Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

How to transfer your automatic driving licence to manual

The RTA service helps you get back behind the wheel of a stick-shift

Switching transmissions has been condensed down into one simple test. Pawan Singh / The National
Switching transmissions has been condensed down into one simple test. Pawan Singh / The National

Manual-transmission vehicles may be slowly disappearing from popular use, but the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is doing its bit keep the humble stick-shift on UAE roads.

It is now a whole lot easier to switch your automatic-only licence to one that allows you to drive a manual.

Since late last year, if you have an automatic-transmission light-vehicle driving licence, you will no longer need to complete training lessons at the RTA before you are allowed to swap your licence.

You will still be tested, but the test will focus on handling a manual transmission, rather than your overall driving skills. So essentially, you will be marked on how confidently you can work the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals, as well as the gearstick.

"In case of failing the test, the applicant would be notified about his or her weaknesses and may select the appropriate way for improving those points before re-applying for a test,” says Jamal Al Sada, director of driver's licensing at RTA’s Licensing Agency.


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“Dealing with manual transmission needs certain skills, such as the attention to the road while shifting gears, ability to shift gears without distraction, and coping with the smooth shifting between gears while driving. It is a different case scenario for holders of manual-transmission driving licences. They can easily cope with the automatic transmission without requiring tests, as the automatic transmission needs no action while driving."

Previously, if you held an automatic driving licence, you weren't allowed to drive a manual vehicle – and you were unable to upgrade your licence. You all-but had to revert to square one, applying for lessons, taking an assessment from a driving school, then finally taking your driving test in a manual-transmission vehicle.

Now, all of that has been condensed into one simple test.

“RTA is making every effort to meet the needs of drivers through streamlined processes because they are closely related to the safety and security of roads and users. Such efforts translate into realising RTA’s vision of Safe & Smooth Transport for All,” Al Sada says.

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Updated: July 30, 2018 04:13 PM