Monday, February 27, 2017

Getting LL, DL, IDP in Bangalore without Agent

I tried, and succeeded, in getting Learning License and Driving License in Bangalore without any intermediary and without any "under the counter" fee. Here is my experience related to Electronic City (KA-51) RTO in past one month.

Learner's License

  1. Fill online application at Karnataka Transport portal.
    1. You will have click on 'English' at top right few times to get the page in English. I filled application under Sarathi-3 system.
    2. Really all they need is Application Number and few basic details. Application can only be done online and not on paper. You can either fill online and get printout or fill basic detail, submit, get application number, and then fill paper application.
    3. If you need standard license, select MCWG (Motor-Cycle With Gear) and LMV (Light Motor Vehicle, Car, etc.). I had to make extra trip because I filled both Motor-Cycle With Gear and Without Gear but apparently first covers the second so both weren't wanted.
  2. Provide supporting documents
    1. Get right proof of age and address (original and copy)
    2. Attach one photograph to application. Even though it asks you for 3 copies, they aren't required because you get photographed at RTO.
  3. Go to RTO. Cash (Fee) counter opens until 12:30pm on Saturday and 2:30pm on Weekdays so you want to have 2-3 hours with you for whole process. Try to reach by 11am. New location in Begur Rd has functioning Enquiry counter so they try to help.
  4. First pay the fee in Cash Counter 2 or 3 showing your application. I was charged 30/- for each class, 60/- in total. This was before fee hike happened in early January 2017. They will provide require receipts, called "challans". Cashier didn't try to overcharge me, but is direct and not-friendly. Given his workload though, I wouldn't complain, and he will answer question if you ask.
  5. Get into huge queue to get your documents verified at Room 1. Staple (or Pin, available at Enquiry desk) your documents with challan at top, application in middle, proofs in the end. While your time reading about road signs hanging around.
  6. In about 30 minutes you will enter room, and get your turn with Assistant Inspector of some sort. This guy was very particular about anyone not stepping an inch ahead of yellow waiting line but was clinical about process. If your documents are in order, he will tick or sign on papers. He will ask to see both your hands flattened out on desk, perhaps to do "high quality" medical due diligence about your driving abilities. If you are missing a paper, he will ask you to get one. Anything forms, envelopes, etc. which you need to buy can be obtained from tea-shops outside, of course, at heavy premium. You can usually skip the long queue if you are coming with additional documents on the same day.
  7. Next you will go to Biometric Room 2 (nearby Room 1) where after showing your packet, and waiting few minutes, you will be photographed and thumb-printed. This shouldn't take much time.
  8. You will be asked to go down (find stairs) and go to a place which is crowded with people waiting for their LL Test. Guy outside on desk will check your papers again and ask you to sign in register. As this stage they made me buy prepaid postage envelope (17/- Stamp, 30/- price, a trip to tea-shop again) but I realized that it's not required and others didn't have it.
  9. Test is, of course, a joke. I had imagined computerized or written test, but I just got into Inspector's room with 50 others and he spend next 15 minutes explaining and asking to random people meaning of various signs. No one failed, and he was very particular about cautionary signs indicating caution "200 meters before". If you stay towards end of crowd, you can just get by mumbling something and trying to appear inconspicuous.
  10. End of session, he will collect the document packet and you are done for the day. 2 sheets of LL, one for each MCWG and LMV will be available in a week's time. If you need to learn or take classes, you need to collect these and go about practicing. I didn't so I could've just collected them on day I applied for DL, and saved myself a trip to RTO.
  11. If you don't make errors, you can do all this in one visit and 3-4 hours, which is achievement of the sort. Collect your LLs from Room 4 in few days. No identification needed really nor any register entry made, so anyone can collect anyone else's.

Driving License

  1. Fill the same application at same portal, except choose DL as purpose of application. You only need application (with photograph) and previous LLs as documents.
  2. Buy stamped envelop (30/-) and a transparent pouch (3/-) from tea-shops outside. Also get Form-4 (3/-) for Driving Inspector to provide feedback.
  3. Pay fee at Cash Counter, which will include license, smart card, and testing fee. Exact 1000/- for two classes of vehicles. This was after fee hike in early January 2017.
  4. Get your documents verified in Room 1. Staple everything with Both challans at front, Form 4, DL application, previous LLs, envelop, transparent pouch in that order.
  5. Go to Room 8 upstairs for Biometric and then Room 4 downstairs for some computer entry.
  6. Then you have to go a Driving Test area which is outside RTO office in nearby street. Ask at Enquiry desk and get there. You will have to have your own Car and Gear Bike for testing.
  7. There was only one inspector who had asked all Bikers first, and Cars later, to get in line. Only thing he asked on both occasion was hand signs: right (right arm stretch, palm facing front), left (circular motion with right hand), slow-down (up-down motion with right arm, palm facing down), stop (right arm up at elbow, palm facing front). Then he asked me go to dead-end and come back. No one really checked anything and unless you hit someone or something or fall down within 20 feet of him, you cannot fail. Meanwhile he will have scribbled something on your application which you can collect. You will have to do this twice for both (bike and car) vehicles.
  8. Go to RTO Room 9 to get another register entry and submit all document packet. They will ask vehicle number (Registration Card) and insurance validity to note in register. I had worked myself into panic in getting RC, PUC and Insurance for Car and Bike but really PUC was not asked and you could just give any RC or Insurance details irrespective of vehicle you gave test in. They didn't keep copy but noted down in register only, so even phone picture did it for me. I had also wondered about getting additional driver for car and bike apart from me in case genuine question comes up about who drove the test vehicle (since you are supposedly still don't have license) but then nobody bothered asking these, so you could get one too. Also rental bike is okay too since no documents asked during testing and no bike verified during register entry.
  9. You are done, in about 4 hours. License should come to your house in 4-6 weeks. If not, go there and remind them! It did for me in 4 weeks.


IDP, aka International Driving Permit, is document stating that you hold valid DL in your home country. This is often required if your DL is not in English. Since Indian DL is usually in English, this doesn't serve any additional purpose but still some country and states in USA require one. Here is process of how to get one.

Note that you will get IDP from RTO only if your DL is also from same RTO. I didn't expect this given DL is for whole of India and chip DL is connected to computerized network, but then whole IDP process is exercise in redundancy, so there you have it.
  1. Documents you need are:
    1. Application for IDP, Form-4A (pdf here)
    2. Original DL, Original Passport
    3. One photocopy of DL, Passport front/back/visa page, flight tickets on your name (to and fro)
    4. Medical declaration and certificate from registered medical practitioner, Form-1 and Form-1A (pdf here)
    5. Paste passport size photos in application and medical certificate
    6. 3 additional passport size photographs
  2. For RTO Electronic City, signed medical declaration and certificate is available at xerox shops opposite RTO for 100/- (yes, Indian jugaad) where you can fill your name and details.
  3. Pin all documents and go to RTO Room 12 for verification and signature. There is unlikely to be any queue here. There is a rule that you need to reappear for driving test if DL is issued within last 3 months but they didn't seem to notice or mind this in my case, so nothing was asked.
  4. After signature, pay 1000/- at Cash Counter against fee and obtain challan.
  5. Include challan and submit documents again at Room 12, and obtain acknowledgement slip
  6. Collect your IDP after 1-2 weeks.
  7. When I went to collect IDP they informed me for need for additional driving test since my DL was less than 3 months old. [Yeah, they don't read application when they accept and only later when they process it.] Even though IDP was already ready, I was asked to go for driving test. After requests to hurry, I was informed to just pay fee for test (visit to cash counter, challan for 300/-) and then collect the IDP.

Planning your own foreign trip, with Sri Lanka as example

Cross-published at This guide is about...