A driving licence is mandatory for anyone who wants to drive a motorized two-wheeler or four-wheeler on public roads in India. Before one gets a permanent driving licence, one has to get a learner’s licence. A month after the learner’s licence is issued, one has to appear for a test at the RTO, and a permanent driver’s licence is given on passing this test. After getting your driving licence make sure you get your bike insurance as it safeguards you from any mishaps.
What is driving licence?
According to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, no individual without a driving licence is authorized to drive a motor vehicle on a public road in India. Therefore, a driving licence is an authorization issued by the government of India permitting an individual to drive a motor vehicle such as a car, motorbike, truck, etc. without supervision on Indian roads. RTO or Regional Transport Office is the issuing authority for such licences in India.
Types of driving licence
The type of driving licence you need depends on the type of vehicle you would be driving. Remember that the eligibility for each vehicle type would be unique. The different vehicle types for which you can apply for a driving licence include:
- Motorcycles with engine capacity of 50cc or less
- Motorcycles with gear, motorcycles with an engine capacity of over 50cc, Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) including cars
- All Motorcycles types including Motorcycle with gear
- Motorcycles of any cc but with no gears - including scooters and mopeds
- Light Motor Vehicle for non-transport purposes
- Light Motor Vehicle intended for commercial purposes
- Heavy Passenger Motor Vehicle (also referred to as All India driving permit for trucks and cars or open licence)
- Heavy Goods Motor Vehicle
- Candidates holding a heavy vehicle driving licence can also apply for heavy trailer licence
The eligibility criteria for applying for a driving licence varies with the class of vehicle and the type of driving licence you wish to apply for. Summarized below are the criteria for the common licence types:
Type of Permanent Driving licence
Motorcycles without gear (with a capacity of up to 50cc)
The applicant must have attained at least 16 years of age. In case the applicant is under 18 years of age, the consent of parent or guardian is required as well.
Motorcycles with gear
The applicant must have attained at least 18 years of age.
Commercial Heavy Vehicles and Transport Vehicles
The applicant must have attained at least 18 years of age and must have completed education up to at least 8th standard. Some state regulations require the applicant to be at least 20 years old.
The applicant must be conversant with traffic regulations and rules. The applicant should also submit valid proof of age proof and residence to the RTO.
Documents required for a driving licence
The documents required to apply for a driving licence include:
- Proof of age, which could be any of the below:
- Birth certificate
- PAN card
- Class X marksheet
- Transfer certificate from a school that has the date of birth printed on it.
- Proof of address, which could be any of the below:
- Aadhaar card
- Self-owned house agreement
- Utility bill such as electricity bill
- LIC bond
- Voter’s ID
- Ration card
- Rental agreement
- Other application requirements
- Duly filled application form. The form can be downloaded from the RTO website or collected from the RTO near you.
- 6 passport sized photographs when applying for learner’s licence
- 1 passport sized photographs when applying for permanent licence
- Application fees
- If current address is different from permanent address, rental agreement with a recent utility bill like gas or electricity bill
- If the applicant is over 40 years of age, medical certificate in the form of Form 1A and Form 1 issued by a government doctor
The application process for a driving licence is fairly straightforward and you need not depend on agents for the same. Visit the Sarathi website hosted by the Road Transport and Highways Ministry. Under the “Sarathi Services” tab, select “New Driving Licence”. This will redirect you to a new web page with all the details about the application process. Make sure that you read through the instructions to avoid any confusion at later stages. Download the driving licence online form from here and fill up all the required information.
Apply for driving licence online
You can apply for a driving licence either online through Sarathi website or offline at an RTO. The process for online application is as follows:
- Go to the Sarathi website and download the application form as described above
- Fill up the form as per the instructions provided at the website, and click on the “Submit” button
- In case the applicant is a minor, the form should be printed out and Part D be signed by the parent/guardian and submitted at the RTO.
- Scan and upload the supporting documents required, like the proof of age, address and learner’s licence if applicable.
- Note down the web application number generated on form submission. This can be used to track the status of the application, if needed.
- Once the application is processes, an SMS would be sent out on the registered number notifying you of the same.
- You can then block a slot for driving test and appear for the same at the appropriate venue.
Apply for driving licence offline
The process for applying for driving licence through an RTO is as follows:
- Visit the nearest RTO to obtain Form 4 which is the application form for motor vehicle driving licence in India. You can also download the same from the state-specific RTO website.
- Submit the duly filled form along with the proof of age and address at the RTO for the state/ union territory you live in. At this time, you should also book a slot for the driving rest and pay the applicable test fee.
- Reach the test venue on time, and the licence will be awarded on the spot on clearing the test.
- If you are taking lessons at a driving school, they would also assist you in the application process.
The driving licence test
To get a driving licence, you will have to prove your driving skills and the knowledge of road rules and signs in a test conducted by the RTO after your application for driving licence is accepted. Here are a few key aspects of the test to keep in mind:
- You should apply for a permanent driving licence within 180 days of the issue of learner’s licence. You have to wait for a minimum of 30 days from the issue of learner’s licence to take the test for the permanent licence.
- Once you reach the test venue, you will have to submit the relevant documents including driving licence test slot booking slip if the slot was booked online. If you haven’t paid the test fee yet, you will require to pay it now.
- Remember to reach the venue at least an hour before the scheduled test time.
- You will be allotted a test track on reaching the venue. The test has to be taken in the presence of a Motor Vehicle Inspector at the track.
- The test procedure varies based on the state regulations.
- For two-wheelers, the rider has to drive a track shaped like the numeral 8 without her legs touching the ground.
- For four-wheelers, the MVI would monitor the ride across a complex track.
- Remember, that the motor vehicle inspector would also test you on your ability to use the indicators correctly. The ability to shift gears smoothly and the use of rear-view/side-view mirrors may also be tested.
How long does it take to get a driving licence?
The process for getting a driving licence starts with submitting the application for a learner’s licence.
- Before a learner’s licence is issued, you will have to appear for a test at the RTO
- This test consists of multiple-choice questions quizzing you about traffic rules, signs and signals. You can find sample questions on the RTO website
- On successful completion on the test, you can immediately collect the learner’s licence
- You will have to wait for a month before taking your driving test for a permanent driving licence.
- The details of this test have been provided above, on passing this test you are provided the driving licence on the spot,
Steps to follow in case you lose your licence
Remember that you are not allowed to drive on public roads in India without a driving licence. Therefore, if you lose your licence you should not drive till you have arranged for a duplicate licence. The steps to apply for a duplicate licence are as follows:
- Lodge a complaint at the nearest police station about the missing DL, and get a copy of the FIR
- File an affidavit stating that you have lost the DL at a notary office.
- Apply for the duplicate licence along with the copy of both the FIR and the affidavit at the RTO. You can do this both offline or online. You will also have to pay the fees for duplicate licence at this point.
- Once the application is processed the licence will be couriered to your address.
International Driving Licence
If you are planning a trip overseas and would like to rent a vehicle to ride around – you will need an international driving license. Just as you need a driving license to drive on Indian roads, you also need an international driving license to drive on foreign roads. While a few countries may recognise an Indian driving license as valid for their roads as well, it is always better to get an international driving license to avoid any confusion later on.
An international driving license is authorized by the United Nations and is issued in multiple languages to allow authorities across various nations to verify credentials. Simply put, it is a translation of your driving license with additional authorization. An international driving license is valid for a period of one year and is valid for driving on Indian roads as well.
How to apply for an international driving license?
You can choose among four available avenues to apply for an international driving license. These are:
- Apply offline at an RTO
You will have to fill and submit the following three forms, along with other requisite documents, at the RTO nearest to you:
- CMV-4A form – the application form for the international driving license
- CMV1 form – self-declaration about your medical fitness
- CMV1-A form – a form to be filled by a doctor certifying your medical conditions
- Apply online at the transport department’s website
The forms listed above can be downloaded from the website as well. The duly filled forms and copies of other documents then need to be submitted at the RTO.
The fees for both these processes is ₹1,000, and the license would be issued in a week’s time.
- Apply at Western India Automobile Association (WIAA)
This route is only available to residents of Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad. Further, only WIAA members can use this facility to apply for an International Driving License. The fees for the application here is ₹1,500, and you can get the license within 2 days time.
- Apply at International Control Traffic Association’s (ITCA) website
You can also apply for the international driving license at the ITCA’s website. You would need to submit the following along with the filled in form.
- Copy of your domestic driving license
- Copy of your passport
- Passport size photograph
- A fee of $34
Documents needed for obtaining an international driving license
When applying through RTO or WIAA, you would need:
- CMV-4A, CMV1, CMV1-A forms (RTO)
- Passport size photographs
- Copy of air tickets
- Copy of valid domestic driving license
- Copy of your passport and visa
- Address proof
- Age proof
- Proof of Indian citizenship
If you are planning to drive abroad, make sure you have car insurance with you and your insurance covers you against any road mishaps and any third-party liability arising from accidents. In case you end up losing your IDL while on your trip, immediately inform the Indian Embassy, they will be able to issue a duplicate license after verification. If you lose the same in India, you will have to file an FIR and contact the RTO for a duplicate license.
Driving licence fees
The fee for a learner’s licence includes:
- Fee for Form 3 – Rs.30.
- Fee for Form 6 – Rs.40.
- The road safety cess fee – Rs.50.
The fee for a permanent driving licence includes:
- The driving licence test fee – Rs.100.
- Fee for form 7 (or smart card) – Rs.200.
- The driving licence grant fee – Rs.40.
- The road safety cess for a license for 2-wheeler, with/without gear – Rs.100.
- The road safety cess for a license for light motor vehicles (non-transport) – Rs.150.
- The road safety cess for a license for light motor vehicles (transport) – Rs.200.
- The road safety cess for a license for medium and heavy motor vehicles– Rs.500.
The fee for the issue of the international driving licence is Rs.500.
How to check driving licence application status?
To check the status of your application:
- Visit the Sarathi website hosted by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highwys
- Enter your application number and the date of birth into the appropriate form under “Sarathi Services”.
- On submit, the status of your application will be displayed.
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