How to Apply for a Driving License?


11 Jul 2019 | 6 min read

Driving is one of the most important aspects these days. It allows one to be on mobile and reach anywhere anytime without depending on anyone else. Even though car and bike hire services make it easier for people to get conveyance facilities even at wee hours of the night, it is always fruitful when you know how to drive and have a driving license. One can have a driving license for two-wheeler vehicles or four wheelers or both.

The cost of a second hand vehicle can start from a few thousands and move up the ladder to many crores for that beautiful, spanking, new high-end car. It is no wonder then that almost every family which lives above the poverty line owns at least one motor vehicle. It depends on the individual’s financial capacity and choice; which kind of vehicle the person buys. One can see all kinds of vehicle beginning from mopeds that run on two thin tyres at one end of the spectrum to trailer trucks with twenty-two huge wheels running cheek by jow on Indian roads.

Categories of Driving Licenses

The first step towards getting a license online is to apply for a learner’s license. There are conditions one must fulfil to be able to apply for a learners’ license online

If you are going to be driving a vehicle with gears, you can apply for learner’s license when you are eighteen years of age and in case you are applying for a license to drive a vehicle without gears, then you can do so at sixteen years of age.

It is a good idea to join a driving school and online you can find the information. There you will be made aware of traffic rules and regulations. In case you are going to be taught by a relative or friend then you must make sure you know and understand traffic rules.

Documents required for a Learner’s License

You will have to submit three photographs of passport size.

Any of the following documents can be submitted as proof of residence

A] Ration card.

b] Passport.

C] Aadhaar card.

You must be able to give proof of your present address and your permanent address. If your present address is your permanent address, then only one proof is required. But in case, you live in rented accommodation, you can give a rental agreement as proof of present address.  Electricity or telephone bills which are in your name are also considered valid address proof.

How to apply for a Driving License?

  1. If you are eighteen years old and possess a voter’s identity card, you can use it for residence proof. Apart from all these, if you happen to have a telephone, water or electricity bill in your name, they are accepted as valid residence proofs as well.

You have to submit a self-attested photocopy of the above-mentioned documents.

  1. Proof of age can be submitted in the form of a self-attested copy of your birth certificate, school leaving certificate, passport or PAN card.
  2. There is a payment of Rs. 70 to be made in the form of fees for the two forms and Rs. 30 which is charged as road safety cess.
  3. Once ready, the applicant must go in person along with the original documents of which are submitted self-attested copies. The originals will be examined to verify the documents you have submitted. The documents and fee are to be submitted at the transport zonal office nearest to your place of residence.
  4. There are forms to be filled at the transport office. One form is the application and the second form to fill is the Application-Cum-Declaration for Physical Fitness. These are known as Form 1A and Form 1B.
  5. In case a minor is applying for a license, this form has to be printed and the part marked as D has to be filled and signed in front of a regional transport official.
  6. The applicant will be given a date for a computerised test. It is a test to check whether or not you are aware of traffic rules, road signs and regulations of the road safety act. It is a ten-minute test with multiple choice questions. The candidate must score at least six marks to earn a learner’s license. If a candidate does not clear the test, a retest is conducted after seven days.

 Once you get the learner’s license, you must adhere to three conditions.

  1. One is that you must paste the letter ‘L’ in red on the windshield and back glass of your vehicle
  2. The second condition is you must have a licensed driver with you when you are driving and
  3. You are allowed to drive only the kind of vehicle as is mentioned in the license.

You can apply for the permanent license after thirty days of getting and using the learner’s license.

You have to access the transport office website and download Form1A and Form 1B. After filling these forms according to the instruction given there, you must click on submit.

A web registration number is generated and this is the reference number for all purposes till the license is in your hand.

When you have submitted the forms and uploaded all the other documents such as age proof, proof of address, you can choose a time and date that is convenient to you and appear for the test. When this date is settled you have to be present in person to take the test at the regional transport office.

If you score six points you will have passed the test and you will be granted a learner’s license. This is valid all over India.

You must apply for a permanent license within three months or one hundred and eighty days of being awarded a learner’s license.

Permanent Licenses       

There are different categories of driving licenses. Each of these allows the holder to drive a certain class of motor vehicle only. The fee for the license varies as do some of the terms and condition. But some conditions are common to all categories of driving licenses.

Criteria Common to all Classes of Driving Licenses

A permanent license is granted only to people who are eighteen years old.

Earlier the minimum educational qualification was the candidate must have cleared class eight. The government is now studying the possibility of doing away with this criterion so as to provide job opportunities to people from the economically weaker sections and economically backward sections of the society. But this proposal is still under consideration and the minimum educational qualification rule holds good.

All applicants must give proof of being in good health. Eyesight is of utmost importance. Colour blindness can debar a person from getting a license.

All candidates should have the knowledge of road signs and should follow instructions given by these signs. It is also imperative for all drivers to know the rules and regulations of using the roads.

Categories in which Driving Licenses are issued

    1. All types of motorcycles with gears having any cc.
    2. Motorcycles without gears such as scooters and mopeds having any cc.
    3. Light motor vehicles to be used as transport vehicles.
    4. Light motor vehicles to be used as commercial vehicles
    5. Heavy Passenger Motor Vehicle. This license is also known as All India driving permit for trucks and cars. It also has a third name, open license
    6. Heavy goods motor vehicle. Applicants applying for this category are eligible to apply for heavy trailer license.

Who can apply for a Driving License?

  • If you want a driving license in the first category, then you must be at least sixteen years old and the form needs to be counter signed by your parent or guardian giving consent for you to be granted a driving license. This is for applicants who are sixteen years old but have not yet become eighteen years of age. In case the applicant is eighteen years of age or older, this condition does not apply.
  • Applicants for licenses for motorcycles with gears must be eighteen years or older. They need to have a minimum educational qualification of clearing class eight.
  • For drivers seeking a license for Heavy Commercial Vehicles and Transport Vehicles, the minimum age requirement is twenty years and they must have passed class eight.

Fees and Charges for a Driving License

  • There is a fee of Rs. 30/- to be deposited for the normal category of license and this fee can go up to Rs. 90/- for special categories. The fee charged for the driving test is Rs. 100/-. The charge for a smart card is Rs. 200/- . You have to pay Rs. 40/- as license grant fee.
  • Apart from these, there is a special fee structure for a license to drive different categories of vehicles under the name of road safety cess.
  • If you are seeking a license for a two-wheeler with or without gears you have to pay Rs.100/- as the cess for road safety.
  • A licensee who is going to be driving light motor vehicles which are not meant for public transport will have to pay a road safety cess of Rs. 150/-
  • The road safety cess for drivers of light motor vehicles to be used for public transport is Rs. 200/-
  • Those who want to drive medium and heavy motor vehicle will to pay Rs. 500/- as road safety cess.

Next Step

If you qualify at the age and educational barrier, then the next step is to fill the forms.

You have to fill Form 4 to apply for a motor driving license in our country. This form can be obtained from the regional transport office. It is also available online.

This form has to be filled in accordance with the instructions and submitted at the regional transport office in whose jurisdiction or area in which you reside.

Along with the form, you have to submit the following:

  1. Age proof
  2. Residence proof of permanent address and present address.
  3. If you live away from the place which is your permanent address, then you have to provide proof of both addresses.
  4. If you own the house you live in, you can give a copy of the registry of the property.
  5. If you own any LIC bonds, they can be used to prove your address.
  6. Your voter’s ID card is accepted as residence proof.
  7. If you possess a ration card, it proves your address.
  8. You can also prove your address by giving an electricity bill which has been issued in your name.
  9. In case you do not live in a house you own then the rental agreement executed between the landlord and you, is proof of residence. 
  10. If the electricity bill of your present address is issued in your name that is also considered address proof.
  11. Even your LPG bill issued with the present address is considered as address proof.
  12. You have to submit six passport sized photographs.
  13. Identity proof has to be submitted and your Aadhaar card serves this purpose.
  14. You have to submit a health certificate from the local government hospital if you are above fifty years of age.
  15. All transport vehicle license aspirants have to submit a medical certificate no matter what their age.
  16. You do not require a medical certificate if you are less than fifty years old and are applying for a non transport vehicle license.
  17. Fee as specified, according to the kind of license you have applied for have to be paid.
  18. If you use your Aadhaar card, then the documentation is limited because it serves for identity, address and age proof.

Once the form has been scrutinised and accepted, you will have to take an online test. You can choose a date and time that is convenient to you and if that particular slot is free, it will be allotted to you. This test comprises twenty questions regarding traffic rules and road regulations. It may also contain questions about good practices to be followed for safe driving both for you and other road users.

  • It is mandatory to answer at least twelve questions. You also need to score at least twelve points to clear the examination.
  • You have to be physically present for this test.
  • When you have cleared the online test, you have to take the practical driving test.

If you have been taking driving lessons, the whole process will become easier. The driving school staff is generally well versed in filling the application forms and will help you to do the needful.

Practical Driving Test

Once you have deposited the form, and a test time slot has been allotted, make sure you are present punctually. You will be expected to deposit test slot booking slip at the relevant counter and accompany the official to the track to display your driving skills.

Passing the practical driving test is not easy. It is conducted on an especially constructed track. You have to be able to drive on an 8-shaped track without dislodging the barriers placed on the sides of the track.

When you have manoeuvred your vehicle successfully over this track, you will be expected to reverse on an S-shaped track.

The tracks are difficult to drive on. As most of the candidates are nervous, it becomes more difficult for them to pass the test. It is a good idea to practise driving on such a track before going for your assessment. There is a fifty- fifty chance that you will be able to clear the test if you do not have a good grip on your driving skills.

It is not just the track you are driving on that requires your attention. The examiner, who is an official from the regional transport office, will also note whether you are using the brakes correctly. He will check whether you are changing gears at the correct juncture. The manner in which you shift the gears, smoothly or roughly, will speak volumes for your driving skills.

He will also check if you use hand signals when they are required. Using indicators when you want to turn right or left or want to allow overtaking is another test of your driving skills. The official will take note of it if you do not use the side view and rear-view mirrors efficiently. How efficiently you reverse and park vehicle will tilt the scales in your favour or go against you.

If you are taking the practical driving test for a two-wheeler license, manoeuvres like using your side view mirrors and signalling with your hand or with the indicator lights correctly will earn you your driving license, provided you do all this without your feet touching the ground.

After you have cleared the practical test, you will be given a receipt. This will be your license till such a time as you receive the real license.  You are allowed to drive on the road using this receipt as license. It will take a few days for your license to come onto your hands as it is not handed to you immediately. It sent to your registered address by speed post. This takes a maximum of three weeks.

How to Check Driving License Application Status

In case your license has not been delivered and you feel anxious, you can check the status of your driving license by going to the official website of the Ministry for Road Transport and Highways.

  • You have to enter your application number and your date of birth.
  • When you click ‘submit’ the status of your driving license will be displayed.
  • You will be able to find out when you are likely to receive your license.

Understanding the Driving License

So now you are the happy possessor of an Indian driving license. You should understand what the numbers and letters all mean. In other words, you should decode your driving license.

The first thing any person looks at carefully is his or her photograph.

The policeman on the road who stops you to check your papers is not concerned with the quality of the photograph. To him it is just a document that tells him that you are within your legal rights to drive on the road.

He will also check the papers of your vehicle to ensure that the vehicle belongs to you and that your road tax, pollution check and insurance papers are in order.

The first two letters are the code of the state where the license was made. The next number is the code of the city followed by the district.  The numbers after that indicate the year in which the license was made and at the end is a unique identification number for the licensee.  

  • Below the code, there is personal information of the licensee.
  • Just below the name of the holder is his father’s name followed by the holder’s date of birth.
  • The holder’s blood group is mentioned beside his date of birth. One wonders why the holder’s blood group is mentioned. Knowing the age and blood group helps the doctors take emergency measures as soon as the patient is brought to them in case of an accident. This holds especially true if the licensee is not conscious or too dazed to be able to speak. They can do an emergency transfusion, if need be, in that critical time between an accident and medical aid becoming active.
  • After these two bits of vital, life-saving information, comes the licensee’s address followed by the type of vehicle the holder is authorised to drive
  • Every driving license clearly tells the holder what type of vehicle and till when he is authorised to drive it.
  • The validity of the license is mentioned below the photograph. At the back of the license you have telephone numbers and code.
  • In case the license has been renewed when the old one expired, the number of the old license and the date when the original was issued are mentioned on the back of the license have to be given to.

Earlier driving licenses used to come in the form of booklets where your traffic offences were noted down by the policeman on duty. These booklets were neither easy to carry nor were they aesthetically designed. Modern driving licenses are smart cards. They contain a small golden chip. This chip is not a means of making the card pretty. It contains biometric information about the licensee.

Whenever required, the authorities can access all information about you by scanning the card. This is very useful to the police in keeping a record of your traffic offences. They can know all your previous offences at one glance by just scanning your card. It helps to keep control of habitual offenders. Driving licenses of habitual offenders can be suspended on the spot with the help of this chip which is embedded in the card. 

The microchip also helps the government to keep track of differently-abled drivers who have had their vehicles modified to suit their needs.

Another advantage is that the government is able to keep track of people who have pledged to donate organs in the unfortunate event of death in a road accident.

The digital age has brought about many changes in the format of the driving license. The government of India has issued orders that the registration certificate and driving license can be stored in DigiLocker. The license holder does not have to present a hard copy of his documents. A soft copy is acceptable and proof enough. 

Strict guidelines have been issued by the ministry of road transport to the traffic police about how to deal with those who break traffic rules on the roads.

If the driver is drunk and he fails the breath analyzer test he can be fined. If the alcohol level in his blood is way beyond the permissible level, his license can be suspended.

A driver who drives recklessly and does not adhere to speed limits can lose his license. One is not allowed to talk on the phone or jump traffic lights. These offences attract a stiff fine.

There are rules which state that you are not allowed to carry cargo in private vehicles. You are also not allowed to carry passengers in vehicles meant for ferrying goods.

All these rules have been stringently followed keeping in view the Supreme Court orders which pulled up the road transport department for the rising number of road fatalities.

Validity of the Driving License

  • An Indian driving license is valid for twenty years from the date it has been issued. Both the dates, when it was issued and when it will expire, are clearly mentioned on the license itself so there can be no confusion.
  • A license also expires when the holder becomes fifty years old if that is before the twenty-year lifespan of the license. This is for an ordinary license. A commercial driving license expires after three years.
  • When the driving license expires, it is the duty of the holder to get it renewed almost immediately or at least as soon as possible. The procedure is not lengthy. Driving with a license that has expired is as much a legal offence as driving a motor vehicle without a valid license.

International Driving License

  • An international driving license is issued only to those who have a valid Indian driving license. Apart from knowing all the rules and regulations applicable on Indian roads, the licensee will be expected to know and follow international rules as well.
  • He will have to be well versed in international road signs and at least one language that is spoken internationally.
  • The fee structure is more expensive than the Indian fee structure.

Lost Driving License

  •  If you have had the bad luck to lose your driving license, you must inform the regional transport office immediately. It has to be blocked with immediate effect.
  • You are also required to make a police complaint so that if it is misused, you are on safe ground.  This complaint cannot be made at any police station. A first information report has to be lodged in the area where you have lost the driving license. Every police station has jurisdiction over a limited area so the first information report has to be made where the driving license was lost. You should get a copy of first information report and keep it safely.
  • You should also execute an affidavit on a stamp paper stating under oath that the driving license has been lost. This will be proof of the loss in case any illegal activity is carried out using your driving license. This will cost you some money but it is worth it because it keeps you safe.

Everyone wonders why they should do all this if only a small card is lost.

  • This is a very important document as it contains a lot of information. It is a respected document and is issued only after much investigation and only if you are found eligible. Much can be lost through the loss of a driving license.
  • All that is given about you on a driving license adds up to a tremendous lot of information about you. If any criminal has a mind to it, he can steal your identity.
  • If it is lost you can apply for a duplicate with the regional transport office. But it is best to keep it safe. The first problem you will face if it is lost is that you will not be allowed to drive. Once you are in the habit of using your own vehicle, all other means of transport seem uncomfortable.
  • The driving license is an all-important card in the life of all Indians who drive. It is valuable because it serves so many purposes apart from bestowing freedom to drive. It also has the ability to keep in check any potential law breaker.

Important Points Related to Driving License

Indians have taken into their stride that jostling for space on the already overcrowded road will be a monster trucks and a battery-operated e-rickshaw which looks so flimsy that it might be blown away from the exhaust of the monster truck. But irrespective of the kind of vehicle he is driving, every driver must have a valid driving license issued by the government.

Currently, parents who permit their underage children to drive have been booked as accomplices if an accident is caused by their wards. No leeway is given to parents who look the other way when their child, who does not have a driving license, zooms off in one of the many cars parked in the drive ways and endangers lives of other road users.

Correctly speaking, every driver on the road, irrespective of the kind of vehicle she/he drives, must be qualified and be allowed to drive legally. To drive legally, one must possess a valid driving license issued by the government agency called the Regional Transport Office.

The current government has come down heavily on driving offences of various kinds. The proposed fines are stiffer, jail terms have been proposed and the last resort punishment would be cancellation of the offenders’ driving license.

The last-mentioned punishment is the most dreaded of all punishments because a driving license is not just a government-issued permit for Indians to drive. It is a means of establishing their identity. It is a proof of citizenship and also a proof of their age.

The law is very clear that every driver of any category of motor vehicle must have a valid driving license. There can be no compromise on this issue and every law-abiding citizen of India must acquire one before he can be seated on the drivers’ seat to drive his vehicle.

The rules which state this unequivocally are the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 and the Central Motor Rules of 1989. These rules also state that anyone who is driving must have his or her license on his or her person when driving. In case the license cannot be produced on demand by a government functionary on the road, the errant driver is liable to be imprisoned and his or her vehicle may be impounded.

So, if an Indian loses his driving license, he is bereft of his very identity, he is at a loss to prove where he lives and how old he is.  In the absence of a credible public transport system, if you cannot drive legally on Indian roads then you are sure to face punctuality issues.

There are other identity proofs such as the voters’ identity card and the Aadhaar card but neither of these is generally carried by the person as a driving license. There are different stages of learning to drive and acquiring licenses at different levels. Different kinds of driving licenses are issued for different kinds of vehicles. The processes and driving test are also different depending on the kind of vehicle you are seeking the license for.

Steps to apply for driving licence online

  • Step 1: Go to the Sarathi website of the Road Transport & Highways Ministry and click ‘Driving licence’ option on the left-hand side.
  • Step 2: Next, click on ‘Apply online' button from the drop-down menu and click the 'New Driving Licence'.
  • Step 3: Go through the instructions and click on the continue button.
  • Step 4: Now, enter details of your Learner's Licence/Foreign DL/Defence Licence. Fill in your Date of Birth and click OK.
  • Step 5: Enter your personal details as required and upload the documents like address proof, age proof, etc.
  • Step 6: Choose the suitable timing for the DL appointment. Your application will be sent to the RTO after payment.
  • Step 7: You will receive an application number, which you can use to track the status of the application. 

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