Fulbright to India Guide – 2021-2022

Driving in India

Driving in India requires a valid driving license issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in India. This is applicable for NRIs (Non-Resident Indian) and foreigners as well. Even if they have a driving license in their home/residing countries, they must obtain a license in India if they wish to drive their motor vehicles within India. RTOs have a specific set of guidelines for issuing driving licenses to drivers from foreign countries. Those who already have driving licenses in their home countries will not have much difficulty when it comes to getting a driving license.

Please keep in mind however, that driving in India can be quite stressful for those not used to heavy traffic. Also, lane driving is not common in India, so navigating a busy road can be quite an adventure! It is not uncommon to find animals also straying on Indian roads in smaller cities (Varanasi will often have bulls gracing the streets!). Overall we encourage you all to rely on public transport like Uber and Ola or the metro services in Delhi, Kolkata and a few other cities in India. In other words, please leave the driving to the professionals!


Guidelines for Foreigners

There are people who come to India from other countries for professional as well as personal reasons. These visitors can get driving license in India according to Section 9(3)(a)(iii) of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. Once they obtain the license, they can drive their vehicles throughout the country without any hassles. Before getting a license, the following factors must be taken into consideration:

  • Foreigners cannot use their home/residing country license to drive on Indian roads.
  • An international driving license is valid in India, but the validity is restricted to a maximum of one year.
  • NRIs and foreigners who wish to reside in India for more than one year must apply for an Indian driving license.
  • Those who already have driving licenses in their home countries can apply for a driving license in India without getting a learner’s permit.
  • Applicants who wish to get a driving license can apply for it in their nearest RTOs.
  • The applicant must be at least 18 years of age in order to obtain a driving license in India.

There are also cases where foreigners enjoy a leisure trip and drive to certain parts of India. No matter what your reason is, you need to have a valid driving license before you can drive a vehicle in India. The process for obtaining a driving license given above is mostly hassle-free. However, you may have to wait for a while before you get the required license.

How-to Drive in India – 2024 Guide for Foreigners


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