Guide to new car modification laws in the UAE

The UAE has set a regulatory system known as the cabinet decision 45 of 2016, specifying requirements for the modification of passenger vehicles in the country.

Cleo Pimentel Capili
July 9, 2018

Simple car modifications can take many forms such as upgrading the brakes, to adjusting your front and rear suspension to the more complex mounting of frames and bolts.

The UAE has set a regulatory system known as the cabinet decision 45 of 2016, specifying requirements for the modification of passenger vehicles in the country. This came into effect in June 2017. The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) announced the set of regulations in an effort to reduce harmful vehicle emissions and distracting noise and to ensure all drivers remain safe while on the UAE roads. It also states that modified car owners should get approval for parts they have altered.

Other changes that can be considered as modification and require approval include changing of the order of seats, installing searchlights or high-performance brake, using mufflers or internal entertainment sound system, suspension lifting or low-riding, changing the engine ignition and radiation, replacing tyres and vehicle wheel rims, and upgrading the main engine, among many others.

However, trailers, motorcycles, tractors and caravans are among those exempted from getting approvals for modifications.

Early this year, the new car modification campaign came into force, which aims at educating young and new drivers of the dangers of modifying their cars. Not following the requirements related to vehicle modifications can result in bigger penalties and hefty fines. Therefore, before driving around Dubai, or planning a trip to another emirate, be sure to check if any alterations to your vehicle comply with the UAE laws and regulations.

If you wish to obtain a modification licence, you will need to take your modified vehicle to the vehicle inspection modification centre for examination and inspection. After inspection, a checklist of changes or any declining of alterations will be submitted to ESMA. The governing body will review the paper prior to issuing the licence.

The same requirements are also distributed to car workshops across the UAE as a guide prior to making any changes to any car, and car owners with existing modified vehicles will also have to apply for a modification certificate from ESMA.

The law and penalties

  • The Federal Traffic Law confirmed that car owners who make car or engine modifications without abiding by the law can be slapped a Dh1,000 fine and additionally, they may be burdened with 12 traffic black points.
  • The UAE Police will also confiscate the vehicle for 30 days for the said offence.
  • Driving a vehicle causing loud noise can incur a fine of Dh2,000 and 12 black points.
  • Those who were found to have violated the mandatory approved standards of modifying their vehicles can face a jail term and/or a fine of at least Dh30,000.
  • Any parts, upgraded products and system configuration materials that are in violation or not submitted for approval will also be confiscated.
  • Anyone who offered, introduced, or sold a modified car materials or parts will receive the same consequence and jail term.
  • The UAE law is strict in marking the materials and products that have passed the regulated standards and any parts subject to the violation shall be confiscated.To read more about the regulation on modifying your vehicle and other useful information regarding the effective rules, you may visit

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