It finally happened. Girls power won and women in Saudi Arabia got their right to drive cars, bikes, motorbikes, ubers and whatever they want to drive. Now it`s time to face the machine of bureaucracy and become the queens of the roads. Fasten your seatbelt and follow these steps to have a smooth and fast ride.
Can I drive with the international driving license in Saudi or should I convert it to the Saudi one?
According to information I got, you can drive in Saudi with your original driving license or international driving permit for the first three months of your stay. After this period, you should convert it to the Saudi license. Temporary visitors on business visas can drive the car with an International or Domestic driving license.
How to convert your current driving license to a Saudi one? Step by step guide for expats and Saudis with licenses from outside Saudi Arabia.
1. Translate your existing driving license to Arabic
You will need it to complete the online registration and to make an appointment for the next steps.
I did my translation at RENAISSANCE Translation Office. They translate from English to Arabic for 50 SAR. It`s enough to send them a photo or scan of your document by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and you will get the translation done the next day. Usually the price for such service should be between 40 and 100 SAR, depending on the language.
2. Open MOI (Absher) account
To start procedure of converting your license you need to have an account at Ministry of Interior (Absher). You can register here.
Be aware that the website doesn’t work on all browsers (as in my case in Firefox). If you open the page and it`s blank, try from another one.
To complete registration, you will need to provide the information such as your ID number or mobile phone. At the end of the procedure you will be asked to validate your account. I did it through online banking, but the other option was to do it at certain points in the city (there is a list to choose the best location for you).
Remember to write down your password and username. You will use your Absher account not only to apply for a driving license, but in the future, this is a place where you can see your fines and traffic violations and other personal information.
3. Log into the Saudi Driving License Portal to make your appointment and send documents
To schedule the appointment for a Saudi license you will have to log into https://www.sdlp.sa/login . Use the same username and password as you created in step number 2. Unfortunately for now the website is only in Arabic version, so to complete the procedure you may need help from an Arabic speaker.
You will be asked to upload scans of the following documents:
- Iqama (Residency card)
- Domestic driving license
- Arabic translation of your current driving license
Once you are done with it, you can choose the appointment in Moroor Traffic Office for your driving test and obtain (finally!) the license. There are two locations in Riyadh which you can choose: next to the airport (https://goo.gl/maps/KnK1ZEc5gFT2) and in Rimal area (https://goo.gl/maps/8z7mazetBVC2)
4. Pay the deposit fee
Before you go to your appointment you need to pay the new license fees. It can be done by SADAD payments. Cost: 200 SAR for 5 years and 400 for 10 years .
5. Get the medical report
To get the medical report you need to go to one of many authorized hospitals in the city (the list is available in Saudi Driving License Portal. I did mine at Suleiman al Habib Hospital. You will be asked only to do an eye and blood test to determine your blood type. Once you are done, they will send your report to Moroor electronicly (they might ask about your sponsorship number – it starts with 700 number and you can get it from your employer). Once the report is sent to Moroor, you will receive a confirmation by SMS. Medical tests are covered by insurance, otherwise you have to pay around 120 SAR).
6. Driving test and printing your license
Once you are done with above steps you can go to your appointment at Morroor Traffic Office. Don`t fortget to bring your current licence, translatioan and Iqama. After you register at the reception, you can submit your documents and proceed to the square to do your driving test. Below picture shows what you will be examined about:
You will be driving alone in the car and the officer will be watching you from outside. To pass the exam you will have to park in parallel and do a three point turn. But don’t panic! The officers are very lenient and polite, not very strict, so I am sure that as long as you don’t crash the car into the wall or do another disaster you will pass the test 😊
Important tip: don’t be like me and drink too much water before your exam. Apparently there is no woman toilet there 😊
After the test, the officer will go back with you to the office to finalize the procedure and print your driving license. And this is when the fun part starts. Good luck and see you on the road!