Getting a driver’s licence in Dubai is not easy. Not because driving itself is difficult, but because it’s a long and expensive process. But I am a keen explorer, and I have to drive so I can really start to go off the beaten path. So I went through with it. If you are thinking of getting a driver’s licence in Dubai, then this post is for you. I will detail each step of the process so you know what to expect and you can budget accordingly. Please note, each price listed is per attempt. If you fail anything along the way, you need to pay for that test again until you pass 🙂
Determine if you need to redo the test in the first place
Not everyone has to get their driver’s licence from scratch. For some countries, you can simply hand in your existing driver’s licence, and convert it to a UAE licence. To see if your country is eligible for a licence conversion, visit this website to find out what the process is. If your home country is not listed on the “Service Details” tab, read on.
Choose a driving school
The first step is to register with a driving school. I did my lessons and test through Galadari Driving school, because they had a special on their fees as it was just after lockdown ended during the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, my colleague had used them for his lessons and had told me the instructors were good. The schools you can use in Dubai are:
- Emirates Driving Institute
- Dubai Driving Centre
- Galadari Motor Driving Centre
- Belhasa Driving Centre
- Al Ahli Driving Center
All the prices I will quote are based on what I paid with Galadari. You will have to check what the prices are for other schools should you choose to use them.
Register with the driving school
In order to “open your file” and get your learning permit with the driving school, you will need copies of the following:
- Home country driver’s licence
- Passport and residency visa
- Emirates ID
- Results of your eye test
- Passport-sized photo
- NOC from your company depending on your job role. (I didn’t require this but you may be asked for it).
I went to Dubai Marina Mall, where they have a small office which can process registrations. The file opening cost me AED769. I had initially tried to register online, but no-one ever got back to me, so I had to go to their office to get it done. Check their website for an office near you.
Attend the theory lecture and take the theory test
The theory lecture cost me AED313.50. I took the online option and just watched the videos at home. You can go to their head office in AL Qouz and take the theory lessons there. The theory test is made up of 40 questions, and you need to get at least 30 correct in order to pass. The questions are very straightforward. If you understand the video material then you’ll be fine. To help prepare for the test, download the RTA app and take the sample questions there. That will give you a very good indication of the type of questions that will come up in the test. The theory test cost me AED105.
Take your driving and parking lessons
The number of lessons you take depend on how long you’ve been driving for. I had to take 20 lessons because I have been driving for more than 5 years. If you have been driving for less time, you need to do at least 40 lessons. Each lesson cost me AED52.50. A lesson is 30 minutes and you can do up to 4 lessons (2 hours) in one go. The frustrating part of the process is, classes are available based on the school’s overall availability. So you might have to wait for weeks before you get classes, and they might not be one after another. I did about 4 lessons of parking, out of those 20 lessons.
Take the internal driving and parking assessments
The internal driving assessment cost me AED105. The examiner is an internal Galadari instructor, but you should take this as seriously as you would the final RTA test. Once you pass, you register for the Smart Yard test. You take the parking test on your own in the smart yard. In the smart yard, the yard and car are equipped with cameras and sensors, and that is how they see if you went into the parking bay correctly without stopping or stepping on any lines. This test also costs AED105. For both these tests, you do not need to pay again if you fail. You just need to schedule a new date. After a certain number of failures, you will be instructed to take more lessons. I would check this with the driving school should you find yourself in this situation.
Take the final RTA Smart Yard Test and Road Test
The RTA Smart Yard test is exactly the same as the internal Smart Yard test, so don’t let nerves get the best of you. This test cost me AED293.50. Unlike the internal test, if you fail this one, you have to pay again. And this is what makes getting a driver’s licence in Dubai expensive for most people. Having to retake tests means more money. Once you pass, you can then take the final RTA Road Test. This also cost me AED293.50. With this one, if you fail, you have to do lessons again before you can take the test again. So again, more money. You want to aim to pass the first time round, otherwise it does get prohibitively expensive.
Get your driver’s licence issued
Now that you’ve passed, you can get your driver’s licence issued within minutes! I paid AED320 for a driver’s licence that’s valid for more than a year, AED105 as a service fee and AED5.25 for a new driver sticker. Now I can happily drive in the UAE, and other countries around the world that recognise the UAE driver’s licence.
Final thoughts on getting a driver’s licence in Dubai
It took me 2 months to get my licence, simply because of the scheduling and my own work commitments. The prices outlined above were what I had to pay for getting a driver’s licence in Dubai. I have heard people pay outrageous amounts just to get this licence. You should do your research with all the schools to see if there are any specials running. Furthermore, if you are not an experienced driver, then expect to pay more than this because of additional lessons or test retakes. Good luck with getting your driver’s licence. See you on the road!