ensure that you are a resident of the UAE and hold a valid residency permit when converting your foreign driving license
  • Be aware of highways and roads with high surveillance to avoid fines and penalties. Be aware of adhering to all regulations
  • Make note of timings and rush hours and if possible, avoid them
  • Since you are new to driving in the UAE, ensure allocating more than enough time to get to your desired destination. This is due to the unexpected traffic, mishaps, and delays that may occur

Overall, a valid driving license in the UAE is important as it is the basic and foremost requirement when driving. To stress on the importance, upon buying a car, you will not be able to apply for a car insurance policy if you do not have a (valid) driving license. And given that it is a basic requirement, not being in possession of the same can be a punishable offence. Ensure sensible and safe driving for not just you but others on the road.

The above information is shared for education and information purposes only. For further clarification, visit the official RTA website here.

A valid driving license and car insurance are mandatory requirements to drive in the UAE, to enquire about car insurance options, contact our team of experts today!


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