How to get an Indian driver’s license using foreign one as a base

The system is almost entirely digitized and you can complete almost all of the steps online.

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Many of us are interested to know if we can drive abroad, with our Indian DLs, and how IDPs work, but there are a fair number of non-resident Indians (NRIs) or persons of Indian Origin (PIO) who might be interested to know if they can get an Indian license issued, on the basis of their international license, without jumping through the hoops including waiting for 30 days with a learner’s license and so on. The short answer? Yes, it’s possible, and it’s very easy. Read on to find out how!

Applying for Indian DL using a foreign DL as the base document:

If you have a foreign driver’s license, and importantly, you don’t have any previous Indian driver’s license, you can apply for a brand new Indian DL, and you’ll get it issued straight away, without the need for any driving tests or being required to hold a learner’s license for 30 days.

If you have a previously expired Indian driving license, or an Indian driving license for any other vehicle class, you can’t avail of this facility.

  • Visit the centralized Parivahan sarathi website for DLs here.
  • Select ‘Holding foreign DL’ as the option.
  • Fill in the details pertaining to your international DL.
  • Fill in your personal details and phone number details. Note that you can only specify an Indian mobile phone number, and you’ll need to have the ability to receive OTPs sent to this number to continue with your application.
  • Aadhaar is not a must for this service; I don’t have an Aadhaar, and you can authenticate by OTP instead, but you’ll have to have a valid Indian sim which can receive the OTP messages for you.
  • I have a European B license (car) and an AM license (moped), but I was told that I could only apply for LMV, as the AM category does not have a counterpart in India. Unless your international license clearly mentions motorcycle, you are not likely to get a MCWG (motorcycle with gear) or MCWoG (motorcycle without gear) license.
  • The payment gateway can be buggy, so it is best avoided altogether. Just fill in all the details, upload scanned copies of all documents and directly visit your local RTO, where you can complete fee payment and provide biometrics.
  • Pay for DL dispatch costs and you should get your DL sent to your Indian address by registered post. Note that you’ll have to have an Indian address for the ‘Present Address’, and you’ll need a document such as a voter id, aadhaar card, or passport which can be presented as address proof.

Caveats:

  • You can’t proceed without an Indian sim which is capable of receiving OTP SMS.
  • You’ll need an Indian address, and have a valid document to offer as address proof.
  • Payment once done cannot be refunded under any circumstances, so don’t pay online. Visit your local RTO, ensure that they are satisfied with your documentation, supply any additional documents that might be required and only then proceed to pay the fees. I lost the fees paid as I’d included LMV and MCWG and was told that I’d have to cancel and reapply and pay the fees afresh, but only for LMV, as they didn’t recognize the European AM license category.
  • The system has a ridiculous requirement that all documents should be under 512 kilobytes! If you have a PDF/JPG that larger in size, it will not work. You’ll have to reduce the resolution and rescan.

The positives:

  • The system is almost entirely digitized and you can complete almost all of the steps online.
  • Absolutely no need of approaching touts for your work. If you read the instructions properly and upload all of the documents that are needed, the system itself will show you a green ‘complete’ status; if anything is missing, it is clearly highlighted, so you’ll not get any unpleasant surprises at the last minute.
  • No need to take any printouts other than that of the application acknowledgement page, with a case number and a barcode.

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