HOW TO APPLY FOR THE SAUDI DRIVING LICENSE (FOR WOMEN)

339

Saudi Arabia had lifted the ban on women driving on the 24th of June 2018 and Saudi driving licenses are now being issued to women. On Wednesday the offices opened to public for women with appointments to convert licenses to come and get their Saudi driving licenses. I got mine on Wednesday morning and could not be more happy and excited about this! After receiving my license many people (hundreds, literally) have messaged me online asking for advice how to complete this process and apply for the Saudi driving license. So I’ve written everything I can think of regarding the process in this post. If any developments surface, I’ll be adding them here.

In Saudi Arabia, friends very often ask me what documents they need for their wives (dependents only) in order to get a Saudi driving license. This is because women driving in the Kingdom is still quite new. So, to answer the question precisely, I made official inquiries at the local Saudi Police Traffic Office.

So, what do women need to get a driving license in Saudi Arabia? First, if you have an original (home country) license, it needs to be converted into a Saudi Driving License. The license will be issued by the Saudi Ministry of the Interior so that you can (legally) drive a vehicle on Saudi roads.

Beforehand, to get the new license you will first need to prepare, scan and then upload the following documents to the Saudi Driving License Portal (SDLP):

  • Residency Permit (Iqama ID)
  • Your (foreign) Driving License
  • Arabic Translation of your current Driving License
  • Medical Report (eyes and blood)

If you, the dependent, do not have an original (home country) license, follow this link to see how you can get a Saudi License as a first license.

Right Steps to Obtain Saudi License

Follow the steps below for a (relatively) frustration-free experience. Use this list and tick the boxes as you go.

  1. Register yourself ‘Abshir’ (sponsor/husband)
  2. Register with SDLP (above) for an Appointment (dependent)
  3. Get your Medical Report (dependent)
  4. Translate your Original License (dependent)
  5. Pay for new License 200 SR for 5 years or 400 SR for 10 years.
  6. Go to your Appointment (Driving School)
  7. Take your Driving Test (unless exempted)
  8. Get your new Saudi License

STEP ONE

First the woman has to open her own Absher account on this site: Ministry of Interior new account registration 

Alternatively you can go to one of the MOI Absher kiosks located around town ( in Riyadh Royal Mall upstairs has one)

In order to make your own absher you need to enter your details, ID number or iqama and your own mobile phone number. Note you also need a bank account. Tip: Make sure that when creating the account you use a username that is long enough and contains letters and a number for it to be accepted. For example they will not accept username “letsdrive” but the system will accept “letsdrive2”.

To activate your absher, you need to validate through online banking or go to  your banks ATM and do it there, this means you need to have a bank account.

There has still been reports that some expat ladies have not been able to create an absher for themselves if they’re under the sponsorship of a non Saudi husband, ie they are listed as “dependants”. Expat women who have iqamas under employers and wives of Saudi have been able to create absher accounts so far. This apparently is waiting to be fixed in the system and will hopefully be working for all women soon.

2. Tips for Applying on SDLP

Now after registering on Abshir, click through to the SDLP website link and enter your sponsor’s ‘Abshir’ User Login Name and Password. Then, enter into the site and follow the steps given.

You’ll need to fill out an application form and then choose a date to attend the Traffic Office/Driving School for an appointment. After that, upload the documents listed above in pdf format.

Remember, you can get an appointment first and then upload the required documents at a later time.

Don’t forget to take ALL the original documents listed above with you to the appointment. SDLP will send you an SMS message confirming the appointment time and place. (MFS)

For some countries, a driving test is not necessary. The Traffic office will convert the licenses of the following countries automatically into a Saudi Driving License.

Be warned, some test centres may require all nationalities to undergo a driving test. Make some inquiries to confirm this.

  • UK
  • USA
  • Gulf Countries-Bahrain, Oman & Kuwait

3. Get a Medical Report

At the SDLP site, clinics and hospitals offering medical Certificates for driving licenses will be listed. Choose one and then go there for a medical check-up.

Clinics usually assign one doctor to fill out your medical Application form. The form is available at the Local Traffic Office and very likely at the clinic itself.

Make sure you have a passport sized photo to tick and stamped over on the application form.

First, they will test your eyes (with glasses) to see if you need glasses for driving. The test is a standard chart eye test. So don’t forget your glasses if you use them for driving.

Then, they will check your records for health issues, take a blood sample, test it and ask you to return at a later time after entering the results on the form.

You also have to pay a fee of 20 SR with insurance or 105 SR without.

Make sure you have the form signed and stamped and you should also receive an SMS text message notification.

4. How To Translate a Foreign License

You’ll also need to get your foreign driving license translated in Arabic unless of course, you are from an Arabic speaking country.

Take it to a recommended translator’s office. They have templates and can do the job quickly; the same or the next day.

They usually photocopy your license first, then staple a copy of the Arabic translation to it, fold it and stamp the folded bits so the one half of the stamp inks the photocopy of the original and the other the translated copy. The charges are 50SR and above!

5 Pay The License Fees

Payment for government SADAD services is done via the banks, ATM, by phone or online. Pay the fee as you might pay online for your electric or water bill.

The Traffic Office/Driving School will automatically ‘see’ the payment has been made on the system though it is advisable like to print off a copy of the payment and take it with you to the Traffic office.

The fees are as follows:

  • 2 years – 80 SR
  • 4 years- 200 SR
  • 10 years-400 SR

Most guest workers in Saudi Arabia are employed on renewable one or two-year contracts, so it makes sense to only pay for a 2 or 4-year license.

6. Go For The Appointment

Before going to the appointment make sure you have already uploaded a scanned PDF copy of the following documents to SDLP:

  • Residency Permit (Iqama ID)
  • Your (foreign) Driving License
  • Arabic Translation of your current Driving License
  • Medical Report (eyes and blood)

In the Appointment verification SMS, the SDLP requests that you get to the test centre, 30 minutes before the appointment time.

Also, take the originals of the above documents with you. The official will want to see some, if not all of them, for verification.

They do not usually want passport pictures, but always have some handy just in case.

For issuing the new Saudi License, they will use the same photo they have on record and that you have on your Residency Permit.

On the day of the appointment in the Traffic Office/Driving School present your actual Residency Permit (Iqama) at the registration window.

At this point, they deal with you directly, or else if they are busy will give you a number to wait.

When your ticket number is called, go to the desk and show both your Residency Permit (Iqama) and (foreign) Driving License.

The Traffic Office WILL NOT keep them, rather simply use them for verification purposes only.

If you are exempt from the driving test, your fingerprints and any additional information about you may then be taken.

They use electronic eye and finger scanners, so no dirty ink stains. In many cases, this has already been done for residency purposes, so no need.

7. The Driving Test

Officers will carefully explain how to do the simple driving test using visual aids and clear instructions. You take the test in a small automatic car.

The test itself is conducted in a circuit which is within the boundaries of the Driving School. Including a test of your general driving ability, they will also test:

  • Driving Around Cones
  • 3-Point Turn
  • Parallel and Reverse Parking.

During the test, an officer standing outside the car with a clipboard will instruct you what to do for each manoeuvre.

After finishing the test, the officer will tell you immediately if you have passed or failed.

8. Issuing Your New Saudi License

The final step of issuing the new Saudi license is straightforward. The license is printed and issued to you within a matter of a few minutes.

You just wait and they will hand it to you. Since many people take tests each day and many licenses are issued, the process at most of the Traffic Offices is streamlined and quite efficient.

Unlike the Residency Permit, the Saudi Driving License is written in both English and Arabic. It includes your:

  • Name
  • Residency Permit Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Blood Group
  • The License Type
  • Nationality

The actual Saudi Driving License number is written on the back top left hand side.

Note

As of January 2019, applications for new Saudi Driving Licenses for foreign applicants on the SDLP website have been suspended due to high demand.

Currently, traffic offices are ONLY dealing with female Saudi applicants until further notice. Watch this space.