Recent issues with the Indian Drivers Licence Verification process

WARNING: from January 2015, VFS has changed its requirements and will no longer accept documents that have been authenticated. Documents must now be stamped with an APOSTILLE from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Problems with your driving authority in India

Over the years, we've helped many clients who need to go through the Indian Drivers Licence Verification process to convert their Indian Drivers Licence into an Australian drivers licence.

The majority of these kinds of cases involve clients (ie, licence holders) who have different names on their Indian Drivers Licence and their Indian Passport. Common differences include initials or abbreviations instead of full names, spelling mistakes or leaving out names completely. Whatever the case may be, it seems that the various driving authorities in India use a different naming convention to what's normally accepted in Australia. Unfortunately, this cases a problem for clients when they want to convert their Indian Drivers Licence to an Australian drivers licence.



Why would you convert your Indian Drivers Licence rather than apply for a new Australian drivers licence?

Converting an Indian Drivers Licence to an Australian drivers licence is not the same as just applying for a new Australian drivers licence. Although it might seem to be more simple, just applying for a new Australian drivers licence means clients need to start 'at the bottom'. They're issued with a learners permit and must pass through all the probationary licence requirements before they receive their full licence. On the other hand, converting an Indian Drivers Licence to an Australian drivers licence generally means that with sufficient driving history in India, they can convert to a full licence once they've passed their knowledge test and practical driving test. Converting an Indian Drivers Licence to an Australian drivers licence rather than applying for a new Australian drivers licence is naturally the more attractive option because it shortens and avoids a process that can take years and include a number of limitations and restrictions as well as impose additional obligations and requirements along the way.

How do you verify your Indian Drivers Licence in Australia?

In Australia, VFS provides consular services to Indian citizens on behalf of the Indian Consulate. Part of their services include assisting Indian citizens with the Indian Drivers Licence Verification process by verifying Indian Drivers Licences with the relevant driving authorities in India. However, if there's a difference in the name that appears on the Indian Drivers Licence and the name that appears on the Indian Passport, the verification process to confirm that the licence holder and the passport holder are the one and the same person must be completed by a public notary (or by an Indian Court and a public notary in India if it's done in India).

What does a notary public do with your Indian Drivers Licence and your Indian passport?

As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, one of our many roles is to assist clients with verifying that they're the one and the same person referred to in their Indian Drivers Licence and their Indian Passport. This is necessary when the name appearing in each document is different. If you need assistance with this, then we can provide you with a notary certificate that confirms you have presented yourself before us, you have provided us with your Indian Drivers Licence and your Indian Passport, that we've confirmed that you're the one and the same person as the person referred to in those documents and that we've attached certified true copies of those documents to our notary certificate. We can also assist you with submitting the notary certificate to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which is the second step required by VFS, or return the notary certificate to you so that you can arrange for your own authentication with DFAT. Our flexible service offering ensures that we provide you with a service to meet your availability and your budget.

What stops us from being able to help you with your Indian Drivers Licence Verification?

While we try to help everyone, there are some issues arising from the Indian Drivers Licence Verification process that we can't help with. Here are just a few examples:
  • If your photograph on your Indian Passport or Indian Drivers Licence is unclear (or does not look like you) we're not able to provide you with a notary certificate to verify that you're the one and the same person. One of the key identifiers that we use to verify that you're the one and the same person is your photograph. A few times we've had clients whose photograph on their Indian Drivers Licence has become faded over the years through friction or general wear. Unfortunately, in those situations, we've been able to see the face and therefore unable to verify that they're the one and the same person. You'll probably need to ask your driving authority in India, or VFS (if it relates to your passport) to reissue the new document with a clear photograph.
  • If your date of birth on your Indian Passport or Indian Drivers Licence is different. Another key identifiers that we use to verify that you're the one and the same person is your date of birth. If you have different birth dates, we're unable to assist you - even if your father's name and mother's name are the same which could be easily explained as if you're siblings there's nothing to confirm that you're the one and the same person. Further while naming conventions is an easy way to explain differences in names, differences in birth dates is not. If you're faced with this issue, you'll probably need to speak to your driving authority in India to determine what they can do to help you correct this issue.
  • If your father's name (or parent's name) on your Indian Passport or Indian Drivers Licence is different. Unless any of the documents have your father's photograph and your father also attends our office, we wouldn't normally provide any kind of verification in relation to who your father is or the spelling of their name. Generally, your father's name on a passport or drivers licence is not sufficient proof of who your parents are in Australia (ie, Australia generally relies on a birth certificate as proof of parentage). Further, as far as we're aware, the Indian Drivers Licence Verification process predominantly focuses on the differences between your name (ie, the licence holder) rather than differences in your father's name. If you still wish to make your own declaration as to who your father was and the spelling of his name, it's something we can help you with but not normally part of the Indian Drivers Licence Verification process.
  • If you're not able to attend our office, we're not able to assist you with the Indian Drivers Licence Verification process. One of our key requirements in being able to verify your identity is that you must physically visit our office in person. You can't send a representative and you can't just do it over the internet. While we're aware that may limit the number of people we're able to assist, we're strict on the requirement because it's a part of our purpose and function that we're able to verify you and confirm that you're the one and the same person. DFAT relies on us to satisfy our role properly and accordingly, there are no exceptions to this requirement.
  • If you don't have your original Indian Passport or your original Indian Drivers Licence, we're still able to provide you with a notary certificate - however that certificate will clearly state that we've not been able to verify you against your original documents. Let's say this is more of a hypothetical situation because even though we've encountered this problem with clients, we've warned them against it because it's not part of what we've done normally - and anything outside of what's normal is full of uncertainty even though the cost is the same. Accordingly, more often than not if any original document is not available, you need to find it and bring it, or if its lost or destroyed, get a new one.
  • If the driving authority in India issued you with a confirmation letter in a name which is different from the name in your Indian Drivers Licence, VFS may reject your application and there's very little that we could do to assist you. In this situation, your problem exists with your driving authority in India and the solutions that you need to consider are to have the confirmation letter reissued, or have your Indian Drivers Licence updated to show the same name that appears in the confirmation letter. We realise that this is becoming an increasing issue as driving authorities in India have started to upgrade their systems to correct the naming convention that gives rise to these problems in the first place. Unfortunately, if they upgrade their systems without re-issuing the Indian Drivers Licence, then the Indian Drivers Licences which have already been issued may have not been valid for the process outlined by VFS - which requires the names to be identical. Recently, and more and more frequently, we've noticed that the driving authorities in India have started to update their systems to reflect the complete and proper legal names for licence holders. It's likely that this is going to become an increasing problem, so just be aware of it.

While these are just some of the common and increasingly common problems that we've been seeing with the current Indian Drivers Licence Verification process, it may mean that eventually the local process between the driving authority in Australia (and the various states) as well as VFS and the driving authorities in India may need to be reviewed by one or more of those authorities to determine whether the current process still fits.

The obvious problems are that there will be times when one authorities will change its processes or requirements without the other authorities being aware of the change (similar to what's happening now with the driving authorities in India updating their records) resulting in applications being rejected by the other authorities. The unfortunate result is that the applicant suffers the cost and inconvenience of this extended bureaucratic red tape.

At the end of the day, we will still help where we can.

To obtain a quote on our notary public services for India, please visit https://www.notary-parramatta.com.au/notary-fees/.

Get quote to notarise Indian documents

Acknowledgements

This blog is supported and maintained by . Phang Legal is a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney. With offices conveniently located in Parramatta, Phang Legal supports and services the Indian community across Sydney with readily available and easily accessible notary public services at highly competitive rates.

For more information regarding notary public services for documents going to India, view our notary publications at https://www.notary-parramatta.com.au/jurisdiction/india-notary/.

Frequently asked questions regarding our notary public services can also be found at https://www.notary-parramatta.com.au/faqs/.

For Hindi to English translation services by NAATI accredited translators, see https://hindi-naati-translation.blogspot.com.au/.

Ern Phang
Notary Public

Ern Phang is the solicitor director of Phang Legal and a notary public. Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a notary public, including the kinds of problems and solutions that his clients face when sending documents to India.

IMPORTANT: the information in this article is correct at the time of publication, however the law constantly changes. This means you should always refer to the most recent articles because we try to update this blog on a regular basis with the most current information.