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What are the rules to drive in India as a foreign citizen?

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Being a tourist, driving in India can be an exhilarating journey that opens up opportunities to discover destinations and immerse yourself in the cultural tapestry of this country. It’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the documentation required for driving in India. Additionally, navigating the road network may seem daunting and perplexing initially due to its rules and dynamics. In this article, we aim to provide guidelines and regulations to ensure your driving experience in India is enjoyable and safe.

The good news– Foreigners can drive in India

Foreigners are allowed to drive in India if they have the right type of driving license. Depending on the situation, this can either be an International driving license or an Indian License. An international driving license for India remains valid for one year from the date it is issued. 

  • International Driving Permit (IDP): Before setting off on roads, it is crucial to possess an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to your original driver’s license from your home country. As a foreigner, this permit is mandatory. It can be easily obtained from your driving authority before travelling to India.
  • Left-Hand Traffic:  In India, it’s worth mentioning that traffic follows the left-hand side of the road. Consequently, the driver’s seat is positioned on the right side of the vehicle. It is wise to get accustomed to this shift in perspective before embarking on your journey, ensuring a seamless driving experience.
  • Documentation: Ensure you always have your passport, visa and other necessary identification documents while driving. Law enforcement officers may request these documents at any point. It’s crucial to have them easily accessible.
  • Road signs and signals: Before you hit the road, it’s important to get acquainted with all the road signs, signals and traffic regulations. Knowing and understanding these signs will not help you navigate traffic smoothly but keep you safe by avoiding any possible accidents.
  • Speed limits: Be mindful of the varying speed limits posted in areas. It’s important to obey these speed limits and follow all traffic regulations to ensure safety and prevent complications.
  • Carry Protection: Whether you’re driving a car or riding a two-wheeler, make sure you always wear your seat belt or helmet respectively. Prioritising safety is essential when on roads.
  • Defensive Driving: Indian roads can be chaotic with various vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. Defensive driving is key in situations – anticipate lane changes, jaywalkers and unexpected turns.
  • Honking Rules: In India, honking is a way of signalling intentions and presence on the road. However, it’s best to refrain from honking in residential areas or during late hours.
  • Steer Clear of Night Travel: If you need to get more familiar with the road conditions in India, avoiding driving at night is recommended. Visibility can be compromised, making it more challenging to spot road hazards.
  • Insurance Protection: Make sure your vehicle has insurance coverage to handle any accidents or damages. Certain rental companies provide insurance choices for drivers.

When considering driving in India, it is important to prepare and acquaint yourself with the rules and regulations. By adhering to the guidelines outlined in this post, you can ensure an unforgettable driving experience in this wonderful nation.