Driving in India

Can foreigners drive in India? Is the International driver's license valid in the country? Find out in this article. 

Traffic conditions can often be chaotic in India. Roads are frequently overloaded with trucks, buses, rickshaws, bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians, cows and even elephants. Traffic rules are mostly not respected and it is not so unusual to see vehicles driving in the wrong way, or drivers ignoring traffic lights. Accidents are frequent, so caution is highly advised if you still need to drive in the country.

Road infrastructure

Indian roads, including highways, are generally very poorly maintained. Highways are often jammed with buses and overloaded trucks. People drive very fast, ignoring traffic signs, and mostly without lights. 

If you have to drive in India, bear in mind that Indian people do not drive like in Europe or Northern America, and it is virtually impossible to anticipate drivers' reactions. It is strongly advised to show your presence, even if you have to toot !

They drive on the left side of the road in the country.


Sometimes, when a vehicle is involved in a traffic accident with a pedestrian, a cow, a biker or a cyclist, it is fairly common that the driver is assaulted by bystanders and eyewitnesses. Should this occur, even if you're a passenger, you are advised to stay away from the scene of the accident, leave the car as soon as possible, and immediately go to the nearest police station.

If you plan to stay in India for a few days or weeks, note that renting a car is practically impossible. You  may, however, rent a car with chauffeur. This solution, rather cheap, will enable you to drive around relatively safely.

If you still need to drive, the International Driving License is recognized in India. However, if you have a long-stay visa, you have to apply for an Indian driving license.

Applying for a driver's license

Most foreign nationals can obtain a probationary Indian driving license, valid up to three months, before obtaining their full Indian license. The full Indian license is subjected to theoretical tests. Nationals of several countries must also take driving tests. 

Visit the nearest Traffic Branch in your area, bring your passport, two passport-sized photos, proof of residence and a medical certificate (if required). Charges apply.

You will then have to take theoretical tests, and, if successful, you will be delivered your probationary license. Then, apply for your full Indian License within three months (at least 30 days) after obtaining your probationary license.

  Useful links:

Government of India – Transports Department
Driver's license in India – General information

HERVER contributor
Member since 28 July 2008
Évian, France
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