Whilst visiting Abu Dhabi (or living here before your work visa comes through), you’re able to drive on your home drivers licence or an international one. Once your work visa comes through, however, it suddenly becomes illegal to do so.
This post isn’t the most exciting of ones but hopefully it will provide a practical step-by-step instruction for those of you needing to convert your overseas licenses to an Abu Dhabi one.
We were pleasantly surprised by how easy the whole process to get my new licence was but knowing exactly where to go will make it even easier still.
First of all, you’ll need to have your original drivers licence translated into Arabic. We popped down to the translation offices within walking distance of the Hamdan Shopping Centre. You’ll want to park in the pay and display carpark at the Hamdan Centre and then walk in the direction of the Corniche (but don’t go far, it’s literally just across the road, a little way down a side street.) We used GOSB Legal Translation – they charged AED60 to convert my licence from English to Arabic and did it in 10 minutes or so whilst we waited.
Once you have your translated verification, you’ll need to visit one of the licensing centres – we went to the ‘Abu Dhabi Drivers License Department’, on 2nd and Al Dhafra Street, Al Mushfit – it’s just a little way along from Mushrif Mall.
As you enter the licensing centre, follow the path inside until you get to the customer service counter (opposite the licensing desks) and you’ll be given a number to have your eyes tested. Once your number is called, the optometrist will sit you down, asking you to close one eye at a time to read the letters on the wall. Upon successful completion of your test, you’ll pay AED30 and be sent on your way with another number.
This time, you’ll sit on the chairs in the main part of the building, waiting for your new number to be called. Upon reaching the main licensing desks, you’ll be asked for your passport/visa and Emirates ID (or copies of them if you don’t have the originals on you – we didn’t as I’m in the process of sponsoring my husband) and will make the payment of AED250. Some websites say you need a passport photo but this isn’t the case – the team member will take a photo of you in person and print out your new license whilst you wait (and with any luck, your photo will be better than mine was!).
Of all of the paperwork requirements here in the UAE, converting my licence was by far the easiest undertaking. Good luck with your conversion!
The above information presumes that your licence is from one of the following countries: GCC countries, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK or USA. If your licence is not from one of these countries, or you do not have one, you’ll need to undergo the full licensing procedure here.