Saturday, April 23, 2011

How to Obtain Driving License in Abu Dhabi

Though, the Driving License you obtain is valid throughout UAE, how you obtain it varies state to state. There are three categories of people who are trying to obtain the driving license in Abu Dhabi; even in UAE.
  • Category 1:         First time drivers
  • Category 2:         People who have home country Driving License, but they cannot be transferred to UAE Driving License (I am in this category)
  • Category 3:         People who have home country Driving License and it can be transferred to UAE Driving License (Normally USA, Canada, Most European countries, Australia, New Zeland, Singapore, etc citizens could do this).
 Whatever category you are, everyone has to,
  • Open a Driving License file.
  • Attend the theory classes conducted by Abu Dhabi Driving Company (The Only Authorised body for Driving License theory & practical training).
  • Pass the theory Test
  • Obtain the Driving License.
                    Category1: Attend the practical classes in AD Driving Company in Mussafa and take the practical  exams to obtain the Driving License
                    Category2: Go through a practical exam and obtain the Driving License (practical classes are not compulsory). 
                    Category3: Change their home country Driving License to UAE Driving License.

Submitting the initial application for obtaining the UAE driving license is called “File Opening”. I know there are several websites claims that you can open the file at Muroor Traffic Police. Even the AD Police website says so. But my experience was against this. When I went to open the file in Muroor Traffic Police, I was told that only ladies can open the file there, and gents have to go to AD Driving Company in Mussafa.

Getting to Muroor Traffic Police

If you are a lady and if you want to open the file in Muroor Traffic Police, its exactly in the Street 27 between Muroor Road (also referred to as Street 4 / E Road / New Airport Road) and Old Airport Road (also referred to as Street 2 /Shaiek Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street) in Muroor area. You can reach here easily by taxi. If you want to reach by bus, router no 32 & 52 buses goes through Street 2 and route no 34, 54 & 56 goes through Street 4; whereas route no 44 goes through street 27 (very long route).

Getting to Abu Dhabi Driving School / Company in Mussafa

You can reach AD Driving Company in Mussafa by metered taxi, shared taxi or route Bus.
Metered taxi from city centre (TCA) will easily cost 50AED (I haven’t tried it) and will take 30minues. If you could get a shared taxi (the old taxies) they will charge 5AED or 10 AED. But shared taxi is not a suitable option for ladies.
The cheapest way to get to AD Driving Company is using bus – route no 116. The route no 116 starts from Kalifa Street (Street 3) and you could get this bus anywhere in Street 4 or AD Central Bus Station. The fare is 2AED fixed price and it will drop you right before the AD Driving Company. The journey time is approx 45 minutes to 1 hour. There is bus service from 6am to 11pm every 30minutes.

Opening a file

Once you reach the Abu Ddhabi Driving School building, you could see there is an Information Desk straight ahead, and it is surrounded by more than 10 counters to serve people. You don’t need to go to any of these initially. On your right side, you could see the sign board for “Traffic Section”. Follow the sign and turn at the 1st right corridor. You will reach the File Opening section for Gents and Ladies which are two separate rooms. As soon as you reach the room, you will find a help desk where you will be checked by the staffs whether you have the right documents.
Keep the following documents in your hand.
  • Copy of the passport information page
  • Copy of the UAE Residency Visa Page
  • 1 x Passport size photos
  • No Objection letter from your company (Needs to in Arabic. You can get it from your HR)
  • Copy of your Emirates ID card. If you don’t have it yet, you can provide a photocopy of your Emirates ID application form. You have to provide the copy, not the original as this will not be returned to you.
  •  In case you have your home country driving license (plastic card), Arabic translation of your home country driving license.
  •  Home country Driving License - plastic card (for verification purpose)
Note: You do not need any International Driving License from your country. They will check for the home country driving license which is the plastic card. The Arabic translation doesn’t needs to be authorised by your embassy even. Just a plain Arabic translation is enough.

Once you give all these to them, they will check and verify everything and send you for eye test, which is in the adjacent room. You will find a lady sitting over there. You will be asked to read different size of alphabets and numbers on the wall using both eyes separately. Then she will show you some A4 sheets which consist of numbers. Each A4 sheets consists one number written using small hexagons in different colour hexagons as background. You have to identify it. Once it’s done, she will charge you 20AED and give a paper which says you are fit for your driving. Take this paper to the help desk people again and show it to them. They will give you a token / number which you have to take it to the room which is behind the help desk. Wait for your number to be called patiently.

When your number is called, go to the counter and give your documents with the eye test results. They will check all your documents again. Once all the documents are checked, they will take a photograph of you. This photograph will be used in your Driving License. You will be charged 100AED as the processing fee. Once this is done, you will be given two identical sheets of “Drivers Test Appointment” which you have to keep it with you until you obtain the Driving License. You will be asked to wait for few minutes until your trainee driving license card is printed out. Once it is done, collect it from them and go to the Information Desk which is at the entrance of the building.

Booking for Theory Classes / Orientation Course

Tell them that you have opened your file and you want to register for the theory classes. They will give you an application form to be hand filled. You have to enter your personal details and other details such as, type of license (light vehicle, etc), manual/automatic, language, etc. Fill it carefully.

Before turn back to submit the application form, you need to take a photocopy of the trainee license card and the Drivers Test Appointment sheet. There is a photocopy machine available in the right side corridor where you have to do it by yourself. It’s a coin operated machine each copy is 1AED. So, have some coins with you by-hand.
Note: You might need to keep a blank A4 sheet behind your plastic card to make a copy. Otherwise it won’t work.

 You need the following documents to be submitted with the application form.
  • Copy of the passport information page
  • Copy of the UAE Residency Visa Page
  • Copy of Trainee license
  • Copy of Drivers Test Appointment sheet
  • 2 x Passport size photos

Upon verification of the documents, you will be given another token/number. Take it and wait patiently. Once your number is called, go to the counter and submit the documents. You will be charged 780 AED as the course fee and 50 AED as the Theory exam fees. You will be also given a theory lesson hand book.

Now, the number of theory classes vary depends on the profession mentioned in your UAE Visa. By default, its 8 classes (4 days). There are 1 and 2 day courses also. You may ask them whether there is any speed course so you could reduce the number of classes. If you are lucky to be an Engineer or Manager (Your Visa should state that) you need to attend only 1 day class which consist of 2 courses. Each course is just an hour; so within 2 hours, you theory classes are done.

I went on a Sunday evening to open the file and my classes are scheduled for Monday 7.30pm. I got 1 day classes as my profession in the Visa reads as Engineer.

By now, you have opened the file and booked for your theory classes.

Theory classes

Theory classes are held in the first floor. Be on time for the theory classes. If you are happened to be late for 10minutes you will be considered as absent. Once you attend the classes, you can schedule the Theory Test date at Ground Floor Information Centre / Counters.

Theory Test

Again, be on time for the theory tests. Test halls are on the 1st floor. If you are late by 10mins, you have to re-schedule the test – means extra money.
You should take the “drivers test appointment sheet” which was given to you while opening the file with you. In addition you should have some sort of photo ID such as passport, home country driving license, Labour card. If you failed to provide any of this, you will be turned away in the exam hall.

Prepare yourself by reading the theory hand book page to page. You do not need to memorise anything. But read it. That’s enough.

Theory test consists of 45 questions which you have to do it within 30 minutes. You have to get 36 or more correct answers to pass the exam. Each question has 3 answers where you have to select the best answer. The test is a computer test, where you will be reading and answering the questions in the computer screen. Each individual in the exam hall will get different set of questions. Believe me; the exam can be finished within 15-20minutes max.

Once you passed the theory exam,
  • 1st time learners can book for the practical classes.
  • People who have their home country driving license which are not transferrable can schedule for the practical exams straight away. When I went to collect the Theory Exam sheet, I have been given the Road Test date with that. Its highly recommended to brush-up the driving and parking skills by attending the private diving institutes. This is important, as you have only 1 chance to pass the practical test. If you fail the test, you have to go through all the classes offered by the Abu Dhabi Driving School and then do the practical test again.
  • People who have their home country driving license which are transferrable will get the UAE driving license. I do not have any information about this as I haven’t experience this. I appreciate if someone could share their experience on this as this will be really helpful for other readers.

Practical Driving Classes

Practical driving class consist of five lessons and it is given in two sets, lessons 1-3 and lessons 4-5. The length of the course varies depends on whether you have enrolled to beginners, intermediate or advanced course depends on your knowledge and skills of driving.
Schedule for the classes are stretched from morning to late in the evening and you will be trained in the driving yard of Emirates Driving Company where you will experience a one-to-one session with your instructor. Lessons 1-3 will take around one week to complete and lessons 4-5 for approx 10 days. The schedule of your classes will depend on the availability and the fee will be Approx 2500 AED depends on the number of classes you are enrolled to.

Practical Test

Once you finished all your practical courses, the first time learners have to do two practical tests which are Parking Test and the Road Test.

Parking Test:- Parking Test is based on lesson 3. In case you need refresher classes for lesson 3, you can opt for one. This will give you better chance of passing the parking test.

After you pass the parking test, the Traffic Police will issue you a green ID card. It is a temporary driving card which will allow you to contact driving instructors if you need so for real road training.
During your driving class in Emirates Driving Company, you will be driving in Driving Yard. When you contact a driving instructor, you will be driving in the real road with his guidance. This will give you more training to go for the road test. If you think you are already confident to drive alone, then you can proceed with the road test.

Road Test:- This is the final test to obtain the driving license in Au Dhabi. Be early during your schedule for road test. Bring the “Drivers Test Appointment” sheet, temporary Driving ID, passport copy and AED 200.  There will be two police, one seated in front and the other at the back, in the car.

If the policeman hands you the appointment sheet, it means you pass. When the policeman returns to you the green card, it means you didn’t pass.

After you pass, you have to go back to the Driving Company, pay AED 200 and give the appointment sheet and passport copy. They will take you a photo and provide you the UAE Driving License.

There you go; you have obtain the driving license and you are ready to drive in Abu Dhabi & UAE roads!!

My small piece of advice:- 

Don’t take the driving for granted. While you go through your theory and practical classes, you will learn the road manners and how to drive in the road. Use that knowledge to drive safely in the road.

Make sure your actual designation is stated in the Visa page. Sometimes companies change the designation to obtain the Visa. But sometimes this might create some problems for you.

Recently I met a guy who had his driving License from Saudi Arabia. He managed to obtain the UAE license withn 2 days. Whoa..!! Thats really fast. Incase if any of you had GCC DL, you do not need attend the theory test. You can straight away book for the Practical exams.

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