A Complete Guide to Buying, Owning and Driving a Car in UAE

September 13, 2022

All You Need to Know about Driving as Car Owner in UAE

With inflation going through the roof all over the world, it is not easy to buy a brand-new vehicle. The UAE car market is dependent on imported vehicles and the prices are skyrocketing. If not for inflation, chip shortages and supply chain malfunctions are also contributing factors to the increase in prices. It may not be kind to your pocket or your budget to set eyes on the brand-new vehicle during these times.

Due to the reasons mentioned above, a lot of people are opting to buy pre-owned or second-hand cars in UAE. There is an increase of 15% in used car sales in 2021 hinting at the shifting sands in automotive purchase behaviors.  It’s not just the economic reasons that are stopping people from buying new vehicles. The fact that a new vehicle loses its 50% value in the first few years is enough to keep potential buyers away from the showrooms.

Table of Contents

1. Why is it Beneficial to Own a Car in UAE?

  1.1. Your Companion in Emergencies

  1.2. Choose Your Road

  1.3. Have a Private Space of Your Own

  1.4. Plenty of Time Saving

2. Who is Eligible to Buy a Car in the UAE?

  2.1. Are Tourists or Visitors Allowed to Drive in UAE?

  2.2. Can an Expatriate Buy a Car in the UAE?

  2.3. Documents Required to Buy a Car in the UAE

3. How to Obtain a Driving License in UAE

  3.1. Legal Age for Obtaining a License in UAE

  3.2. Documents Required for Driving License Application

  3.3. Process of Applying for the Driving License

  3.4. Cost Involved in Obtaining Driver License

4. Important Considerations When Buying a Used Car in the UAE

  4.1. Buy A Car with a Warranty

  4.2. Invest in a Pre-Purchase Car Inspection

  4.3. Check The History

  4.4. Avoid a Car More Than 7 Years Old

  4.5. Save Money by Negotiating

5. Popular and Affordable Vehicles in UAE

  5.1. Toyota Corolla

  5.2. Toyota Camry

  5.3. Hyundai Elantra

  5.4. BMW X5

  5.5. Honda City

6. Additional Expenses of Owning a Car in the UAE?

  6.1. Car Registration Cost in UAE

  6.2. Car Registration Renewal Charges in UAE

  6.3. Cost of Insuring a Car in UAE

  6.4. Cost of Auto Repair in UAE

1. Why is it Beneficial to Own a Car in UAE?

There is an excellent system of public transportation established in the UAE and it is not a necessity to own a car. You can use that public transportation system to get where you want. However, a keen driver would already know that owning a car brings its own set of benefits. Following are a few reasons that owning a car could make your living standards much better.

  1.1 Your Companion in Emergencies

The recent pandemic has made us realize the importance of a private vehicle. the pandemic changed the way we travel and commute to and from our work. Public transport was not suitable to keep social distance and private vehicles became necessary rather than a luxury. Emergencies in the UAE can cost you dearly as an ambulance ride could cost you dearly and owning a car no matter how old could save you aplenty.

  1.2 Choose Your Road

No one can deny the independence and freedom that owning a car brings to your life. You never have to worry about missing the transport, being on time, or reserving your seat.

Owning a car means you never have to match anyone else’s schedule and choose your own time and route to go wherever you fancy.

  1.3 Have a Private Space of Your Own

Where ever you are in UAE, you have a private space of your own. Your car serves as an extension of your private space. This can make a world of difference if you value your privacy. If you want to store your belongings somewhere safe, your car could be an excellent place to do that.

  1.4 Plenty of Time Saving

When you have your car then you do not have to wait at the bus stand or train station. You do not have to travel unnecessarily to a bus or train station wasting time. Getting stuck on busy highways become a thing of the past as you can choose your route.

2. Who is Eligible to Buy a Car in the UAE?

Anyone over the age of 18 holding a valid driving license can buy a car in the UAE. You can pass the driving license in the Emirate you reside in and obtain a full driving license.

  2.1 Are Tourists or Visitors Allowed to Drive in UAE?

Tourists or visitors on a visit visa are allowed to drive in the UAE as long as they are over the age of 21 and hold an international driving license in conjunction with their national driving permit to drive in UAE.

  2.2 Can an Expatriate Buy a Car in the UAE?

If you are an expatriate from one of the 43 approved countries then you are allowed to exchange your driving licenses without having to pass the local driving test. Then you are good to purchase and drive a car in the UAE.

The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has approved applications from the holders of driving licenses issued by the following countries:

1. United Kingdom 16. Turkey 31. Austria
2. United States of America 17. Canada 32. Slovakia
3. France 18. Poland 33. Luxembourg
4. Japan 19. South Korea 34. China
5. Germany 20. Finland 35. Portugal
6. Italy 21. South Africa 36. Finland
7. Belgium 22. Australia 37. Romania
8. Netherland 23. Romania 38. Denmark
9. Switzerland 24. New Zealand 39. Serbia
10. Denmark 25. Singapore 40. Poland
11. Greece 26. Hong Kong 41. Netherlands
12. Spain 27. Austria 42. Latvia
13. Sweden 28. Slovakia 43. Lithuania
14. Ireland 29. Luxembourg  
15. Norway 30. Serbia  

Each emirate has its licensing authority but all licenses issued in the UAE are valid throughout the country. If you are planning to transfer your license to a UAE one and will do so in Dubai, you will need the following documentation:

  • A valid original driving license
  • Valid residence visa issued by Dubai
  • A completed form of replacement of license

No objection letter from the sponsor to replace license and optometry form accredited by the health authority in the emirate. The eye test can be conducted at approved optician branches nationwide.

  2.3 Documents Required to Buy a Car in the UAE

While buying the car, you would be required to show your valid license, residency visa, copy of your valid passport, and Emirates ID card to complete the process.

3. How to Obtain a Driving License in UAE

Unless you belong to one of the 43 approved countries that are allowed to exchange driving licenses, you are required to appear in a process that is necessary for the issuance of the license. Certain requirements need to be fulfilled and some costs are involved that we are about to delve into.

  3.1 Legal Age for Obtaining a License in UAE

The minimum legal age limit is dependent on the different categories of vehicles. It is 17 years for motorcycle riders, 18 for light vehicles driving, and 20 for HTV. For bus drivers, it is 21 years old.

  3.2 Documents Required for Driving License Application

It is necessary to produce the following documents when you are applying for a driving license.

  1. A copy of your passport containing the residence visa page and your original passport.
  2. Original and copy of Emirates ID.
  3. Passport size photograph
  4. Your recent eye test reports
  5. No objection certificate from your employer

  3.3 Process of Applying for the Driving License

First of all, visit a registered driving center and open a traffic file in the emirate you reside in. make an appointment with an optician and make sure you pass the eye test. Enroll yourself with a registered driving school and start taking driving classes in the relevant emirate. The theory test contains 35 questions that you are required to answer. The test is taken on a touch screen device.  Pass the necessary theoretical driving tests.

Once you pass the theoretical driving tests, you will be awarded a learner’s permit which would enable you to take the road tests. You are required to register for 40 classes in a practical training school. Once you pass all the theory and practical tests you would be able to collect your driver’s license from the traffic authority. The practical test requires you to pass hill parking, emergency brakes, angle parking, garage parking, and parallel parking. Finally, a practical road test is a final hurdle that you need to pass before you are awarded the license.

  3.4 Cost Involved in Obtaining Driver License

The cost of obtaining a driver’s license varies from Emirate to Emirate. With all the driving school classes, eye tests, and important documentation, you can keep a figure of around AED 4000 to AED 8000. However, remember you cannot put a price on the peace of mind that passing the driving license brings into your life.  

4. Important Considerations When Buying a Used Car in the UAE

While buying a used car is a sure-fire way of saving money rather than buying over prices and overhyped brand-new vehicles. You have to pay a lot of attention while buying a used car as it is easy to dupe customers by showing them a vehicle that is cosmetically prepared for sale specifically.

  4.1 Buy A Car with a Warranty

It may not be easy to find a car with a warranty issued by a manufacturer or the dealership but if you find one then you should prefer it over the others. A car bought under a valid warranty can provide you with peace of mind and a sense of protection. However, do investigate what is exactly covered in the warranty. Remember to read the fine print.

  4.2 Invest in a Pre-Purchase Car Inspection

No matter how good you think at checking a vehicle, you can not beat a pre-purchase inspection. Sellers are always desperate to sell their products and usually leave out the details that could affect the sale. It is your responsibility to get the vehicle checked by an expert and make sure that the seller picks up the cost if there are problems found during the inspection.

  4.3 Check The History

Investigate the vehicle history especially if you are buying an imported vehicle. a detailed homework to check its history can reveal if the car was written off, flood-damaged, or involved in a crash in the past. Those cars get fixed up and are not easy to spot unless you employ an expert to check the history of the vehicle or go on a website to check the history by providing the VIN.

  4.4 Avoid a Car More Than 7 Years Old

A simple rule of thumb is that you avoid a vehicle that is more than 7 years old in UAE. Harsh weather and external conditions could severely affect the vehicle both mechanically and exterior-wise. Insurance companies know this and are usually ultra-hesitant to insure cars that are older than 7 years.

  4.5 Save Money by Negotiating

It is part of the UAE culture to haggle or negotiate the price of the vehicle. so, don’t be shy, and make sure that you haggle with the seller and get the price down. Always make sure that you stay polite and respectful with negotiations and agree where you see that the other party is reaching the end of the rope.

5. Popular and Affordable Vehicles in UAE

Owning a car is relatively easier in this part of the world as the prices are affordable and running costs are bearable. If you are buying a car for pleasure then the sky is the limit and you can spend as much as you like. However, if your objective is to own an affordable private transport that is comfortable too. Here are some of the choices that you can consider when making a decision.

  5.1 Toyota Corolla

Toyota is the undisputed King in UAE automotive sector and Corolla is the jewel in the crown. Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car in the world and for good reasons. Its efficient, affordable, packed with features, and most importantly very dependable.

  5.2 Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry benefits from Toyota’s world-renowned dependability and is a step up from Corolla. Think of Camry as a Corolla on steroids. It is an affordable saloon with everything that you can desire from an upmarket family car.

  5.3 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai has established itself successfully in the UAE market with the introduction of vehicles that provide comfort and performance at the same time. Elantra is a prime example of such vision as it has a powerful and sporty engine in a sedan luxury body. It is affordable and efficient too.

  5.4 BMW X5

It may not be cheap or affordable and supports an engine that is thirsty and expensive to maintain but if you are looking for a vehicle with generous power output and supreme luxury ride then look no further. You get European standards and elite engineering that makes the drive precise and enjoyable.

  5.5 Honda City

Japanese car manufacturers are known for their reliability and Honda does not disappoint either. Honda City is a vehicle that appeals to those who are seeking fuel efficiency with nonstop reliability. You get just enough power and space to accommodate your family and can save on fuel and maintenance.

6. Additional Expenses of Owning a Car in the UAE?

Buying a car is subject to its original price and the price category it falls in. every car has a different price tag that is justified by various factors. However, this is not the end of the story when owning a car. Many additional expenses occur on regular basis to keep your car running. Following are listed a few of them.

  6.1 Car Registration Cost in UAE

It does not matter if you are buying a new or used vehicle in UAE. There are additional costs involved when you acquire the vehicle. car registration fee is AED 420, ownership transfer fee amounts to AED 350, a vehicle inspection test is required costing AED 170, traffic file is worth AED 220, selling fee is AED 50, and knowledge and innovation fee is AED 20.

  6.2 Car Registration Renewal Charges in UAE

Every year it is compulsory for car owners to renew their car registration which is an inspection to keep the vehicle roadworthy. Renewal fees cost up to AED 380, and technical inspection charges AED 170, courier service charges AED 25. This means you should add around AED 600 for registration renewal in UAE every year.

  6.3 Cost of Insuring a Car in UAE

Insuring your car is a compulsory legal requirement in UAE. It is difficult to point out a figure as insurance cost is always dependent on the value of your vehicle and can vary from vehicle to vehicle.

  6.4 Cost of Auto Repair in UAE

A wise driver is always ready to anticipate repair costs. Major car service charges start from AED 500 and can go considerably higher depending on the make and model of the vehicle. car parts command their value according to the badge and model of the vehicle and can vary widely. You can check Partfinder UAE for new used and reconditioned car spare parts in UAE at the cheapest online prices. Changing the oil can cost anywhere between AED 100 to AED1000 depending on the make and model of the car. If you are an expatriate then buying a new car could be an unnecessary investment and one should consider buying a used car instead in a bid to save the additional spending.  We can conclude with the help of the strong data available and discussed above that buying a used or reconditioned vehicle can save you a considerable amount of money and once you have bought the vehicle, you should also be prepared for the recurring charges on annual basis. Just make sure that you consider all the elements and make an informed decision to buy a car that would make your life easier. Good luck with your purchase and enjoy exploring UAE.