Monday, 30 June 2014

NOT EASY FOR AN EXPAT TO GET A DRIVER'S LICENSE


One would think getting an Indian driver’s license would be fairly straight forward.  All that is needed are three passport size photos, ID and proof of address.  A learner’s permit is given after a medical exam and a written test is passed.   After one month, if a driving test is passed a driver’s license is granted.  This is easy for Indian citizens, but not so for Expats.  At least this is our experience.  

Prior to going to the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Ram tried calling for information. No information could be obtained by phone. Appointments cannot be made.   Ram went to the nearest Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Haldwani which is an hour and a half drive from our residence. After waiting for several hours he was told he needs a Voter ID card, Ration card, electric bill receipt, phone bill receipt or property tax bill to prove legal residency. Only Indian citizens will have a Voter ID and a Ration card. Our electric and water is included in our rent. We have no phone bill.  Our local bank statement with our address was not accepted as proof. After much debate the RTO Officer decided our rental agreement would work as proof of residency.  Ram came home tired and irritable.  The RTO building is constructed with concrete and without insulation.  There is no fans or air-conditioning.  There is a small window and door for ventilation.  Basically he spent hours in a hot box and managed to get little done.  

Ram obtained a photocopy of our rental agreement and three passport size photos. Again he made the hour and a half trip to the RTO hot box in Haldwani. After waiting several hours to meet with the RTO Officer, Ram was given an application to fill out and told the original rental agreement is needed for inspection. Our landlord was not available on short notice.  Another trip to Haldwani will be necessary.  

Ram, prior to trip three to Haldwani was able to arrange for our landlord to give the original copy of our rental agreement for the RTO Officer to inspect. Unfortunately the RTO Officer was tied up in a meeting until 2 PM. He was very apologetic for not being available and for Ram’s long wait.  After this hot and uncomfortable wait, the RTO Officer told Ram the original rental agreement must be registered at the court in Nainital. Nainital is an hour and a half drive from Haldwani. Too bad Ram was not told this during his previous trip. It would have saved one trip to Haldwani.   

Ram feels there is little chance of our landlord’s cooperation. Our contract is up and we are now renting month to month. Some needed repairs to our cottage have been requested and not done.  We are strongly thinking of moving to another rental cottage.  Our landlord is not inclined to make a three hour round trip to register the agreement.  However, it looks like the application has been approved according to the instructions written on the application by the RTO Officer.   We hope the Officer will be understanding and not demand the registration of the agreement.  Ram was told to appear Monday 6/30/2014. 
  
Considering the difficulty of getting a license and the availability of drivers, one might wonder why we still persist with the quest of a Driver’s license.  There have been instances where a photo ID and proof of address was needed.  We cannot get an Indian credit card without a photo ID and proof of address.  Many vendors do not accept American credit cards.  If they do, there is an added fee.  When we stay in a hotel, a photo ID is requested.  The same goes for a rental home.  When we show our passports and visas the price seems to go up.  

We do understand the need for caution by the Indian authorities. They take every precaution due to recent terrorist bombings. This is something the United States needs to take more seriously.




Up Date:  Monday 6/30/2014 5:41 PM    Ram has returned form the RTO in Haldwani.  Per the written instructions given by the RTO Officer Ram attempted to pay the learner’s permit fees.  The clerk refused the fees saying there was something missing.  The RTO Officer was needed to resolve the issue.  He was not available.  We are not surprised.  It’s India.  Disappointed, yes.