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Getting a Driving License in India


How to get a driving license - New smart car licenses!

NRI’s returning to India for permanent settlement or even for an extended stay will feel the need to get a Indian driving license when they arrive in India. Whether one plans to drive in India or not, a driver license is a form of photo identification that is required on many occasions.

Toll Booths on the Mumbai - Pune Highway (Click photo to enlarge)

If you decide to spend some time in India and live on your own then you will definitely feel the need to get an internet connection, perhaps cable television or even a landline telephone.

For getting just about any service in India, one usually requires at least two forms of identification to verify their local Indian address. I applied for an internet connection and even though I was able to provide an Indian drivers license and a current hydro bill as proof of my local residential address. A representative of the internet company visit me at my residence to verify my address before my internet connection was installed.

I am told that verification of address is now a common step and most companies send people out to confirm residential addresses before providing service. Using your foreign passport always does not help. The person installing a cable on your Indian residence is not going to be thrilled if you provide him with a New York address. Hence a Indian driving license makes sense if you wish to live in India for an extended time.

New smart card driver licenses in India.

The time when one could just pay agents and get a driver’s without even bothering to give a driver’s test is now gone in India.

The Indian state of Maharashtra and several other states in India are now issuing smart card driver licenses, which will have a chip with a 4 KB memory.

The card will also have a unique gradation system, based on the driver’s previous driving offences, if any. Higher the seriousness of the driver’s offence, lower will be the grade accorded to him.

The smart card driver license will contain all the essential information about the driver, along with his/her photograph, signature and thumb impression.

Indian Driving License for NRIs

So how can NRIs get a driving license in India? I have lived in North America for 35 years and recently decided to set up a residence in Pune, a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Let me describe the procedure that is presently used Pune for issuing driving licenses.

Pune is one of the cities in India that has already started with a computerized test for a learners driving license. I believe many other cities also have a computerized system and those that do not will soon have the same set up. Pune also issues the new smart card driver licenses.

How to get a driver’s license in India.

The Indian state of Maharashtra and several other states in India are now issuing smart card driver licenses, which will have a chip with a 4 KB memory.

 The card will also have a unique gradation system, based on the driver’s previous driving offences, if any. Higher the seriousness of the driver’s offence, lower will be the grade accorded to him.

The smart card driver license will contain all the essential information about the driver, along with his/her photograph, signature and thumb impression.

Indian Driving License for NRIs

Let me describe the procedure that is presently used Pune for issuing driving licenses.

Pune is one of the cities in India that has already started with a computerized test for a learners driving license. I believe many other cities also have a computerized system and those that do not will soon have the same set up. Pune also issues the new smart card driver licenses.

So how can NRIs get a driving license in India? I have lived in North America for 35 years and recently decided to set up a residence in Pune, a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Driving on the new Mumbai - Pune Highway!

I did have an opportunity to drive on the new Mumbai-Pune highway and found the drive excellent.

The highway is indeed world class and despite being approximately now almost two years old the authorities are ensuring that it is maintained in a clean state.

The drive from Pune to Mumbai takes less than three hours. The route is also quite scenic.

How to get a learners driving license

Driving licenses are issued in India by the Regional Transport Office (RTO).

To get a learners license you have to visit your local RTO office. To get a driver license one needs to first get a learner license. To get your learner license, the following documents are required.

1. Duly filed application form.

2. Medical fitness form signed by medical examiner certifying you have no medical problems that will interfere in your ability to drive.

3. Proof of your current address in India.

4. Proof of your age.

5. Three passport size photographs.

Documents acceptable for proof of residence:

Voter’s Identity card. or

Passport. (Indian passports show residential address, However my Canadian Passport does not) or

Ration Card. or

Property tax bill.

While I had taken my Canadian passport along, I soon discovered that by asking for a Passport as proof of address the authorities expect an Indian passport. Whereas my Canadian passport does not show my residential address on it, Indian passports do show residential addresses and are hence acceptable as proof of residence.

I finally decided to use my Indian property tax receipt as proof of address and as proof of age I was able to show them my OCI registration passport issued by the Government of India to applicants who get Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration.

The application form for the learner license in Pune that I got was only in Marathi language and one of the freelance agents that hang around the RTO offices filled the form for me. He also in a matter of minutes got a medical certificate for me all stamped and signed by a medical examiner without the need for a medical exam. The cost of this service was Rupees 200.

The next step was to line up to verify your documents. While photo copies are attached to your form along with three photographs, the original have to be presented for inspection. After almost two hours in the lineup I was able to show my documents and get them approved by a policeman at the desk who I believe held the rank of a police inspector.

Once documents are approved the appropriate fee has to be paid. Next comes the finger print scan and photograph computer photograph that is taken to place on your license.

After these formalities are done, Candidates are assembled in the examination hall where a test on road signs is conducted on a terminal. Candidates need to choose correct answers from multiple choice questions that flash on a screen. Ten questions are given and one needs to get at least 6 correct.

Those passing are given a laminated learner license that is valid for six months. After having a leaner license for at least one month, an applicant can take the road test for a full driving license.

The good part is no further documentation is required for the road test. My test lasted only five minutes and I was quite pleased as I have not driven a standard gear shift car for almost two decades.

Most driving schools charge by the type of the car one wishes to learn on. The majority of them provide only 15 minute lessons a day and for approximately 8 lessons plus providing their car for the driving test charge approximately 2700 to 3000 Rupees.

What I found funny was that during the driving test the examiner allows the instructors also to sit in the car used by candidates to do the driving test.

Most people who can drive abroad should have no problem passing the driving test. As for driving around in the city, I would avoid it if possible.

Traffic on the road in most major cities does not move in an orderly manner and people try to overtake each other from all sides showing a total disregard for proper lanes marked on the road for driving.

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