Kuwait is a small Gulf country, so expats will find getting around relatively quick and easy. That said, public transport in Kuwait is not well developed and consists of buses and taxis. The majority of residents buy or rent a car, or make use of taxis for short trips within Kuwait City.
Driving in Kuwait
Kuwait has an extensive road network and commuting 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 with lower prices on many vehicles, new arrivals can often afford something far more luxurious than what they had back home.
One downside to driving in Kuwait is that 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.
Traffic law enforcement is strict, with a speed limit of 75 miles per hour (120km/h) on major highways and usually 28 miles per hour (45km/h) on urban roads. That said, this does not stop many local drivers from racing at high speeds, leading to many accidents. Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Kuwait.
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 ferries. There is no metro system in Kuwait, although the government reportedly 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 to offshore islands, such as Failaka Island. Expats can also experience sailing in a traditional Arabian boat, known as a 'dhow'. For all sea travel, foreign authorities place emphasis on safety concerns, and we recommend expats ensure life jackets are on board.
Taxis in Kuwait
Taxis are widely available in Kuwait, and 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 carry passengers 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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