Curbs on expat ownership of pick-up trucks

Seeking to clamp down on expatriate drivers using their vehicles to provide illegal passenger transportation and goods delivery services, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) has placed curbs on new ownership of pick-up trucks by expatriates resident in the Sultanate.
The Observer has learnt that new registration of expatriate-owned pick-up trucks is liable to be rejected by the ROP unless the owner can prove that their vehicles will not be put to illicit use. Exceptions are made where the expatriate owners furnish evidence to show they are investors or their official job status require them to provide passenger or good transportation services for their organisations.
According to the ROP, expats will be able to register pick-up trucks in their names only if they demonstrate that the vehicles serve a legitimate objective in line with their professional responsibilities.
“They can own pick-up trucks, such as the Tahoe, GMC, RAM or other brands in this category, but they cannot be using these vehicles for transportation purposes, particularly if their driver’s licence applies only to ‘private light’ vehicles,” an official explained.
However, those expats performing certain professional jobs, such as managers, technicians, engineers, and so on, will be eligible to own and register such vehicles, the official noted.
In the circumstances, expatriates looking to invest in pick-up trucks may well be advised to first check with the ROP Traffic Department if their intended vehicle purchase ticks all of the boxes for registration.
Ray, an expat who has lived in Oman for more than a decade, says he planned to gift himself the latest model of a certain pick-up truck brand. When he visited the showroom, however, he was taken aback when the salesman told him about the new restrictions.
“He told me that the law does not allow expats to register any pick-up trucks in their personal names,” Ray lamented.
The ROP insist that this measure is being enforced uniformly, regardless of the nationality of the expatriate. “There are no exceptions to this law. Pick-up trucks have been found to be used by foreign workers to transport people and goods in violation of the law. Hence the inclusion of pick-up trucks in the list of vehicles (such as MPVs, for example) that have been used in the past for illegal transportation services. The same measure applies to lorries and trucks of less than 12-tonne capacity.”
In recent years, the ROP has cracked down on expatriates using vans and small buses to provide illicit transport services. Also in their sights are multipurpose vehicles (MPVs) with seven seats and more, provided the expatriate owner can prove that their family size necessitates the use of such vehicles.
Significantly, all pick-ups and heavy trucks must undergo annual inspections from the very first year onwards — a move design to secure the roadworthiness of such vehicles. Other private cars, in contrast, are subject to annual inspections only after the completion of 10 years.
“As these vehicles are used off-road through wadis and rugged countryside, the potential for mechanical failures necessitates annual inspections to ensure that all critical parts are in good working condition,” said the official.