Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Getting a Driver's License

The first thing I hope you'll notice is that there is no 'part 1' attached to this post. I'm thrilled to report that we were able to get Brian's UAE driver's license in one trip!! And yes, I do think it's ironic that the easiest thing so far has been the 'DMV'. :)

In UAE, if you have a visitor's permit/visa, you can drive using your DL from your country of origin, but since Brian now has his resident visa, he needed to transfer his US DL to a UAE DL, without that, Brian's not allowed to drive. And, we've been told over and over and over not to take chances with the traffic cops - be it speeding, leaving the scene of an accident, drunk driving (HUGE no no) or driving without a valid license. Our understanding is that they will throw you in jail and that it could take a lot of time and paperwork to get you back out. Let's just say neither Brian or I want any blog posts titled, "Getting out of jail - part 1" :)

The first step was to do a little online research about the process, and I was fortunate enough to find a recent (Jan 2011) website with crystal clear instructions. It listed out all the paperwork we needed, where we needed to go, how much it was going to cost - the whole bit. Because Brian's resident visa is from Dubai (because that's where Epic Middle East office is located and they sponsor our visas) we had to go to Dubai to get his license. Which, although made for a long day and trip, was probably easier from what I could tell from the websites. The Abu Dhabi process had a few more steps to it.

Our next step was to get all the documentation in order - basically the originals and copies of his passport, visa, US DL. Then we needed a 'no objection' letter from Epic (his sponsor). These are common for just about anything you do and there are templates you can use. What always cracks us up is that the letters are stamped and signed by Brian, who is the general manager of Epic Middle East, for Brian, but no one seems to care about that. I guess the rationale is simply that they want to make sure your sponsor is aware and approves of all these things you're doing with your visa that they sponsored on your behalf. So, we had all that stuff together and just needed the final piece, which was an eye test. our plan was to get that done in Dubai on the way to the Traffic Department.

Last time we travelled to Dubai, we hired a car and driver for the day, which cost us 900 AED. This time I did a little research and found a bus that we could pick up just across the street from our hotel that would take us to Dubai for 35 AED round trip - SWEET! Even with the city taxis and the metro, we spent just over 200 AED for the two of us - much better than the 900! So, on the bus we went and headed to Dubai. And the bus was really nice - like the Van Galder, but we both thought it may have been even a bit nicer.

From the Dubai bus station we taxied to the Dubai Traffic Department and from there found an eye testing place just down the road (conveniently on purpose!) For the eye test we just had to read off the eye chart from each eye and the optometrist then filled out some paperwork, attached our photo and stamped it. Side note: you need lots of passport sized photos here for all the paperwork - they attach your photo to everything to help ensure you are who you say you are. Just what I need, lots more versions of terrible passport photos! :)

At the traffic department, things were organized and while we had a pretty long wait due to the number of people there, everything went smoothly. Brian is now the proud owner of a UAE driver's license!! 

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