Yesterday we investigated whether you were better off renting a car or buying one. The saga that led me to my conclusion that renting is the better option has made me never want to attempt to buy a car out here. It stands to reason. If however you have got your heart set on owning your own automobile then today’s missive should be used as a cut-out-and-keep guide to get it done as efficiently as possible. Sit back, you will need some Panadol…
First of all you must choose your car. It sounds simple enough but be weary of anything less than 15,000 dirham. There is no Parkers price guide here and a cars value is purely dreamt up out of nowhere, particularly private sales. We’ll talk about driving licences another day but check that yours allows you to drive a manual car…you read that correctly.
Once you have found your dream wheels the first thing you must do is get a transfer letter from the previous owner. This will inevitably be given to you in English so you will need to take it to a typing office to be translated into Arabic. Once translated you must take the letter with the previous owner to your local traffic department and present it to the cheerful person behind the counter. They will study it in great detail. It is at this point that you must ask if the vehicle has any outstanding fines or traffic violations. It is not unheard of for the seller to also be offloading his 4 billion dirham worth of fines on to you.
If the vehicle is clean on the offences front it then needs to go to the testing centre. Ideally the car needs to go on the back of a flat bed truck, these normally cost 350 dirham plus it saves the risk of being pulled over by the rozzers on the way to the testing centre where you will need to part with 150 dirham. The car will then undergo a series of rigorous tests…sort of. If the car passes its thorough “MOT” you will be given a stamped piece of paper verifying that your car is in tip-top condition.
This letter along with your Emirates ID, driving license and transfer letter must then be presented to an insurer. This is where things get interesting. At the Al Ain traffic authority there are 4 insurance offices, so what you would do is go to all of them brandishing your piece of paper and get the best quote. It’s similar in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. If you have time (and patience) then I guarantee that you will find a better deal elsewhere, but generally the cost of full insurance is 10% of the cars value i.e. what you paid for it as dictated in the transfer letter. You would think that quotations could be acquired before the purchase so you know what to expect but ho hum.
Once Johnny Insurance salesman has closed the deal with you, you will be handed a token. This must then be presented to the smiley man in the number plate office over the way. He will then furnish you with a pair of shiny new plates and fit them. Of course he won’t have any tools to do this so you will have to get a taxi into town to go and buy the wrong sized screw-driver. By the time you get back he would have done it with a key or something; but no matter. You will then take the previous owner home and there you have it…in only 1 day you will have triumphed in the face of adversity and be a fully-fledged car owner. Of course in reality this could take 2 weeks but this is a risk you must be willing to accept if you are buying your own car.
Your new registration card will appear in the post in due course. With your name probably spelled incorrectly. This will need to be renewed each year by visiting the test centre.
You’re better off calling Avis.