8 ways expats can get a driving licence in Dubai

8 ways expats can get a driving licence in Dubai

There are different ways to get the shiny silver card depending on your level of experience, citizenship, profession and residency status

Mobility is important for everyone and acquiring a driving licence is a big milestone for most adults. In Dubai, there are different ways to get the shiny silver card depending on your level of driving experience, citizenship, profession and residency status.

Golden chance

No more classes; no more books. Dubai residents who hold a valid driving licence – even if they do not belong to a country eligible for automatic conversion – can now skip driving lessons and go straight to theory and road test with the latest 'Golden Chance' initiative launched by the Roads and Transport Authority.

The new initiative, which came into effect on April 1, gives residents from non-exempt countries a one-time chance to breeze through the rigorous process of obtaining a UAE driving licence. This means any Indian, Filipino, Pakistani or drivers from other countries can now convert their driving licence in Dubai without lessons. They just need to complete the registration and pay the required fees and instantly take the theory and road tests in one go.

Expected cost is around Dh2,200 to open a file, for test fees, licence issuance, etc. To avail of the Golden Chance initiative, the applicant just needs to visit any of the authorised driving centres.

There is a caveat, however. If the applicant fails the test, he/she will have to enrol for regular classes.

Licence swap

If you are a citizen of the following countries and territories, and have a driving licence, you are eligible to swap your licence for a UAE driving licence: GCC countries, USA, UK, China, Canada, Lithuania, Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia, Serbia, Luxembourg, Estonia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Romania, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Turkey, Denmark, Austria, France, Norway, Montenegro, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.

The service is open only to citizens of some certain countries and driving licences issued in the territories cannot be replaced: Puerto Rico (US), North Mariana (US), Guam island (US), Liechtenstein (Switzerland), Monaco (France) and Jersey island (Britain).

To swap for a UAE driving licence issued in Dubai, an original driving licence from one of the above-mentioned countries is needed, plus an eye test, Emirates ID and translation of the driving licence if not written in English or Arabic.

UAE Golden Visa privilege

Holders of the long-term UAE Golden Visa are not required to undergo lessons and they just need to submit their valid driving licence from home country and pass the knowledge and road tests to acquire a driver’s licence in Dubai.

The move has benefitted Golden Visa holders who were not previously covered by the exemptions on swapping foreign driving licences.

According to driving schools, Golden Visa holders with original car drivers’ licenses issued from their home country can directly appear for the knowledge test and final road test by RTA without attending training. They can apply for the knowledge test after opening a traffic file and pay the following fees: Dh200 for RTA test fees, plus Dh20 knowledge and innovation fees. The cost is Dh320 if someone would like to book an appointment within 48 hours after presenting the request.

For the road test, the service fees are: Dh200 RTA test fees, plus Dh20 knowledge and innovation fees. It is Dh320 for someone who wants to book an appointment within 48 hours after presenting the request.

Flying crew course

Emirates Driving Institute (EDI) offers special driving course for pilots and cabin crew of Emirates and flydubai. The professionals may directly appear for the RTA road test with their valid country license. Those who do not hold a valid country license will have to register for 20 hours of training. Pilots and cabin crew of other airlines can also register as regular students for 20/15/10 hour sessions under the Flying Crew Course.

Young drivers

This driving course is for university, college, or school students in Dubai. The minimum age is 17 years and 6 months to enroll for a car driving course and 17 years to enroll for a motorcycle riding course. The UAE driving license will be issued when the applicant reaches 18 years old.

Driving schools offer unlimited tests and training until applicants pass. There is also fast-track training up to 8 hours in a week or 4 hours in a day (except Saturday and during prescribed training time)

Affordable driving course

This package is exclusive for select group of professions and low income workers, including drivers, domestic workers, nannies, labourers, cleaners, cooks, masons, office clerks, bookkeepers, bus drivers, bakers, etc. They can get up to 25 per cent discount on the driving course fee, free theory lectures, simulator and solo. The profession will be determined as specified in the Emirates ID.

Regular class

Anyone aged 18 and above can apply for a driving licence in Dubai. But those who are between 18 and 21 can only qualify for a probationary licence. To get a driving license, a citizen or a resident needs to apply with a registered driving institute, attend driving lessons and pass all tests (if required).

The training hours are based on one’s driving experience, that is, 20 hours for beginners with no driving experience; 15 hours for those with driving experience between 2 and 5 years (holding an original valid or a driving license within the last 10 years); and only 10 hours for those who have driving experience for over 5 years and holder of an original valid or a driving license within the last 5 years.

Unlimited driving lessons

Some residents, meanwhile, are shelling out Dh8,000 for 'lump sum' driver's licence package. In Dubai, the cost of obtaining a driving licence, after passing the final road test on the first attempt, may set someone back between Dh4,500 and Dh7,000, depending on the chosen driving school.

Failing the test would require the learner to take additional classes and do more hours of practical training before re-taking the test. And that’s an extra cost. Failing the test, again and again, means more money going down the drain.

So, to plug the financial loss, driving schools in Dubai are offering bulk driving lessons or unlimited driving licence packages. It’s like insurance as it means one can have unlimited internal tests and unlimited training classes until he/she gets the highly-coveted driving licence.

News Source: Khaleej Times

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