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Motor vehicle licences in Dubai need to be renewed annually. When buying a new car or motorcycle, the formalities of initial registration are generally dealt with by the dealership. Thereafter, the car can be re-registered through selected insurance companies or by visiting a Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Customer Centre or approved testing facility.
There are eight insurance companies approved to offer registration renewal services to their insurance policy holders: AXA Insurance, Fujairah Insurance, National General Insurance, Noor Takaful, Oman Insurance, Orient Insurance, RSA Insurance and Salama Insurance.
Owners of new vehicles that do not need testing and vehicles that have already been tested can renew their registration through the RTA website and over the phone.
Renewing a vehicle licence is the same for cars and motorcycles. It is a simple process and can usually be completed within a day.
Although it is possible to make appointments at a testing station, most people simply go along with the required paperwork.
The following documents are required:
On arrival go to an empty bay and hand over the documentation, ensuring that no valuables are left in the car. The test is performed while the driver waits. Most centres have waiting rooms with complimentary drinks and even screens showing where each vehicle is in the testing process.
Once the test is complete, the driver is informed whether the vehicle passed or failed. If the vehicle fails the test it must be repaired and re-tested within 31 days. The first re-test is free of charge. If the vehicle fails a second time the next re-test will incur a fee. This test must take place within 31 days of the first re-test.
If a vehicle passes the technical inspection, then a "passed" certificate is issued. The owner also receives a new car registration card and a date sticker which must be stuck onto the rear number plate. If for any reason the registration process is not completed after the inspection, the certificate is valid for another month, during which time the process must be completed.
New cars and motorcycles are exempt from the yearly vehicle inspection for the first 3 years. All vehicles over 3 years old must undergo an annual roadworthiness test. Vehicle inspections and licence renewals can usually be done at the same time.
In Dubai, vehicle testing can be completed at RTA Customer Centres or at an Eppco, Shamil, or Wasel testing facility.
A list of test centre locations can be found on the websites above and on the RTA website.
Many drivers bring their vehicles to the inspection facilities themselves. Additional options include hiring a company to collect and return the car or arranging for a call out inspection with Wasel Vehicle Testing. For those attending in person, a time of approximately 30-45 minutes is quoted for the testing process subject to a testing bay being available on arrival.
The annual vehicle inspection includes checks on brakes, wheel alignment, emissions, electrics, lights and general bodywork.
If vehicle registration has lapsed for two years or more, the Roads and Transport Authority may decide to write off the car.
When selling a car, the car registration and test certificate must be valid before the car can be registered in the new owner's name.
The testing and registration process for customised vehicles is the same as for standard vehicles. However, the RTA sets strict criteria for passing the test and any modifications to the exhaust or engine will cause it to fail. In these cases, the owner has thirty days to bring the vehicle back to standard before the vehicle is deemed unregistrable. Custom paintwork, changes to the suspension and aesthetic additions typically not a problem.
Vehicles over 30 years old are considered classic vehicles, and can be driven in Dubai if they meet all the safety requirements set by the Automobile and Touring Club UAE (ATCUAE) and RTA. All classic cars must pass a technical vehicle inspection and be registered on an annual basis. This can only be carried out by the Automobile Touring Club UAE at the ATCUAE Technical Centre:
Once registered, classic cars are divided into six categories subject to different restrictions on where and when they can be driven.