Can a US citizen drive in Saudi Arabia?
Can I use my Dutch driving licence abroad?
If you have a Dutch driving licence and are going to drive abroad, check whether it is valid in your situation.
Whether you’re in the Netherlands or abroad, you are only allowed to drive if you have a valid driving licence. Driving with an expired licence is an offence and you will not be insured in the event of an accident. So you should always check before your trip how long your licence will be valid.
I am or will be travelling abroad
If you are going abroad for a temporary stay (up to 8 months), for example for a holiday or for work, you may be able to drive using your Dutch driving licence. This depends on whether you are going to a country in the European Union (EU) or not.
If you have a valid Dutch driving licence you can drive in any EU country and in Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. If your driving licence was issued by a country that is not part of the EU and you then exchanged it for a Dutch driving licence, you will also be able to use it in all of these countries.
In some cases you will need an International Driving Permit in addition to your Dutch driving licence. This is a translation of your Dutch driving licence into several languages.
If you are going to a country that is not part of the EU for a temporary stay, you will be able to use your Dutch driving licence in most countries.
In some cases you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to your Dutch driving licence. This is a translation of your Dutch driving licence into several languages.
Dutch driving licences are not accepted in the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Cayman Islands
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Sri Lanka
In most of the above you will need a driving licence issued by the country in question. These can usually be bought after you have shown your Dutch driving licence or International Driving Permit (IDP), and are generally valid for the duration of your visit. The Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) website (information in Dutch) explains what you should do if you want to drive in these countries.
I live, or will be living, outside the Netherlands
If you live outside the Netherlands or plan to do so, your Dutch driving licence will not always be valid in your country of residence. This depends on whether you live, or will be living, in a country the European Union (EU) or not.
If you live, or will be living, in another EU country, you will be able to use your Dutch driving licence until it expires.
If your driving licence was issued by a country that is not part of the EU and you then exchanged it for a Dutch driving licence, not all EU countries will accept your exchanged licence as valid. This applies for instance to Germany and France. Contact the organisation responsible for issuing driving licences in your new country of residence. They can tell you whether your driving licence is valid there, and if not what you will need to do if you wish to drive a vehicle.
If your Dutch driving licence expires soon, you will not be able to renew it. You can however exchange it for a driving licence issued by the country where you live.
If you live outside the EU or plan to do so, you will not always be able to use your Dutch driving licence in your new country of residence. Contact the organisation responsible for issuing driving licences in the country where you live. They can tell you what you will need to do if you wish to drive a car there.
If your Dutch driving licence is accepted in your country of residence, but it is due to expire soon, you can apply to the RDW to renew your Dutch driving licence from abroad.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
- Can I use my Dutch driving licence as ID abroad?
- Recognition and validity of your driving licence in the EU (Europa.eu)
Driving in Saudi Arabia
Driving in Saudi Arabia is the easiest and most convenient way to get around. That being said, foreigners in Saudi Arabia will have to get accustomed to the driving style in Saudi Arabia. Getting a good understanding of driving etiquette and road signage is the first step to developing your road skills in Saudi Arabia.
Can expats drive in Saudi Arabia?
To drive in Saudi Arabia, you need to be at least 18 years old. If you have a valid driver’s license issued in one of the EU states, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the neighboring GCC states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and UAE), you will be able to use it for three months. If you have an international driver’s license, you will be able to use it for a period of one year.
Since June 2018, women can legally drive on the territory of the Kingdom. The decades-long ban on women driving was finally lifted with a historical decree. It was a significant step for empowering women and for the mobility of both — expats and locals.
How to convert a foreign driver’s license into a local one?
If your driver’s license has been issued in the EU, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the neighboring GCC states, you won’t need to take a driving test to get a new license. Instead, you will be able to convert your existing driver’s license into a local one.
To convert your foreign driver’s license in Saudi Arabia, you will need to:
- Get an Absher e-services account
- Pay a license fee
- Get your medical tests done (this typically includes eye and blood tests)
- Have your current license translated into Arabic by an approved translation agency
- Bring all of the above as well as your Iqama and passport to the nearest driving school
You will then be issued a local driver’s license.
How to apply for a driver’s license in Saudi Arabia?
If you don’t yet have a driver’s license or your driver’s license can’t be converted into a local one, you will need to apply for a new driver’s license in Saudi Arabia. You can do that at one of the many driving schools across the country.
To apply for a driver’s license, you will need to present the following documents:
- A receipt for the license fee
- Copy of your passport and four passport-sized photos
- Residence permit card (Iqama)
- Completed application form
- Medical report
Once you’ve submitted all the documents, you will first need to take a three-hour class followed by a test. Next, you will need to take a driving test.
If you pass both of these examinations successfully, you will be given a ten-year driver’s license.
Driving in Saudi Arabia
Driving in Saudi Arabia may take some getting used to. While the road conditions and road safety in the country are improving, outside the big cities, you may still come across people not fully in line with traffic regulations.
You may also regularly come across armed guard posts on the road — which can be quite unnerving for those who are not used to this. If you are stopped at one of these road checks, do not panic and simply follow the instructions of the officer. In most cases, you will only be asked to show your driver’s license, car papers and Iqama copy. Make sure to keep these documents with you at all times when driving in the country.
Like in most countries, in Saudi Arabia, you will be driving on the right side of the road. Road layouts are quite clear — but do get ready to come across plenty of roundabouts. Street signs in all major cities are bilingual (Arabic and English). With that, navigating local roads, even with a GPS, may be problematic: a lot of roads don’t actually go by their official names, and local landmarks are often used instead when giving directions.
Traffic violations in Saudi Arabia can result in fines and license suspension. Each violation equals a certain number of points — when this number gets to 24, your license will be suspended. Note that driving under the influence will immediately amass you 24 points and result in an instant suspension of your driver’s license as well as more serious legal consequences. To compare:
- Running a red light will cost you 12 points.
- Driving without breaks/lights equals 8 points.
- Not having your seatbelt on is 2 points.
Note the leading cause of traffic accidents in the country is speeding. This is why it is especially important to pay attention to the speed with which you are driving and observe all the regulations and speed limits in place. Urban freeways typically have a speed limit of 70km/h, and highways limit the driving speed to 120km/h. Keep in mind that all major routes are equipped with speed cameras.
Driving costs and car maintenance in Saudi Arabia
Driving in Saudi Arabia is definitely a more convenient option for getting around than taking public transportation. With that, make sure you are aware of the related costs.
One of the best things about driving in Saudi Arabia is the low fuel costs. The average price for a litre of petrol 95 is SAR 2.33 — which is about $0.62, half of the international average. There are also no road taxes or tolls to worry about.
However, as Saudi Arabia is characterized by an exceptionally hot climate, vehicle maintenance costs tend to be quite high and wear and tear sets in sooner. Note that you will need to submit your vehicle for the annual Motor Vehicle Periodic Inspection, called “fahas” in Arabic.
You are not obliged to purchase a fully comprehensive car insurance plan in Saudi Arabia — however, third-party coverage is compulsory.
Buying a car in Saudi Arabia
Brand-wise, Toyota is the leader of the Saudi Arabian car market with an extensive network of dealerships. Because of this, maintenance for Toyota vehicles is significantly easier and less expensive compared to other cars. With that said, American vehicles come in as a close second and are also quite popular with expats. Note that most cars run on petrol and Diesel options are quite rare. Electric cars, on the other hand, would be very hard to come across.
Overall, car prices in Saudi Arabia are on the reasonable side, and most expats prefer to buy or rent vehicles on the spot — as opposed to bringing their own cars from their home countries. Another reason for this is that car import rules in Saudi Arabia are quite strict, with lots of limitations and paperwork involved.
The majority of expats who move to Saudi Arabia do so on a work contract, which often includes transportation in the form of a personal vehicle with a driver. If this option is available to you, we strongly suggest that you take it — it will make things much easier on your part as driving in a foreign new city is never easy.
However, if transportation is not part of your contract, buying or renting a car would be the next best thing.
Buying a car in Saudi Arabia is quite straightforward. You simply need to locate a dealership that sells the model you are interested in, pay them a visit, take the vehicle for a test drive and, if everything is to your liking, proceed with the purchase. Most dealerships will take all the paperwork off of your hands, and you will simply need to sign on the dotted line.
If you are not on the market for a new vehicle, you can lease one. You will find both international and local car rental companies in the country that will be able to provide you with a car. To rent a car in Saudi Arabia, you need to be at least 25 years old and have a valid driver’s license: whether local or foreign. You will also need to present your passport and Iqama.
Traffic accidents in Saudi Arabia
As we’ve mentioned at the beginning of this article, road safety is improving in the country. However, there is still quite a long way to go.
Speeding and reckless driving remain to be the leading causes of fatal traffic accidents. So, make sure that you stay vigilant and don’t get distracted on the road when driving at any time.
If unfortunately, you do get into a traffic accident, you will need to call the emergency number — 933. (For a complete list of emergency numbers in Saudi Arabia, click here). During the call, you will need to provide the location and basic details on the accident — if you don’t speak Arabic, it would be best to have someone help you make the call. You may also call your employer for assistance with this or reach out to your embassy. When the police arrive at the scene, they will write an accident report. Make sure not to sign any documents in Arabic if you don’t understand their contents. If the police find you to be responsible for the accident, you will probably be asked to pay a fine. Depending on the seriousness of the accident, you might be held in custody until your fine is paid.
If your car breaks down in the middle of the road:
- Park out of the way of the traffic
- Turn in your hazard lights
- Place a warning triangle next to your vehicle
- Call a car breakdown service or 993.
- You can also ask for assistance from fellow motorists.
General tips for driving in Saudi Arabia
Driving in a foreign country can be seen as quite challenging at first. However, if you do your research, follow the traffic rules and exercise due diligence on the road, it can actually be both a convenient travel solution and an interesting experience.
To make sure your experience in the country’s highways goes smoothly, check our list of precautions to take on the road.
When driving in Saudi Arabia, make sure to always have your driver’s license, passport, Iqama and vehicle papers with you at all times.
Be very careful when driving at night, on poorly lit roads and in the countryside. Be aware that camels often cross roads, even in the cities — and hitting a camel is actually one of the frequent causes of traffic accidents in the country.
Avoid going off-road if you are not an experienced off-road driver or are not accompanied by one. Without knowing proper driving techniques, you can easily get stuck in the sand and will have to search for assistance.
Make sure to always have a good supply of drinking in your car. Temperatures in Saudi Arabia tend to get very high, and it’s very important to have enough water with you in case of traffic or other emergencies.
If stopped by traffic police or at a checkpoint, remain calm and follow the officer’s instructions. In most cases, you will only be asked to present your identification and car papers.
Pay extra caution when driving during the month of Ramadan. With everyone fasting all day, people tend to be in a hurry to get home at the end of the day, and there may be quite a bit of speeding on the roads.
Road rage is never a solution. If you don’t feel like you are up for handling traffic or are having a hard time navigating the streets, consider hiring a car service to keep you out of trouble.
We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
Validity of foreign driving licences in the Federal Republic of Germany
These pages provide information on the most important German provisions for holders of foreign driving licences. If you have any further questions, for instance about the procedure for registration and issuing of German driving licences, you should contact your local driver licensing authority at your city or district council. We hope you will appreciate that the Ministry is unable to comment on individual cases.
Your driving licence is valid if your stay in the Federal Republic of Germany is temporary.
If you hold a valid domestic driving licence or International Driving Permit, you may drive all categories of vehicle indicated on your licence in the Federal Republic of Germany. If there are any conditions or restrictions on your driving licence, you must also comply with them when driving here. However, your driving licence is not valid if you have not yet reached the minimum age required for the appropriate category in the Federal Republic of Germany and your driving licence was not issued by another Member State of the European Union or another state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area. You must carry your driving licence with you when driving or riding a motor vehicle.
If you hold an International Driving Permit, you do not have to have it translated.
You must carry a translation of your domestic driving licence if
- it was not issued in a Member State of the European Union (EU) or a state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway), or
- it is not in the German language, or
- it does not comply with the provisions of the Convention on Road Traffic of 8 November 1968 (Annex 6). You can find out whether your driving licence complies with the provisions of Annex 6 by enquiring at the appropriate authorities of the issuing state.
German translations may be prepared by, inter alia, German motoring organizations or internationally recognized motoring organizations in the state that issued the driving licence, official agencies of the state that issued the driving licence and court-appointed and certified interpreters and translators.
The Federal Republic of Germany does not require a translation of licences issued by the following states:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- Switzerland and
If you hold a driving licence issued by a Member State of the European Union (EU) or a state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), it will normally remain valid after you have taken up residence in the Federal Republic of Germany until the end of its period of validity. You must have a domestic driving licence – an International Driving Permit is not sufficient.
- General restrictions
- Combating driving licence tourism
- Special rules for schoolchildren and students
1. The following general restrictions should be noted:
Categories C1, C1E, C, CE, D, DE, D1 and D1E
A driving licence issued for these categories is only valid for a period of five years after the date of issue, even if it is valid for a longer period in the holder’s home country.
Categories C, C1, CE, C1E, D, D1, DE, and D1E
The period of validity of a driving licence issued for these categories will, upon request, be extended by five years if the holder meets appropriate health and eyesight requirements. For more information, you should contact your local driver licensing authority.
If, in accordance with the aforementioned restrictions, your driving licence is no longer valid when you transfer your normal residence to Germany, you may continue to drive for six months in the Federal Republic of Germany. During this time, you must apply for an extension.
Driving or riding a motor vehicle with a driving licence that has expired under the law of the issuing state or under the German provisions will be treated as driving without a driving licence and penalized accordingly.
If your foreign driving licence is about to expire or is no longer valid, you will receive a German licence of the same category upon request.
2. Special rules for students and schoolchildren
The fact that a person is attending a university or school does not automatically mean that they have transferred their normal residence. Thus, driving licences obtained by students in their home country while studying in the Federal Republic of Germany are valid here. However, students and schoolchildren from other Member States can also obtain a driving licence in the Federal Republic of Germany if they are resident here for at least six months.
The same applies to persons who have their normal residence in the Federal Republic of Germany if they attend a university or school in another Member State for at least six months.
You hold a foreign driving licence that was not issued in a Member State of the European Union (EU) or in a state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) and you take up residence in the Federal Republic of Germany.
If you hold a driving licence from a state that is not a member of the EU or the EEA, this licence will be valid for six months after you have established your normal residence in the Federal Republic of Germany. After this period, your driving licence will no longer be recognized.
If you wish to continue driving or riding a vehicle on domestic roads, you will then require a driving licence issued in the Federal Republic of Germany. The conditions governing the issuing of a German driving licence vary depending on which country you obtained your licence in. For more information on how to obtain a German driving licence, and the conditions that have to be met, you should contact your local driver licensing authority in good time. In exceptional cases, the driver licensing authority may, upon request, extend the deadline by up to six months if you can prove to their satisfaction that you will not have your normal residence in the Federal Republic of Germany for longer than 12 months.
Driving or riding a motor vehicle with a foreign driving licence that is not or no longer recognized here will be treated as driving without a driving licence and penalized accordingly.
You hold a driving license from United Kingdom and you take up a residence in the Federal Republic of Germany.
If they take up residence in Germany, their UK driving licence will have to be converted into an EU/EEA driving licence after a maximum of six months. Under driver licensing law, a person is deemed to have taken up residence in Germany if they live here for at least 185 days a year. The question as to when this period commences in any given case, especially in the case of Brexit , should be settled with the local driver licensing authority.
Holders of a UK driving licence wishing to convert it into a German driving licence may currently do so without having to take a theory or practical driving test. Germany will enter into a corresponding reciprocal agreement with the United Kingdom.
A foreign driving licence does not entitle you to drive or ride a motor vehicle in the Federal Republic of Germany
- if it is no longer valid;
- if it is a learner licence or any other provisional licence;
- if you have not yet reached the minimum age required for the issuing of a driving licence in the Federal Republic of Germany and your driving licence was not issued by another Member State of the European Union or another state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area;
- if your normal residence was in the Federal Republic of Germany at the time you obtained the foreign licence;
- if your driving licence has been withdrawn in the Federal Republic of Germany, or you have been refused a driving licence here, or if the only reason your driving licence has not been revoked is that you have relinquished it in the meantime (in the case of driving licences issued by another Member State of the EU , there may be special features that have to be considered. In this case, you should contact your local driver licensing authority. They can clarify whether any doubts regarding your suitability to drive still exist);
- for as long as you have been disqualified or your driving licence has been confiscated, seized or impounded in the Federal Republic of Germany, in the state that issued your licence or in the state in which you have your normal residence.
The right to use a foreign driving licence again after it has been withdrawn in the Federal Republic of Germany will, upon request, be granted by the driver licensing authority if the reasons that led to the withdrawal no longer exist.
- Validity of German driving licences in other countries
- External Link: Zur Seite „Gesetze im Internet“ des Bundesministeriums der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (Opens in a new window)