How to Drive with Foreign License in Dubai

Driving in Dubai as a Foreigner: A Guide for Visitors

Are you visiting Dubai and are wondering if you, as a foreigner, can drive there? We don’t blame you because this city has one of the best roads in the world, not to mention all those supercars roaming the streets!

But driving in Dubai isn’t as easy as you might think. The city has one of the strictest traffic rules in the region, so you must be eligible to drive before you get behind the wheel.

Read on to find out if you can drive in Dubai with a foreign license! 

Can you drive in Dubai with a foreign license?

Can you drive in Dubai with a foreign license
Image source: Arabian Business

You can drive in Dubai as a non-resident as long as you have a valid international driving license, are 21 years and older and have a credit card.

Your international driving license should be issued outside the UAE and it has to be valid for the entire duration of your trip. Your international driving license should also be used in conjunction with your primary driving license. 

If you hold international driving licenses from different countries, use the one with the country that matches your passport. So, if you have a primary license from the United States, your international driving license should also be issued from the same country.

What are the limitations for an international drivers license in Dubai? 

As an international driving license holder, there are some limitations if you’re driving in Dubai:

  • You’re only limited to driving light vehicles including cars, vans, pickups and SUVs as a tourist.
  • You’re only allowed to use our international driving license if you’re a visit visa holder. Residence and golden visa holders are not allowed to drive with an international driving license and must apply for a Dubai driving license.
  • If you’re a transit visa holder, you need to get an approval from the car’s insurance company along with your international driving license to drive in Dubai.
  • You’re only allowed to drive rental vehicles or cars that are registered to a first-degree relative including a spouse, parent or sibling.
  • If you’re renting a car, the car rental company may require additional documents while others don’t accept rentals from clients with international driving licenses.

Can you drive in Dubai without an international driving license? 

You can still drive in Dubai legally as a tourist as long as you have a valid driving license issued from one of these approved “exception” countries:

New ZealandNorwayOmanPoland
PortugalQatarRomaniaSaudi Arabia
South AfricaSouth KoreaSpainSweden
SwitzerlandTurkeyUnited KingdomUnited States of America

If you hold a valid license from one of these countries, you can convert it to a temporary UAE license. Just keep in mind that if you’re using a Canadian license, you need to obtain a letter from the Canadian consulate in the UAE.

On the other hand, if you’re converting from a license issued in Greece, Japan, Poland, South Korea or Turkey, you’re required to have  your certificate translated into English or Arabic.

What are some things to know when driving as a foreigner in Dubai?

What are some things to know when driving as a foreigner in Dubai
Image source: Sixt

Aside from knowing the requirements for driving legally in Dubai, it also pays to keep these tips in mind to help you drive safely around the city:

  • You need to be at least 21 years old to rent a vehicle in Dubai, although you only need to be at least 18 years old to legally drive a vehicle in the city.
  • If it’s your first time driving in Dubai, it’s best to get on the road on a Friday morning when the roads are not as busy and there’s no congestion. 
  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving in Dubai. Children under 12 years old are also required to sit in the rear using an appropriate car seat or booster seat.
  • Speeding is a serious traffic offense in Dubai, so make sure that you follow proper speed limits.

Speed limits on the highways are between 60-70 mph and 40-50 mph for urban roads. However, you need to stick to 25 mph on smaller suburban roads.  

The leftmost lanes in Dubai are designated fast lanes. So, if you want to go slower, stay in the right lane.

  • Keep a five-second gap between you and the car in front of you at all times to avoid any road mishaps.
  • Never use your mobile phone while driving in Dubai if you want to avoid trouble with the traffic police.
  • Never drive if you’re under the influence of alcohol. Drunk driving is a serious traffic offense in Dubai that the city’s blood alcohol limit should be 0%.

If you ever get caught driving under the influence in Dubai, you could face serious fines and jail time. 

  • Be on the lookout for emergency vehicles with their flashing lights on. If you encounter them on the road, slow down and be ready to stop to give way. 

Also, never race, pass or tailgate any emergency vehicles with flashing lights or you could get in trouble with the police. 

  • Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Garhoud Bridge, Al Maktoum Bridge, Beirut Street and Al Ittihad Street all have tolls. 

You need to register with Salik and attach your Salik tag on the windshield.

This tag will be scanned every time you pass a toll gate and the amount will be automatically deducted to your account. 

You can also get Salik tags in gas stations around the city. 

  • If you ever encounter any emergencies on the road, call 999 or 112 for the Dubai Police, 998 for Emergency Medical Services and 997 for the Fire Department. 

You’d be glad to know that rescue services are highly efficient in Dubai and you can also download the DCAS SOS app to contact emergency ambulance services.