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  • Driving Licence
  • 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 your respective State Government. 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 first acquire a learner’s licence by passing preliminary tests based on your knowledge of road safety and traffic rules. Then you start off by practicing driving a vehicle. However, people with a learner’s licence will have to drive a vehicle only in the presence of another individual with a permanent driving licence. 

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.

Types of Driving Licence in India

There are four types of driving licence available by the RTO in India –

  • 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. It implies that you have to learn/enhance your driving licence within this 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 granted to people who drive heavy vehicles. It could be a passenger vehicle or goods carrying vehicle. 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:

 People who wish to drive a vehicle outside of India need an international driving permit. This document is valid for a year only. After its expiry, one needs to apply for it again.

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 at least 20 years of age. Even foreigners can obtain an Indian Driving licence, as long as they can furnish the required documents in their application.

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)

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 for 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-size 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.

Driving Licence Application Fees

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

Driving Licence & Other Vehicle Related Services

Fees

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 the applicant’s test and determine whether he passes or fails. The result is based on the applicant’s performance. At the time of the test, the applicant needs 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 drives the vehicle on a specially designed track. Here, they need to drive on the 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 whether passed or failed.

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

Tips to Clear the Driving Licence Test

Follow these things are you will be able to get your hands on the permanent driving licence –

  • Practice for the driving licence test until the learner’s licence is valid.
  • Maintain calm when giving the test.
  • Reach the RTO early during the test day.
  • Make sure that you drive the motor 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 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 licence. 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 car insurance policies, 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!

Latest Driving Licence News

Getting a driving licence and registration certificate made easier through Aadhaar

As per the notice released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), around 18 license-related services can be availed through the Aadhaar card. So, anyone with an Aadhar card can avail contactless benefits to get a driving licence (learning or permanent) as well as a permanent vehicle registration certificate. The top five DL-related services included in this notice are: learning licence application process, renewal of DL (test of competence to drive not needed), duplicate DL, address change in DL and RC, and issuance of international driving permit. 

- March 5, 2021

Driving licence to be suspended for speeding on 2nd offence

Chandigarh Traffic Department will now be suspending the driving licence (DL) for overspeeding on the second offence. As directed by the SC Committee on Road Safety in 2016, the authorities were suspending DLs in case of the first offence itself. However, the New Motor Vehicles Act of 2019 clearly states that DL for the said offence will be suspended on the second instance. Based on this new rule, the traffic police authorities in Chandigarh have revised the e-challan procedures to suspend DLs for overspeeding on the second or subsequent offences.

- February 21, 2021

Relief for learner’s license applicants: Need not visit RTO office

In an effort to go contactless due to the pandemic, the functioning of the transport sector has also undergone certain vital changes. As per the newly stated details, applicants of learner's license or the ones who need a temporary registration number for their vehicle need not visit the RTO. The verification can now be done through online portals. Aligning with the social distancing norms with regards to the pandemic, the government will set up 16 facilities to allow people to carry out all the process online. Further, the applicants just need an Aadhaar card and no other alternate document for authentication.

- Feb 16, 2021

Applying for a driving licence? You may be exempt from the driving licence test

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) recently issued a proposal detailing norms around the accreditation of driving training centres. To provide quality driving training to the people, MoRTH has listed a detailed set of requirements one has to meet and the procedures to be followed by these centres. Any individual who completes this training from an accredited centre does not have to take a driving licence test when applying for the DL. 

- February 5, 2021

Certificates of driving license, birth and death to be associated with the Family ID card

A number of government services are likely to be associated with the Family Id card, such as driving license, vehicle registration and birth and death certificates.

Under the Parivar Pehchan Patra scheme, every family residing in Haryana will be given an eight-digit ID. Automatic self-selection of beneficiaries for obtaining benefits under different schemes or programs will be carried out using the family database. Various camps are being held to update and validate data at various locations. In Gurugram, under the family id cards, more than two lakh people have already been connected. At present, the data verification process for internal use is ongoing. About 4,000 individuals are registered every day under the family id cards.

- Jan 29, 2021

Around 1,300 driving licenses were suspended last year in Vizag

Reasons which led to the suspension of driving licences were the use of mobile phones while driving, overloading and being involved in fatal accidents. From 3,000 in 2019, the overall number of suspensions dropped dramatically.

According to rules, if a motorist is booked for a serious traffic violation, his driving license can be revoked for a period of three to six months. The violation is reported on the RTO website after suspension, and the data is passed on to the city traffic police. If the driving license of a motorist is revoked more than twice, authorities have the power to suspend the license. Motorists convicted of endangering the lives of others have their driving licenses cancelled in most cases.

- Jan 19, 2021

'International Driving Permit' renewal notification released by the central government

Through the Indian Embassies abroad, it is suggested that people may apply for renewal of International Driving Permit (IDP), from where these applications will be transferred to the VAHAN portal in India.

There was no process for renewal, according to the notice, when people were away and their IDP had become invalid. With this change, it is now proposed that people should be able to avail for renewal through the government offices in other countries, from where these requests will be redirected to the VAHAN website. Meanwhile, there are countries where visas are provided on arrival or visas are provided at the last moment and, in such situations, visas are not available prior to travel when an international driving license is applied for India.

- Jan 17, 2021

A recent driving licenses renewal law upsets many people

Motorists who have not renewed their driving license a year after its validity has expired are stuck in a complicated state of affairs because the transport division has agreed not to renew those licenses in any way.

In case of an end of the year validity interval, as per the law, one must apply again for a learner's license by complying with all the requirements set by the division for a brand new license. Earlier, there was an opportunity to renew the driving license at any time during the grace period of 5 years by paying a sum of Rs 1,000 per year. Although the brand new law would ensure that motorists do not breach the foundation by driving with an expired driving license, motorists have, on the other hand, raised objections claiming that this can have a serious impact on drivers, particularly in the transport sector.

- Jan 14, 2021

2,000 driving licences suspended for not paying challan in Mumbai 

The DL (Driving License) of around 2,000 motorists has been recorded to be suspended in Mumbai for failing to pay challan which were 3 or more in number. The motorists are further asked for an explanation as to why their driving license must not be cancelled permanently. The joint commissioner of the traffic expresses that this decision has increased the rate of recovery of challans up to a 30% and is expected to grow up to 50% in the coming six months. The RTOs are permitted to suspend DL for a period of 3-6 months provided that the vehicle owner has a plausible explanation, if not they can revoke their DL.

- Jan 14, 2021

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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.
  • ✔️How long does it take to receive the 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 the given address.

  • ✔️I cannot find my details when applying for a driving licence. What should I do?

    Visit the RTO to update your learning licence or get a backlog entry done at the RTO.

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

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

  • ✔️What is the validity of endorsement to drive motor vehicles carrying hazardous goods?

    The validity is for three years.

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