Driving licence in India

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Driving licence in India
TypeDriving licence
Issued by India

In India, a driving licence is an official document that authorises its holder to operate various types of motor vehicles on highways and some other roads to which the public have access. In various Indian states, they are administered by the Regional Transport Authorities/Offices (RTA/RTO). A driving licence is required in India by any person driving a vehicle on any highway or other road defined in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

A modern photo of the driving licence can also serve many of the purposes of an identity card in non-driving contexts (proof of identity (e.g. when opening a bank account) or age (e.g. when applying for a mobile connection).


Applications for a provisional driving licence can be made from the age of 16. Valid for driving a moped or gearless motorcycle (with a capacity of up to 50 cc) from aged 16,[1] and a car from aged 18 or older to drive any other type of vehicle.[2] The common "All India Permit" allows the licensee to drive throughout the country.[3] For driving commercial/transport vehicles, one should obtain endorsement (and a minimum age of 20 years, in some states) in the driving licence to effect under s.3(1) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Until a driving test (which consists of three sections: verbal or written test (depending on the state), road sign test followed by a supervised driving examination)[4] has been passed a driver may hold only a provisional licence and be subject to certain conditions.

The conditions attached to provisional licences of a particular category of vehicle are:[2]

  • L-plates must be conspicuously displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.
  • Learner drivers of a particular category and transmission type of vehicle must be accompanied by somebody who has held a full driving licence for that category and transmission type, except in the case of solo motorcycles and vehicles of certain categories designed solely for one person.
  • Motorcycle riders must not carry any pillion passenger.
  • Bus drivers must not carry any passenger except a person giving or receiving instruction.

After passing a driving test, the provisional licence may be surrendered in exchange for a full Indian licence for the relevant kind of vehicle. Full car licences allow use of mopeds, motorcycles and cars.

A licence is valid for 20 years from the date of issue or till the licence holders turns 50 years of age, whichever happens earlier. The driving licence is required to be renewed after expiry of its validity.[5]

Theory testing[edit]

Tests on basic driving rules are conducted at the RTOs when an individual applies for provisional licence. The theoretical test in India consists of basic road sign questions, which are the same for car and motorcycle tests:

  • Multiple choice questions – 15 questions with a choice of possible answers. At least 09 questions should be answered correctly to pass this section.
  • Verbal or written test (depending on the state)

The theory test are completed on the computer, and both must be passed in order to pass the theory test.

Driving licence categories[edit]

This is a list of the categories that might be found on a driving licence in India.

  • MC 50CC (Motorcycle 50cc) — motorcycles with an engine capacity of 50 cc or less.
  • MC EX50CC (Motorcycle more than 50cc) — motorcycles and (Light Motor Vehicle)CAR.
  • Motorcycles/Scooters of any engine capacity, with or without gears with an engine capacity of 50cc or more. (OLD CATEGORY)
  • MC Without Gear or M/CYCL.WOG (Motorcycle Without Gear) — motorcycles, Scooters without gears.All motorcycle
  • MC With Gear or M/CYCL.WG (Motorcycle With Gear) — all motorcycles.
  • LMV-NT (Light Motor Vehicle—Non Transport) — for personal use only
  • LMV-TR (Light Motor Vehicle—Transport) — for commercial transportation including light goods carrier.[6]
  • LMV (Light Motor Vehicle) — including cars, jeeps, taxis, delivery vans, motorcycles with an engine capacity of 115cc or less.
  • LDRXCV (Loader, Excavator, Hydraulic Equipments)-- for Commercial application of all hydraulic heavy equipments.
  • HMV (Heavy Motor Vehicle) -a person holding a lmv vehicle driving licence can only apply for heavy licence
  • HPMV (Heavy Passenger Motor Vehicle)
  • HTV Heavy Transport Vehicle (Heavy Goods Motor Vehicle, Heavy Passenger Motor Vehicle)
  • TRANS (Heavy Goods Motor Vehicle, Heavy Passenger Motor Vehicle)
  • TRAILERE — a person holding a heavy vehicle driving licence can only apply for heavy trailer licence

Most of the legislation regarding licensing is in the Rules of the Road Regulation and the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Private/Commercial drivers should have an additional Badge if they are driving a taxi or any other public transport vehicle.

Points and endorsements[edit]

India uses cumulative points systems, broadly similar but different in detail in different countries, for offenders.

Points are given for driving offences by law courts, and the licence is endorsed accordingly. An Indian driving licence may be endorsed by the courts for various offences, not only for those committed whilst driving or in charge of a vehicle.[citation needed] If the individual committing the offence does not hold a valid driving licence the driver is subject to be penalised or face imprisonment of up to 3 months.[7] Violation of traffic signals, triple driving on motor cycle, using vehicles without registration or in unsafe condition may endorse and attract 3 negative points in each case.[8]

In case of two-wheelers, helmet laws is mandatory for the main rider and the pillion rider. Offences such as for drink or drug driving are recorded on the licence and the offender is prosecuted and imprisoned.[9]

Twelve points on the licence makes the driver liable to cancellation/suspension of driving licence for one year; accumulation of twelve points for the second consecutive time would lead to suspension of driving licence for five years.[8]


Drivers are legally obliged to carry a valid driving licence while driving. Under s.130 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988; A police officer or any other official authorised by the government can ask for vehicle-related documents, and the driver should produce them within 15 days at the police station (or the concerned department).[10]

The law permits officials to seize a licence, and issue a temporary one for a specified time. The law also allows the state government to set the fines or prison terms for minor traffic violations, and specifies who has the rights to enforce these rules.

Every driving licence has a maximum number of endorsements allowed. If the driver does not follow the traffic rules or causes any fault, then a penalty fine is issued and an endorsement put on the licence. An excessive number of endorsements may lead to cancellation.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vaibhav Ganjapure (12 August 2016). "Not 18 years old? You can't ride bikes over 50cc". Times of India. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b "MOTOR VEHICLES ACT, 1988" (PDF). Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  3. ^ s.3 and 4 of Motor Vehicles Act 1988, India
  4. ^ "Renewal Driving License". Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Driving license / India Drive Safe". Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Traffic Offences and Penalties in India". Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  7. ^ a b c "Stiffer fines, penalty points for traffic offences in the offing". Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Driving licence to be suspended for minimum of 3 months on traffic rule violation: Supreme Court panel". Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Transport Department". Archived from the original on 9 July 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2016.

External links[edit]