Types of Driving Licence in India - Covered

Driving a vehicle in India requires documentation that is both essential and vital as per the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988 – The Driver’s Licence. Basically, there are four types of driver’s licence that one needs to possess if they own a vehicle:

Learning Licence; the initial licence issued to those who are in training and is valid for six months, Permanent Licence; issued for private vehicle owners who have passed the driving test, Permanent Licence; issued to owners of commercial vehicles, International Permit; given to individuals who already have a permanent Indian driving licence and wish to drive on foreign land in rental vehicles.


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Different types of Driving Licence in India

Basically, there are four types of driver’s licence in India. Any adult citizen can apply for any of these, but must pass a driving exam before they are issued one. Here are the types of driving licences in India:

1. Learning Licence -

This is the foundation of getting an official licence to drive in India. This initial licence is issued to learners who are in training of how to drive a vehicle. A learner’s licence is valid for a period of six months (but can be renewed). Anytime after thirty days of a learner’s licence being issued, you are permitted to apply for a regular driving licence. Therefore, while you are learning how to drive any given vehicle, a learner’s licence is a required document and acts as a prerequisite for a formal permanent licence. A learner’s licence, however, has certain stipulations attached and these are:

  1. You must be trained in driving or riding the vehicle by the holder of a permanent licence.

  2. The vehicle that you are learning to drive in should have an ‘L’ displayed in the colour red. This sign should be visible to other drivers on the road.

  3. You must not merely be trained in the physical operation of the vehicle, but also know traffic rules and regulations thoroughly.

  4. Where commercial vehicles are concerned, the individual who holds a learning licence must undergo coaching from government-recognised vehicle training institutes.

  5. With regard to two-wheelers, only trainers are allowed to ride pillion with the learner.

  6. The category of driving licence for learning should be in accordance with the vehicle that is being learned with.

2. Permanent Licence (Private Vehicle) -

Individuals above the age of 18, in possession of a learning licence, who have passed their test of driving can get a permanent driving licence. When you have a learner’s licence and have completed your training, you have to make an application to the RTO for a permanent licence. You get a date to do your driving test and if you are successful, your permanent licence is issued.

3. Permanent Licence (Commercial Vehicle) -

Provided to individuals who drive vehicles for a commercial purpose, either to facilitate the transportation of people or goods, drivers of commercial vehicles applying for licences need to have passed the 8th grade in school. For the issuance of commercial vehicle licences, the government has established a separate class of rules. Regulations are stringent and drivers of such vehicles who want licences must mandatorily complete an operational heavy vehicle training course from a government-recognised training school. Strict adherence to safety on the road being the main aim of having regulations in place, the government has made it compulsory that drivers applying for licences of heavy motor vehicles (commercial transport vehicles) must have specialised knowledge in the functioning of heavy motor transport.

4. International Permit -

If you are an Indian driver wishing to drive abroad, you can do this with an international licence. Individuals travelling abroad may want to drive on their own on foreign shores in rental vehicles. This category of driving licence holder must hold a pre-existing permanent Indian driving licence. Such a licence has a maximum validity for a year, but can be renewed after this.

Category of Driving Licence and Vehicle Class

It is noteworthy to mention the categories of the holders of driving licences according to the corresponding vehicles being driven. Here is a table showing you the types of drivers licences in India:

Categories of Licence Holders

Vehicle Type

MC 50cc

Vehicles with an engine capacity that is 50cc or less


Light Motor Vehicles (non-commercial)


Gearless Vehicles

MC EX 50cc

Gear Motorcycles with engine capacity=50cc plus


Gear and gearless motorcycles


Heavy Vehicles for Goods Transportation


Pan-India Permit Heavy Vehicles

Drawbacks of Not Owning a Driving Licence

A driver’s licence type and category is mentioned on all driving licences that the RTO issues. Having a valid licence is of prime importance as it is mandated by the Indian government. Here are the drawbacks of not having one:

  • You cannot drive on any Indian roads without owning a valid licence.

  • You may be refused services where it is mandatory to display your licence as a form of valid proof of identity/age.

  • If you are caught without a valid licence, your car may be impounded.

  • If you are discovered without a licence while driving, you may face severe fines and penalties, even a brief period of imprisonment.

  • In case you are driving without a licence in the event of an accident, you will have to pay for damages to a third party from your own pocket, as insurance coverage is voided if you are driving without a licence.


Driving licence categories exist for every type of vehicle and driver in India. It is important that you drive with a licence to ensure you are aligned with the law. Protection comes with having a licence and a vehicle insurance policy which is also mandatory according to the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988. Feel free to find out about the various insurance plans from Acko Vehicle Insurance and Bajaj Allianz Vehicle Insurance you get at Finserv MARKETS.

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FAQs on Types of Driving Licence (DL) in India

  • ✔️Is it necessary to hold a driving licence?

    It is compulsory to hold a driving licence if you drive a vehicle in India.

  • ✔️For how many months is a learning licence valid?

    A learning licence is valid for a six-month period.

  • ✔️What will happen if I drive without a licence?

    If you drive without a licence and get caught by the authorities, you will be penalised and even prosecuted in some cases.

  • ✔️How long is a permanent licence valid for?

    A permanent licence is valid for a period of 20 years. 

  • ✔️What is the driving licence (DL) needed for a commercial vehicle?

    Of all the types of DL in India, to drive a commercial vehicle, you will need a licence in the category of HPMY or HGMV. 

  • ✔️Can I use my learner’s driving licence for more than 6 months

    No, once the validity of your driver’s licence expires, you will need to apply for a permanent licence.

  • ✔️Can I use a two-wheeler licence to drive a car?

    No, it is illegal to drive vehicles for which you do not have a licence. 

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