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Types of Driving Licence Categories in India

Updated On Oct 15, 2023

Types of Driving Licence in India

Navigating through the bustling roads of India requires not just adept driving skills but also a valid driving licence. A driving licence in India is a legal permit issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO), granting an individual the authorisation to drive a specific category of vehicle on Indian roads. The licence not only establishes your eligibility to drive but also serves as a valid identity proof. In this article, we will delve deep into the various categories of driving licences available in India.

Driving Licences: Categories and Vehicle Classes You Should Know

Driving licences in India are categorised based on the type of vehicle one is permitted to drive. These categories help in clearly defining the eligibility and specifications of the vehicle you can operate. Below are the prominent driving licence categories in India:

  • LMV-NT (Light Motor Vehicle—Non-Transport): This category permits the holder to drive light motor vehicles meant for personal use, and not for commercial purposes. It includes cars, jeeps, and delivery vans.
  • MC 50CC (Motorcycle 50CC): Individuals who wish to ride motorcycles with an engine capacity up to 50cc can apply for this licence category. It is often obtained by teenagers who are above 16 years old but below 18.
  • FVG (Motorcycle without Gear): This licence category is for individuals who want to operate mopeds and scooters without gears.
  • MCWG or M/CYCL.WG (Motorcycle with Gear): If you intend to ride motorcycles or scooters equipped with gears, you need a licence under this category.
  • LMV-TR (Light Motor Vehicle—Transport): This licence allows holders to drive light motor vehicles for commercial purposes. It’s mandatory for individuals driving taxis, delivery vans, or other LMVs for transporting goods and passengers.
  • HMV (Heavy Motor Vehicle): For driving heavy vehicles like trucks and buses, individuals need to acquire a licence under the HMV category. It’s imperative that one has experience in driving LMVs before applying for an HMV licence.
  • HPMV (Heavy Passenger Motor Vehicle): This category is similar to HMV but specifically for vehicles designed to transport passengers.
  • Trailer: A licence for driving a trailer can only be applied for after one has obtained an HMV licence. This category allows the holder to drive heavy transport vehicles along with a trailer attached.

Each type of licence in India is meticulously designed to align with the varied types of vehicles plying on the roads. Understanding these categories is imperative for prospective drivers to ensure that they apply for the appropriate type of licence.

Types of Driving Licence Categories in India

Types Driving Licences in India

India has a structured system for issuing driving licences, ensuring that each driver is qualified to navigate specific types of vehicles. Understanding the nature of various licences is essential for every aspiring and current driver in the country. Below we outline the primary types of driving licences in India.

1. Learner's Licence (LL):

  • Description: The Learner’s Licence is a provisional licence granted to individuals learning to drive. It is a prerequisite for obtaining a Permanent Driving Licence.
  • Validity: It’s valid for six months.
  • Eligibility: Applicants should be at least 16 years old for a two-wheeler licence and 18 years for a four-wheeler licence.

2. Permanent Driving Licence (DL):

  • Description: A Permanent Driving Licence is issued after the individual has held a Learner’s Licence for at least a month and has passed the requisite driving test.
  • Validity: It’s generally valid for 20 years from the issuance date or until the holder turns 50, whichever comes first.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must possess a valid Learner’s Licence and have adequate driving skills.

3. Commercial Driving Licence:

  • Description: This licence is mandatory for individuals who wish to drive commercial vehicles, taxis, auto-rickshaws, or other transport vehicles.
  • Validity: It varies but usually needs renewal every three years.
  • Eligibility: Applicants should be at least 20 years old, with a valid Permanent Driving Licence.

4. International Driving Permit (IDP):

  • Description: An IDP allows Indian citizens to drive in foreign countries. It’s issued to individuals who already possess a Permanent Driving Licence.
  • Validity: It’s typically valid for a year from the issuance date.
  • Eligibility: Holding a valid Permanent Driving Licence with at least a year’s driving experience is necessary.

Now that you know how many types of driving licence are there in India, let’s move on to why it’s important. 

Why is a Driving Licence Important?

A Driving Licence in India is crucial for various reasons:

  • Legal Requirement: It’s illegal to drive without a valid licence in India, and doing so can lead to hefty fines or imprisonment.
  • Proof of Identity: The licence serves as a government-acknowledged identity proof, accepted nationwide.
  • Driving Proficiency: Obtaining a licence ensures that the individual has demonstrated basic driving skills and knowledge of traffic rules, contributing to road safety.
  • Legal Protection: In case of accidents or traffic violations, a driving licence provides a legal safeguard, helping in the swift resolution of issues.

What is an Adapted Vehicle Licence?

An Adapted Vehicle Licence is issued to individuals with disabilities who operate modified vehicles designed to accommodate their specific needs. These modifications or adaptations are made to ensure that driving is safe and accessible for everyone, regardless of physical limitations.

Key Features of an Adapted Vehicle Licence:

  • Customised Controls: Adapted vehicles might have altered controls, such as hand-operated brakes or accelerators, to assist drivers who may have limitations in using their legs.
  • Wheelchair Accessibility: Some vehicles are modified to allow easy entry and exit for wheelchair users, including ramps and widened doors.
  • Enhanced Safety Features: Adaptations may also include specialised safety features to protect drivers with disabilities in case of accidents.
  • Special Training: Individuals applying for an Adapted Vehicle Licence often undergo tailored training programs to ensure they can safely operate their customised vehicles.
  • Identification: The licence for adapted vehicles is often marked with a unique code that identifies the specific adaptations made to the vehicle.

Disadvantages of Not Having a Valid Driving Licence in India

Driving without a valid licence in India is illegal and comes with several disadvantages:

  • Legal Penalties: Unlicensed drivers face hefty fines and legal penalties, including imprisonment. The penalties have been made more stringent under the amended Motor Vehicles Act of 2019.
  • No Insurance Coverage: In the event of an accident, insurance companies will not cover the damages if the driver does not possess a valid driving licence. This can lead to significant financial loss.
  • Lack of Legal Protection: Without a licence, individuals lose legal standing and protection in traffic-related disputes, accidents, or violations.
  • Restricted Mobility: Without a valid licence, individuals are legally restricted from operating a vehicle, limiting their personal and professional mobility.
  • Legal Complications: Being caught without a valid licence can lead to further legal complications and can significantly impact one's record and reputation.

What to Do If You Lose Your Driving Licence?

Losing your driving licence can be stressful since it's a crucial identity and driving document. However, you can obtain a duplicate licence by following these steps:

  1. File an FIR:

The first step is to file a First Information Report (FIR) at your local police station stating the loss of your driving licence.

  1. Apply Online:

Visit the official website of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (Parivahan Sewa).

Navigate to the “Driving Licence” services and choose “Apply Online”.

Select “Services on Driving Licence” and fill out the application form.

Pay the necessary fees for a duplicate license online.

3. Document Submission:

Submit the FIR, online application form, and other required documents (like age and address proof) at your local RTO.

4. RTO Visit:

Schedule and attend an appointment at the RTO for verification.

5. Receive Duplicate Licence:

Once verified, the duplicate licence will be sent to your registered address.

What to Do If Your Driving Licence Expires?

If your driving licence expires, it’s imperative to renew it at the earliest. Here’s a step-wise guide for the renewal process:

1. Application Form:

Fill out the application form (Form 9) available online on the Parivahan Sewa website or at your local RTO.

2. Document Submission:

Along with the application, submit the expired driving licence, passport-size photos, and medical certificate (Form 1A), if applicable.

3. Fee Payment:

Pay the prescribed renewal fee online or at the RTO.

4. RTO Appointment:

Book and attend an appointment for document and application verification.

5. Licence Renewal:

Post-verification, the renewed licence will be issued. You may receive it on the spot or it might be sent to your registered address.

Final Thoughts

Navigating through the multifaceted process of obtaining, renewing, and maintaining a valid driving licence in India can appear daunting, but with the right information, the journey becomes significantly smoother. 

Understanding and respecting the rules and procedures associated with driving licences is not just a legal imperative but also a crucial step towards ensuring safety and order on the bustling roads of India. With this knowledge in hand, you're not only a lawful but also a responsible and informed driver contributing positively to the country’s driving community. 


  1. While my permanent licence is being processed, may I drive?

If your permanent licence arrives during the learner's licence validity term, you may drive using your learner's licence until then.

  1. After receiving a learner's licence, when may I apply for a permanent licence?

30 days after obtaining your learner's licence, but no later than 180 days before it expires, you may apply for a permanent licence.

  1. Is there an age restriction in India for getting a driver's licence?

The minimum age to operate a non-geared two-wheeler up to fifty is sixteen. The candidate must be at least eighteen (18) years old for other types of vehicles.

  1. How much time does a commercial driver's licence last?

Typically, a commercial driver's licence has a three-year expiration date and must be renewed.

  1. What paperwork is needed to renew a licence?

A completed Form 9, an expired driver's licence, passport-sized photos, and a medical certificate (if applicable) are required.

  1. Is it possible to renew my driver's licence online?

Indeed, a lot of Indian states allow drivers to renew their licences online. Consult the Parivahan Sewa website or your local RTO for more information.

  1. Does India accept International Driving Permits (IDPs)?

Driving abroad in nations that have ratified the 1949 Geneva Convention is permissible with an IDP. It cannot be used to drive in India.

  1. How may my lost driver's licence be replaced?

At your neighbourhood RTO or online, you must file a formal complaint, complete a duplicate licence application (L.L.D.), turn in the necessary paperwork, and pay the requisite price.

  1. What are the consequences of operating a vehicle without a valid licence?

According to the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, driving without a valid licence carries a fine of Rs. 5,000, a maximum three-month jail sentence or both.

  1. I have a two-wheeler licence; can I drive a car with it?

No, each type of vehicle requires a distinct category of licence. A licence given for a two-wheeler cannot be used to drive an automobile, and vice versa.


This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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