The Ultimate Guide to Driving & Insuring Your Car in the UAE
It’s no secret that the United Arab Emirates is renowned for its vehicles. You won’t pass the streets of Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai, without hearing the revving of a Lamborghini Gallardo, or seeing every type of driver with their foot to the floor on Sheikh Maktoum Road in Abu Dhabi. There is a thrill to driving in the UAE, and if you’re car obsessed then this article will tell you everything you need to know about driving and insuring your car in the UAE.
Driving in the UAE
If you’re new to driving in the UAE there’s a couple things you should note. Drivers sit on the left hand side of the car, while also driving on the right side of the road. If you’ve just arrived, you may have noticed that the driving style can be quite intimidating. Drivers tend to have two main traits: confidence and speed. It can be even more overwhelming to experience your first rush hour traffic. But this is more to do with city traffic, if you choose to live in Dubai for example. And the advice we’ve been given is to drive like the locals, learn to become confident in your own driving. Alternatively, if you are driving outside the city, closer to the desert it will be a much more relaxed experience.
Drivers must be a minimum of 18 years old to hold a driver’s license in the UAE. If you’re looking to rent a car however, the minimum age is 21 years old. If you’re just visiting as a tourist, you can use your national driver’s license to apply for a rental. In addition, for anyone who has recently moved and is looking to rent a car short term, there is the option to exchange your national license for a local one. Countries that are eligible for license exchange include: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA. There are some prerequisites like you must be over 18 years old, the driving license from the listed country must be valid, or at least within one year of the date of expiry. In addition the applicant must be a citizen of the country the license was registered in.
What to bring with you:
- Resident ID.
- Passport with residence visa.
- Current driving license from home country.
- Eye test certificate, may cost between Dhs.50-100.
- 1 passport photo.
- You may also need a no objection certificate (NOC) from your sponsor.
- Dhs.410 application fee.
Following this, you will actually be able to collect your license after one hour. This procedure may vary slightly across Emirates.
Buying a Car
There are many options for buying a car in the UAE. You can choose to buy brand new, buy a used car, or even import a left hand car into the country.
Buying a New Car:
If you choose to buy a brand new car in the UAE, you should do your research in advance. There are many dealerships available, so if you know the type of car you are interested in you will then be able to speak with dealerships to find the right one for you. Each dealership may have different methods of payment or financing that you can avail of. Some may even offer additional specs, so make sure to find out everything in advance.
Buying a Used Car:
Alternatively, if you choose to purchase a used car, the process is actually very simple. All you will have to do is to make sure and take the car to the RTA office right after to ensure ownership changes and registration is made.
Importing a Car to the UAE:
In general, left-hand drive cars can be imported into the UAE. However, the vehicle should be less than 10 years old. Some documentation will be required, for example, you will need to provide your UAE driving license and residency. But also you will need documents for the import like the certificate of origin, original car invoice, shipping receipt, and customs charges..
Penalties and Regulations
The UAE has specific driving regulations you should be aware of in addition to penalties for breaking these.
- Mobiles must be used hands-free when driving.
- Seatbelts are compulsory and children should be seated in the back of the car.
- Driver’s should overtake from the left.
- Insurance documents, car registration, ID and a driving license should be kept in the vehicle at all times.
- A spare wheel and warning triangle should also be kept in the vehicle.
- Due to hot conditions, a fire extinguisher is mandatory in all vehicles.
- Drunk-driving is not allowed under any circumstance.
- Speed limits are as follows:
- Urban zones are 40-80 kmph
- And 100-160 kmph for highways
- 100 kmph for rural zones.
- 40 kmph for residential zones
- 25 kmph for parking zones and service roads.
- Punishments for drunk-driving include a month or up to three years in prison and fines between AED 20-30,000. It also results in 24 black points on your license.
- There are fines for speeding, ranging from AED 300-3,000.
- Speeding by 60KM or higher will result in black points on your license. Speeding at 80KM or more results in 23 points.
- More than 24 points on your license will lead to a loss of the license for a year.
- Driving without a license could lead to jail time and a high fine.
Insurance in the UAE
Is car insurance mandatory in the UAE?
Yes, car insurance is mandatory in the UAE. However, it is something you will want to get to cover yourself anyway. When you finally get your car, it would be heartbreaking to lose or damage it in some unforeseen event. This is why insuring your car is so important. Having your car insured can protect owners against any physical damages that may occur to the vehicle, whether it’s from accidents or collision. Owners can also be protected from theft and vandalism and even damage from nature, depending on the policy.
What is the cost of car insurance in the UAE?
Car insurance in the UAE can vary, but generally a good way to estimate the yearly cost of your car insurance is by calculating the car’s value. However, there may be other factors that influence the cost. This is the same in most areas around the world. For example, have you had any previous insurance claims? Sometimes the age of the driver is taken into account? How many years of driving experience do you have? So what exactly is taken into consideration when you apply for car insurance?
- The Cost of Your Car
Generally, the primary factor in the cost of your car insurance will depend on the value of the car. Cars that are worth more than AED 300,000, the average insurance rate applicable in Dubai, for example is roughly 2.75%.
Lower priced cars which cost anywhere between AED 100,000 and AED 300,000, the insurance price is about 3%. And for cars <AED 100,000 the average is 3.25%. While this may be the primary factor, it is by far not the only factor considered.
2. Age of the Driver
The price of your car insurance will also be determined based on your age. Anyone aged under 24 will generally see a higher premium based on their age. This amount drops for drivers aged 25-30, and then again 30-60 years old.
3. Type of Car
This probably won’t affect you if you own a basic car. In this case you will pay a nominal insurance premium. But cars which require specific maintenance may bring with them a higher premium. For example, you might be surprised to know that many times SUVs carry a higher premium. This is solely down to the fact that they carry a higher expense with maintenance.
4. Age of the Car
When it comes to insurance, it is not always wise to choose older models. If you’re looking to insure a brand new car it will actually bring with it a smaller premium. This is because newer cars are less likely to need repairs, or cause accidents due to the performance of the car.
What are the Different Types of Car Insurance?
When we talk about car insurance we generally concentrate on two types, comprehensive and third party.
Comprehensive Car Insurance:
This tends to be the policy that is most advised. Comprehensive cover gives you the best guarantee on your insurance covering many areas. For example, with comprehensive cover your car is protected against fire and theft but also you are covered against third party liability. With a comprehensive plan you can also avail of many add-on features too.
This is the most basic cover provided, and is mandatory to have in the UAE. This policy only covers third parties if you are in an accident. However, if you have third party cover, this will not protect your own vehicle in terms of an accident, you will need to cover this cost yourself.
What Documents Are Required To Set Up or Renew Car Insurance?
When insuring your car, there are a couple documents you will need to provide. It’s worth noting that some online purchases may require you to submit the details, without needing scanned copies.
- Registration details of your car and the registration number.
- Engine number, & chassis number.
- Personal documents such as driving license, proof of address.
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your resident visa
- A copy and original Emirates ID