**This post is brought to you by a guest writer, my husband. Thank you Clark. All italicized notes are mine because apparently I can’t handle not adding my two cents**
As with most processes and procedures in the UAE, there are no instructions. Everything that you need to do is figured out by blindly wandering into this building and that building and this government office and that government office, and then the government office across town, only to be sent back to the first building you went into and subsequently sent next door, finally being told—behind a look of pity bordering on frustration at your lack of knowledge—to come back tomorrow. Captain so-and-so isn’t here. So on and so forth.
The other way you figure out how to do things is by word of mouth, a main reason for Tori’s blog. The right piece of information can be worth its theoretical weight in gold and save you days—yes days—of needless and aimless meandering.
This bit of info has to do with car registration. I won’t go into the ins and outs of purchasing a car here, just the process of registration.
Feel free to see my post Getting from there to here with my thoughts a few years on purchasing a car. Some information is already outdated which is a huge problem with keeping a blog about Al Ain. Information changes as quickly as a white Land Cruiser changes lanes.
The first step you need to do when registering your car is to get car insurance. You can’t proceed with any of the registration steps until you have insurance. There are different insurance companies, but it’s been my experience that most of them offer similar benefits with similar premiums. One nice thing about the setup here is depending on whom you purchase insurance through, the car insurance company will upload your policy directly to the government system, so when you go into register, they can pull up your account just by your registration card. You can also take in a paper copy of your insurance if that has been given to you by your insurance company, but I find the direct-upload route must faster and easier.
Another piece of information, is that, as it stands now, car insurance premiums don’t increase each year even if you have been in accidents or have multiple speeding tickets. In fact, premiums are more likely to decrease based on the value of your car. Two things of note to inquire about when getting insurance that I didn’t really take into consideration my first few times around. 1. If you plan on traveling to Oman frequently, ask to have that coverage added. If you don’t plan on going to Oman frequently, don’t pay extra for this coverage and instead just buy day-of coverage at the border. 2. Find out if your policy covers rental (hired) cars in case of an accident. When Clark had an accident, it took 3 weeks to get his car repaired because of insurance red-tape but his policy only covered one week worth of it. I just double checked my policy and realized that I don’t have any rental car coverage.
Okay, so once you have insurance, what do you do? You need to go to the Vehicle Licensing Department/ADNOC Vehicle Inspection Center. In Al Ain, the main center is south of school road (Khalid Bin Sultan St). Going south at the intersection of school road and The International School of Choueifat will get you there.
If you have a car that is less than three years old, you don’t need to have it inspected and can just pay the registration fee. When you pay the registration fee at the Vehicle Licensing Department, they will issue you a new registration card which is valid for one year. The registration fee is 105 AED. If you don’t get your car registered on time, they charge a 10 AED fine for every month your car isn’t registered. Doesn’t sound like much, but if you happen to be pulled over or are in an accident, and the police discover you’re not registered, it will be a 400 AED fine. Also, if you happen to have incurred any traffic fines over the previous year that have not been paid, the system will show that also as you can’t re-register your car with outstanding fines.
There aren’t really any police out writing tickets. Most tickets are issued because of the traffic cameras catching the violation. There are traffic radars everywhere looking. In Abu Dhabi, speeding tickets will now run you 750AED (up from 600 a few years ago when I got my tickets) – but then that amount is automatically reduced to 350AED. I am not sure why they do it like that. Maybe it is so you won’t try to negotiate a lower price? They can tell you it has already been reduced. It is not uncommon for people to get numerous speeding tickets for the year and then pay the tickets off at registration renewal time.
Once the fees for the registration and any traffic violations are paid, the new registration card printed, you’re given new yearly stickers, and you’re good to go!
The registration card is gold. Not to be confused with your driver’s license. You may need to provide a copy of your registration card when getting a parking permit (like we have to with the university) and the card has information on it needed to check online for any traffic violations and for a Salik tag for the toll gates in Dubai.
If your car is more than three years old, the car requires an inspection.
When I went to get renewed this year, it was up for debate if I need to have an inspection or not. I didn’t fully understand what the debate was about. Maybe because my car is a 2013 model? So, it was teetering on the 3 year mark. In any case, they sent me to the registration fee desk first to confirm it needed to be inspected. It did.
Depending on what time and what day you go, you’ll probably spend anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours waiting for your car to be inspected. You wait in your car until it’s your turn to enter the Bay area to be inspected. Leave the receipt you got for paying the registration fee on the seat, so the inspectors can see it. Then you go inside the building and wait. There’s a waiting room with benches looking out to the inspection area through a glass wall.
This is the part that I found to be most uncomfortable. I didn’t mind waiting in my car, but I felt very uncomfortable waiting inside. There were at least 30 people waiting, and I am pretty sure that I was the only woman there. I have to assume that most women either send someone to renew for them – a husband or a driver. Fortunately for me, I only had to wait in the building for about 5 minutes before I was called.
When the inspection is complete, your car model – not your name – will be called from the desk. Either your car will have passed, and you can grab your stickers and go, or your car will have failed, and you’ll have to take additional steps. I don’t know all the reasons why a car can fail, but last year mine did because the color of the plate was too faded. Didn’t realize that made a difference, but apparently it does. Fortunately the process for this failure was easy. The worker directed me to another building where they printed new plates. It didn’t take very long, but that could have been because I was there at a slow time. I took the plates back to the inspection area and was given a passing document. I then took the document to the licensing counter, paid the registration fee, and was given my new registration card and stickers. There was also a worker there who removed the old plates and attached the new plates, so that was nice.
After my inspection this year, the inspector called me over to my car to show me a bulge in the tire. He told me that he would still pass me but that I would need new tires before the next inspection and that the bulge was very dangerous so I should replace it with my spare. He was quite nice about it.
After you’ve passed inspection and grabbed your stickers, you can slap them on the plates and enjoy another year of peaceful, polite, carefree driving in the UAE.
I recommend cleaning the plates with rubbing alcohol before putting on the stickers to keep them securely on. I wasn’t very good about that my second year here and spent the whole year continuously trying to keep them from curling up.