My boss kept urging me to get a driving license since I joined the company. Perhaps he was keen to mold me to be one of his sales team. No doubt, it is a lucrative job compared to my current post but selling is simply not my cup of tea.
Anyway, I still pursued my driving. My driving saga started in late November 2008. Being a neophyte with no knowledge at all in driving, my route was quite lengthy and financially draining.
Here are the guidelines you can refer if you wish to get a driving license in Abu Dhabi.
File Opening. You can open your file in the Traffic Police in Muroor district or in Emirates Driving School (the only legitimate driving school in Abu Dhabi) in Musaffa. The required documents will include passport copy with the visa stamp, passport picture and one Arabic letter from your company which you can always ask from your HR Office.
Then there will be an eye test also. Don’t worry because this service is available in the Traffic Police in Muroor. Once you finish the registration, you need to enroll for the theory class. Regardless of your driving skill level, this four days theory class is mandatory when obtaining a driving license in Abu Dhabi. It is followed by a written exam on the fifth day though the written exam is given only every Wednesday in Muroor area.
This entire process (file opening, eye test, theory class) will cost between AED 800 – AED 1,000.
After you pass the written exam, the next step is to go to Emirates Driving Company in Musaffa which is 20-30 minutes drive from the city proper.
Actual Driving Class. If you are a beginner, you need to enroll for the actual driving class that is consisting of five lessons. It is given in two sets, lessons 1-3 and lessons 4-5. Schedule for the classes are stretched from morning to late in the evening.
Lessons 1-3 will take you around one week to complete and lessons 4-5 for 10 days. Basically you will have a one-to-one session with the instructor. Your classroom will be the driving yard of Emirates Driving Company.
The schedule of your classes will depend on the availability. In my case, I passed my written exam in end of November but the earliest available for the actual driving class was on January only. There was more than a month gap from my theory class and actual driving lessons 1-3. The same scenario when you will get a schedule for lessons 4-5.
If you are flexible with the time, then the interim will not be long. As for me, I could only take evening classes, which I believed the most sought after schedule, because I have a fulltime job.
The fee for the actual driving class was between AED 2,200 – AED 2,400. This covers the entire lessons from one to five.
Because Mussaffa is far from the city proper, the taxi fare is quite expensive. I had to shell out between AED 35 – AED 50 per way for the taxi fare to Mussaffa for my daily driving lessons.
Parking Test. Parking test is scheduled only after you finish the entire driving lessons. That’s why you need to remember your lesson 3 because this will be the parking test. Fortunately, they offer refresher class for lesson 3.
Before you get a schedule for parking test, make sure you are scheduled for refresher class. This will give you better chance of passing the parking test.
Green I.D. Card. 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 contract driving instructors. During your driving class in Emirates Driving School, you are driving only in the vicinity of the school. When you contract a driving instructor, you will be driving in the real road with his guidance.
There is no required number of hours. You have to personally gauge your capability. If you think you are already confident to drive alone, then you can proceed with the road test.
The driving instructor charges between AED50 – AED70 per one hour lesson however most of them take only a minimum of two hours. The instructor will pick and drop you off unfortunately this is already counted. It means for the two hours lesson, your actual driving class is only one hour and thirty minutes because fifteen minutes will count for your pick-up and another fifteen minutes for your drop off.
Road Test. Be early during your schedule for road test. Bring your appointment sheet, green card or 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.
When the policeman returns to you the green card, it means you didn’t pass. If the policeman hands you the appointment sheet, it means you pass.
After you pass, you have to go back to the Traffic Police, pay AED 200 and give the appointment sheet and passport copy. They will take you a photo and after 10-15 minutes, viola! You have your driver’s license.
Advance Level. If you know how to drive or have a driver’s license back home, you can skip the driving classes. Simply take a schedule for road test. If you pass, then you will instantly get your driver’s license. If you don’t pass, you need to take the driving lessons in Musaffa.
However, driver’s license from Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, Canada, UK and most of the European countries can transfer their current license to UAE license.
Personally, it was quite a long agony for me. Fortunately, I passed my road test and parking test in my first attempt.
- Try to find a buddy when taking driving lessons in Mussaffa. It is cheaper to share the taxi bill with your buddy.
- There is a shared taxi from Musaffa to Abu Dhabi. Taxi drivers charge for AED 5 per person however if you don’t want to share, make sure you haggle for the fare. The average fare should be AED 25-AED 40 varying on your drop off location.
Update July 2012: A kind reader by the name of Sameer has informed me about the changes in driving license procedure. You will see his comment below for your info. Thanks again Sameer!
really thankful for ur tips on applying for a fresh license. just this morning i opened my file in mussaffah. it seems there are some changes in the procedure recently unlike mentioned in ur blog.
- though i directly went to driving company with all documents, i was asked to go to mussaffah police station bcos file opening is done there. (i got this info after waiting in queue for 20 mins )
- in mussafah police station, u have to submit any valid id card (emirate id/ labor card) in front desk so that they will give u a temporary pass to enter inside. carry a photocopy of the emirate id/ labor card, they may need a copy inside.
- collect a token frm the token machine for driving section (the machine has multiple choice) and wait for ur turn. they wil check ur documents and will give u a physical examination form- this is for eye test.
- collect a token in the same token machine for eye test- u can find the optometry technician’s room very next to ur previous counter.
-pay 25aed there, finish ur test and get the result. go back to token machine and collect a token again for driving section. submit all documents. if all ok they will give u some forms to handover to driving school.
- now u can go to driving school, and in the reception show ur documents. he will give u a application form to fill- attach passport copies and photos together and if all ok he wil give u a token for scheduling theory class. wait for ur turn and pay 830aed in counter and schedule ur classes- khallaaas!!
my tips: 1)photocopying is available free of cost in police station, so make 2 copies of passport and one copy of ur id card there. u will be charged 1aed per page if u take photocopy in driving school.
2) don’t forget to return ur temporary pass and collect ur original id back in police station as it would cost u as additional 12aed, to and fro from driving school and police station
3) taxi drivers may confuse u saying there are 2 police stations in mussaffah- just tell them the one behind/ nearest to the driving school.