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German Legal Expertise in the Middle East since 1981

When driving with a local or a foreign driving license in the UAE?

Guiding Principle

Many expatriates in the UAE on a UAE-residence visa are still driving with their home countries driving license. This fact invites and leads to punishment, fines up to imprisonment.

Recently again in the media and already discussed in the past is driving in Dubai with the home country’s driving license. The Dubai Traffic Public Prosecution has warned again that expatriates with a valid UAE residence visa are only allowed to drive with a valid UAE driving license.

Again cases were reported, where expatriates with valid UAE residence visa were driving and caught with their home country’s driving license. According to the head of Dubai Traffic Public Prosecution this is forbidden. Pursuant to the Federal Traffic Law No. 21 of 1995 as amended by Law No. 12 of 2007, UAE-residents driving with their home country’s driving license may risk up to 3 months in jail or a fine up to AED 5,000.00. Worst case would be that both penalties apply and these persons may appear on the blacklist and therefore be banned from driving in the UAE.

Nevertheless and as we know, there are about 26 nationalities who can drive with their home country’s driving license without converting it into a UAE driving license. However this exemption only applies to those persons entering the UAE on a visit visa.

As soon as a person from one of these excepted countries gets a valid UAE-residence visa, they must convert their driving license into a local UAE-driving license. Driving a vehicle with an international driving license is also not allowed if this person is holding a UAE-residence visa. Violations of this law may result in high fines, imprisonment and prohibition of driving inside the UAE.

Certainly these rules and law is not very new, however and in particular for expatriates they have been deliberately ignored.

October, 2011 Hanka Jahn
  Meyer-Reumann & Partners – Dubai
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