Carlease’ Guide to Driving in the UAE (for Tourists and Expats)

BY - 27th June 2016
car rental uae

Drive safe in the UAE

Assembled below are our responses to some of the most common questions our team receives about driving in the UAE. The responses represent the collective knowledge of our staff and are intended to provide general, not exhaustive guidance. We highly recommend visiting the official pages of the UAE government in order to confirm our general comments. For a more detailed list of tips on driving in the UAE, read our Drivers’ handbook, our tips on driving during a sandstorm, driving in fog, driving in the raindriving during ramadan, and our tips on how to handle emergencies on the road. We also have a bunch of cool road trip ideas here, here, and here. Our Standard Terms and Conditions are also available here and the answers to most questions you may have about renting a car will be available on our FAQ.

Side of the road

In the UAE, drivers are required to drive on the left hand hand side of the road, similar to the USA, Canada, Germany and France, and unlike in the UK, India, South Africa and various other countries.

Driving License

  • Visitors who are not residents of UAE:

For visitors on tourist and visit visas, an International Driver’s Permit in conjunction with the national license of the driver is necessary for driving in the UAE. Alternatively, you can also obtain a temporary driver’s license if you hold a driver’s license issued by governments in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and a few other European countries. This is normally valid for 6 months. For more details, please contact our customer service team and visit the RTA’s website – Contact Us

  • UAE residents (Nationals and Expatriates)

On obtaining a resident visa, it is mandatory to have a driving license issued by UAE authorities. You can no longer use an International Driving Permit or Temporary driver’s license. Certain nationalities can get a local license simply by showing their own driving license and completing some paper work. Others may need to go through the driving test. For more details, please contact our customer service team – Contact Us

Those arriving from countries with transferable drivers licenses (like the UK, USA, Canada, EU, Singapore, South Africa) can rent based on their home-country drivers license while they are still on a visit visa, but their driver’s license must be converted to a UAE drivers license within 2 weeks of them recieving their UAE residence visa. In this case, the need for a 6 month old license to rent a car will be waived. Both the home-country license and the new UAE driver’s license must be provided to Carlease. The full list of countries with transferable driver’s licenses can be found here


In the event of an accident in Dubai, the driver must ensure that the vehicle does not block the traffic. In the event of personal injury, the vehicle should not be moved. In all cases, drivers have to wait for the police to come and make a police report. The police will at that point determine whether the driver or the third party (the other person) was responsible.

If the car is no longer driveable, call the24/7 roadside assistance service at +971 55 472 2531 to arrange a replacement car. If your car is driveable, contact our Operations Team immediately at either  04 321 5313 or through our Service Request Form. They will organize a replacement car for you ASAP and will advise you through the rest of the process. Be sure to note that your car has been in an accident.

A police report is mandatory in such cases otherwise you will be held responsible for the entire cost of damage on the vehicle, including third party liabilities, as per the Carlease Damage Rate card.


Contrary to popular belief, the roads in the UAE are quite safe and it is very much possible to drive here for years without having accidents or close calls (our drivers’ driving records are testament to this). Roads are flat and well maintained. However, since much of the driving is at a relatively high speed (80 KMPH – 120 KMPH), and because of the universal danger of distracted drivers, all road users must pay close attention to road conditions and their fellow drivers.

It is against the law to drive while distracted, so we recommend that hirers rent cars that have Bluetooth wireless connectivity or aux-in connectivity to avoid being fined while using their phone. All our cars are maintained in line with the manufacturers specifications and the requirements of the UAE. Each car has a fire extinguisher, emergency triangle, emergency kit, spare wheel and jack in the back. In case of emergencies, renters should call our 24/7 Emergency number at +971 59 472 2531.

Traffic Fines

There are radars, both stationary and mobile, monitoring the roads in the UAE. Fines are very heavy – ranging from AED 300 to AED 10,000) so staying within speed limits is recommended.

Driving conditions in the UAE can often be quite fast-paced, particularly on some of the highways. It is recommended that driver’s stay alert while driving and avoid all distractions.

Salik (Toll)

Highways and streets in Dubai are subject to Tolling, referred to as Salik. Every time a driver passes through a Salik (Toll) gate, AED 4 is automatically charged to the car number plate. AED 1 is charged as an administration cost per crossing when hiring/leasing from Carlease. The total cost including the administration fee per crossing is therefore AED 5.

What is the ‘insurance excess?’

The insurance excess (sometimes referred to in other countries as the insurance deductible) is the maximum amount for which you will be liable in the event of damage to the car for which there is a police report.

The customer will be responsible to settle the Insurance Excess or deductible amount listed on the rental or lease agreement in the event of any damage or loss (including fire and theft) caused to the vehicle. A valid police report is mandatory so that we can claim any amounts (minus the insurance excess) from the insurance company. In the event that the cost of the repair and associated coordination is lower than the insurance excess amount in the contract, those savings will be passed on to the customer.

If a police report is not made available, or if it is determined that the driver violated the terms of the rental agreement (for example: by driving the car through a pool of water, by offroading, or by leaving the boundaries of the UAE), the driver will be liable to pay the full cost of repair as per the Carlease Damage Rate Card (viewable to the customer) or as per the estimate provided by the Carlease Operations team.

Further reading:

UAE Driver’s Handbook

Explore the UAE

List of Transferable Drivers Licenses

Why Choose Carlease? (We know, there are lots of other providers!)


World Nomads

Traffic Law Update, July 2017 – List of New Fines

Cool Road Trip Ideas: Trips 1, Beach 1, Beach 2


Further Reading

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