• Driving License
  • RTO
  • Traffic Rules & Signs

What is a Driving Licence?

Very simply, a driving licence, or DL for short, is an official document, in the form of a card, which is issued by the transport authority of the Government of India. It signifies that the licence holder is permitted to drive a motor vehicle on public roads in India without the need for any supervision. Motorized vehicles in this respect include a car, bike, bus, etc.

The licence is a legal requirement under the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. According to the Act, no one can drive in a public place without a driving licence issued by either the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) or the Regional Transport Office (RTO).

The process of acquiring a licence is simple. You start off by practicing driving a vehicle and brush up on your knowledge of road safety and traffic rules. You then need to get a learners’ licence after passing the preliminary test based on that knowledge. This learner’s licence is like a provisional licence. How? It allows you to drive on the roads so that you can have sufficient practice and can then qualify for the final test to get a final driving licence. It is now possible to apply for a licence online.

Who Issues a Driving Licence in India?

There are several RTOs across the country that issue computerized licences. It is important to get a licence from a genuine office, otherwise, you could be legally liable. There are certain legal provisions governing the Indian roads - a driver’s licence and motor insurance are two of the most important. You can apply for both online. While the licence is available on the Sarathi website of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the latter can be easily found on Finserv MARKETS. Not only is it mandatory under the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, but its use also extends to a financial cover that protects you and your vehicle in case of accidents, theft, or loss incurred due to man-made and natural calamities.

Features of a Genuine Driving Licence

These are the driving licence details to help you figure out if a licence is fake or genuine:

  • It 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 signature of the officer in charge from the issuing office.

Why do you need a Driving Licence in India?

  • Required by law

You are required to hold a valid driving licence if you wish to drive motor vehicles on the road. By ‘valid’ we mean that it should be 1) authentic and 2) well within the expiry date. If it has crossed the expiry date, you need to get your driving licence renewed.

  • Evidence of personal ID

At many places, an Indian driving licence can also be used as documentary evidence of personal identification. Such places include government offices, travel booking offices, airports, pubs etc. Driving licence is an equivalent of other forms of personal identification like passports, PAN cards, Voter ID Cards, Aadhar Cards, driving licences etc.

  • For independent commute

Public transport is a blessing, but the schedules and routes can be restrictive and often time-consuming, especially in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Being able to drive your own vehicle ensures doorstep mobility and flexibility. Having a driving licence makes this possible.

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)

Eligibility to Get an Indian Driving Licence

The law dictates the age limits around driving licence. To operate a two-wheeler, you can get a 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 minimum 20 years of age.Even foreigners can obtain an Indian Driving licence, as long as they can furnish the required documents in their application.

Document Needed for Driving Licence Application

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

  • Proof of current address can be 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-sized photographs

  • Application fees

  • 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 Licence

In the first instance, when you apply for a driving licence, you get a learner’s licence.

Now, this application process is made quick and simple online. On the official website of the Road Transport & Highways Ministry called Sarathi, you can 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 - it will ask for a few details and documents.

At the same portal, you can book a slot for your test for a learner's licence. On the same website, once your application is processed, you will be notified about it. Once the notification and confirmation come, the portal allows you to book a slot for the test.

Difference Between a Learner’s Licence and a Permanent Driving Licence

Difference

Learner’s licence

Permanent Driving licence

Validity

6 months

20 years in the first instance

Purpose

Given to people who are just beginning/learning to drive

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

Sequence

Is obtained first

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

On the date that you book your test, arrive at the allocated center with the originals and photocopies of your documents. As stated above, there should be a proof of address, proof of age, and a licence application fee. The exact amount varies across states in India, so it is better to ask the officer in charge at the counter at the RTO to give you driving licence details.The Learner’s Licence Test

From there, you will be given a token that is your position in the queue. In the test, a few multiple-choice questions are asked in a computer-based test. These questions pertain to your awareness of the traffic rules as well as questions that need you to make subjective judgements while adhering to the traffic rules. The idea is to confirm that you will not willfully be engaged in a traffic violation. There are a total of 20 questions and the minimum marks required to pass the test is 12.

After you pass the test, you receive a receipt. The receipt then goes to another counter and a learner’s licence document is issued.

Applying for a Final Licence

As the holder of a learner’s licence, you can apply for the final driving licence 30 days after the date of issue of the former, but within 6 months of issue. After a month you can book another appointment for the practical driving test. You will be asked questions related to the vehicle as well as a practical task of driving with instructions.

The practical driving test usually involves a tricky task like the Forward 8 shaped track test, Parallel Parking test, Reverse S Test or Drive backwards on 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 instead, 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 better to practice the complex turns in advance on the empty public grounds.

Once again, you will be given a receipt upon passing the test. This will act as your final licence till you receive the actual card-shaped licence via speed post within a few days.

What to do in Case of Loss of Driving Licence?

In case your licence is lost or stolen, you should do the following:

  • File an FIR with the nearest police station. It should be the police station near the site as the matter will fall under their jurisdiction. The First Information Report (FIR) is filed for any lost object.

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

  • We often hope that we can trace our lost belongings, but it is always advisable to get a duplicate driving licence.

Duplicate Driving licence

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

  • 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 where the application will be processed to issue a duplicate driving licence.

International Driving Licence

An international driving licence, as the name suggests, enables you to drive 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.

The procedure is the same.

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

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

  • Proof of your address

  • Passport and its photocopy

  • A valid visa.

  • A Medical certificate.

  • A Cover letter explaining why you want an international Driving licence

  • Passport size photographs.

  • 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 (SCDL)

A smart card driving license is nothing out of the world - it is simply your driving license in a different format. It is a tamper-proof plastic card. It is called ‘smart’ because it carries an embedded microprocessor chip of 64KB memory, which contains all the information of the license 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?

  • Secure: 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 license 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: that 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 The Smart Card Driving Licence Online?

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

If you wish to drive on the Indian roads, you need to know the traffic laws and the importance of having a license. Obey the traffic laws at all times, do not violate the rules and be considerate to others on the road. Purchasing a motor insurance policy is mandatorily required and forms a key part of road safety as well. 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 Bajaj Allianz Motor Insurance, you get access to 24/7 roadside assistance for cars, cashless claims across 4000+ network garages across India, and a claim settlement wallet, which you can use to settle claims of up to Rs. 20, 000. Get your insurance policy and you’re all set to hit the road!

Driving Licence FAQs

  • ✔️How do I get a driving licence?

    You will 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 licence 2. Use it to obtain a permanent driving licence

  • ✔️How long is the driving licence valid?

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

  • ✔️What is the driving licence number?

    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 or GJ for Gujarat. 14 - is the Motor Vehicle Authority branch code. MH12 for Pune. 2011 - is the Licence issued year. 0062851 - is the Driver Profile ID which is unique for each individual.

  • ✔️I don’t remember the 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. The application process can either be done online or offline as per one’s convenience.

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