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Why is a Driving Licence Crucial?

According to the Motor Vehicle Act 1988, driving a vehicle in India requires you to have an important document – a driver’s licence. Without a licence, driving any vehicle is a punishable offence, and you may either be fined or face imprisonment or both. 


There are different types of driving licences in India based on the type of driver you are and the type of vehicle you are driving. You can apply for a driver’s licence by choosing one of the four types. 


The first is learning licence or learner’s permit, which is the initial licence issued to those who are learning or training to drive and is valid for six months. The other two are permanent licences for private vehicle owners and for commercial vehicle owners. The last is the international permit that you can avail if you want to drive outside of India. Read on to learn more about the different types of driving licences in India.

Different types of Driving Licences in India

As an adult citizen, you can apply for a driving license but must pass a practical driving exam before you are issued a permanent licence. Here are the different types of driving licences in India:


1. Learning Licence

This is the first step towards getting a permanent licence in India. It is issued to those who are learning how to drive a vehicle. It has a validity of 6 months, within which you have to apply for a permanent licence.


You can apply for a permanent licence any time after thirty days of issuance of a learner’s licence. You cannot obtain a permanent licence without availing a learner’s licence. It, however, has certain stipulations attached, and these are:


  1. You can only get trained by someone who has a permanent licence.

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

  3. 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.

  4. If you own a learner’s licence for a commercial vehicle, you must get training from government-recognised vehicle training institutes.

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

  6. The vehicle you learn in should comply with the category mentioned on your learner’s permit.

2. Permanent Licence (Private Vehicle)

Individuals above the age of 18, in possession of a learning licence, who have passed their driving test, can get a permanent driving licence. When you have a learner’s licence and have completed your training, you can apply for a permanent licence online or by visiting an RTO (Regional Transport Office)


After booking a date for your driving test and successfully clearing it, you will be issued a permanent licence.

3. Permanent Licence (Commercial Vehicle)

This licence is provided to those who drive vehicles for a commercial purpose, either to facilitate the transportation of people or goods. To avail of this licence, drivers need to have cleared the eighth 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 must mandatorily complete an operational heavy vehicle training course from a government-recognised training school. 


This helps ensure strict adherence to safety on the road and knowledge of the specialised functioning of heavy motor transport. 

4. International Driving Permit

An international licence is for when you want to drive outside India. The permit is recognised worldwide and has a validity of one year, but is renewable. However, keep in mind that you can get it only if you have a permanent licence.

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Categories of Driving Licences and Vehicle Classes

Along with different types of driving licences in India, there are different categories of vehicles too. These categories are mentioned on the driving licence and you can only drive a vehicle that complies with the category mentioned.


Here is a table displaying the categories for different types of driving licences in India:


Categories of Licence Holders

Vehicle Type

MC 50cc

Vehicles with an engine capacity of 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


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Consequences of Not Having a Driving Licence

The type of driving licence you have and the category it falls under are mentioned on all types of driving licences issued by the RTO. 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 driving without a valid licence, your car may be impounded.

  • If you drive without a licence and are caught, the authorities may impose a fine. You may be subject to a fine, imprisonment or both.

In case you are driving without a licence and are met with an accident, you will have to pay for damages to a third party from your own pocket. This is because your insurance coverage is void if you drive without a licence.

FAQs on Types of Driving Licences in India

  • ✔️Is it necessary to hold a driving licence?

    Yes, if you intend to drive any vehicle you must have a valid driver’s licence.

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

    A learning licence is valid for a period of six months. However, you can get it reissued for another six months. 

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

    If you drive without a licence and get caught by the authorities, you will have to pay a fine or face imprisonment. Your vehicle may also be seized. Driving with a valid licence also results in voiding your motor insurance cover. 

  • ✔️How long is a permanent licence valid?

    A permanent licence is valid for a period of up to 20 years depending on your age and the category of the vehicle you are driving. You can renew your licence after this period. 


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

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


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

    No, once the validity of your driver’s licence expires, the permit is void. 

  • ✔️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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