Buying A Vehicle
Many expats choose to buy a car in Kuwait as they are cheaper here than in most other countries. You will find that there is no hard sell from dealerships when buying a new car and pricing is fairly standard but there may be room for a bit of negotiation. There are lots of SUV's in Kuwait, partly because petrol is so cheap and also because the Kuwaitis love their cars!
It is possible for expats to buy a new or used car and to get finance for these purchases.
Finding a Car
There are new and used car salesrooms in Shuwaikh and Al Rai on the 4th Ring Road (between Road 60 and 601), and you will find one dealership for each brand. Also, on street corners around Salmiya and Fahaheel, there are second-hand car dealers.
It can however, be difficult finding out the history of a second hand car (especially if your arabic is not up to scratch..) and many expats prefer to look to other expats who are selling their cars perhaps because they are leaving Kuwait.
A good way of finding a car for sale is to look at any notice boards you can find (schools, shops, health clubs and hotels), newspapers, word of mouth and of course the EW classifieds section.
Before you buy a second- hand car, it is a good idea to have the car inspected either by a mechanic or by an independant garage. Some imported vehicles may not have upgraded radiators and air-conditioning which are necessary to withstand the heat in the Gulf. Also check service records and make sure the car has a spare tyre and changing gear. Here it is not illegal for garages to repair cars which have been written off so a full safety check is very important.
Registration and Insurance
A new car is registered automatically for three years and then this must be renewed annually. Third party insurance is compulsory and forms part of the registration process (the car is insured- not the owner). For cars over five years old only third party cover is available ; for fully comprehensive insurance you need to pay around 5% of the car's value.
When you first arrive in Kuwait, you can drive on your national driving licence as long as it is from the same countrry as your passport. You are also meant to have an arabic translation of your home- country licence.
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In order to get a Kuwaiti driving licence you must hold a university degree or have children of school age within the country. The rules here seem to vary but when applying as the wife of a working husband, you should state your occupation as 'Head of Domestic Duties' or use another title so that the Ministry will be able to grant you a licence.
It is imperative that you keep your car well maintained because engine oil, oily parts, tyres etc will wear out much quicker here than at home because of the hot climate. You will find many garages to do this in Shuwaikh and Fahaheel as well as at the car dealerships.