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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Obtaining a Driving Licence in Muscat

Getting a driving licence in Muscat is akin to obtaining a 'Green Card' by illegal immigrants in the US. The process has become so tedious and time consuming that it is a project in itself. For obtaining a driving licence, one should be above the age of 18 years, produce two passport photos, fill the relevant application form, produce the sponsor's approval and copy of Passport and Civil Card and pass the physical and eye test. Upon successful completion of all these activities and depositing the requisite fees (5 Rials) one gets the 'learners licence' in a booklet form. Learners are allowed to drive in Oman only through a certified driving instructor in their vehicles. These vehicles are white in colour with maroon stripes and display the name of the driving school etc (mobile driving school). The instructor familiarises the learner with the rules, systems and roads. All vehicles are 'left hand drive', rules of the road are rigidly followed and speed limits are upto 120 kmph. The instructor charges 5 Rials per hour with the clock ticking from the moment you sit in the car till you get out.
Four tests are to be passed in the following sequence before a regular driving licence is granted :
1. Traffic Sign Test - Here the learner is required to identify various road signs pointed at on a chart by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) officer.
2. Drum Test - In this test one has to reverse through two rows of empty 200 litre drums without touching any of them. The eight drums are positioned in two rows of four each in such a way that there is barely enough space to park the car. The entire exercise has to be done in reverse gear ONLY and shifting to any other gear or the car moving forward leads to failure.
3. Slope Test - Here one has to move up a slope from a standstill position without rolling backwards or without the wheels making a screeching sound. The slope is cemented and is smooth so as to make the proceedings more miserable.
4. Road Test - In this test the ROP officer sits in the co-drivers seat and gives instructions to test your driving skills on the road in traffic. Even a minor mistake or lapse earns a disqualification.
Failure in any test means a retest for which the requisite fee has to be deposited again and a fresh date for the test is allotted. One has to go back and practice again for that particular test. At present the waiting period in Muscat between two tests is 30 to 40 days. I cleared my drum test in the second attempt on 28 Feb 2009 and I have to appear for the Slope test on 16th March. Going by the present trend it seems unlikely that I will get a licence before May. Thankfully my company pays for 25 hours of driving classes. For any time spent learning/ practising beyond that, one has to foot the bill himself.
P.S. There is NO other way to obtain a driving licence in Oman unlike some other places I know !!


Anonymous said...

If you obtain an international driving license, is it accepted in Oman? It seems much easier to get an international license.

Capt N.S.Bisht said...

An International Driving Licence which is obtained from a country which has 'left hand drive' like the US and European countries is valid in Oman for a period of one month, to the best of my knowledge. Beyond that period, one has to obtain a driving licence issued by the ROP. However, for someone holding such a licence, getting a regular local licence becomes easier. International Driving licences issued in India or UK are not valid.

Anonymous said...

Hi,I have a International Driver's License issued in Philippines.Just so you know its a Left hand drive.Can I convert it into a Omani Driver's license?

Anonymous said...

If you are legal or permanent resident and country does not issue the international driving license you should be aware of the following: Consumers cannot legally drive in most countries without obtaining a temporary or permanent driver's license from the country in which he or she plans to drive; and Our unofficial international translation of driver's license does not confer any driving privileges on consumers whose home countries do not issue International Driving Permits.