International Driving Permit India
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driver’s License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
In comparison, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in India?
Foreign driver’s license holders (international license holders) can drive in India with an international driving permit for 12 months. IDPs are valid in India for 12 months from their issue. You must carry a valid foreign driver’s license with an IDP. You may use your IDP as a personal identification document during traffic stops.
How do you apply for an IDP in India?
You can apply for an International Driving Permit through our website.
How long should I expect it to take to get an IDP?
You will get a digital version of your international driving permit within 2 hours of your email. If you choose the Express Order option, you will get it within 20 minutes. The official printed IDP will be delivered to an address of your choice. It will take 2 to 30 working days to reach you, depending on the location and chosen delivery method.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
The United Nations has had three international motor traffic conventions. The first was in Paris in 1926, the second in Geneva in 1949, and the last in Vienna in 1968. Many countries were contracted to honor IDPs according to defined standards during each convention. Each country has a few institutions authorized by the UN to issue international driving permits.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in India
Functionality as an ID
In certain countries, there are security concerns regarding traveling with important documents such as your valid passport or national ID. You may choose to carry your legally recognized international driving permit instead. It is also handy if your identification documents are not in an internationally recognized language such as English.
Quicker traffic authority stops.
Even if the country you are traveling in allows you to use your foreign driver’s license without an international driving permit, you may still want to carry an IDP. It serves as a translation document if your valid driving license is not in a recognized language. Police officers can process your information and send you on your way quickly, saving you valuable vacation time.
Car rental companies
Most international and domestic car rental agencies will require an international driving permit even if the country they function in does not. This is because the IDP is a legal document recognized by the United Nations. An IDP is also helpful if the license or identification documents required by the car rental company are not in an internationally recognized language.
Laws requiring an IDP
India was contracted to the International Motor Traffic Convention of Geneva in 1949. International driver’s permits are recognized for one year from the issue date. You are required to carry a valid driver’s license in addition to your IDP.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in India
Short-term visitors vs. residents
If you come to India with a tourist or business visa, you are considered a short-term visitor. Short-term visitors are not required to get an Indian driving license. Any visa that is granted over 180 days is considered a long-term visa. You will be considered an Indian resident after registration with the Foreign Regional Registration Office and given an Indian resident’s permit. Foreign residents must get an Indian national driving license after 12 months of residency.
How long can you drive a vehicle with a foreign driving license?
You can drive for a year with a foreign driver’s license, and you should have a valid license and a valid international driving permit.
When should I get an Indian Driver’s License?
The Indian bureaucratic processes are time-consuming as they have many checks and balances, and the process is lengthened by the sparse use of technology in government offices. The Indian law enforcement officials will be polite and kind, but traffic stops will bite your work day. Even though India allows you to drive for a year with a foreign license, you should consider getting an Indian driving license within a couple of months if you plan on living and working in India.
How to get an Indian driving license
If you have a driving license from a foreign country, you can convert your license to an Indian one. Check the Indian Regional Transport Office website to see if the foreign country that issued your license is one of the 150 recognized countries. You should follow this procedure to get your Indian driver’s license:
- Be 18 to apply for a driving license for a two-wheeler, light motor vehicle (including cars), or a heavy motor vehicle (bus or truck).
- Go to the nearest Regional Transport Office (RTO) of the state you are living in.
- Fill out and submit the relevant application form for a license exchange.
- Submit valid proof of residence (a utility bill will suffice in most cases).
- Make and submit a photocopy of your driver’s license.
- Submit two passport-sized color photographs of yourself.
- Get and submit a medical certificate validating your capacity to drive from an authorized medical practitioner.
- Pay the required fees.
When exchanging your license, you will not be required to take additional driving tests, such as the practical test. You will also not be required to get a learner’s permit as per the regular procedure. Suppose you do not have a valid foreign driver’s license from a recognized country. In that case, you will be asked to follow the standard procedure for getting an Indian driver’s license from scratch.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in India
Renewing your International Driver’s Permit
You can renew your IDP on our website.
Renewing your original driver’s license
If your license expires while abroad, you will need to renew it. Each country has a unique procedure for renewing driving licenses, and some countries have an online portal facilitating this process for expatriates living or traveling abroad. However, some countries will require a visit back home because of the prerequisite vision or medical exams. When using an international driving permit, you need a valid driving license.
Car Rental in India
Requirements for car rental
Many rental companies require you to be 18, while others will have an age limit of 21 or 23. You should have had your license for a year, and you should have an IDP in addition to your driving license. Many Indian car rental companies allow credit, debit, or cash rentals, and you should provide a copy of your valid passport as identification. A hefty deposit is required for almost all rentals.
Deposit and costs for car rental
Indian car rental agencies require a deposit of $750 to $3,000, and the rental deposit will be lower for Indian-made budget cars like the Tata Nano. You should convert your foreign exchange to Rupees before dealing with a rental agency, as the conversion rates will be considerably lower. You will pay between $30 to $75 daily for a rental vehicle. A week’s rental for an average-sized four-door sedan will set you back $320, and luxury vehicles will cost considerably more.
Like in most other countries, the minimum required by India is 3rd party insurance cover for driving on its roads. Third-party insurance covers damage to persons, animals, or property due to your error, but not any cost to yourself or your rental vehicle. You are strongly recommended to get theft and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) coverage on your insurance policy. The CDW cover should be enough to cover $5,000 worth of damage, and the theft cover should cover the estimated value of the rental vehicle. If possible, you should get Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW), as it will cover all costs in an accident.
Thanks to its spiritual roots, India’s crime rate is relatively low for a low-income country. However, it would help if you got travel and car insurance to ensure a smooth visit. You should look out for these aspects when reviewing your travel insurance options:
- Hospital stays during your visit should be covered.
- Any costs incurred due to cancellation or lost deposits should be covered.
- The cost of loss of damaged baggage should be covered.
- Any liability due to excess costs not covered by your car insurance should be covered.
- Emergency dental procedures should be covered.
- Funeral costs in an extreme eventuality should be covered.
Driving and Safety in India
Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?
You may download a copy of the northern highway signage and road rules at https://morth.nic.in/sites/default/files/road_safety_books.pdf. You should go to the website of the state you are in or to the state’s regulatory body to obtain an up-to-date copy of the highway code. You may find books on the highway code in bookstores, but they may not be entirely up-to-date. If you enroll in a driving course, the driving school will probably have the latest driving handbook.
Overtaking on Indian roads
You should overtake on the right-hand side in India as people drive on the left side. However, on most roads, motorists will overtake on whichever side there is free space. You are legally required to check your mirrors and ensure sufficient space is available ahead of the vehicle before overtaking. Most motorists and pedestrians will not look kindly to you horning loudly for cows to move out of the way as they are considered sacred. Overtaking them should be done carefully and respectfully. There are vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians crossing or going in the opposite direction at all times, so slow speeds are recommended.
Turning and right of way on Indian roads
Drivers using the main road have priority over drivers from a minor lane. Vehicles going straight or left have priority if both roads are equal. This means that drivers turning right must wait until space is available. The amount of space that’s required depends on the amount of traffic on the road. If it’s fast-moving traffic, it is considered rude to make the oncoming drivers slow down too sharply.
You must slow down on junctions that don’t have signs or traffic lights. You should generally slow down enough to come to a complete stop if a motorist is coming from an alternate direction at speed.
When you reach a roundabout, you should merge, giving way to the present traffic. A vehicle currently using the roundabout has priority over a vehicle entering it.
The upper-speed limits on Indian roads are fixed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. You may go on urban roads at 70 km/h (44 mph). The speed limit for national highways is 100 km/h (63 mph) and 120 km/h (75 mph) for expressways. Each state may implement speed limits lower than those of the federation. Some states have urban road speed limits as low as 30 km/h (19 mph). You should read the road rules of any state you enter to know the speed limits.
Tips for driving in India
- Indians drive on the left side of the road.
- You should be 16 to drive mopeds and motorcycles under 50 cc. The minimum age for any other vehicle is 18.
- You are legally required to wear seatbelts when in urban areas. Wearing a seatbelt is advised for non-urban roads.
- Always be prepared to come to a complete stop within a fraction of a second when in an urban setting.
- Two-wheelers and three-wheelers will rarely put on signal lights when overtaking, turning, or stopping.
- Some drivers will put the left signal light on for going right.
- Do not listen to music or engage in other activities that might divert your attention when in an urban high-traffic area.
- You are generally not allowed to use your mobile phone unless you use a hands-free device.
Drinking and driving
You can only have a blood-alcohol content of 0.03% when driving on Indian roads. The specific punitive measures dealt varies from state to state. However, you can expect to get fined $140 and jailed for up to 6 months if caught driving under the influence. Repeat offenses will most likely get you a jail sentence of up to 2 years with a higher fine. The penalties will be very high if you are involved in an accident while under the influence. If a person is harmed or killed due to your negligence under the influence, there is a high chance you will face mob violence. Instances, where the driver’s vehicles are set on fire are not uncommon.
Top 3 Places to Visit in India
Agra is home to one of the world’s most recognizable wonders, the Taj Mahal. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Shah Jahan built this glorious monument of love in the 17th century in honor of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The estimated cost for the mausoleum is $1 billion (INR 78 billion). The works required the skills of 20,000 artisans led by the court architect himself. The Taj Mahal is viewed as the height of Mughal architecture and attracts close to 6 million visitors annually. Uttar Pradesh, where Agra is located, is full of Mughal monuments, including tombs and mausoleums. You can also visit the Agra Fort, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
New Delhi is India’s political capital. It is a busy city with loads to offer new and old-comer tourists alike. Some areas of the city are modern, while others are filled with ancient architecture and buildings. You should visit some of India’s renowned historical sites in New Delhi, such as the Jama Masjid and Red Fort. You should also do some shopping at the bustling Chandni Chowk shopping thoroughfare. Unlimited spiritual and historical buildings and sites are scattered across this ancient city to explore for months, if not years. If you have time, visit the Lotus Temple, India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, and Qutub Minar.
The commercial capital of India is Mumbai. It’s a fast-moving metropolis of over 20 million people. It is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and the city’s distinctive ensemble of Victorian and Art Deco buildings. It is a financial center with the highest number of billionaires in India and the highest number of urban poor. You can enjoy the experience at the bustling ‘Thieves Market,’ where sellers sell looted goods openly during the wee hours. If you have time, visit the Churchgate railway station, where hundreds of thousands of free lunches are packed for delivery to the city’s office workers.
Am I required to have an IDP in India?
Most countries require you to have an international driving permit in addition to a driving license when driving.
Can I drive a vehicle with a foreign license in India?
Yes, you can use your valid driving license for up to 1 year in India with the use of an IDP. You are required to get an Indian license after a year.
Can I use my EU driver’s license in India?
Yes, you may use it for up to 12 months in India. You need to have an international driving permit while using your license.
How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in India?
As India is contracted to the International Motor Traffic Convention of Geneva, it recognizes IDPs for 12 months from issue.
How long will transferring my license to an Indian one take?
The lead time required for exchanging your license depends on your applied state. States such as Kerala that have efficient administrations might take two weeks, and others might take up to 3 months.