Can tourists drive in UAE with their local driving license?

Welcoming millions of visitors every year, UAE is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world encompassing seven individual Emirates each with its own unique landscapes, attractions, and places to visit. There is much to see in this charismatic country and driving is a popular method of getting around. The thrill of driving in a foreign country is unmatched, however, it’s crucial that you familiarize yourself with the driving laws and customs before your visit.

Driving is an essential part of traveling, especially when visiting a foreign country. However, having a local driver’s license might not be enough in some cases. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, an IDP is an essential travel document that ensures you can rent a car, navigate foreign roads, and explore the UAE with ease. If you intend to drive or rent a luxury car in popular locations such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Sharjah then an International Driving License is a must.

What is an International Driving License or Permit?

An International Driving License or Permit is a document that allows you to drive a motor vehicle legally in 174 countries when it is accompanied by your valid driver’s license. Essentially a translation of your national driving license, IDP is valid for 1 year and proves that you hold a valid driver’s license in your country of residence. It also protects you in the event of accidental vehicle damage while driving abroad, or the loss of legal identification such as a passport. The IDP is recognized all over the world and is available in 10 different languages in order to help overcome language barriers.

Who can benefit from an IDL?

  • Citizens of the United Arab Emirates who wish to drive in a foreign country.
  • Foreign tourists and temporary visa holders wishing to drive in UAE during their stay.
  • For expatriates who wish to drive in the country without relying on public transport or taxis.

Advantages of an International Driving License (IDL)

Whether you are planning to visit UAE for business or leisure, having an IDL/IDP has several benefits for travelers including:

Simplified Car Rentals

The IDP provides several benefits that simplify the car rental process and ensure a smooth experience in foreign countries. An International Driving License allows you to conveniently drive a rental car across all the feasible locations in UAE.

Ease of Communication

It can help overcome language barriers between drivers and the authorities since it is printed in 10 different languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, German, Arabic, Italian, Scandinavian, and Portuguese).

Peace of Mind

While driving in a foreign country might seem daunting, having an IDP will provide you with additional peace of mind and protection while driving.

Do I need an IDP to drive in UAE?

Planning to visit UAE and want to make sure your driving license is valid for driving in the country? Before you make any concrete plans it’s imperative to ensure that your home country’s driving license complies with the country’s standards. While Emiratis can drive anywhere in the country with only their valid driving license, visitors and tourists must be in possession of a valid driving license from their own country with the specifications of the International Driving Permit.

Driving Licenses from Countries Valid in UAE

Drivers from the following countries are allowed to drive with their local National Driving Licence (no International Driving Permit needed):

GCC Countries

Citizens of Middle Eastern nations like Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia can use their driving licenses to drive anywhere across the UAE.

European Countries

A number of EU countries including Albania, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Serbia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and United Kingdom are on the list of nations whose citizens’ local driving licenses are permitted in the UAE.

Western Countries

Canada and the United States are two of the major Western nations whose residents are allowed to travel anywhere in UAE with their original home country license.

Asian Countries

There are a few different Asian countries from where visitors can use their home driving licenses such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. For Chinese license holders, it is mandatory to present a notarized English-translated copy of the license together with the original Chinese driver’s license.


The residents of Australia as well as New Zealand are also offered the privilege of using their country’s driving license in the UAE.

If your home country is not included in the list of countries whose driving licenses are valid in the UAE, you must carry an international driver’s permit obtained from your home country. 

Tips for Driving in UAE With an International Driving License

  • All visitors who plan to drive in the UAE must ensure they obtain an IDP in their home country or country of residence to rent a car and legally drive in the Emirates.
  • It is important to note that an IDP is an addition to your national driving license and not a replacement. Make sure you carry both your driver’s license and IDP when planning to rent a car in UAE.
  • Acquiring an International Driving License can help you avoid language barriers, communicate with local authorities in case of emergencies, and allow you to drive legally anywhere in the country.
  • Another important tip is to make yourself aware of the traffic rules and regulations for a smooth driving experience.
  • International or Local Driving license in any other language other than Arabic and English should be translated into Arabic or English. The translation should be attested by the Embassy.
  • It is important to renew the IDP annually if you plan on driving in foreign countries regularly.

Documents Required for International Driving Permit (IDP)

  • Visa
  • Copy of Passport
  • Copy of Your Valid Driving License
  • Copy of Valid Address Proof
  • Two Passport Size Photographs

The application process varies by country, so it’s important to check with your local embassy or consulate before you apply.

Can foreign tourists get IDP/IDL from UAE?

Tourists or visitor visa holders cannot procure an IDP in UAE as it must be acquired from their home country before their arrival. According to information available on the UAE automobile and touring club website, in order to drive in the country, one must have an IDP/IDL issued outside the UAE. All visitors who plan to drive in the United Arab Emirates must make sure they obtain an IDP/IDL in their home country or country of residence before they travel.

Having an IDL when driving in the UAE can provide several benefits. Firstly, an IDL is widely recognized worldwide, making it useful for individuals who frequently travel to different countries. Secondly, it can be used to reserve a rental car, making it convenient for visitors to explore the country without the need to rely on public transportation. If you are planning to rent a car in popular locations such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, or Ajman then UAE Rental Cars is your best bet. Whether you are flying into DBX Airport or Abu Dhabi Airport, we offer competitive rates and customized rentals at the lowest prices along with the best customer service. To know if an IDL is required or not for your preferred location you can either refer to the Rental Terms while making a reservation or contact us directly.

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