by Expatguru - 05/02/2015
"This article gives information on the precautions to be taken while driving in Saudi Arabia and provides useful information on the documentation expats need to carry with them while driving."
If you plan to drive a vehicle in Saudi Arabia, the first and foremost requirement is to know the documents required to be in your person. There are four important documents which you must always carry.
First is your resident permit or the Iqama. This is an absolute must and should always be carried with you. Keep multiple photocopies of this in your car and in your home, but carry the original in your wallet. Everything in the kingdom is linked to the Iqama. Remember, the Iqama is given in place of your passport which would be in your sponsor's custody.
Never ever drive your car without a driving license. If you are ever caught driving without a license, the penalties are severe, including imprisonment. If you have an international driving license, it is valid only for the first three months from the date you land in the kingdom. You are supposed to obtain a Saudi license within this period. Keep the original license card in your wallet at all times, but keep a copy in our car's dashboard.
The next in line is the car registration or the Istemara. In fact, there are two documents, not just one which go as a set. The first one is the registration of the car which proves that the car you are driving has been registered and is not an illegal / stolen one. The second one is the ownership card, which proves that you are the owner of the car. Carry these two cards in your wallet and keep their copies in the dashboard. As per Saudi law, it is illegal to drive someone else’s car, so do not make the mistake of driving your friend’s car even if you have a valid driving license. Do not drop female members of your friend’s family if your friend is not in the car. This might appear rather peculiar to expats, but Saudi’s laws prohibit mixing of genders particularly if you are unrelated, so it is good to know the rules and abide by them.
Next to the Iqama, the most important document to carry is the insurance. Never ever drive your car if it is not insured. If your car is less than five years old, straightaway go in for a comprehensive insurance. This would ensure that your vehicle as well as all its occupants are fully covered. If you are using a car which is over five years, it is not worth going in for a comprehensive insurance as your car's book value would have become almost zero. But do not forget to take a third party insurance as it would protect you from imprisonment in case your car meets with an accident and it was your fault.
In case of an accident, make sure you do not move your car and call the police at once. And note that unless the police registers the accident and gives you a document called the “repair certificate”, it is illegal to get your car fixed by the mechanic.
Drive safely and defensively. Know the rules and abide by them. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to road safety.