When you’re approaching 40, some things need taking care of. One of them happens to be your “Driving licence”! Most of us got our license for the first time when we turned 18 or in our early 20s right? So the 20-year validity is soon getting over! Now if you’re like my husband, you’ll find an agent to pay 4.5k for a learner’s licence and 10k for a driver’s licence (Yes that’s their current fee). Only to realize that they charge you that for standing in a queue in the morning and everything else you have to do yourself anyway. Or you will spend some time going through this article, get your research up to date, put your documents & facts in order and turn up loaded and completely prepared and do it for FREE!


So how do you get your driving licence renewed when your first one was made in another city?

The process is quite cumbersome and one I decided to embark upon a few months before my licence was actually due for expiry- in Nov this year. You never know how long such things take and to be honest with the Covid Waves it was best to get the things when possible- then when due! For who knows what our situation in Nov will be, right? So loaded with will and intention I attacked the Google baba single-mindedly. (Don’t distract me. I’m going to get to the end of this.) Alas, what I found deflated me a bit. So apparently there’s a central repository where your licence should be available to renew. A quick scan showed me mine wasn’t in the central repository. To be honest you don’t even know how to write your licence number to look for it. Now what? Called Tamil Nadu RTO (again the number was available thanks to Google Baba) and spoke to a very nice Mamiyaar. Konjum Tamil and she were convinced I was one of those North Indians who had lived and bred in Chennai for my best years. 🙂 She told me that the RTO had changed and the one I now had to speak to was in Avadi (a different locality in Chennai). She also told me that the actual process was that ‘I’d have to actually turn up at the RTO and get them to upload my licence to the Central repository.’ That’s 9k down the drain on any good day (flight to and fro). I asked her if someone could do it on my behalf (after all I still have cousins and friends in Chennai). And she said that would be up to the new RTO in question. Some allow and some don’t. I was literally at the mercy of the nice mama/ mami who picked my call there!

Calling the RTO in Avadi was of no use. Nobody picked my call. So what are my options now? “Just get a new licence”– everyone said. Apply for a Learner’s Licence and then a month later take the test and get it. Forget the fact that you have been driving safely on roads for the last 20 years! After all, the old licence was any way in my maiden name with my Chennai address. So not only did I need a DL renewal, but a name and address change too. As a last resort, I messaged my school group of friends to ask if someone had any contact/ jugaad in the RTO- but nothing came out of that either.

A bit defeated, I applied for a new learner’s licence. Completed Red Cross training online which is a 2-hour long training (Got to book a slot here (https://www.haryanaredcross.in/) and can be done either online or offline (but it’s compulsory). Please note, there’s no way you can cheat through this. I highly recommend you actually take 2-3 hrs to do this as it’s a good refresher on road rules and first aids in case of different medical emergencies. The DL Learner’s form doesn’t move ahead unless you have completed this training certificate!


driver's licence
So armed with all my documents- Form 2 (didn’t need Form 1A which is a medical certificate and also required if you’re over 40), My ID, Two Address Proofs, Red Cross Completion certificate, and online payment receipt (www.sarathi.parivahan.gov.in) I turned up for my Learner’s Licence on 22nd July.

Process: Turn up early. I reached at 8:30 AM and waited for the place to open at 9. You have to get your documents verified (a queue outside Room 2). Then go to Room 1 (Collect a yellow document folder for Rs. 10 on your way- else they will send you back for it). Once at Room 1, press the coupon button (nobody tells you to and you waste a lot of time till you figure this out) and get a coupon number. Then when the computer screen guides you to whichever counter- go there. They re-verify and stamp the documents. And send you for the Stall Test. Where they check if you actually did the Red Cross Training by asking you random 10 multiple-choice questions. A question bank for the kind of questions they ask can be found here. (click link) You need to get at least 6 out of 10 right, to qualify. (I got 9 correct ?) Post this, you immediately receive a text message and get your Learner’s licence electronically. Feel free to download it 🙂 I was done with the whole process by 10 AM. Which wasn’t too bad, all things considered.

Now as luck may have it, the next week I got a call from my friend that he had sent his driver just to give it a shot and got my licence uploaded in the central repository. Woah! A quick check and there it was… So now instead of waiting for a month and giving a test (the way my husband did),

I paid renewal fees, plus name change and address change fees online (Rs. 1300 in all) and got a receipt. I went back to RTO the next day- all documents in hand. And might I say it didn’t even take me 15 mins. He took all my documents, checked for address proof, aadhaar card, payment receipt, took my old licence (gave me a slip- in case I get stopped by cops) and sent me to Room 1. Here my photograph was clicked immediately and tada- I was done!

Three days later- I had my new driver’s licence- home delivered by speed post. (10 years validity, new address, correct name). Almost felt like magic! What an experience Yo!!!