Monday, 27 April 2009

RTA Renews Licenses Online

Public education poster urging eye exams for c...Image via Wikipedia

"Hello, RTA."
"Hi. I need to renew my driving license. What documents will you require?"
"You can go to the nearest centre, yours is at Co-Op opposite Safa Park, Sir. You'll need the old license, a passport copy, Dhs 100 fees and an eye test. For the eye test, you need to visit an optician and you will require your passport and a photograph of yourself."
"And that's it?"
"Yes, sir!"


How much has changed around here? When I originally got the license (way back when, you don't need to know, right?) it had taken a major internationally co-ordinated effort, the resources of three small Latin American countries and the best part of a whole morning hanging around in hopeless queues, processing paperwork and being videoed in large empty rooms filled with smiling policemen - and that was with the efforts of my powerful sponsor's mandoub.

So off I toddled. I got the eye test from a wiry thin Syrian optician whose hacking cough shook his gaunt frame every two seconds.

"Cover your eye. Read the letters."
"E O N F V W"
"Okay, now cover other eye. Read letters."
(puzzled) "Errm. E O N F V W"
Okay. You pass. Dhs 25.

I went upstairs to the RTA centre and proudly handed over my old license, my passport copy, my eye test (with stamped photo stapled to it to prove I wasn't using Gary Gilmore's eyes) and my Dhs 100.

The nice girl tapped on a keyboard and then smiled pityingly at me.

"You must pay twifty-ten Dirhams."
"Yes," she smiled beatifically. "Your traffic fines. Of course you must pay these."

Of course. All the documents I'd need except one omitted vital element. Luckily, the Co-Op is festooned in ATM's, so one cash scoop and about ten minutes later, I was photographed and in possession of my new license - but short twifty-ten Dirhams.

Now Gulf News tells us that the RTA is to introduce an online renewal service. All you have to do is get the eye-test and apply online by attaching a photo and the fee. The optician can send your eye test direct to the RTA, apparently. And your license gets posted to you in four days.

How will they match the applications with the eye tests without losing them or breaking them? How will they handle the payment of fines given they have no e-payment portal worth a hoot? How will they handle licenses 'lost in the post'? We have yet to find out.

But to be honest, given that the Salik portal still couldn't process online payments by Visa last time I tried (and screwed up the time before that), I'd actually rather go the Co-Op route and get a license in my hands in ten minutes more than it takes to go anyway for the eye test - and get a lovely smile into the bargain.

Funny, isn't it, that the 'old fashioned' physical process is not only safer and more reliable than the online one but also faster. Rather turns one's preconceptions about the transactional Internet on their head...
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Ammouni said...

ok. I'm not a big fan of the RTA, however, you're being a bit unfair here, don't you think? the e-payment portal for the fines works perfectly fine every time i pay online, AND we still haven't seen this service up and running to jump to the conclusion that it won't be handled properly. Patience, patience ya Alex!

Neel the DarkRanger said...

Err...I think I will still go to the center than renewing online. I don't want to be charged double due to a technical fault in the online system. Although it's a good thing that they are making progress there might me a loophole just like there was with regards to Salik. I will wait for a couple of months until everything is foolproof. :)

Media Junkie said...

i prefer heading down to the co-op too. faster and it's in my hand.

luckily, i don't have to worry about that till 2015.

alexander... said...


At their current rate of improvement, by 2015 they'll have the new license in your hands before the old one has expired, turn up to your house in person to thank you for your custom and give you Dhs100 for being their friend!


the real nick said...

ALEX MCNABB IS A LUDDITE!Btw. Thanks for posting this - mine is due for renewal next month!

DUBAI JAZZ said...

mine is due in 2015 too.

is it a surprise that a physical trip to the co-op is more appealing than applying online..? e-grovernment FTW!

nzm said...

You'll soon be able to pay by SMS for parking.

Let's see what can go wrong with this one!

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