Driving License – Check Eligibility, Documents & How to Apply for it

A driving license, commonly referred to as ‘DL’, is an official document that gives an individual the right to drive on Indian roads. It is a certification that permits the individual to drive motor vehicles. DL certifies that the person has undergone all driving tests and is fit to drive on roads. It contains a passport-sized photograph as identity proof and details of the driver along with the registration number of the driver. It also has a rubber stamp and the signature of the officer-in-charge with the name of the issuing office.

How is a Driving License issued?

A driving license (DL) is issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) or Regional Transport Authority (RTA) of the state government of India. It is that state in which the applicant resides, however, the driving license is valid throughout the country and not only in the state that issues the DL. Before issuing a DL, an individual has to go through screening processes where s/he has to submit personal details like name, date of birth (D.O.B.), etc., and go through the driving tests. Medical fitness or eyesight is also checked.

Once the person is declared fit, s/he is issued a driving license. This driving license can specify if the person is allowed to drive only two-wheelers or both, two-wheelers and four-wheelers. Likewise, it also certifies if the driver can drive only light motor vehicles or heavy vehicles like trucks, buses, etc. It is also a declaration that the driver is well aware of the traffic rules and regulations.

Types of Driving License

There are different types of driving licenses issued to individuals as per their application and the eligibility criteria. They are explained below-

  1. Learner’s License

A driving license is issued in two forms, one is a permanent DL, issued after the person is declared fit to drive. If the person is still learning to drive, then the Road Transport Authority issues a learner’s license. The validity of a learner’s license is only for up to 6 months which implies that the applicant must learn to drive properly within this period. It also implies that a learning license holder should be under the supervision and should not be left alone to drive. S/he should always be accompanied by a mature driver as long as s/he is a learner before issuing a permanent license.

  1. Permanent License

Once the waiting period of 6-months or the time when one is issued a learning license is over, the RTO can issue a permanent license to the applicant. The applicant must polish his/her driving skills during this time frame and apply for a permanent license. Once the applicant clears the driving exam and meets the other eligibility criteria, s/he is issued a permanent license. Issuing a permanent driver’s license means that the RTO has tested and is assured about the driving skills of the applicant.

  1. Commercial Driving License

A commercial driving license is issued for private vehicles like cars and bikes or other light motor vehicles. For driving heavy vehicles like trucks or even light vehicles like taxis and vans for commercial purposes, one needs to apply for a commercial driving license. A commercial DL is a type of license that authorizes the driver to drive vehicles used to transport passengers or goods. The minimum eligibility criteria to apply for a commercial driver’s license are also different from common driving licenses for individuals. This is because the responsibility of the commercial vehicle drivers is higher as they are held accountable for not only their own safety but also for others. The applicant must have also cleared the examination of the 8th standard before applying for this license.

  1. International Driving Permit

A DL is given by the RTO or RTA of the state government and is eligible in the whole country, but not in foreign nations. When a candidate applies for an international driving license, it means that the person can drive in other nations as well. S/he can rent and drive any vehicle in a foreign land but it comes with only one year of validity. One can reapply as many times as one wants. Someone looking to go out for an international trip can apply for this license. However, it can only be issued if the applicant already has a permanent driving license which guarantees the driving skills of the applicant.

Here is a chart that shows the type of DLs issued as per the vehicle types-

PurposeLicense ClassVehicle Types
For Personal UseMC 50CC (Motorcycle 50cc)Motorcycles with an engine capacity of 50 ccs or less
MCWOG/FVGMotorcycles with any engine capacity, but without gears, including mopeds and scooters
LMV-NTLight motor vehicles that are used for non-transport purposes
MC EX50CCMotorcycles with gear, Motorcycles with a capacity of 50CC or more. Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) including cars
MC With Gear or M/CYCL.WGAll motorcycles even with gear
For Commercial PurposeMGVFor medium goods vehicle
LMVLight motor vehicles including motorcars, jeeps, taxis, delivery vans
HMVHeavy Motor Vehicles
HGMVHeavy Goods Motor Vehicles
HPMV/HTVHeavy passenger motor vehicle/ Heavy transport vehicle
TrailerThe person holding a heavy vehicle driving license can apply for a heavy trailer license

Eligibility

A person is issued a DL only if s/he meets the following eligibility requirements:

  • The person must be at least 18 years old for obtaining a permanent license or driving motorcycles with gear
  • An applicant must be at least 16 years of age if applying for a learner’s license and must also have their guardians’ consent. Also, s/he is permitted to drive vehicles without gear up to 50 CC engine capacity. Driving is not permissible below this age and therefore, no DL is issued to persons below 16 years of age
  • Those who seek a commercial license should be at least 18 years of age (20 years, in some cases) and should have passed the 8th standard. Also, s/he should be trained from a government training school or one that is affiliated with the state government
  • The applicant must pass the driving test conducted by the inspector of the transport department of RTA

Documents to Apply for a Driving License

The documents required to apply for a driving license are as follows:

  • Application form (available from local RTA or RTO), Form 4 for a permanent license, and form 5 for a commercial license
  • Residential address proof (Voter card, Aadhar, Passport, etc.)
  • Age/Date of Birth proof (PAN card, birth certificate, etc.)
  • Medical certificate in Form No 1A (wherever applicable) and it is mandatory at most RTOs/RTAs for applicants above 40 years of age
  • Self-declaration of Medical fitness in Form no.1
  • 3 recent passport-size photographs of the applicant
  • Apply with Form 9 if the older license expires and you want a renewed one

Other than this, the requisite fee must be paid. A valid learner’s license must be given, if there’s any, before applying for the permanent license. Also, the applicant must mention the category of the vehicle s/he is applying for. As long as the DL is not delivered, a receipt is given to the applicant (only if s/he successfully passes the driving test) that serves as a temporary DL.

How to Apply?

You can apply using both the online and offline processes. For the offline process, go to the nearest RTO/RTA with all the documents and submit the relevant form. Schedule your driving test and make sure to arrive on time.

For the online process, one can apply through the ‘Parivahan’ website of the government by going to the ‘Driving License Related Services’. You can also do it through the official website of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways called ‘Sarathi’. Go to the website and follow the below steps:

  • Go to ‘Sarathi Services’ and click on the option ‘New Driving License’ under the column
  • You will be taken to the form for applying for a driving license online
  • Once you get confirmation that your application has been processed, you can book a slot for your learner’s license test and after the test, you can get your learner’s license. It is valid for six months and you have this much time to practice driving your vehicle
  • After the completion of 6 months, you can apply for your permanent license within six months of getting your learner’s license. However, you must be 18 years of age to apply for a permanent license

Wrapping it up:

A driving license is legal authorization for individuals who are deemed fit to drive and are aware of traffic norms. One has to go through a process of submitting duly filled forms with all required documents, whether online or offline to the nearest Regional Transport Office/Authority (RTO/RTA) for applying for DL. Driving without a license is a punishable offense and different kinds of vehicles require different eligibility criteria for issuing a license.

FAQs
Can I apply for DL in one state and drive in the other state of India?
Yes, you can apply for DL in one state and drive in the other state of India.
How can I check the status of my driving license?
You can check it online or from the RTO/RTA. Ideally, it arrives in 2-6 weeks, and if not then check with RTA.
What happens if I drive without a DL?
If you drive without a DL, you put yourself at risk and if caught, you will be fined. On a second time offense, you will not only be fined but you may land in the imprisonment of up to 1 year.
Can I change the address on the driving license?
Yes, you can change the address on the driving license by submitting the new address proof with the permanent DL to RTO.
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