For a country as expansive as India, the government saw that a separate independent body was required to regulate and manage motor vehicles and the services allied with them. And thus, the Regional Transport Office (RTO) came into existence. The RTO offices in India are the government bodies that have the primary task of ensuring that all the rules and regulations, that are dictated in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, are duly followed. Moreover, they have also been established to ensure that all transport-related operations in the country are carried out seamlessly. The establishment of RTOs has been done in accordance with different zones. Different cities, states and union territories have their own respective RTOs. The RTOs in India are headed by the Transport Commissioner and fall under the Motor Vehicles Department. The Motor Vehicles Department was formed as per section 213(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, according to which, “The State Government may, for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of the Act, establish a Motor Vehicles Department and appoint as officers thereof such persons as it thinks fit.”
The Regional Transport Office has the main responsibility of keeping a detailed database of all motor vehicles registered under it, be it for a particular city, state or union territory. The RTO is also responsible for maintaining a database of registered drivers in its jurisdiction. For all vehicle related services, you are supposed to contact and visit the RTO where your vehicle has been registered. Hence, for instance if you want to get your vehicle registered in West Bengal, you need to find the appropriate zonal RTO office West Bengal has that applies to your location. Once your vehicle is registered there, the particular RTO will become your point of contact for all services related to your vehicle and transportation.
Other than the main functions listed above, an RTO has a host of other responsibilities to carry out as well. These are:
- Issuance of registration certificates: When a person goes to register their vehicle in the RTO, the office has to supply them with a registration certificate that serves as proof of ownership, along with proof of registration with the government.
- Issuance of driving licence: The RTOs also serve as the place where people can go and apply for a driving licence in the country.
- Vehicle inspection: To get a fitness certificate, which is one of the mandatory documents to have for a vehicle, one needs to first get the vehicle inspected, which is done by an RTO official.
- Collection of tax: The RTO is responsible for ensuring that the road tax is duly paid and collected from all the citizens and vehicles that are registered under its area.
- Issuance of permits: The RTO is the body that issues permits to vehicle owners in the country. These permits include state permits, national permits, tourist permits, international driving permits, etc.
- Pollution control: The vehicle pollution and emissions are checked and managed by the RTO, in the form of issuing pollution under control certificates to vehicles that comply with the emission norms.