Not in Dubai it isn’t. At least, not when other emirates are involved.
Stage 1: Find out the rules.
- The very nice Big Cheese in Tasjeel advises that if you have an Abu Dhabi residence visa, normal procedure would be to register the vehicle in Abu Dhabi. But if you live in Dubai (because Abu Dhabi is way too expensive) there’s a workaround.
Produce proof of a Dubai residential address. A tenancy contract is good. Then registering a vehicle in Dubai will be no problem.
Stage 2: Find a suitable vehicle.
- Enter Dubizzle, the small ads, the Goat who knows about cars, and a lot of weeding wheat from chaff. Eventually find one and agree a price, with terms and conditions. “The vendor ensures it passes inspection, and pays for any work needed to achieve this.” etc.
Stage 3: Check with the Goat who knows about cars that you have everything.
- The Goat suggests that, in addition to your UAE driving licence and a copy of the tenancy contract, the buyer should also bring his passport and visa copy (because his Emirates ID card won’t be acceptable), a letter of no objection from the Company confirming the buyer’s employment status, another letter asserting that he actually does live where he says he lives, and that it’s OK to buy a Dubai-registered car and re-register it in Dubai. All letters must be originals on headed notepaper with the stamp of a major, multinational Company that’s been trading in the UAE for 30 years.
Stage 4: Hit a brick wall.
- Confront the Official behind the counter who says that the paperwork is not in order.
“Don’t blame me; I’m only a minor peon, flexing my minuscule muscles by blindly applying invented rules because I can.”
The NOCs from the Company are essentially not good enough. The Official requires a DEWA bill in order to prove that the buyer lives where he says he lives. With a DEWA bill, or an original rubber stamp from the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (that is closed at 8pm, obviously), there will be no problem getting the car registered. It would be possible to deal with the problem today, but the Big Cheese is off sick and is therefore unable to waive this Official’s recently-invented requirement.
Stage 5: More brickwork.
- The following morning, the lady behind the counter says that it’s impossible to register a car in Dubai if the buyer’s visa is Abu Dhabi. It will shortly turn out that this assertion is in fact a lie. She initially suggests that the buyer and seller return at 3pm (when, because it’s Ramadan, the office will be shut). Then she says that if the buyer can produce a telephone landline bill in his name, it will be no problem.
Returning with a phone bill, ...and a DEWA bill, ...and an NOC, ...and the tenancy contract, ...and the passport, ...and the visa, ...and the driving licence, another seat-polisher spends a good five minutes apparently scrutinizing every character on every sheet of every document before he starts to mistype the details into his computer terminal.
Payment is made, and the buyer is now the proud owner of a Land Rover Discory. [sic]
As anticipated, each stage of the car-buying process is subject to many variations of the rules, regulations and requirements that are interpretations of the real rules, and occasionally made up on the spot. And having made something up, no matter how ridiculous or unreasonable, it’s impossible for Officialdom to back down again.
The Goat had explained that a one-stop shop where the vehicle is inspected, tested, and checked for ownership, insurance and any outstanding traffic violations is basically a very good idea. How embarrassing that in practice such a simple procedure required four separate visits to Tasjeel and about twenty separate sheets of paper.
The reason for this frustraneous experience is easily explained by Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.”