International driving licenses valid in the UAE and what you should know

  (photo credit: Webster Fernandes)
(photo credit: Webster Fernandes)

The UAE allows visitors and expats from different countries to use their home driving licenses in the region. Driving laws in Dubai are strict and must be followed diligently. In this article, we have listed all the countries with valid driving licenses in the UAE and other essential things to note. 

International driving licenses that are valid in the UAE

From Western countries to Europe and Asia, a number of different nations are allowed to use their driving licenses in the UAE. Whether you drive your own vehicle or opt for a luxury car rental in Dubai, the driving laws are the same across all categories. 

Following is a list of all the countries whose driving licenses are valid and permitted to be used in the UAE.

  • Middle Eastern countries 
  • European countries 
  • Western countries
  • Asian countries 
  • Other regions 

Middle Eastern countries 

Many GCC countries can use their driving licenses to drive in the UAE. Visitors from Middle East nations like Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia can use their driving licenses to drive anywhere across the UAE.

European countries 

A number of European countries are on the list of nations whose driving licenses are permitted in the UAE. Following are all the countries that come under this particular category. 

European Countries Licenses Valid in the UAE

Austria 

Italy 

Belgium 

Luxembourg

Denmark 

Latvia 

France 

Lithuania 

Greece 

Norway

Germany 

Netherlands

Finland 

Portgual 

Ireland 

Spain

Hungary 

Sweden

Poland

Slovakia 

United Kingdom

Switzerland 

Western countries 

Canada and the United States are two of the major western nations permitted to use their home country's driving license in the UAE. Tourists or expats from these nations can drive in Dubai with their original home country license. 

However, most expats who reside in the UAE apply for an Emirates driving license. The procedure of transfer and assessment is also relatively easy. 

Asian countries 

There are a few different Asian countries from where visitors can use their home driving licenses. These countries include the following. 

  • China 
  • Hong Kong 
  • Japan 
  • South Korea 

Countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc., have yet to be included in this list. But visitors from these regions are soon hoping to see an update and potential opportunity to use their home country license in the Emirates.

Credit: Webster fernandesCredit: Webster fernandes

Other regions

Apart from all the nations mentioned above, a few other countries are allowed to use their country's driving license in the UAE. Following are list of all the other countries that come under this category: 

  • Romania 
  • Australia 
  • New Zealand 
  • Serbia 
  • South Africa 

Things to know about using a foreign driver's license in the UAE

The authorities of UAE have provided plenty of facilities for visitors to experience a seamless and enjoyable experience in the region. One such facility is the ability to use your home country's driving license in the UAE. 

Now that you know all the countries that come under this bracket, here are a few important points to note. The following are key aspects to remember before using your foreign or home country license in the region. 

  • If you are a resident of the UAE, you can transfer your home country's license to an Emirates driving license, provided that you meet all the requirements. 
  • Visitors must carry their visit visa status-related documents at all times, especially if they are driving around with their home country's driving license.
  • If your home country is not included in the list of countries whose driving licenses are valid in the UAE, you must carry an international driver's permit obtained from your home country. 
  • Your home country's license must be valid in the origin country to be used in the UAE. 

Exchange of driving license 

If your country is listed as accredited in the UAE, you can transfer your home country's driving license to the Emirates driving license. Perhaps, every Emirate has its own set of clauses that must be fulfilled to enable the transfer. 

Following are some of the basic requirements for driving license exchange, as stated by the 7 Emirates: 

  • Dubai
  • Abu Dhabi 
  • Other Emirates

Dubai

All the countries we have mentioned above, including a few additions like Estonia, Bulgaria, and Cyprus, can transfer their license to a Dubai driving license. 

However, for certain nations, only citizens of the country are allowed to transfer their license to a Dubai driving license. For instance, if you are a visitor with a German license, you must be from Germany. 

Subsequently, certain territories are managed by the countries mentioned above that cannot transfer their license. These countries include the following: 

  • Jersey Island - Britain 
  • Puerto Rico - United States
  • Liechtenstein - Switzerland 
  • North Mariana - United States 
  • Monaco - France 
  • Guam Island - United States  

Abu Dhabi 

Except for a few nations from Asia mentioned above, most other countries can transfer their home country's driver's license to an Abu Dhabi license. You can easily apply for the exchange through the Smart Services option on their official website. 

Other Emirates

Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah and Fujairah share a similar driver's license exchange procedure. You need to apply for it on the Ministry of Interior website. 

Like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, most countries, excluding a few Asian nations, can apply for this exchange service. 

Some additional requirements in the other Emirates include a legal translation of your home country license and your Emirates ID. You are also required to submit the reports of an eye test as part of the regulations. 

Home country's driving license in the UAE: A hassle-free driving experience

Carrying a valid driver's license in the UAE is essential irrespective of whether you are driving a rental car or your own vehicle. Therefore, visitors from the nations mentioned above can quickly and easily drive in the UAE, provided their license is valid in their country of residence. 

This article was written in cooperation with Webster fernandes