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How to rent a car in Dubai

How to rent a car in Dubai

The basics of renting a car in Dubai

Make sure you have all the paperwork and permits you’ll need to rent a car in advance. Rules can change, so it’s best to check just before you travel.

  • International Driving Permit: Passport holders from all GCC countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada can use the driving license issued from their own country to drive in Dubai. Visitors from other countries must have a valid International Driving Permit (IDP). The rules can change so it’s best to check directly with rental companies to see if your home country’s license will be accepted or if you need to obtain an IDP in advance.
  • Age: You must be 21+ to rent a car in Dubai.
  • Credit card: Most Dubai rental companies will require you to use a credit card as payment for the car rental, which will then be automatically used if fines or fees are incurred.
  • Insurance: By law, all car rentals in Dubai include a third-party cover. Some travel insurance policies may cover car rentals but most rental companies will offer additional insurance for a fee, which can be high if you’re deciding on the spot. Plan ahead to make sure you have the right insurance for you, at the best price possible.
  • Travel outside the UAE: If you plan to drive to a neighboring country, you’ll need extra paperwork from your rental company to do this – most do not allow it. Consider your itinerary before you rent your vehicle.

Car rental options to consider

There are many car rental firms in Dubai, including many big international chains such as Hertz and Avis, as well as local options. Do some research before you commit, including checking out online reviews. You can rent a car from a number of locations across the city, including Dubai International (DXB) airport, though you may end up paying a bit more. If you only want a car for a few days of your trip, you should easily be able to find a location near you, such as most major shopping malls.

Unless you’ve booked in advance, renting a car should be as easy as going up to a car rental counter or office, and signing an agreement. You’ll usually have to drop the car off at the same location you pick it up, so factor that into your plans.

Most companies will have a range of vehicles to choose from, from compact cars to SUVs. Pick one which is right for you and your plans – while your family of five may be able to squeeze into a Nissan Micra, it might not be very comfortable for anyone. But be aware that if you’re visiting at peak times – especially during a big trade show – there may be fewer cars available.

A relatively new option is smart rental apps such as Udrive and Ekar. These services offer vehicles throughout the city, which can be accessed through their apps. Once you’ve registered and confirmed the rental, you can just drive away and keep the car for as long as you like – from just a few minutes to days, weeks, and more. 

Whatever company and car you pick, remember two very important rules of car rentals anywhere in the world:

1: Read the paperwork: Make sure you know what you’re agreeing to before you sign anything. This includes all the fees, insurance policies, and extras you’re accepting and the rules you need to follow.

2: Inspect the car: Before you drive away, go around the car and make a note of any dents, bumps, or scrapes, and make sure they are noted in your paperwork. Do the same inside the car, and check that everything is working – including the air conditioning.

Read up on Dubai’s road rules

Make sure you know the rules for driving on the city’s roads, which include:

  • Drive on the right: If you come from a country that drives on the left, be prepared to switch sides.
  • Speed limits are in kilometers per hour: Don’t get confused with miles.
  • Minimum speed limits: On busy highways, there may be a minimum speed you need to drive at, usually 60km/h.
  • Be aware of speed cameras: Dubai takes road safety seriously, and you risk a hefty fine if you are caught speeding.
  • Don’t drink and drive: There is no legal amount of alcohol that is permitted for drivers in Dubai – so if you drink, don’t drive.

Book a supercar and other adventures

If you’ve always dreamed of driving a supercar, then a visit to Dubai may be your chance: there are plenty of supercar rental options, including the latest from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and more.

You’re likely to find high-end vehicles on offer from local rental companies that specialize in these types of rentals – expect a higher fee and a heftier deposit, possibly along with other requirements. Tried and tested companies include E and S Luxury Car Rental in Dubai Investment Park, Paddock Luxury in Al Quoz, VIP Rent A Car in Barsha, and Masterkey Rent A Car in Business Bay. Remember that even if the car can go 200km/h, Dubai’s speed limits do not change! 

If you’re interested in other automotive pursuits, such as offroading and desert driving, you will also need to rent from a company that specializes in this – most specifically disallow taking their cars off-road. If you do plan to take your rental offroading, first-timers are strongly advised never to travel alone and to always have another vehicle with you.