Kuwait is a small Gulf country so expats will find getting around is relatively quick and easy. Public transport in Kuwait is not well developed and consists of buses and taxis. The majority of residents buy or rent a car to get around, or make use of taxis for short trips within Kuwait City.
Driving in Kuwait
Kuwait has an extensive road network and getting around by car is easy as most road signs are in Arabic and English. New arrivals will also appreciate the low cost of petrol.
Most Western expats buy or rent a car for travel in Kuwait. Both used and new vehicles are widely available, and new arrivals could find themselves driving a car far more luxurious than what they had back home.
However, traffic congestion can be extreme during peak times and Kuwaiti roads have a poor safety record. Expats driving in Kuwait should be cautious; defensive driving is recommended at all times.
Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Kuwait. Traffic law enforcement is strict, with the speed limit on major highways being 75 miles per hour (120km/h) and on urban roads, usually 28 miles per hour (45km/h). However, this does not stop many local drivers from racing at high speeds, leading to many accidents.
It’s possible to drive in Kuwait with an international driver’s licence on a visit visa. But once foreigners receive their Civil ID card, they are required to get a Kuwaiti driver’s licence. The process for getting a local licence may vary according to an expat’s nationality and their home country driver’s licence. While many Westerners easily obtain a local licence, some expats may need to take a learner’s and driving test.
Expats should note that when their residence permit lapses or is cancelled, their Kuwaiti driver’s licence also becomes invalid. The licence only becomes valid again once the residence permit is renewed.
Public transport in Kuwait
Kuwait’s public transport system is limited and largely consists of buses and taxis. There is no railway system in Kuwait, although the government has plans to develop a railway and metro system.
There is an established bus network in Kuwait, with services operated by CityBus and the Kuwait Public Transport Company. Buses operate along set routes around Kuwait City, but schedules can be erratic and unreliable.
Buses are generally modern, comfortable and, importantly, air conditioned.
Thanks to Kuwait's coastal location, sea travel is possible. For those looking to escape the city's hustle and bustle, ferry services and water taxis connect offshore islands, namely Failaka Island. Expats can also experience sailing in a traditional Arabian boat, known as a dhow. However, foreign authorities emphasise safety concerns with travelling in certain areas, and we recommend expats ensure life jackets are on board.
Taxis are widely available in Kuwait. Thanks to their affordability, they are popular among the expat community.
Taxis can easily be hailed from the street, although expats should be aware that unofficial taxis are in operation in Kuwait, which tend to overcharge unsuspecting passengers.
Air travel in Kuwait
As a tiny Gulf country, domestic air travel is not an option and there is only one major airport in Kuwait City, the Kuwait International Airport. The national carrier, Kuwait Airways, offers daily flights to regional and international destinations, while several other international operators, including British Airways, Emirates and Lufthansa, also offer services to and from Kuwait.
►Learn about the Kuwaiti healthcare system in Healthcare in Kuwait
"If someone can recommend a good driver or taxi service then you could survive without a car but life is much easier with one. Some expats don’t like to drive over here so will have full or part-time drivers." Gemma shares her opinion on transport in Kuwait in this interview.
"There are two types of public transport in Kuwait: bus and taxi... Taxis are definitely more reliable, though a bit more costly. This is my main form of transit. You can generally walk to the nearest busy street and find a taxi within ten minutes." Read more in our interview with Allyson.
Are you an expat living in Kuwait?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Kuwait. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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