If you have booked yourself onto a motorcycle tour of India, it is essential that you have all of your licensing and insurance documents in order. If not, you might find yourself in a world of trouble should you be involved in an accident or are fined over a driving offence. Because licensing laws in India can be a little confusing for tourists, we have compiled this guide to help you ensure that everything is in order before you leave.
When renting a motorcycle, scooter or moped, the only documents that the company will uniformly request is the availability of cash money. They seem to have very little interest in whether you’re licensed or not, whether you have international driving permits or whether you are intoxicated. You cannot rely on the rental company to ensure that you have everything you need.
Licenses & Permits
To legally ride a motorcycle in India, you most possess (and be able to produce) a national motorcycle drivers license issued in your home country and an international driving permit (IDP). The maximum period that you can hire a bike on an IDP is 60 days – if your tour will take longer, you will need to obtain an Indian drivers license (which requires an in-person application).
You don’t actually require an IDP for motorcycle tours of India if you have a license in English with a photo and if your country is a contracting state of the 1949 treaty (most are). Even so, we recommend obtaining an IDP before leaving your home country to cover all your bases. This permit will act as a transcription of your national drivers license, but both should be carried.
If you are pulled over by the Indian police for any reason during your tour, it is important that you remain calm and be respectful. If you have been obeying the road rules, are not in any way intoxicated and hold the proper documentation, you will have no problems and will be sent on your way. If you are travelling in a group, you may request your guide to assist you with communication.
Before taking out travel and rental insurance, check the fine print to determine what conditions are placed on motorcycle hire. Your insurance may be declared null and void if you ride a bike without a valid license, are a passenger on a bike that is being driven by an unlicensed person, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and if you admit that you are at fault or offer to pay money.
By ensuring that you have all of your documentation in order, you shouldn’t run into any problems when embarking on motorcycle tours of India. It is vital to note, however, that international licenses sold over the internet are a scam – firstly, they are a permit and never referred to as a license; secondly, they cannot be obtained online. In Australia, you can obtain an IDP from your state Royal Automobile Club or National Roads and Motorists’ Association.