What is a Driving Licence?

A driving licence is an official document issued by the specific state government, allowing the individual to drive a motor vehicle on Indian roads. A driving licence is mandated under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, in the absence of which you can be penalised for driving on roads. First, you must apply for a learner’s licence by attempting an online test and later, you can obtain a permanent driving licence on qualifying in the final test. You can apply for a permanent driving licence 30 days after the issuance of the learner’s licence that is valid for 6 months. Moreover, your driving licence details can also be used for personal identification purposes.

Moreover, your driving licence details can also be used for personal identification purposes.

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  • Driving Licence
  • RTO
  • Traffic Rules & Signs

About Driving Licence

A driving licence is an official document in the form of a government-issued card, which is issued by your respective state. A driving licence signifies that the licence holder is authorised to drive a motor vehicle on public roads in India. Motorised vehicles in this respect include two-wheelers, four-wheelers and other types of vehicles.

A driving licence is a legal requirement under the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. According to this Act, no one can drive in a public place without having a driving licence issued by either the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) or the Regional Transport Office (RTO). Let’s learn about the features and application process for getting a driving licence.

Features of a Driving Licence

Following are the important features of a driving licence you should be aware of:

  • A driving licence carries the name of the office it was made in and issued from. This helps in knowing where to direct any further process or inquiries.

  • It carries a photograph of the licence holder.

  • It carries a unique registration number.

  • It carries a rubber stamp and the signature of the officer in charge from the issuing office.

  • An Indian driving licence is also used as documentary evidence of personal identification. Such places include government offices, travel booking offices, airports, pubs, etc. A driving licence is equivalent to other forms of personal identification like passports, PAN cards, Voter ID Cards, Aadhar Cards, etc.

Types of Driving Licence

There are 4 main types of driving licences that are issued in India by the RTO:

  • Learning Licence

Before you get your hands on a permanent driving licence, you will be issued a learning licence in India. The validity of this document is six months. This licence permits you to ride vehicles to learn/enhance your driving skills within the specified time and proceed to take a test for a permanent driving licence.

  • Permanent Licence

Once you appear for a driving test and pass the exam, the RTO will issue you a permanent driving licence. Any Indian citizen of the age 18 years old or above can apply for a permanent driving licence online. This document is issued for driving private vehicles such as cars and bikes.

  • Commercial Driving Licence

A commercial driving licence is for people who drive heavy vehicles such as a bus or a truck. These vehicles can be passenger or goods carrying vehicles. The eligibility criteria for this type of licence is a bit different from a permanent driving licence. The applicant should have cleared the 8th standard to be able to apply for a commercial driving licence.

  • International Driving Permit

As the name suggests, people who wish to drive a vehicle outside of India need an international driving permit. Unlike the Indian driving licence, the international driving licence is valid for a year only. After your international driving permit expires, you will need to apply for it again.

Eligibility to Get an Indian Driving Licence

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 has clear eligibility rules when it comes to getting a driving licence. To operate a two-wheeler, you can get a two-wheeler or bike licence once you are 16 years or older. Once you hit the age of 18, you can operate four-wheelers as well. To be able to operate transport vehicles, you need to be at least 20 years of age. Even foreigners can obtain an Indian driving licence, as long as they can furnish the required driving licence documents in their application. You can know more about the driving licence age limit from the table given below.

Vehicle Type

Eligibility Criteria

Motorcycles with gear + four-wheeler vehicles like cars

Minimum 18 years old with sound knowledge of traffic rules

Motorcycles without gear (capacity of up to 50CC)

  • Minimum 16 years old

  • Consent of guardian or parents

  • Knowledge of traffic rules

Heavy commercial vehicles

  • Cleared the 8th standard.

  • Minimum 18 years old (changed to 20 years in a few states)

Documents Need for Driving Licence Application

At the time of applying for your driving licence, you will be asked to provide several documents. Read on below for the list of documents you may need for your driving licence application:

  • Proof of age can be in the form of a birth certificate, Permanent Account Number card (PAN), Class 10-mark sheet or passport.

  • Proof of current address can be an Aadhaar card, electricity bill issued in your name, Voter ID card, agreement of house ownership, passport, ration card. In case the house is rented, a rental agreement along with either an electricity bill or gas bill would work.

  • A duly filled application form (either online or in the RTO).

  • Passport-size photographs.

  • Medical certificate issued by a certified physician (for people aged 40 years or older).

  • Lastly but very importantly, practical knowledge of traffic rules.

Procedure to Get a Driving Licence

You will need to follow the given steps to apply for and get an official driving licence:

  1. Initially, when you apply for a driving licence for the first time, you will get a learner’s licence.

  2. You have the option to apply for your new driving licence online. Go to the official website of the Road Transport & Highways Ministry called Sarathi, and click on the option ‘New Driving licence’ under the column ‘Sarathi Services’. You will be taken to the form for applying for a driving licence online.

  3. Once you get confirmation that your application has been processed, you can book a slot for your learner’s licence test.

  4. Once you get your learner’s licence, you have six months to practice driving your vehicle.

  5. You can apply for your permanent licence within six months of getting your learner’s licence.

Driving Licence Application Fees

The following table gives an overview of driving licence fees and other related charges in India:

Driving Licence and Other Vehicle Related Services


Learning Licence

INR 151 + INR 50 for the test

Permanent Driving Licence

INR 716

Driving Licence Renewal

INR 416

Duplicate Driving Licence

INR 216

International Driving Licence Permit

INR 1000

Authorisation for driving public service vehicles

INR 766

Duplicate Vehicle Registration Certificate

50 percent of the registration fees of a particular class of vehicle

Duplicate Fitness/Medical Certificate

INR 100

Alternation in Vehicle

INR 50

Driving Test Procedure

The RTO will appoint an invigilator to take your test and determine whether you are capable of driving properly and being issued a DL. At the time of the test, the applicant will need to get their vehicle. Note that the vehicle needs to be of the same class as the one mentioned in the driving licence application. The applicant can use a vehicle from the motor driving school if they don’t own one.

  • Test for Two-Wheelers and Three-Wheelers

During a driving licence test for two or three-wheelers, the applicant is requested to ride well within the border on an imaginary pattern of the figure ‘8’. This has to be performed without touching the feet to the ground. After the invigilator is satisfied with the performance, the applicant will be asked to ride the vehicle on the road. Here, they will be judged on their overall control of the vehicle in real-world scenarios.

  • Test for Four-Wheelers

When taking a driving test for four-wheelers, the applicant will have to drive their vehicle on a specially designed track, without coming in contact with the pillars. Upon satisfactory performance, the invigilator will ask the applicant to drive on the road. Based on the overall performance, the applicant will be declared passed or failed.

Note that people can retake the driving licence test after seven days in case they fail.

Applying for a Permanent Licence

You can apply for the final driving licence test 30 days after being issued the learner’s licence but before 6 months as your learner’s licence will expire. For the final driving test, you will be asked questions related to traffic rules and laws, as well as give a practical driving test where you will have to drive your vehicle to demonstrate your driving capability.

The practical driving test usually involves a tricky task like the Forward 8 shaped track test, Parallel Parking test, Reverse S test, Drive Backwards on an S-shaped track, etc. An inspector oversees the test. They observe not just your performance but other minute details too. For example, if you are appearing for a bike test, you will not pass the test if your feet touch the ground. When driving a car or other four-wheeler, ensure that you change gears smoothly.

It is a good idea to practice the complex turns in advance on the empty public grounds. Once you have passed your permanent driving test, you will be given a receipt. This receipt will act as your final licence till you receive the actual hard copy of the licence via speed post at your address within a few days.

Tips to Clear the Driving Licence Test

You may be a little nervous when appearing for your first driving exam. However, as long as you know the traffic rules and have practised driving your vehicle enough, you can pass the exam without any problems. Additionally, you can follow the given helpful tips to ace your driving exam:

  • Get plenty of driving practice as long as you have your learner’s licence.

  • Stay calm and confident when giving the test.

  • Reach the RTO early during the test day.

  • Make sure you drive your vehicle smoothly without hesitation.

  • Turn off the ignition when the vehicle halts completely.

  • Make use of the indicators when changing directions.

Difference Between a Learner’s Licence and a Permanent Licence

A learner’s licence is a basic licence issued to people who are still learning to drive their vehicles. Getting a learner’s licence is the first step in acquiring a permanent licence. Once you have enough practice driving your vehicle on your learner’s licence, you can choose to appear for the main exam that will grant you your permanent licence.

Differentiating Criteria

Learner’s Licence

Permanent Licence


6 months

20 years in the first instance


Given to people who are just beginning/learning to drive

Legal requirement to hold a valid licence to drive on public roads


Is obtained before a permanent licence

Can only be obtained 30 days after the learner’s licence has been issued

What to do in Case of Loss of Driving Licence?

In case your licence is lost or stolen, you should follow the given steps to retrieve it:

  • File an FIR (First Information Report) with the nearest police station. It should be the police station near the site as the matter will fall under their jurisdiction.

  • After the complaint has been lodged, visit a notary office to get an affidavit about the same on a stamped paper.

  • While there is a chance that you may get your driving licence back, however, in case you do not, it is always advisable to get a duplicate driving licence.

How to get a Duplicate Driving Licence?

To apply for a duplicate licence, you should be prepared with the following documents:

  • FIR

  • Photocopy of the original licence

  • Details of licence

  • Passport size photographs

  • Proof of age

  • Proof of residence

Take these documents to the Road Transport Office (RTO) where your application will be processed and you will be issued a duplicate driving licence.

International Driving Licence - How to Apply?

An international licence is a special driving licence that enables you to drive your vehicle in different countries. An International driving licence carries the name of the country for which it is issued. It also carries the visa number of the holder. Also referred to as an International Driving Permit, this document is valid for a year. In case you need to extend your international driving licence, you will need to apply for renewal. Follow the given steps to apply for an international driving licence.

  • Fill the form for an international driving licence available at RTO.

  • Furnish the required documents along with a duly filled form. The documents include:

  1. Proof of your address

  2. Passport and its photocopy

  3. A valid visa.

  4. A Medical certificate.

  5. A Cover letter explaining why you want an international Driving licence

  6. Passport size photographs.

  7. Payment of application fee for the licence

  • The application is then processed and either you can collect the licence yourself or they can send it to your postal address.

Smart Card Driving Licence

smart card driving licence is nothing but a DL in a more secure and digital form. A smart card DL comes in the form of a tamper-proof plastic that has an embedded microchip of 64kb. This 64kb microchip contains all the important relevant information about the licence holder. Essentially, it contains all the biometric data of the applicant, including blood group, thumb & fingerprint, retina scan, body markings, etc. This information is also held by the RTO / RTA office in their systems.

Why Get a Smart Card Licence?

  • Since a smart card driving license saves and stores all information on a chip, it is difficult to duplicate or misuse. The information cannot be erased.

  • It is very portable.

  • The DL will be safe from wear and tear.

Eligibility: Smart Card Licence

The eligibility for a smart card licence is the same as that for a permanent driving license.

The application form will look at the following:

  • Visual inspection:

Signature, name and other personal details of the applicant

  • Machine-readable zone:

Will contain the serial number of the chip, date of issue and other details that a normal DL would contain.

It will also have a separate space that shows all endorsements and fine-related information.

Can You Apply for a Smart Card Driving Licence Online?

You can check online if your state issues SCDL. If it does, proceed to the portal by filling the application form. The procedure is the same as for a permanent DL.

To Conclude

If you wish to drive on the Indian roads, you must know the traffic laws and the importance of having a licence. Obey the traffic laws at all times, do not violate the rules and be considerate to other drivers on the road. Purchasing a motor insurance policy is mandatory and forms a major part of road safety as well.

You can purchase motor insurance (for your car or two-wheeler) on Finserv MARKETS and financially secure yourself against liabilities you may face on the road. With car insurance policies and two-wheeler insurance, you get access to 24/7 roadside assistance, cashless claims across 4000+ network garages across India. Get your insurance policy from Finserv MARKETS and you’re all set to hit the road!

Latest Driving Licence News

Tamil Nadu: CM launches select RTO services online for applicants

On April 12, 2022, Chief Minister MK Stalin launched several contactless RTO services online which cuts down the effort of physically visiting the Regional Transport Office. Facilities such as application for learner’s licence, renewal of driving licence, change of address on the licence, etc. are now available online. Applicants must first undergo Aadhaar authentication to avail the online RTO services on the official Parivahan portal. Earlier, applicants had to fill out an online application form and fix an appointment at the RTO for all transport-related facilities.

- April 13, 2022

Mumbai: 18-year old applicants to get licence with 22 years of validity

On April 5, 2022, the Tardeo RTO issued a press note stating that the driving licence issued to applicants at the minimum age of 18 would be valid for 22 years. Moreover, many citizens aren’t aware of the validity period of licences based on age groups, RTO officer Bharat Kalaskar shared. The RTO-issued press note explains that for applicants of up to 30 years of age, the driving licence is valid till the age of 40 and so on. Another official said that expired driving licences should be renewed within a year to avoid retaking the learner’s licence test.

- April 6, 2022

IRDAI extends timeline to buy life insurance without signatures

The IRDAI has extended the timeline to purchase life insurance without physical signatures on the proposal form till September 30, 2022. Currently, applicants can opt for life insurance with OTP-based validation instead of a physical signature. Due to the requirement of wet signatures, many people found it difficult to buy insurance plans during the pandemic. The IRDAI then permitted the removal of such barriers and enabled the insurance companies to obtain digital or electronic agreements. As many parts of India are still affected by the pandemic, the IRDAI has extended the previous timeline of March 31, 2022 to September 30, 2022.

- April 6, 2022

Delhi Government eases driving licence norms to recruit more women bus drivers

As per a new report, the Delhi government has relaxed permit conditions for ‘Heavy Motor Vehicles’ licences in order to encourage more women to become bus drivers. Previously, individuals who wished to become bus drivers needed to have had their HMV licences for at least 3 years. However, this rule has been discarded, and even women with fresh HMV driving licences can apply to become bus drivers. A training period of one month would be provided for these women. Furthermore, before these women are allowed to become bus drivers, they will also undergo in-house training by the Delhi Transport Corporation and receive skill test certification.

- Mar 21, 2022

Supreme Court refers to larger bench for legal issue related to LMV driving licence

As per a report, a three-judge bench at the Supreme Court has decided to refer to a larger bench regarding the matter of whether or not Light Motor Vehicle licence holders would need a separate endorsement for driving transport vehicles carrying up to 7500 kg of goods. One of the three judges from the bench said that they deemed it appropriate to refer this important matter to a larger Supreme Court bench of more than three judges. The Chief Justice of India is set to constitute the larger bench to deal with this issue.

- March 13, 2022

Mumbai: 25,000 driving licence tests to be held at Tardeo RTO office in March

As per a report, the Tardeo RTO office in Mumbai has set a goal to conduct over 25,000 driving tests in the month of March. They also plan to continue this goal in April so that around 50,000 applicants can give their driving tests. According to the reports, this is being done to clear the backlog of pending DL tests. The report also mentions that permanent driving tests would be held on three Saturdays and three Sundays of this month, on March 5, 6, 12, 13, 26 and 27. An RTO officer has also advised applicants who previously missed their driving licence tests to book their slots at the earliest to get a confirmed booking.

- Mar 04, 2022

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FAQs on Driving Licence in India

  • ✔️How do I get a driving licence?

    You can get a driving licence at the Regional Transport Office or Additional Regional Transport Office. To acquire a permanent driving licence, follow these two steps:

    1. Get a learner’s driving licence 

    2. Use it to obtain a permanent driving licence by giving the driving exam.

  • ✔️How long is the driving licence valid?

    A driving license for any private vehicle is valid for up to 20 years or till 50 years of age. On the other hand, a driving licence is valid for only three years for commercial vehicles.

  • ✔️What is a driving licence number?

    A driving licence has a unique number given to each licence holder. The driving licence number is a total of 13 characters. For instance, your driving licence number is MH-14-2011-0062851, where ‘MH’ is the state name (MH for Maharashtra). ‘14’ is the Motor Vehicle Authority branch code. ‘2011’ is the licence issued year. ‘0062851’ is the Driver Profile ID that is unique for each individual. You can check your driving licence number by looking at your DL card.

  • ✔️I don’t remember my driving licence number. How do I find my lost driving licence?

    In case you lose your driving licence, you can apply for a duplicate one from the same RTO that issued the original driving licence. They will have records of your driving licence.

  • ✔️How long does it take to receive a permanent driving licence in India?

    Once you have passed the driving test, you will receive the permanent driving licence within 30 days by post at your given address.

  • ✔️How to check the dispatch status of a driving licence in India?

    You can track the application status on the portal if the RTO has given you the postal tracking number for your DL.

  • ✔️How can I download my driving licence?

    You can download your driving licence by installing the mParivahan app on your phone.

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