BENGALURU: Ensuring that drivers follow traffic rules in Bengaluru has always been a hassle for traffic cops and adding to their woes are foreigners riding without valid driving licences (DL).
This is no surprise considering the hassle they have to go through in getting an Indian licence, foreigners say. With fines being as low as Rs 300-400, most prefer to risk driving without a valid licence.
According to a Transport Department official, foreigners living in India for less than a year can obtain a learners’ licence which they can then use for up to one year without having to obtain a driving licence.
However, for longer stays, it becomes mandatory to obtain a proper DL. In most cases, the lack of address proof plays a major role in foreigners choosing not to apply for a DL.
Rolf Daan, a 61-year-old from the Netherlands, has been residing in the city for four years and does not own an international driving permit or a local licence. So far, he has managed to avoid being caught by the police as he follows most rules. Speaking to City Express, he said, “The traffic police tend to avoid catching foreigners, probably because it is a hassle for them,” he said.
This has been the case for several other foreigners in the city.
“I do not have a licence and use my Indian friend’s bike to commute to nearby places. As of now, I have not applied for a learner’s licence since I have only two more years to complete my studies. Paying extra for this is a waste of money,” said Kareem Abdulla, a first-year Afghan student.
However, traffic police disagree on this process and state that any foreigner without an International Driving Permit (IDP) or a local licence will be subjected to penalties.
“The IDP will be provided by their respective embassy or even the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and without a valid IDP, depending on their vehicle type, a fine will be given,” said a senior traffic official.
However, this fine ranges between Rs 300 for two-wheelers and Rs 400 for cars, which, for most foreigners, is a manageable amount in comparison to the hassle of going through a lot of procedures for a licence.
“I have so many Indian friends who are struggling to get their licence, and as I am here for three years, I initially tried to get a licence. But the RTO offices are confusing and most times the agents there tend to loot you knowing you are a foreigner. I have managed to complete two years and have just one more year to go. So, I won’t be applying for a licence,” said Peter Samuel.
Procedure to be followed
Apply for a learners licence if you are located in India for less than one year.
Apply for a learners licence and convert the same to a drivers license if in India for more than one year.
Apply for an International Drivers Permit from your home country and use the same for one year in India.
Fines range between Rs 300 to Rs 400 depending on type of vehicle.
(Names changed on request).