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How to Get a Driving License for Expats in Dubai

So you’re an expat who wants to drive in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). You currently have a valid driver’s license from your home country and even an international driving permit. But you’re unsure of how to get a UAE driving license.

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Luckily, the process isn’t that hard, and you can even do so from the comfort of your own home – if you’re in Dubai. This Pacific Prime Dubai article looks at the process of exchanging your driver’s license for a UAE driver’s license. We’ll also look at getting your UAE license without attending driving lessons by making use of the recently launched “Golden Chance” program.

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Getting Your UAE Driving License in a “License Exchange”

If you are a driving license holder and a citizen of certain countries and territories, you can exchange your driving license issued by your home country for a UAE driving license.

However, note that in many cases, you will need to withdraw your home-country license in order to get your UAE license. Also, for a number of countries, specific territories within the country are excluded from this program.

To obtain a UAE driving license issued in Dubai via this way, the applicant needs to provide an original driving license from one of the eligible countries, take an eye test, provide an Emirates ID, and translate the driving license if it’s not written in either English or Arabic. And there is a fee of around AED 1,000 (about USD $270) to pay.

You can apply via the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) website or at one of RTA’s Customer Happiness Centers, where the average waiting time is only 5 minutes. The UAE driving license you get will be valid for 1 year if you are below 21 years of age or 2 years if you are 21 years old or above. Further details of this program are available on the RTA website.

Making Good Use of the “Golden Chance”

RTA recently introduced the “Golden Chance” initiative, providing a unique opportunity for Dubai residents who hold a valid driving license from non-exempt countries to convert their license without undergoing driving lessons.

The initiative, which commenced on 1 April 2023, requires applicants to register and pay a fee of around AED 2,200 (about USD $600) which covers the test fees, license issuance, and file opening charges. Applicants can take both the theory and road tests in one go without the need to attend any additional classes.

This golden chance benefits residents from countries like India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and other non-exempt countries, by saving them time and money, with one caveat – if an applicant doesn’t pass the test, they will have to enroll in the regular classes to obtain a UAE driving license eventually.

The Golden Chance initiative is available at all authorized driving centers, making it easy for applicants to make good use of it. Please visit the RTA website for the latest developments.

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For more articles relating to expat life in the UAE, head to our blog page. Here are a couple of articles relating to driving in the UAE for you to check out:

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Dubai
Martin is a writer and translator with over 10 years of experience. He writes articles and blog posts, creates infographics and videos, translates between Chinese and English, and more. Skilled at explaining complicated concepts in layman’s terms, Martin believes the gold standard of translation is attained when the translated text is not only accurate, but also reads like an original text. Martin holds a degree in Economics from the University of London, UK.

Since joining Pacific Prime, Martin has become even more aware of the gap between the true value of insurance products and most people’s appreciation of it, and developed a passion for demystifying and simplifying matters, so that more people get the protection they need at a cost they can easily afford.

In his free time, Martin attends concerts of various genres, and plays the violin with piano accompaniment he pre-recorded himself or played live by his niece.
Martin Lee