Driving in India requires a valid driving license issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in India. This is applicable for NRIs and foreigners as well. Even if they have a driving license in their home/residing countries, they must obtain a license in India if they wish to drive their motor vehicles within India. RTOs have a specific set of guidelines for issuing driving licenses to drivers from foreign countries. Those who already have driving licenses in their home countries will not have much difficulty when it comes to getting a driving license. Let’s take a detailed look at the different aspects of driving licenses for NRIs and foreigners.
There are people who come to India from other countries for professional as well as personal reasons. These visitors can get driving license in India according to Section 9(3)(a)(iii) of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. Once they obtain the license, they can drive their vehicles throughout the country without any hassles. Before getting a license, the following factors must be taken into consideration:
If you are a foreign national or an NRI looking for a driving license in India, you can visit the RTO directly and apply for a license. While direct application is possible, some people might find it a hassle to go through all the paperwork on their own. In this case, they can opt for the service of a driving school. They will help you file the application and guide you on the paperwork in exchange for a small fee. Some of the documents required for filing a license application are listed as follows:
If you are applying for a license for the first time ever (in any country), you need to get a learner’s permit first and then apply for a permanent license.
Once you have collected all the documents in the list given above, you may proceed with the application process. There are different types of vehicle licenses (two-wheeler, light motor vehicle, heavy motor vehicle, etc.) in India, and you need to pick the right vehicle type based on your requirements. The procedure might slightly differ based on the type of vehicle chosen. You may visit the RTO directly and submit all the documents along with the application form. The necessary fee must be paid by the applicant along with these documents. Following the submission, an officer will verify all the submitted documents and request modifications if necessary. In many RTOs, it is no longer necessary to take a driving test if you already have a license in your home country. However, if a driving test is required, you need to clear the test before the license is issued.
Foreigners and NRIs who reside temporarily in India often come across a situation where they need to drive a vehicle. If you are a tourist visiting India only for a few days, you don’t have to go through the trouble of getting a driving license. However, if you are going to live in India for a while, it is better to have a valid license to take care of your everyday commute. If you are caught driving a vehicle without a valid license, the traffic police may impose some penalties on you. Repeat offenses could result in serious penalties. Some people might think that they can drive in India with the licenses issued in their home countries. As noted earlier, this is not true. You need to have a valid Indian driving license or international driving license if you wish to drive on Indian roads.
If you wish to import your personal vehicle from your home country to drive here in India, it could be a very expensive, time-consuming affair. You must pay for import duties, which could even be more than the actual value of the car. Re-registering your vehicle in India from your home country is another time-consuming and expensive process you may have to come across. Most importantly, Indian cars have the steering wheel on the right-hand side. If you are from a country with left-hand driving system, your vehicle may not be road legal in India. Considering these hassles, it is better to buy a new or used vehicle in India for an affordable price.
If you are a foreigner looking forward to driving in India, you must first consider the following things:
In many cases, foreigners and NRIs get driving licenses in India for professional purposes. There are also cases where foreigners enjoy a leisure trip and drive to certain parts of India. No matter what your reason is, you need to have a valid driving license before you can drive a vehicle in India. The process given above is mostly hassle-free. However, you may have to wait for a while before you get the required license.
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