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India at a Glance

Foreign Drivers in India: Legal Aspects

If you are an adventurous spirit, driving in India might be the thrill you have been looking for. If not, you should rather get a professional driver to navigate you through the congested streets with their own unwritten rules. Our driving guide for expats gives you a good idea of what to expect.

Rules and Regulations

Contrary to what you may think about driving in India, there are specific rules and regulations that you are to follow on India’s roads. Although they are not as widely enforced as may be necessary, they still exist and should be obeyed.

Before adhering to the above listed road rules in India, you must be sure that you have an Indian driver’s license. The driver’s license is administered by the regional transport office which is under the government of the state, not the country. There are several types of licenses you can apply for, the most important being:

The process is fairly similar to most other countries. You need to apply for a learner’s license and take a written and practical exam in order to get a permanent license for driving legally. India does not consider foreign licenses valid. Alternatively, you can apply for an international driver’s license in your home country if you are in India on a short-term assignment for less than a year.

Import of Vehicles to India

Importing your used private car is a task that is not only somewhat tricky, but also rather expensive and, ultimately, pointless. As customs duties for imported used cars can be higher than 100% of their actual value, you should only really consider this option if there is absolutely no other way for you to obtain a car that fits your needs.

Most people need an import license in order to take their car with them to India. There are, however, a number of categories for exemption from the need for a license. Customs duties have to be paid in both cases. The exempt categories include, for instance, disabled persons who rely on vehicles customized to their needs, Indians returning to India after a period of at least two years abroad, honorary consuls, and branches or offices of foreign companies.

The vehicle you wish to import has to fulfill a number of requirements, such as a right-hand steering wheel and a speedometer indicating the speed in km/h. Cars whose engine capacity ranges from 1000cc to 2500cc are banned from import.

Please keep in mind that the port in Mumbai is currently the only point of entrance for imported used cars.

Vehicle Registration

To register a car in India, you have to go to the Regional Transport Office in your area of residence and request a registration form. Along with this completed form, you will need:

Car Insurance in India

The only mandatory vehicle insurance in India is third party liability insurance. You have the choice of adding a full-coverage policy, which includes liability against theft and damages by fire, flooding, or earthquakes. Taking into account the road conditions and general living conditions in India, this is probably not a bad idea. There are several good vehicle insurance companies in India, which offer solid and comparatively inexpensive policies.

Most Indians cannot afford to pay the fee for registering a car, let along pay the price of a car. Therefore less than half of the transport demand is made up of private vehicles. However, as an expat, you will probably find cars fairly cheap in India. In fact, the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano, was manufactured in India at the selling price of about 2,000 EUR.

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