Carlease’ Guide to Driving in the UAE

27th June 2016 BY
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Assembled below are our responses to some of the most common questions about driving in the UAE. The responses represent the collective knowledge of our staff and are intended to provide general 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.

Driving in the UAE

Side of the Road:

In the UAE, drivers drive on the left 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 the 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 receiving 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

An Accident on your Rental Car

Car Accident


If you have been in an accident while driving in the UAE, the driver must ensure that the vehicle does not block the traffic. During a 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 drive-able, call the 24/7 roadside assistance service at +971 4 510 9580 to arrange a replacement car. If your car is drive-able, contact our Operations Team immediately at either  04 321 5313 or through our maintenance bot. 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. 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.

Renters should hire cars that have Bluetooth or aux-in connectivity to avoid being fined while using their phones. 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 4 510 9580.

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 drive in the speed limits. Drivers should stay alert while driving and avoid all distractions.

Toll on Dubai Roads

Salik (Toll):

Highways and streets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are subject to Tolling, referred to as Salik in Dubai. Salik and Toll gate charges are typically AED 4 per crossing and an administration cost for Carlease is AED 1. The total cost including the administration fee per crossing is therefore AED 5 plus VAT on the administration fee component.

What is the ‘insurance excess?’

The insurance excess (sometimes referred to in other countries as the insurance deductible). This 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. In this way, we can claim any amounts from the insurance company. Without the police report, the driver will be liable to pay the full cost of repair as per the Carlease Damage Rate Card 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

long term car lease dubai

Get the Best Out of Your Long Term Car Rental

How do you pick the best rental car? Carlease asked its renters so you can learn from their experience

A Carlease’ Guide: Best Driving Advice for Newbie Drivers in UAE

A Carlease’ guide to make the most of driving for newbie drivers in the UAE.

driving in dubai

Carlease’ Driver’s Handbook for the UAE (pt2)

Vroom your way around the UAE with expert driving advice from Carlease’ trusted drivers!

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