Having a driver’s license in Saudi Arabia is an absolute must before you can drive a car. Let me now share with you my experience and how I obtained it in the hopes that you might get something out of it.
Before anything else, you will be exempt from driving school if you have a driver’s license in your country of origin; just be sure you have the original license with you and not just a photocopy because they will inspect this later. Have the license translated to Arabic in any accredited translation offices.
The first step is to request an introduction or a referral letter from your company with the chamber of commerce attestation stamp on it, which will cost you SAR 25. Fill out an application form and if possible, ask your sponsor for help because the form is in Arabic. Photocopy your Iqama and passport then affix 2 photographs, the translated driver’s license if you have one, and submit it to the police. They will verify your application and documents and give approval for the next step.
At this point, you will take this form (already stamped), to any hospital or dispensary and get your blood test, medical and eye examination. Without the police approval mentioned earlier, no hospital or dispensary will do the blood test and medical examination.
Once you complete your medical examination, granting you have good visual acuity (or proper corrective lenses), you will have to submit the necessary documents to the police once again. Don’t forget to attach the blood result and the invoice of the medical examination. Sometimes, they only pay attention to the eye examination.
The police will then give you approval to proceed to the driving school. Take your documents to the driving school and pay SAR 435. You are now officially a student of the driving school.
Since I have a driver’s license from the Philippines, I did not need to attend a driving school. When I submitted my documents to the police after medical clearance, that very same day they let me observe students practice driving, especially reverse parking. They let me ride with one of their students around the track—good thing “kabayan yung na assign sa akin kaya tanong ako nang tanong.” I learned a number of tips from him and I try to remember all salient parameters he mentioned starting from wearing a seat belt prior to driving, using signal light when turning, never forgetting to use hazard lights when driving in reverse, and locking the hand break at a stop.
After that short trip, the instructor told me to come back in the afternoon to attend a short class. This will be a three-hour class in which you will be taught the basics of driving and the different traffic signs. Attend the class and listen very carefully and also read all the things written on the chart they give you during the class. They will again sign your file and schedule your driving test, which is usually done in the morning.
Now, here’s the actual driving. You have to drive the car for some meters along the driving range using the left and right signal lights. You will do some simple reverse driving; do not forget to turn on the hazard light. They usually use a Kia or Hyundai model with manual gears, not automatic. Pay attention closely to the reverse lockout ring around the shift lever, allowing you to select reverse; many applicants failed starting from there because they didn’t know this mechanism. They often hit the first gear. Actually, it was easy if you are familiar with it. I was able to drive the car in reverse and park it within a rectangular box marked on the ground. All four tires should be within the box. If you have followed all the rules like wearing your seat belt, giving appropriate indications, locking the hand brake, and not hitting the poles on each parking space, then you are through with the driving test.
Your file will be given back to you and you may then proceed to the computer room for the exam. You know you failed if they do not give you your file. If you fail, you have to do the actual driving test a second time. You are allowed to take it twice and if you fail again, you have to go to a driving school. So you’d better practice before you take the actual driving test. Remember, driving school costs SAR 435, and that’s not counting the days you have to be present there for more than 3 weeks. You can expedite the process by attending morning and afternoon sessions. I think you have a minimum number of attendances to satisfy.
The next part is the computer test. There are 20 multiple choice questions to answer. If you answer even one of the first 10 questions wrong, then you are disqualified and the computer will lock and turn off, not allowing you to answer the remaining questions. If you have answered the first ten questions correctly, you will have to answer at least 5 out of the remaining 10 questions correctly. The computer will congratulate you for passing the exam. Your file will be countersigned by the officer-in-charge and advised for bank payment.
Take this file to Riyadh Bank and pay SR400. Attach the receipt along with your file and submit it back to the police. They will print your driver’s license card for you in less than 15 minutes.
We started around 70 applicants. We came there very early in the morning. Around 40 of us passed the actual driving test. Only 20 of us were able to pass the computer test; you’d better memorize all the traffic signs and if possible, read the 130-page “Driver’s Manual,” which is given to you during the application.
Obtaining a driver’s license is a privilege not a right; it entails a declared acceptance to comply with the traffic rules and regulations to maintain safety and security of our roads.
I hope this will help.