There are some factors you need to be aware of prior to driving in Saudi Arabia
26 September 2013| Last updated on 27 June 2018
If you are planning to move to Saudi Arabia from the UK, then there are a couple of things that you need to know about driving in Saudi Arabia. Some things are done a bit differently in Saudi Arabia and might catch you offguard if you are not careful.
From insurance to renewing your UK licence and taking your car outside of the company, here is everything that you should be aware of!
Both males and females can drive a car in Saudi Arabia using a fully valid British licence, for up to three months from the date that you entered Saudi Arabia. After the initial three months, you will have to obtain a Saudi driving licence. Your sponsor will be able to assist you in obtaining this licence. It is mandatory to carry your driving licence and vehicle ownership papers at all times when driving. Heavy fines are imposed if you are caught without the correct paperwork.
As of June 2018 it is no longer illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. This has had a great effect on allowing women to come and go as they please and run their errands when they need to.
Taking a car outside of Saudi Arabia
If you do not own your car outright (i.e. you obtain a local bank loan, or buy a car using hire-purchase), you will need to gain permission from the creditor in order to take the car out of the country. A form (Istamara) will need to be issued for each country you are travelling to, each time you wish to travel.
Motor insurance, including third party cover, is available in Saudi Arabia, but it is not compulsory and some Muslims have scruples about the principle of insurance.
Expatriates should not assume that they are covered for third party claims even if they are driving an employer’s vehicle on business. It is best to check that the car is adequately covered. Driving in Saudi Arabia can be hazardous: wet weather, drifting sand, sand storms and camels crossing roads can all make driving dangerous at any time of year.
Replacing or renewing your UK licence within Saudi Arabia
It is important to bear in mind that once your UK photo card licence has expired, you will not be able to renew it with the DVLA if you are residing abroad.
Similarly, if your licence is lost or stolen you will not be able to replace it through the DVLA if you reside in Saudi Arabia.
You can register your mobile telephone number in order to receive alerts if you receive a traffic fine whilst driving/parking illegally in Saudi Arabia. Register your details to ensure that you receive the text alerts.
If you do not pay a fine within the specified time period, the fine will double and continue to double periodically until it is paid. All fines are linked to your visa. You will not be able to leave the country if fines are outstanding, so it is better to check before travelling. It is also possible to pay outstanding fines at the airport, but only during very limited daytime hours.