How to check if the car is GCC specs or Non-GCC specs


One of the key issues in the GCC market is the overwhelming influx of non GCC spec cars being sold to consumers in UAE. I am not saying that buying an imported car is a wrong thing, but what I would emphasis on is the fact that, it is risky if you don’t do your research. Knowing the pro’s and con’s of what you are investing in, would be a smarter approach. At the end, it’s your money & choice as to what to buy and at what the risks are.

From my experience here in Dubai, being in the used car market for a long time, I have come across numerous occasions where owners don’t know whether their car was GCC spec or Non-GCC (in terms of origin of the car). In this blog I will try to explain how to check if the used car you are buying is GCC specs or a Non-GCC. When I use the term “Non-GCC”, I am referring to cars from either USA or Japan. But the same approach in identifying “Non-GCC” would be applicable for cars from Canada or even the EU, all depends on what to check and where to look.

Primarily, you will look online for a used car or a new one when you decide to buy one. Buying a new car is always a better option out of the two.  Let’s suppose you want to buy a used car and not a new one, you will most likely land on Now, its not important for me to discussed what brand you should chose, because that’s your personal choice but I will mention the few brands that are more common to be from the “Non-GCC” category then GCC. For example, FORD and MERCEDES are the 2 brands that are commonly found to be imported from abroad. Ford cars are imported from USA and majority of Mercedes brands are imported from Japan as per my knowledge in the market (in terms of used cars). Cars imported from the USA 80% of the time are SALVAGED. Meaning, that they car was in an accident to a certain extent that the insurance companies found it more expensive to fix, so what they do is, they sell it to overseas buyers, where the buyers repair them and resell them in their markets.

Japanese cars on the other hand are more safer to invest in rather than the USA specs, because mostly Japanese cars are in good shape and mostly would not have damage to them, but if you are going to buy one, its always good to double check because, if you decided to buy one, does not mean that someone will be as interested as you are when you are about to sell it, so loss on the Non-GCC cars in general is higher than the GCC ones.

If you decide to buy either of the 2 (used) then you should look closely to determine if they are GCC or Non-GCC. The Key difference between the 2 will be the PRICE. You will find that GCC cars will be higher in price than the Other Non-GCC specs. There are other ways to visually check to see if the car is imported or not at first. Then secondly you will look at the condition to see if its damaged or not and lastly you will have to decide how much to pay for, which is the hardest part out of the 3 mentioned above. I will give you the advice to the 1st two and you will have to decide on the last one (price).


  • By law, UAE Spec cars must have ARABIC writing on the side mirrors. If you see ENGLISH, then the car is Non-GCC. But to be sure, you have to verify #2 below along with #1 ( #2 is a must ).
Arabic writing on the side mirrors
  • By law, UAE Spec cars must have inside the driver side door the import details in ARABIC (model year and chassis number)
Arabic sticker inside the drive side door
  • By law, UAE Spec cars must have safety stickers inside of the car (this one is from the drop-down shade protector, from over the head of the driver side).
  • This is not that crucial; some cars might not have them as the adhesive may have melted and the sticker probably fell off. So, I would suggest not to make an issue out of it if you don’t see one, but 1 or 2 are a MUST.
Safety stickers inside the car ARABIC

So, look for the 3 items I have mentioned in order to determine of the car you are buying is GCC specs or Non-GCC specs. For Non-GCC spec cars, you must always do a comprehensive test if you are REALLY interested in buying one here in the UAE. I have always suggested to firstly buy a BRAND-NEW CAR, if not, then buy a used GCC SPEC car.


Now let’s see the mechanical differences as to why they are different! The primary and key difference between imported and GCC spec cars. For example:

  • Radiators: The capacity of GCC cars radiators is supposed to be more than imported cars to adapt to the extreme heat during gulf summer.
  • Air Conditions: The AC compressor in GCC cars work far more effectively than non-GCC ones.
  • Air Filters: Provided the conditions in Gulf countries, GCC spec cars have air filters that are modified to protect the engine in such weather conditions.

So, now you know by the information above how to check and see if the car is GCC spec or Non-GCC specs and the key technical difference between the both. It’s better to be informed than the latter. Hope you make the right choice and not lose money down the line.


  1. well written thank you.

    I am planning to get a used car and came across a Ford F-150 XL Styleside 8 ft. box 163 in. WB 3.5L V-6 Engine. American specs with a milage of 9.6k and is selling for 70k . the car looks in good condition from the pictures but will view it tomorrow. Can you help me with a few questions.

    1 – is this too good to be true?

    2- do you think that the price could be less than this.

    3- what questions should i ask the owner.

    he said that he will provide the VIN after viewing and the car has not been in major accidents .

    would appriciate your comments.


    1. Hi,
      Thank you for the questions. You did not mention the year of the car so i am unable to give you a price. Anyhow, never fully trust someone unless you have done your part of the investigation. American cars mostly not all of them but mostly are either salvaged or have been in an accident ( not salvaged ). There are not many questions you want to ask, but you can verify a few things to ensure that what you are buying is worth the price.
      1. Is the car salvaged
      2. Are all the electrical functions in the car working
      3. No oil leaks under the hood of the truck
      4. google the VIN number and see if any pictures come up. 80% of the time you will the salvaged car there listed in the USA or Canada.

      Best bet for you is to take it to one of the notable car garages. Call them one by one and see if they can do a complete checkup of the truck for salvage, damages, engine issues, AC issues, wiring or suspension or any other issue that may cost you money to fix or repaire. Cars may look good from the outside but may have issues under the hood that can cost a lot to repair. Anything is repairable but is it worth it. Plus keep in mind, that american spec cars are hard to sell, YOU found one but that does not mean you will find someone when you want to sell it, every person i have known who owned one as a user have lost money on it compared to the same if it were GCC. But i guess its all about taste and necessity. You can buy it if thats what you really want, i mean at the end its your money and your enjoyment, and there is no arguing with that.

      So yeah, go look at it, drive it. Listen for unusual sounds. Try on all the buttons and see if the work. Give it a fast drive, make sure you take the truck through all the gears ( means drive it will all the gears have been engaged ) from the start you will be in gear one, then as you drive faster the gears will change, and all the way to the last gear normally would 5th or 6th which you can only do on highway.

      Pay attention when the gears change, if you feel a delay or jerk, thats a bad sign….a very bad sign which may lead to the engine repair or replacement in most cases.

      If you pass all the listed, then final is to tell the seller you want to take it for one last check up, do not give a deposit or any commitment till you get the truck check out from a garage of YOUR CHOICE and not his…best of luck…

      any further advice you can contact me again. thanks and best of luck…

  2. Hi there,
    You have given some excellent insight into GCC vs American specs for vehicles for sale in the used car market.

    I have been toying with the idea of buying a Toyota Tundra for a few months but have always pulled back because of the difference in specs. As you know Tundra is always an American import and can be bought through dealers.

    My concerns are;
    (a) are these dealers trust worthy? Some are selling 2020 models with 0 kms on so I am wondering are these salvaged?
    (b) my motive is to buy this vehicle for off roading. I want an off road truck. I have owned all the Toyota models from FJ to Land Cruisers purely for the desert. Now I want a powerful beast. Whilst I have no doubt in the ability of this vehicle to perform off road effectively, my thoughts reach out to understand how does the difference in specs effect the vehicle in the extreme conditions of the desert coupled with the hot weather?
    (c) Will there be any issue with registration of the vehicle?

    Your advice is much appreciated.


    1. Dear Pavinder,

      Appreciate your message and your concern is valid and you are not the only one who has that feeling. Basically these trucks “imported” ones are either from USA or Canada. And for argument sake, USA models and i am suspecting Canadian as well are made the same. As you know USA has a very diverse climate conditions especially (hot) seasons in Texas and Nevada area ( south west ). These trucks can handle those climates conditions with ease.

      Here in Dubai its a bit hotter but still these trucks can handle it, as i have not seen any one of them melt ( lol ). So that notion about climate conditions are not valid for a tundra (imported from USA) for UAE climate conditions.

      Your other concern is valid. Is it salvaged or not? I have seen one deal where the dealer convinced the seller who had owned one for about 6 months but did not know it was salvaged, so the dealer convinced his to sell or else he will have legal issues blah blah blah. Poor lad, got ripped of by buying a salvaged truck then got ripped off again when he was selling it. He bought it for 110k AED then sold it for 60k AED in six months. We don’t know how much he bought it for! Anyhow, you should pick the one you like, then take it to a private garage and get it fully inspected ( cost around 500aed at most of the garages in al qouz ) go to a well known one, i cant recommend one but there are many. Call Zdegree, they are pretty popular and ask them if they can do a salvage check/accident check/flood check for you. Or if you want to do a little googling yourself. Take the VIN number from the seller and enter only the VIN number into google search and you may get a pic of that truck if it was ever salvaged. What happens is, when a vehicle gets salvaged, the insurance company takes possession and tries to resell it first buy posting it on their website. And they enter in all the details including pics of it (damaged conduction). If you find a tundra on google with the same VIN number chances are that truck you are buying is the same. However, if you really like the truck, then get it inspected from one of the known garages for a full report then proceed as you wish.

      Imported trucks can be registered if no chassis damage is recorded on its body (physically noticeable, note; RTA inspectors can tell). Hope this helps, but be very careful about the salvage issue, most of the american vehicles here have salvage history so getting it checked is the best way forward. Best of luck.

    1. Hi Imad,

      Kia stinger is a personal favorite of mine. I would says, its one of the best choices if you are looking for cost effective power and technology. GCC spec would be a best option for a kia stinger since you will get warranty and service for the car. The 3.3 liter V6, twin turbo engine is a power house. If you see the test results, kia stinger crosses the 60 mile line at the same time as the mustang 5.0 (depending on the driver). So yes go for it and have a blast….

  3. Hey Donnie,

    Well written I must say, a bunch of valuable information to absorb.
    If possible, i’d like your advice on something; Im planning on a buying a used Nissan 370z:
    IF -> (GCC Spec / 2015-2016 / 45,000-55,000 KM Mileage) = AED 56,000
    IF -> (US Spec / 2019 / 20,000 KM Mileage) = AED 64,000
    and i’ve got a few queries:

    1) Would it be smart to get a US spec SPORTS car in the Dubai? Especially considering the fact that I put on approx. 100km/day? (car is going to be out in the sun 24/7 since my residential building has no underground parking and same case at my office.)

    2) Assuming the car title is clean and its not some sort of salvage, would it be advisable to change any parts in the car to help it cope? or would that be unnecessary?

    3) If there is body work done on the car (repair, repaint, in some cases replacement of panels), would you recommend going for the car? and would there be any implications other than resale price?

    I apologize for the bombardment of questions :p

    Thanks my man,
    Much appreciated!

    1. Dear Ahmed,

      Thank you for your questions and i have listed my replies below:

      If possible, i’d like your advice on something; Im planning on a buying a used Nissan 370z:
      IF -> (GCC Spec / 2015-2016 / 45,000-55,000 KM Mileage) = AED 56,000
      IF -> (US Spec / 2019 / 20,000 KM Mileage) = AED 64,000
      and i’ve got a few queries:
      1) Would it be smart to get a US spec SPORTS car in the Dubai?
      A) No worries, people buy them all the time here as long as not faults in the car. If Chassis damage, just stay away from it.

      1.1)Especially considering the fact that I put on approx. 100km/day? (car is going to be out in the sun 24/7 since my residential building has no underground parking and same case at my office.)

      A)100k per day is ok, you can drive both GCC and USA spec even if you are keeping it outside. Paint coating are the same globally. Its ok to buy USA spec car in UAE as long as you do your due diligence. that is you really want to buy it.

      (My advice is that since the body shape is almost the same between 2016 and 2019, you can go for the GCC spec). 2016 dealer price is around 45k to 50k with around 50,000 kilometres. But if you can get it at 50k is great or low 50s’. But if you like it very much then 56k for long term keep is good also.

      2) Assuming the car title is clean and its not some sort of salvage, would it be advisable to change any parts in the car to help it cope? or would that be unnecessary?

      A)Clean title – No need to change anything, if upon purchase all checked out fine. AC is fine and car does not over heat then you will not need to change anything right away, but keep in mind that dealer who import damaged cars tend to install cheap parts for more profitability when repairing them prior to sale.

      3) If there is body work done on the car (repair, repaint, in some cases replacement of panels), would you recommend going for the car?

      A) Yes, as long as no more than 2 panels painted or replaced.

      3.1) and would there be any implications other than resale price?

      A) Depends, there should not be if the car checked out fine upon purchase then its all up to you and how you maintain it. Imported cars which were damaged and repaired are more prone to have issues where replacement of parts are required. Because the dealers when they import them, they use weak and cheap parts to increase profitability.

      Advice for all buyers: Regardless of GCC or USA specs. Due diligence. USA spec cars have more bad rep then GCC cars. For GCC cars check the service history so you know if the previous owners took care of the car or not. USA spec cars, no need to check service history just condition. Specially chassis damage.

      For GCC spec – get it checked for chassis damage, body paint, oil leaks, bad suspension, alternator weakness, electrical work, AC. Negotiate the price accordingly. If possible get 3rd party warranty (company listed below).

      For USA spec – get it checked for chassis specially (google the VIN number a.k.a chassis number, which can be found on the sellers mulkia here in UAE. All other listed under GCC spec should also be checked, cars here also can have the same damage as USA. So its better to get the garage to check it for you for a price.

      Warrenty is offered by Dynatrade
      Wattenty is offered by Zdegree

      Go with the company which offers more for the money.

      If car does not have the issue listed above, then buy it, regardless of GCC or USA spec, just get it priced accordingly by an expert.

      Best of luck, if you think i missed something, you can reply and i will try to clarify it

  4. Hello,
    First of all thank you very much for all the info you’re sharing on here. It’s so valuable and much needed in this market! My question is on importing classics. What’s your take on that? Obvuisukt they’re not GCC specs, mostly European. Would you recommend it? Also, what classics would you recommend that would retain value the most in the UAE?

    Many thanks in advance.

    1. Dear Ali,

      Thank you for your comments and kind words. Classic’s have a place here in UAE but not that popular as you would expect like in other countries. They have a market of their own and can bring good money if you do the research in regards to importing one. My advice would be to create you own private network on social media (Facebook) if you are a supplier. If you are an enthusiast then its better to join local groups on FB and also visit events such as “Emirates Classic Car Festival” Which is held annually Link here. You can interact with people there and make a group of contact which will help you in selling or buying or even restorations.

      Since that happens once a year and will not help at this point. I would start from showrooms that sell classic car’s such as :

      Now, for the most popular classic or to say the most desirable from my experience and perspective is “Porsche”. Specially the “Targa”.

      So, yes you should join FB groups from the get go, then visit these locastions i have listed to get in person experiance. Thank decide which car you want to bring in to the UAE. Importing one will not be an issue, so you can contact customs and provide them inforamtion prior to bringing one here so you can fullfill all thre requirement prior to the import.

      Now, there are few thing to keep in mind. Once of our affiliates has written a blog on how to get one registered in the UAE

      Other then that, best of luck and if anything you can write to me again. cheers

  5. HI have a question if Dubai Customs issue VCC with non GCC standard and
    cannot be registered in UAE . Can this VCC be amended to GCC Standard
    and what are the procedure . Its a Bike .


    1. Dear Siyal,

      Thank you for the query. You have asked “Dubai Customs issue VCC with non GCC standard and cannot be registered in UAE . Can this VCC be amended to GCC Standard and what are the procedure . Its a Bike”, There limited information here to work with.

      However, if you have received a VCC already which would state either (1. non GCC standard, 2. Can not be registered). 1. If this is the only thing written on the VCC then you can still register the bike. 2. If this is also written then unfortunately you can not register car bike in UAE, you will need to re-export it out of UAE. I would have to see the VCC to confirm what exactly can be your next step. You can send it via if needed. Thanks.

  6. Hi Dear,
    I live in UAE. I was planning to buy a range rover sport v6. I found a local car dealer selling a brand new 0km range rover sport canadian specs for about dhs 100k less than the gcc main dealer price in uae. I checked the car the interior, the exterior everything looks perfectly new. The dealer is purchasing and giving me 3 years warranty from a local car service agent which is dynatrade. Can you please guide me what points to look for before buying the car and if it is a good idea to buy the car and use it in uae.

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for coming to the site and asking for an advice. The key points would be here is to check if the odometer is original ( meaning if the 0 Km stated by the dealer is true), which you can do by taking it to one of the independent garages in the UAE by googling it. Best would be to take it directly to Range Rover Service center and get that computer checked. Check to see if which ever one is cheaper and go with it.
      Secondly, you would want to check if the CHASSIS was not damaged and repaired. That also can be done at Range Rover or any independent garages. Thirdly, Check and see if the car painted or not from any accidents that may not have damaged the chassis but still had a damage that was repaired. If any of the points above have been identified to be true, then you should renegotiate.

      Lastly about buying the car at a cheap price would have a negative effect once you do decide to sell it. Mostly people buying a used car always ask if the car is GCC spec or not. I have imported cars from good reseller from Canada and cars were in very good/Mint conditions. But you as a consumer would need to check the above. If all checks out fine then you can go ahead and buy it but keep in mind, sell the car when you have used it for like 6 to 7 years, if you decide to sell it like after 2 years or 3, you will loose a lot because not too many people out there would buy a used imported car. There will be a few but its always a hard time selling them.

      If you do buy it, then keep all the service history( oil changes, etc…anything you do to the car except putting gas by keeping a record) would help in the resale, it will have a some positive effect where the next buyer would be able to see the service history and would be comfortable making the decision. If you ever take your car to the gas station for oil change or any garages, they will put a sticker on the door, have them put that sticker on the service book instead of the door, that way you will have a record of it. Do one thing, go to my site home page and fill out the information and will give you the price for you the car your are buying. So you dont get ripped off but if you think its good and you like the car then ultimately, it will be your choice and your enjoyment, there is no cost to a item that a person likes. Best of Luck

      1. Dear Donnie,
        Thanks a ton for your reply and the precious advice you have shared. The most important thing is that will the car go for 6-7 years without any trouble as it is a canadian spec car? will it resist in the uae temperature? as i have heard canadian specs has lighter radiators and ac compressors. I lived in uae for 27 years and so far i have used only gcc cars. To inform you the price is 290k dhs is it a good price for a 0 km range rover sport v6 black edition. Kindly advice

        1. There is nothing to worry about, the car can last longer if you take care of it. Compressor and radiator are a bit different but you will not notice the difference.AC will work just as good as any GCC spec cars ( first hand experience, Radiator will perform as well as any GCC spec car). Make sure that you check with warranty supplier that the AC/ Radiator is covered. Am sure it will be but just so you can have a peace of mind. The only down fall is the resale and how they devalue over time, as they do drop in price faster than GCC spec. Its just mind set of people here that they prefer GCC spec over Non-GCC spec. That’s just how the market is, i personal would buy one and keep it till it has almost no value left or would attempt to sell it in a condition if it sell then good if it does not then i will keep on driving it. But people who get to a point where they HAVE to sell an imported car then they will for sure loose allot..

          If all checks out fine and you are willing to keep it for a long time and the price is right, then yes go for it.

  7. Hi. Are you sure that radiators are smaller in import cars? Or you assume it to be smaller? Some says ac compressor is even weaker which does not make any sense at all since making a weaker compressor for a 100,000 $ car because it is in europe is not logical at all; saving 50$ on such a big value car. I know that compressors here are around 800 to 2,000 and in size they are so small. What do you think? Like for instance an 5.5 twin turbo V8 AMG e63 S how could the manufacturer increase the size or handling of a radiator where they are actually testing to the limit when producing them and testing them? It is not logical. It is a super car radiator should be super efficient. Cannot beleive that they can make it better?

    1. Dear Sami,

      Hi, These are valid concerns and to an extent i would agree but the key difference here is that as per the GSO (G.C.C Standards Organization) for Conformity Assessment along with ESMA of UAE, They do some rigorous testing before the vehicle is allowed for production in the parent country. The manufacturer sends one unit of a testing model for passing all the GCC requirement. As for the radiator, it is to be manufactured to use WATER as a base coolant “GSO Technical Requirements = GSO/135 of 2007 Motor Vehicles – Methods of Test for Engine Radiator & GSO/136 of 2007 Motor Vehicles – Engine Radiator. Its not a major change, mostly mechanical but manufacturers go ahead and build the radiator to withstand this method which leads to a slightly different model/type of radiator/ sort of similar to when steering wheels are place on either side of the car depending on the country of destination requirements. Another technical requirement which is under the car is the “catalytic converter”, this component is not required for GCC spec car where as certain countries require it. You may find the requirements or standards in the GSO website.

  8. Chryss Stathopoulos

    Hello, can you please cite the law that requires Arabic writing on the mirrors as well as the import details sticker? I don’t have these on my recently purchased Jaguar, however the dealer assured me its GCC specs.

    1. Hi, There are a few ways you can verify if the car is GCC Spec officially. My methods, which i have mentioned in my articles are a common known indicators in the used car market.
      1. All New car dealerships here ( Majid Al Futtaim, al rostamani etc..) They send to the manufacturer the specification which are required for the car to be considered a GCC spec which meets the local requirements ( the ones mentioned in my blog).

      Here is what you can do:
      1. Ask the seller to show you the import certificate which is issued to every vehicle imported into the UAE. That certificate will say if the car is GCC Spec or None GCC Spec. When the car lands in customs, the customs verifies the car and issues this certificate and there the customs mentions if the car is GCC spec or not.
      2. If the seller refuses to share the original import certificate which matches your car Chassis number aka VIN number (must verify the chassis number on the certificate vs the one on our yellow mulkia a.k.a registration card or you can find the chassis number on the driver side of the door of your car where you will find a steal plaque embedded into the door frame. Or other option is that you can go to RTA and ask them for the same (import certificate). Every importer has to initially register the car under this showroom name or their own name if they imported just one car. RTA should be able to share with you or at least look at their records and see if the car was imported as a GCC spec or a non GCC spec car.

      Hope this helps and hope you get your issue resolved, this is one of the reasons i have launched my site, to help people from avoid getting scammed.

    1. Dear Dr Ajit, Appreciate your comments and feed back. If you have any UAE Car related questions, you may post them in the comments section and i will try to do my best to answer them. Tc

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