Guide to buying a car in Dubai

Dubai is a popular destination for expats looking for a big leap in their professional career. Opportunities are abundant in the field of Oil & Gas, Automotive, Technology, Healthcare, Tourism, Hospitality, and Logistics. Read our guide to finding a job to Dubai for more details.
Planning your relocating to Dubai can be difficult and stressful with a lot of things to consider when taking your personal belongings. Our specialist relocation team can help streamline the process and help execute your move with ease. If you are also planning to take your car along then read on and find out more about the process involved for importing a vehicle into Dubai.

To buy or to bring?

Most expatriates own a car in Dubai, as it is essential for everyday commute. The public transport system is limited and it’s not easy to walk to places. Dubai does have two Metro lines but you will still need a car to get to the station. Free parking spaces are available.
If you are keen on bringing your own car along from your home country, bear in mind that there are a number of costs and paperwork attached when importing your car to Dubai such as:

  • You will need to submit a photo identification
  • Purchase invoice and proof of registration
  • Your original driving license and a photocopy
  • proof of UAE residency and a photocopy
  • Payment for custom duty

Be prepared to pay a flat tax equal to 5% of the vehicle’s current valuation as custom duty factoring in any depreciation based on the age of the vehicle. Another key thing to remember is that cars with steering wheels on the right-hand side cannot be imported and registered in the UAE, so this rules out most British cars.

Buying a new car in Dubai

Many expats prefer to buy a car after settling in. There are plenty of choices available in the Dubai car market and there are a number of car showrooms and dealerships in the city that always have a few good deals to offer.
It might be worth your time to shop around and decide based on your requirements. You will find that the purchase price is relatively cheaper in comparison to other countries, be sure to calculate the yearly registration fees, insurance, fuel, and maintenance costs before making the purchase.
To buy a car you will need to carry the following paperwork –

  • Original and a copy of your driver’s license
  • UAE residency visa
  • Insurance documents if any

Dubai has a booming luxury car market, it’s not uncommon to see the latest sport models on the highway.

Buying a pre-owned car in Dubai

If you’re in the market for a pre-owned car, you can do your initial research in these popular websites –, Exotic Cars, Pearl Motors, The Elite Cars, Sun City Motors, and you can find more pre-owned and new cars dealers listed here AutoTraderUAE.
Make sure to check the complete paperwork when dealing with a private dealer. Review the most recent vehicle RTA certificate. This will include all the details on the condition of the vehicle, insurance history, details on previous owners and service records. You can also look up the vehicle for any pending fines before registering your car on the Dubai police’s website.

Registering your purchase

It is mandatory to register your car with the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) in the UAE, the process is simple and can be accomplished easily. The car registration can be done at the local RTA offices. If it’s a new car, the dealer will take care of the registration process for you or you can check out the RTA Online service for more details. You will need the following documents –

  • Completed application form
  • Sale deed from the seller or the seller should be present for registration
  • Passport (copy and original)
  • Driving license (copy and original)
  • Insurance policy
  • Letter from the bank if your car is financed
  • Old registration card (pre-owned cars only)
  • Original license plates (pre-owned cars only)
  • Customs clearance letter (for imported cars only)

For pre-owned cars, the vehicle will be driven and tested by the RTA for conformance to the UAE vehicle emission standards before you can start to drive. You will receive a new number plate and a registration card on completion of the process. The registration lasts for a year and you will need to renew it annually.
Read our expat’s guide to Dubai and get to know the city in more details.
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