The airbag: How I switched my car’s emirate

The Clio now lived in Abu Dhabi, whereas I reside in Dubai, so a trans-emirate registration transfer was required. In case you have never been through this ordeal, be warned that it can be a rather convoluted one.

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Having made do without a car for the past two years – something that you can actually swing as a motoring journalist, thanks to a steady stream of test vehicles – I recently took the plunge and purchased a new (second-­hand) set of wheels to fill my garage space.

As it turns out, the vehicle in question – a ­Renaultsport Clio 182 Cup – is one that I have owned in the past, and I fancied reacquiring it, having fortuitously tripped across it five years after I was forced to part with it. At the time of its original disposal, it seemed I would be leaving the UAE, hence the reluctant sale.

To cut a long story short, the Clio now lived in Abu Dhabi, whereas I reside in Dubai, so a trans-­emirate registration transfer was required. In case you have never been through this ordeal, be warned that it can be a rather convoluted one.

The first step was to meet the seller with all the relevant documents at the Abu Dhabi Police GHQ. Ownership transfer, which cost Dh420, involved deregistering the car in Abu ­Dhabi and surrendering the number plates. Given that the car now had no plates, I had to find a recovery truck to transport the car back to Dubai. Fortunately, there was one prowling nearby, and its driver asked for Dh250 to deliver the car to the Dubai RTA, where the vehicle would have to pass inspection (this cost Dh140) to subsequently earn a set of Dubai plates and be road-registered in my name. The alternative is to drive the car with its existing plates to the emirate of its new registration, then remove those plates and take them back to the original emirate to de­register it.

If you’re contemplating a similar purchase, I would encourage you to make sure the car is registration-­worthy before you hand over cash to the seller. I didn’t do this, so it wasn’t a pleasant moment when the car failed the Dubai RTA inspection on several counts. Because the car still had no plates, I couldn’t drive it away, and it was now 10pm, so I had to leave the car on the premises overnight.

I returned the following morning and dialled up another tow truck to get the car off to the garage for the necessary repairs and a new set of tyres. Then it needed to be trucked back to the RTA for another inspection (it cost Dh35 the second time around). The Clio made the grade on this occasion, so I could then get third-party insurance (Dh900) and go through the rest of the registration paperwork (Dh480).

All of these added costs were expenses that I hadn’t initially budgeted for, so I encourage you to factor these into the car’s price if you’re planning on purchasing and “exporting” a car.

It’s also worth getting the car inspected by a trusted garage or mechanic before you complete the purchase, to ensure there are no nasty surprises at the inspection bay when you take it for registration. The process can differ from emirate to emirate, too.

motoring@thenational.ae