Are you new to Dubai or have been here some time and looking to buy a new or used car? Excited? Confused? Not sure where to look? Do I buy used or buy new? Here I want to provide some basic guidelines on buying a new or used car in Dubai and later on, selling.
We will start with a few basic checks:
- Can you drive in the UAE legally?
- How much can you afford and which loan is best?
- Buying New or Used?
- New and Used dealer locations
- Getting Insurance Cover
- Registration and renewal
- Salik (toll tag)
- Selling your car
Can you drive in the UAE legally?
Okay firstly you need to check whether your driving licence is valid in the UAE to transfer to a UAE licence. Before you transfer your licence over (if applicable), it maybe a good idea to hire a car for a couple of months, to get used to driving on the roads of Dubai. Depending on which country you come from, the roads can be quite intimidating to start with. The Sheikh Zayed Road with 6 lanes in either direction, cars undertaking, overtaking, tailgating, speed cameras, hardly any indicating, can be a little bit chaotic at times.
Hiring a car is quite simple with your existing licence, a valid residency visa or entry stamp and a credit card. Prices will be 1800 AED upwards a month for Toyota Yaris. Compare prices and watch out for the terms and conditions i.e. collision damage waiver, salik charges etc.
You may be eligible to transfer your existing driving licence, without having to take a driving test or going to a driving school, if you have a valid driving licence from some countries. You have to be a citizen of the country given below with current resident status in UAE.
The countries from which citizens can transfer their driving licences are below:
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.
Please note: Driving licence holders of some countries in the above list will require translations or consulate letters. These countries include:
Canada: A letter from the Canadian Consulate in Dubai to verify that the licence is genuine is required, before transferring your licence.
Driving licence holders from Greece, Canada, Cyprus, Poland, Turkey, Japan and South Korea will require a translation of their driving licence from their respective consulates.
Fees & Documents Required: Passport for residents (original & copy) residence permit copy, current driving licence (original & copy), translation of driving license (for some countries), consulate letter (for Canadians), 1 passport photo, eye test certificate and 360 AED for transfer fee and opening a driving file. Also required is a no-objection letter (NOC) from your sponsor/workplace.
What to do…
1. Get an eye test done. This can be done at any hospital, clinic or optician. There are many opticians in shopping malls such as MOE, Dubai Mall and Oasis Centre.Give them 2 passport-sized photos and mention that it is for a driving licence. Most opticians will not charge for the test, while there may be a small fee for others.
2. Carry all documents mentioned above and go to Dubai Traffic Department Driving Licence Offices from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm on a working day. Ladies can go to the Ladies Section, where the work is even quicker. I recommend the RTA Office nearby to Mall Of The Emirates junction next to the Gold and Diamond Park on Sheikh Zayed Road.
3. Fill in the application form and submit all documents to the officer.
4. Take signed documents from officer and pay AED 360 to the cashier.
5. Submit all documents at Data Entry Counter.
6. Your name will be called out and your photograph taken.
7. A few minutes later, you will receive your new UAE Drivers Licence Card.
How much can you afford and which loan is best?
Before you start trawling through dubizzle or going into dealerships and falling in love with your dream car, you need to look at what you can afford. This will depend on your monthly salary after rent and bills, and how much cash you have already for either an outright sale or larger deposit. It is unlikely you will get access to bank loans until you have had 3 months salary deposited in your bank account.
Most banks have either an auto loan or personal loan option which will require the 3 – 6 months salary deposits, a salary certificate from your employer and a copy of your residency visa passport page. If you choose an auto loan, this means the car is owned by the bank. You cannot sell the car until the loan is paid off in full and the RTA online system is updated by your bank to say the loan is cleared. Clearance letters for carloans can still be requested as well from the banks (as of June 2015). A personal loan option has a higher interest rate than the auto loan, but at least the car is owned by you.
The main dealerships and used car dealers will have various link-ups with different account managers at the banks, but the choice is yours, not theirs. Do be warned, depending on the bank and your personal circumstances the administration process can take time to get finalised so do prepare your paperwork and be patient.
Buying New or Used (Pre-owned)
Okay, buying a new or used car each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with new cars. Buying a new car in any country means you’ll be paying various prices, depending on the time of year, exchange rates, and where the cars are manufactured. So you’ve worked out how much you can afford, so have you decided on the type of car you need? A basic runabout, a big 4×4 so you can have an elevated driving position and maybe go offroad, a people carrier for the school run and shopping, an American Muscle car or exotic supercar? Certainly a popular trend in Dubai is for a large 4×4 whether Japanese, American or European. The low running costs such as petrol and insurance make owning a big engined petrol car alot easier than say in Europe or the US. For comparisons and reviews, two good websites are DriveArabia and Motoring MiddleEast, which will have in depth reviews and guides to current prices and models.
Most dealerships are open Saturday to Thursday, sometimes until 7-8pm. Have a look around and book test drives. Some dealerships will have models more expensive than the equivalent model such as some European makes, i.e. BMW, Mini, Audi, and Mercedes, where as others such as Hyundai and Kia are cheaper. There are many exceptions, VW Golf R in UAE 149,000 AED, UK 180,000 AED. Some US models are cheaper also, Ford Focus ST is significantly cheaper than it’s UK counterpart. UAE price 100,000 AED, UK 132 -156,000 AED.
Below is a rough guide to many of the Branded dealerships along the Sheikh Zayed Road along with a few Used Car Dealers, the Al Awir Used Car Market and the Vehicle Licencing and Testing Station near Mall Of Emirates. There are other branches of main dealers in DIFC, Deira and in Sharjah.
Checkout promotions and research when new models are due to be released. Some dealers will have promotions running during Ramadan and the Dubai Shopping Festival in January each year. If a new model is due out, then the dealer may look to reduce prices or throw in extra options as an incentive to clear the old model. For example top spec Lincoln MKX 2013 listed as 179,000 AED, when haggled due to new model arriving, 155,000 AED. Most new cars will come with a warranty of some sorts, whether, 3, 5, or 7 years service package. However the downfall is clearly the depreciation.
In terms of price and finance, the more you can put down as a deposit, the less you have to borrow, simple. Interest rates on auto loans for new cars are a lot lower than auto loan rates for a used car. You will also get more flexible/longer repayment plans for new cars than used. The shorter the repayment period the better as always. Mostly dealers will accept 10-20% cash deposit. The dealer will secure your car from the ones available either in country or in transit. Specify your colour/paint variations, options (such as satnav), window tinting, sunroof etc. Expats are only allowed for a 30/70% tint on side and rear windows. Tinting will reduce heat build up in the scorching summer months but will reduce visibility at night, so a fair trade off. I’ve left mine without tint as my car is parked underground at night and during the day. The dealer will offer finance options through the bank links they have and also insurance if need be. They will also register the car for you. Waiting times will vary depending on what you are buying and whether it is in stock or not. Sometimes a week, sometimes upto 3 months.
Used or Pre-owned Cars
Buying a used or pre-owned car is often a choice for many when they first move to Dubai or have just started driving in the city. There are a number of ways to buying a used car in Dubai, through websites such as dubizzle which is the most popular or Al-Futtaim AutoMall,
through Approved Manufacturer Dealers (most major dealerships will also have a large pre-owned garage on site or elsewhere, such as Audi or BMW) or other used car showrooms/markets. Rami Nasri based at Abu Dhabi Motors BMW/Mini sold me my JCW and did a great job. Ex demonstrator but sold as new.
The easiest place to buy a Used Car is at the Al Awir Auto Market in Ras Al Khor. It’s on the main Ras Al Khor Road E44 about 7km from Downtown Dubai. This is a Government Approved site with over 100 dealers tightly packed in. It’s wall to wall cars and you can buy practically anything there from a supercar to standard saloon.
The complex has it’s own vehicle testing station, insurance brokers and even a bank. Prepare to spend a lot of time walking around. The complex is open Saturday to Thursday from 8am til late. If often shuts down from midday to mid afternoon so check the timings beforehand.The complex is split into two distinct areas with a small road inbetween to link them.
Most of the cars have not got prices displayed with only year of registration and mileage shown.
You’ll need to ask one of the salesmen who are only too keen to give you a price. Shop around and compare prices and options on specific cars. The stock turns over quickly there, but do be patient and dont fall for the sales patter.
Obviously the downside of buying a used car, is that most, unless they are still covered by manufacturer’s warranty, will not be sold with a warranty. You should always ensure any used car you buy is Gulf Spec i.e. the car is specifically adjusted for the heat of the region. You are pretty much buying as seen, so look through the service book for history and any receipts of work completed.
Manila Cars, (also known as Philippine Cars) have recently refurbished their showroom and they provided me with excellent service when I bought my first Mini in Dubai 3 years ago. They also own a second showroom called Black Motors on the other side of the complex.
The formalities of buying a used car, the insurance and registration etc was dealt with very easily by the team there and I can certainly recommend them.
Getting Insurance Cover
Under UAE law every car on the road is insured. There are a number of different insurance companies which you can research online such as AXA, RSA, AIG and many more. This can all be arranged over the phone or online, with scanned copies of your passport, drivers licence and registration card. The cover will have the usual terms and conditions such as No Claims Discount, third party or fully comprehensive cover, agency repair options, personal accident cover etc. The cover will also last 13 months, giving you one months grace to finalise your re-registration.
For a full detailed guide between different quotations try insureme a new online comparison site for the UAE. Do shop around as you can get substantially cheaper quotes between the different providers.
Registration and Renewal
You need to renew your car registration once every year. If you have purchased a new car, the dealer will handle all formalities and paperwork for the first year. From the second year onwards, you will have to renew your car registration. You will get a text notification to your mobile to remind you.
You can also renew your car registration from selected insurance companies. These include Noor Takaful, Oman Insurance, Fujairah Insurance and RSA Insurance. The insurance companies would be using the same procedure and online facilities to provide the service that are being used by the RTA’s customer service centres and other approved agents like Tasjeel, Tamam etc.
1. Motor vehicle insurance certificate
2. Old registration card
3. “Passed” car test certificate
Steps to take
1. Settle the payment of fines (if any); you can check and pay any fine at the Dubai Police website. I keep an eye on this throughout the year to save a big payment at registration time!
2. Go to Dubai Traffic Department/other emirates traffic department or to (Tasjeel Eppco, Emarat Shamil or Belhasa’s Wasel) to have the car tested. I use the one adjacent to Mall Of Emirates.
Drive upto the booth (above), show your registration card and take the tickets. Queue up for the test, where you will be asked to give one of the tickets to the attendant, leave your keys in the car and enter the admin building. Also it’s good to mention to the attendant where your warning triangle is located in your boot!
Wait for your number to come up to collect your test certificate, then get a new ticket and await your number to come up at the next desk behind to pay your fees.
3. Wait for your registration card (valid for one year). In case your car is no longer financed by a bank, show the bank clearance certificate.
5. Take a sticker with the new registration expiry date and place it over the old one (on the rear number plate, shown above)
• Car test Dh120
• Registration Dh320
New vehicles are exempted from testing for 2 consecutive years. Some companies will do all procedures for an additional fee, including collecting and returning the vehicle to you. You can also check with your insurance company, since many have introduced a free/paid service.
Every car in Dubai has to have a Salik Tag attached to the windscreen behind the rear view mirror. Salik is a toll system with gates at various points along the Sheikh Zayed Road. There are seven toll gates/locations and the tag will have 4 AED deducted each time you drive under one. The tags can be bought from petrol stations and there is a fine if you pass under a gate without a tag attached or with any credit. They can be topped up by buying top up 50/100/200 AED cards from various shops and outlets.
Click here for a detailed guide on Salik.
Selling Your Car
There are number of things you must do and not do when you are selling your car. Firstly do not put a sign in your window, it’s illegal. Use online sites such as Dubizzle is probably the easiest but there are other ways. You could use your car as a part exchange at main dealers or at Al Awir but they will offer a very low price as they need to make a profit on your car. BMW offered me 35000 AED for my 2008 Mini Convertible, which I sold for 58000 AED on Dubizzle eventually.
Ensure your finance/loan is clear. Once your outstanding amounts are cleared from your car loan, the RTA will get an update from your bank and will notify you by text to confirm your loan is clear. Clearance letters can be obtained from your bank to certify the car is yours to sell. Contact the insurance company and cancel your policy. They will ask for a copy of the new registration card. You may be able to transfer the policy to the new owner.
- If policy not transferable, the buyer has to get insurance cover.
- Get the car tested if its registration is near expiry.
- Both parties go to an Eppco Tasjeel Testing Centre as shown earlier
- Get a transfer form. Have it filled out in one of the typing booths.
You will need the following:
- Registration card
- copy of driver’s license (Buyer)
- copy of visa and passport (Buyer)
- Insurance certificate (Buyer)
- Hand in at the counter for processing in Registration office (they will check for fines).
- Go to Cashier (about AED 100 for transfer or AED 390 for new registration)
- Hand in documents and the receipt
- Wait for new registration card
- Swap new card for payment of vehicle.
- Make sure that the new registration card is in the new buyer’s name.
- Seller should photocopy the card. The seller is advised to send a copy showing the car is in someone else’s name to insurance company.
- Buyer gives copy of registration card to his/her insurance company.
- When you sell your car get proof of the sale at the time you do it – either a photocopy of the new car registration card with the new owner’s name on it, or a deregistration certificate from the police. Your insurance company can then stop the insurance on your old car and you can get a credit against the insurance on your new car for the time left on your policy.
You should not accept personal cheques for payment for your car as these may bounce and you’ll be left with nothing. Ensure you have cancelled your old salik tag if you have sold your car, or you will continue to get notifications.
So there you have it, I’ve probably missed a few things out, so apologies if I have. Any feedback or comments please add away!