Driving a vehicle in India requires a piece of documentation that is both a crucial and an important possession – The Driver’s License. One might be an expert or an amateur in driving, but both of them cannot take their vehicles out on the road if they don’t have a driving license.
In this article we would be shedding light on the types of driving licenses in India and their functions.
Why is a Driving License important?
A driver’s license is a document that permits one to drive on the road, the ownership of this document certifies that an individual is aware of the road laws, signs and is capable of driving a vehicle. Under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 having a valid driving license is mandatory by law. Not having a driver’s license whilst driving will inflict a heavy penalty and in some cases a prison sentence as well. One more advantage of the driving license is that it doubles up as an identity proof, so, in case you lose it, chances are that it might come back to you. However, we strongly recommend that you immediately file an FIR if you lose it as there is a possibility of misuse as well.
Eligibility Criteria for Availing Driving Licence in India
Not everyone can avail a driver’s license in India and for different types of vehicles, there are different licenses and different eligibility requirements. However, generally the LMV + MCWG license class suffices. LMV means Light Motor Vehicle while MCWG means Motorcycle With Gear.
* Individuals should be 18 years of age.
* Should be mentally, and physically fit.
* Should be literate.
Under this category, individuals are permitted to drive four wheeled vehicles weighing not more than 7500kg. Vehicles like motorcars, jeeps, taxis, delivery vans, motorcycles/scooters with/without gears also come under this class.
For those who are new to driving, a driver’s license is obtained in two phases. One is the learning phase and the other is when you earn the permanent driving license.
Let us learn more about them:
Phase – 1
- Before applying for a permanent driving license you apply for a learner’s license – this has a validity period of 6 months, implying that you’ve got a period of 6 months to fine tune your driving skills before you apply for a permanent driving license. However, you can apply for a permanent license after a month as well.
- During the time you have your learning license, it is necessary that you stick an ‘L’ sticker in red on the rear and front of your vehicle. Throughout the learning phase, you should not take any passengers and the only person who should accompany you must be the person who is teaching you how to drive. This applies to two wheelers as well.
Phase – 2
- Once your learning period is over, you can apply for a permanent driving license. To avail a permanent license one needs to pass an exam and a driving test. Post which they will be issued their permanent driving license. If you don’t pass the test, you can reapply in 7 days.
- The word permanent doesn’t mean that the license will be valid forever. The validity of a permanent driving license in India, is for 20 years from the issuance date or till the license holder reaches 50 years of age, either of which comes earlier. A driving license can be renewed before the expiry date.
Documents Required for Obtaining Driving Licence in India
Like with any other government issued certificate, there are some documents that you need to submit for obtaining a driving license. Below is the list of documents required.
Address Proof (Any one)
* House Agreement
* LIC policy bond
* Voters ID Card
* Ration Card
* Electricity bill issued in applicant name
* Aadhar Card
* Temporary address proof (Registered Rental agreement and LPG bill/electricity bill)
Age Proof (Any one)
* Birth Certificate
* Pan Card
* SSC Certificate
* School transfer certificate with date of birth printed on it.
* 3 passport size photographs while applying for a learner's license.
* 3 passport size photographs while applying for a permanent driving licence.
* Application Fees
* Duly filled application form.
* For applicants above 40 years, a medical certificate is mandatory.
Types of Driving Licenses in India
There are many kinds of vehicles that ply on Indian roads and needless to say that one license cannot cater to all. In this section we will discuss the different kinds of driving licenses issued by the Regional Transport Authority.
1. Learner’s License
As mentioned earlier, this license is issued to an individual who wants to apply for a permanent driving license. After filling up the application at an RTO (Regional Transport Office) specific to the individual’s location, a learner’s or a provisional driving license is given. This license has a validity period of 6 months from the date of issuance. The sole purpose of this document is to make sure that the person brushes up his/her driving skills, learns the traffic signs, symbols and jargon, and applies for a permanent driving license. If (s)he is trained well, they can apply for a permanent driving license after a period of 30 days.
2. Permanent Driving License
This license is issued to the individual who has passed the written and the driving test conducted by the RTO. Having this kind of driving license certifies that the individual is well versed in driving a light motor vehicle on the road and has a sound understanding of traffic signs and symbols. This license is valid for a period of 20 years from the date of issuance, or till the license holder reaches the age of 50 years, whichever is earlier. Post this period they will have to renew their driving license, which is basically appearing for a driving test again.
One thing to note is that this license is also valid for individuals who drive light motor vehicles for ferrying passengers. Unlike previously, which required a separate commercial driving license for the same.
3. Commercial Driving License
This is a special driving license issued to individuals who drive Heavy Motor Vehicles, Medium Motor Vehicles and Light Goods Transport Motor Vehicles for business purposes like transporting passengers or goods. The eligibility criteria for obtaining this license is different from the above two. An individual needs to have passed standard 8th, be at least 18 years of age, 22 in some states, and must be trained from a government motor school or a school tied-up with a state government. Driving heavy vehicles requires a lot of skills and proper training as the onus of safety of goods and passengers is entirely on the driver. Since this license is issued to drivers based on their skill, it has a validity of 3 years, post which it has to be renewed. The application process is the same as the Permanent Driving License, only here they will apply specifically for a Commercial Driving License. People holding permanent driving licenses can also apply for this kind of license.
4. International Driving Permit
This permit is issued to individuals who wish to drive in foreign countries. This permit certifies that the individual is in possession of a valid driver’s license and is eligible to drive in foreign lands. This permit is printed in many languages to help authorities better understand the individual’s eligibility. To avail this license one must have a valid permanent driving license and file an application at the local RTO. This permit is valid for a period of one year post which reapplication is required, it cannot be renewed.
Driving License Categories and Class of Vehicles in India
Below given is a table specifying the license category and the class of vehicles one can drive in that category.
Permanent Driving License/
MC 50CC (Motorcycle 50cc)
Motorcycles with an engine capacity of 50 cc or less
Motorcycles with any engine capacity, but without gears, including mopeds and scooters
Light motor vehicles that are used for non-transport/transport purposes
Motorcycles with gear, Motorcycles with a capacity of 50CC or more
MC With Gear or M/CYCL.WG
All motorcycles with gear
Commercial Driving License
For medium goods vehicle
For Light goods vehicle
For Heavy Motor Vehicles
For Heavy Goods Motor Vehicle
Heavy passenger motor vehicle/Heavy transport vehicle
Person holding heavy vehicle driving licence can apply for heavy trailer license
FAQs about types of Driving Licenses in India
Q. How do I apply for a driving licence?
A. You should be at least 18 years old and of sound body and mind. If you are a first timer then you’ll have to apply for a learner’s license which can now be done online. You can get this license immediately and it has a validity of 6 months which you can use to hone your driving skills. Stick a red ‘L’ on the front and rear windshield of your vehicle, in case of a two wheeler on the rear and front while driving. After the validity expires or after a month from the issuance of the Learner’s License you can apply for a permanent driving license online, which will be having a written and a driving test. If you pass the test the license will be delivered to your address in 3-4 weeks time. Meanwhile you can use the DL issue date and DL no. receipt to drive.You can apply for a Learner’s License/Permanent Driving License here: https://vahan.parivahan.gov.in/npermit/
Q. Can I drive with a Learner’s License?
A. Yes, but you cannot take passengers, only your driving teacher may accompany you. It is necessary that you paste the ‘L’ sticker in the front and the rear of your vehicle to help people understand that you are still in the learning phase of driving.
Q. Who can apply for a Commercial Driving License?
A. Individuals who wish to use vehicles for business purposes like ferrying passengers, transporting goods need to obtain the Commercial Driving License to drive on the road. To apply for this license and individual must:
- Have passed standard 8th
- be at least 18 years of age, 22 in some states
- Be trained from a government motor school or a motor school tied up with a state government.
The application process is the same as the Permanent Driving License, only here one has to apply specifically for a Commercial Driving License. People holding permanent driving licenses can also apply for this license.
Q. Can I drive without a driving license?
A. Driving without a license is illegal. One can be penalised or imprisoned if caught. The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, clearly specifies that it is mandatory to hold a valid driving license while driving any vehicle.
Q. Can a 16 year old apply for a license?
A. Yes, a 16 year old individual can apply for a license only in the Motorcycles without gear (capacity of up to 50CC) category. However, s(he) should have the consent of their guardian or parents, must be aware of traffic rules and regulations, and should possess a valid age proof and address document.
Q. How to renew a driving license?
A. You can renew your driving license by simply filing an application online and giving a nominal fee. Your license is valid till one year after it expires, however, if you don’t apply for renewal within 30 days of expiration you will be penalised for the same. You can renew your license here https://vahan.parivahan.gov.in/npermit/
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