Navigating the path to earning a driving license in the UAE can feel like a road filled with speed bumps and detours.

But don’t worry!

In this article, we break down the process into digestible steps, making it easier to understand and follow.

Whether you are an expat adapting to new rules or a local looking to get behind the wheel, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s get started on your journey to freedom on the UAE roads!

Two Ways To Get Your Driving License In The UAE 

There is a list of countries on RTA’s website, which contains information regarding several countries.

If you are an expat and have come from those countries, then all you need to do is hand in your old license along with some documents, and you will be given a valid UAE license after some paperwork.

This means that you will be exempted from driving tests of all sorts. 

However, if you are someone whose country is not on the list, then you will have to apply for a new driving license and start from scratch.

Some of the countries on the RTA’s list include but are not limited to, the United States, Canada, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, South Africa, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, UK, Sweden, Spain, and many others. 

Expats Whose Countries Are On The RTA Approved List 

If you are someone whose country is on the list, we have good news for you! The procedure is straightforward, and we will list some of the essential steps you can follow and get your driving license in no time. 

Gather Your Documents 

Gathering your documents before submitting them to the RTA’s office would be the wisest thing to do. Some of the essential documents to get ahold of before the meeting are:

  • Valid Passport of your home country 
  • Valid License from your home country 
  • Valid Residence Visa of the UAE 
  • Filled Form regarding Replacement of License 
  • NOC from Sponsor 
  • Resident Permit 

Pass The Eye Exam 

Passing your eye exam is the next step in getting your License replaced.

You can choose from a host of optical centers mentioned on the UAE Health Ministry’s website.

After you have set up an appointment with your optician, make sure to get your eyes checked and obtain two critical documents.

One is the Optometry form from the clinic, and the second is the document of the examination of your eyes, which states that your eyes are medically acceptable to be able to drive. 

You need these documents and two passport-size pictures to attach along with your form. 

Visit The Road And Transport Authority’s Office

The next step is to visit the RTA’s office after you have set an appointment with them online. You must submit all your documents and wait for them to be processed. This process takes little time. 

Expats Whose Countries Are Not Listed On The RTA Approved List 

Getting your driving license as an expat is long, but we will talk about all the steps involved so you can follow them without any hassle. 

We will discuss the basics of getting a license and then discuss them in detail. 

  • Get your Optometry Eye test done 
  • Register in an RTA Approved Driving School 
  • Obtain Learner’s driving permit from RTA 
  • Complete Theory Classes 
  • Appear in the RTA Theory test and clear it 
  • Move on to practical classes, complete them and give an internal assessment 
  • Clearway Highway and City Road Classes 
  • Pass the Internal Parking test 
  • Give the RTA Final Road test 
  • Get your License 

Documents Required For Expats 

There are a few documents required that you need to submit to your chosen driving school as well as the RTA. Some of these documents are as follows:

  • Emirates ID 
  • Passport with Visa Page Copy
  • 2 Passport size pictures 
  • Eye test exam results 
  • NOC from Sponsor

Driving Test Details 

The driving test is comprised of multiple aspects of road sense and capability. The driving school will take all your internal tests; if you pass them, they will apply for them with the RTA on your behalf.

You cannot apply on your own. Also, you need to pass the RTA Theory test before you can apply for the RTA Road test. 

Theory Test 

The theory test is conducted at your driving school. Before appearing for this test, have some documents, such as your Emirates ID, Driving File, Passport size pictures, and the Theory Test Fee

The theory test consists of 35 questions about road signs, driving hazards, etc.

The tests are divided into three segments.

The first section has 17 questions, while the second segment has 18.

The last segment is often tricky.

In that test, the candidate will be shown videos depicting different environmental conditions where you will have to evaluate the associated risks. The test is furthermore carried out on a touch screen computer

You should thoroughly read the RTA handbook and practice on the RTA mobile app to score well on this test. Taking online mock tests will also boost your score. 

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Parking Test 

The driving school will take this test and supervise you as well. The test is usually taken inside the premises of the driving school. Some aspects you will be tested on include Slope or Hill Parking, Emergency Braking, and Parallel Parking. 

RTA Road Test 

This road test is the most critical and challenging part of this process.

You will get 10 or 12 minutes to pass this test. Make sure you are alert and attentive on the day of the test.

On the day of the test, ensure to arrive early along with your Emirates ID, Driving File, Passport size pictures, and Road Test Fee

An examiner will sit with you while you drive, and you will get their verdict immediately.

In case you fail, you will need to take multiple classes from your driving school before you can apply for another test date.

If you pass the test and are given the approval paper, you must submit the Dubai Licensing fee and ID documentation at the Pass counter.

After this step, you will collect your driving file and pay your licensing fee before getting your picture taken for the license. After this, you will be awarded your driving license

One tip we can give you for your driving test is to dress well and impress the supervisor/examiner.

Also, please do not argue with the examiner and listen to them carefully.

Remember to use indicators and change lanes accordingly after checking the rearview mirror.

Drive confidently and maintain your driving speed; driving recklessly will not get you your License.

Also, before you start driving, check your seatbelt and gear

The examiner will track all your hand and eye movements; hence do not wear sunglasses to your road test.

Apart from this, make sure to brake smoothly and not apply rough brakes, as this will be a significant sign to the examiner that you are not good enough at driving to be given your license.

Ensure you park the car how the examiner wants you to and take your time. Check the side mirrors and the rearview mirrors when it comes to parking. 

Costs Of Getting A License In UAE 

The cost of getting a license is minimal if you are an expat just getting your license exchanged with a valid UAE license. The cost of such a procedure is around AED 800-900, and the breakdown is as follows:

  • The cost of file opening is AED 200 
  • The cost of issuing a license is AED 600 
  • AED 50 is the cost you will pay for the traffic manual 
  • AED 20 is the knowledge fees 

The cost of getting a new driving license in the UAE is somewhere from AED 4,000 to AED 7,000, depending on the learning school you took and the number of tries it takes to pass all the exams. 

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How To Get Your License Renewed In UAE 

After successfully clearing the tests and documents, you will be issued your new driving license. The RTA states that the new driving license will be valid for a year if you are less than 21 years old and for two years if you are above 21

Now it is essential to renew your license since the fines for driving with an expired license in the UAE are high, and you will regret driving with an expired license.

You will be fined AED 10 per month after your License has expired and you have failed to renew it

To renew your License, go to the RTA’s website and generate a renewal request.

Go to their services tab on the website, and click on Drive and Vehicle Owners Services. This will open some tabs for you. Click on the Driving License Request and apply.

Now you will pay the renewal fee and wait for the approval. 

The cost for renewal of a license if you are under 21 is AED 120, and if you are above 21, it’s AED 320


We’ve mapped out the route to getting your driving license in the UAE in this article.

From understanding the process to knowing the fees involved, we trust this guide will be your trustworthy co-driver.

Remember, driving is not just about the destination but also about the journey – drive responsibly and always stay updated with your license status to avoid any unnecessary roadblocks.

The road to mastering UAE’s traffic might be long, but with careful driving, it’s a journey well worth taking.

Happy driving!