Can I drive my friend's car in the UAE?
Borrowing someone's car? Know these rules. Image Credit: Stock image

Dubai: Need to go for an urgent work meeting and don’t have your car with you? Perhaps you could request a colleague to lend their car to you? Or maybe your friend just bought a brand new sports car, which you would like to take out for a spin. What are the legal implications of driving a car that is not registered under your name in the UAE? Here is all you need to know.

1. You must always have a valid driver’s licence

Regardless of whose vehicle you are driving, it is imperative that you have a driver’s licence which is accepted in the UAE. This could be a UAE driver’s licence or in the case of tourists, an international driver’s licence. Article 51 of the UAE traffic law stipulates that a person who drives a vehicle without a driving licence, or drives a vehicle he/she is not licensed to drive shall be jailed for up to three months, or fined up to Dh5,000, or both.

In the case of UAE residence visa holders, only a UAE driving licence is accepted. If you are on a tourist visa, you can drive in the UAE on an international driving licence.

However, visitors who hold the nationality and driving licence from the following countries can drive on their home country’s licence:

• All the GCC nations

• Australia

• Austria

• Belgium

• Spain

• Germany

• France

• Ireland

• Netherlands

• Italy

• United Kingdom

• Turkey

• Greece

• Switzerland

• Norway

• Denmark

• Sweden

• Romania

• Poland

• Finland

• Portugal

• Canada

• United States

• South Korea

• Hong Kong

• Singapore

• Japan

• New Zealand

• South Africa

Also, according to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), if you are on a visit to the UAE and holding a valid international driving license, accordingly you can rent a car or drive a car registered to your name or one of your first degree relatives.

2. You must have permission to drive the vehicle

Whether it is a friend or colleague, it is essential that you only drive a vehicle if the owner has provided his or her permission. Article 394 of Federal Penal Code states that a person shall he sentenced to detention for a term not exceeding one year and/or to a fine not in excess of Dh10,000, if they use a car or scooter or the like without permission or approval of its owner.

Dh10000

fine and/pr jail term up to one year for using a vehicle without the permission or approval of its owner.

What happens if I get into an accident?

speed driving, speedometer
Does a person's insurance cover accidents if the driver is not the owner of the car? Image Credit: Stock image

If the individual driving the car meets with an accident, would the vehicle owner’s insurance policy cover the damage? Normally, yes, as long as you meet certain criteria.

“According to the unified policy on automobile insurance, as per the UAE’s Insurance Authority, if my friend is driving my car – as long as he or she has a valid driving licence issued at least over a year ago and the driver is above the age of 25 – any accident claim should be covered in my insurance policy. However, it does have an implication on me as my claim history would be affected but we have seen these cases covered,” Hitesh Motwani, Chief Marketing Officer at InsuranceMarket.ae, told Gulf News.

In cases where the driver is under the age of 25 or the driving licence was issued less than a year ago, you will have to pay an additional 10 per cent payment on the ‘excess amount’. The excess amount is the amount a person pays when they are the liable party in an accident – referred to in insurance terms as an ‘at fault claim’.

According to the unified policy on automobile insurance, as per the UAE’s Insurance Authority, if my friend is driving my car – as long as he or she has a valid driving licence issued at least over a year ago and the driver is above the age of 25 – any accident claim should be covered in my insurance policy. However, it does have an implication on me as my claim history would be affected but we have seen these cases covered.

- Hitesh Motwani, Chief Marketing Officer at InsuranceMarket.ae

“Another aspect to consider is in the case of high net worth cars, for example a super car. In those cases, before issuing the policy the insurance companies discuss the terms with the customer and put in special clauses within the policy. For example, it could be mentioned that nobody under the age of 30 years can drive the car or they could have a ‘named driver policy’, where only the driver named in the policy would be covered in case of an accident,” Motwani added.

So, while any accident in such a scenario may likely be covered under the vehicle owner’s insurance policy, it is important to be cognizant of the exceptions and ensure that all rules are followed when you borrow a friend’s car.