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Driving in Dubai | 10 Common Questions Answered

Driving in Dubai

Whether you are living in Dubai as an expat or visiting as a tourist, there may be a few questions on your mind about driving in Dubai. This article aims at answering those questions; from driving licences renewals to renting a car as a tourist.

Can You Rent a Car in Dubai with a UK Licence?

If you are visiting Dubai, you are allowed to drive with a UK licence. But, in order to do so, you must have had your licence issued in the same country as your passport.

However, if you own a residence permit in the UAE, then you will need to have a driver’s licence that was issued in the UAE in order for you to drive in Dubai.

Can You Rent a Car with a UK Licence? | The Vacation Builder

Can You Rent a Car in Dubai with an Indian Licence?

If you are from India, unfortunately Indian driving licences are not accepted in the UAE. Instead, you will need to have an International Driving Permit that was issued in India.

To be eligible to rent a car in Dubai, you will also need to be able to present your native driving licence as well as the permit.

Can you Rent a Car in Dubai with an American Licence?

If you have a driving licence from the USA, the same rules as the UK apply. Essentially, you can drive in Dubai with a driver’s licence, but only if you do not have a residency visa for the UAE.

In all of the cases, if you do have a residency visa, you will need an International Driving Permit or a local driving licence from the UAE.

If you are looking to rent a car, you can find all of the information you need in our dedicated guide on How to Rent a Car in Dubai.

Can you Rent a Car with an American Licence? | The Vacation Builder

Can you Drive in Dubai with a Canadian Licence?

The same rules for the UK and America apply if you are from Canada. Your driver’s licence must have been issued in the country your passport is from.

Basically, if your passport and driver’s licence are both from Canada, you are able to drive in the UAE, unless you hold a residency visa.

Where to Renew Your Driving Licence as an Expat?

Renewing your licence as an expat may seem like a headache of a task, but it can be done easily online.

If you are a returning expat, you will have to undergo an eyesight test and pay a fee. Along with your eyesight test results, you will need to have your original Emirates ID card, a passport copy with a valid visa, a fee Clarence letter and stamped authorisation by the UAE embassy.

As for the fees, you will be looking at around 120AED, but this could be more if you delay your renewal.

Where to Renew Your Driving Licence as an Expat? | The Vacation Builder

How Old do you Need to be to Drive in Dubai?

The legal age to drive, varies all across the world, so what is the requirement in the UAE?

Put shortly, you need to be 18 years old to drive, but you can start learning to drive 6 months before you turn 18. If you are planning to rent a car in Dubai, you will need to have held your driver’s licence for at least a year and be at least 21 years old. However, certain high-end cars require you to be 25 years old.

For more information on learning to drive in the UAE, see our article on How to Learn to Drive in Dubai.

Is Driving in Dubai Easy?

For some people, driving can be daunting at the best of times, but driving in a completely different country is a whole new experience. A lot of countries and cities around the world have their own quirks when it comes to the roads, so let’s take a look at how easy driving is in Dubai.

In Dubai, you don’t have to worry so much about roundabouts, but you do need to pay attention to using the correct lanes and considering speed limits. In city areas, the maximum speed limit is 60km/h, and on country roads it is 100km/h. Inner lanes on roads are for high-speed luxury cars, so be mindful of this as it is not uncommon for cars to reach speeds of 200km/h here.

Is Driving in Dubai Easy? | The Vacation Builder

The main thing to remember is that you must abide by traffic signs, be alert, and be vigilant. A lot of intercity highways have unmarked speed bumps, camels, and shifting sands so you need to be looking out for these.

Which Side of the Road do People in the UAE Drive?

Much like many other countries in the world, in the UAE you drive on the right hand side of the road. You will find that the steering wheel is on the left side of the car.

Driving on the right can be a drastic change if you are from countries like the UK, so make sure you are well aware of how you should adapt your normal driving.

Common Traffic Signals and Signs in Dubai to Look Out For

As mentioned, Dubai has its own set of road quirks, so let’s take a look at some common traffic signals and signs.

Mandatory signs tell drivers what action they should take on particular roads. These are often shown in blue circles with white diagrams. For example, roundabouts, keep left or right, turn left or right, and pass either side.

Common Traffic Signals and Signs in Dubai to Look Out For - Mandatory Sign | The Vacation Builder

Warning signs alert drivers when there is an upcoming hazard. Much like other parts of the world, these are show in a red triangle. These include traffic signals ahead, dual carriageway ends, two way traffic, tunnels ahead, intersection ahead, and animals.

Common Traffic Signals and Signs in Dubai to Look Out For - Warning Sign | The Vacation Builder

Prohibitory signs tell drivers what actions they should not take whilst on the road. These are often shown in red circles. Examples of prohibitory signs include no left turn, no pedestrians, no goods vehicles, and do not exceed speed limit.

Common Traffic Signals and Signs in Dubai to Look Out For - Prohibitory Sign | The Vacation Builder

Control signs let drivers know the direction they should be travelling in, any prohibited areas or any road priorities. Examples of these are stop signs, give way signs, and no entry signs. Many of the road signs in Dubai are shown in English as well as Arabic.

Common Road Signs in Dubai | The Vacation Builder

Trailblazing signs are ways to reassure the drivers that they are on the correct route for certain destinations. These are often shown in green rectangles. Examples of trailblazing signs include way to the airport, ways to certain routes, and business districts.

Common Traffic Signals and Signs in Dubai to Look Out For - Trailblazing Sign | The Vacation Builder

Parking control signs let drivers know where they can and can’t park and if there are any restrictions. Examples of these may be showing parking time restrictions, handicap parking, no stopping, and goods vehicle parking.

Common Traffic Signals and Signs in Dubai to Look Out For - Parking Control Sign | The Vacation Builder

Traffic Fines & Speed Limits

Traffic Fines in Dubai - Driving in Dubai | The Vacation Builder

As with all parts of the world, traffic offences are treated seriously in the UAE.

The severity of the violation will obviously determine how severe the fine is. If you are caught driving without a licence, you can face penalties of 5,000AED. If you exceed the speed limit by 20km/h, you will be fined 300AED, and if you exceed the speed limit by 80km/h you can expect a fine of 3,000AED with other penalties. Fines of 1,000AED can be issued for violations like parking in no parking zones.

There are all sorts of different fines for breaking different types of rules. However, fines generally range from 200AED to 1,000AED with other penalties.

You can read this helpful resource to see the complete list of traffic fines for Dubai.


Driving in any new place can be a daunting experience for drivers, especially when in one of the world’s most bustling cities! Dubai is no different. Every non resident wishing to drive in the UAE should educate themselves and be a confident driver. A lot of the roads in the UAE are very different to those in Europe and America, where undercutting, speeding and poor driving etiquette are common.

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