Different Types of Number Plates in India

onSeptember 8, 2022

All vehicles (four-wheelers and two-wheelers) must be registered with the RTO by The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (Regional Transport Office). Driving an unregistered vehicle on a public road is against the law and can result in severe penalties. All registered vehicles must also have license plates that contain the vehicle’s registration number. It is frequently referred to as the High-Security Registration Plates license plate (HSRP).

 The number plate in India is an essential component of the car since it accomplishes two things:

  • In the event of abuse or theft, we can locate and secure automobiles.
  • It permits automobiles to use the roads.

The Motor Vehicle Act of 1988 mandates that all motorized vehicles traveling on Indian highways register with a Regional Transport Office (RTO) and show a number plate. The RTO of the relevant state issues license plates, which must be fastened at the front and rear of the vehicle with clear visibility. We can see number plates with varying patterns and colours. Including those in white, yellow, or green, you might have noticed vehicles with colourful license plates.

In India, car number plates come in eight different varieties. They are:

  • White number plate;
  • Yellow number plate;
  • Green number plate;
  • Red number plate;
  • Blue number plate;
  • Black number plate.
  • Number plate with an upward-pointing arrow;
  • Red number plate with the emblem of India;

Following are the signs of various number plate patterns.

White number plate in India

The most popular kind of registration number plate is a white number plate with black text. These license plates are only used on private vehicles. In other words, these vehicles are not allowed to be utilized for passenger or cargo transportation for hire.

Yellow number plate in India

The text on the yellow license plates is black. These number plates are only allowed for commercial use. It is advised that a commercial driver’s license is required for the driver to operate such vehicles. A commercial driving license is required for drivers of commercial vehicles, including taxis, trucks, and cabs. Vehicles with yellow license plates exist solely to transport people and goods.

Green number plate in India

As we are all aware, technology has made electric cars more prevalent. Verify that any green-themed license plates you come across on the road are for electric vehicles. These can be installed on electric buses and commercial vehicles that are permitted to drive on public roads. The number plate with the white characters against a green background is assigned to private-use automobiles. Despite having green license plates with yellow letters, it is acceptable to operate the car for business purposes.

Red number plate in India

The red license plate indicates that the new vehicle is still awaiting the arrival of a permanent vehicle registration plate (issued by the RTO). Regarding temporary license plates for autos, each state has its unique laws. In actuality, certain Indian states restrict driving a car with temporary license plates. The red license plate has white writing. State governors drive cars with plain red license plates.

Blue number plate in India

The authorized authorities issue a blue license plate with white letters for a vehicle reserved for foreign ambassadors. These license plates feature the letters UN (United Nations), CC (Consular Corps), and DC (Diplomatic Corps). These license plates feature the diplomat’s country code rather than a state code.

Black number plate in India

For upscale hotel transportation, black license plates are particularly prevalent. Additionally, these cars can be used for business and driven on public roads without requiring a commercial driver’s license. Self-driving and rented vehicles are allowed to use black license plates. These license plates have a black background with yellow writing. Most of the cars at opulent hotels have these license plates. Although these vehicles are used for business purposes, drivers do not need a commercial driving license to operate them.

Number plate with an upward-pointing arrow

If you paid close attention, you could have seen that a military vehicle’s license plate includes an upward-pointing arrow. The Ministry of Defence is the rightful owner of the numbers seen on these license plates. This type of license plate is known as a Broad Arrow when it has the first and third upward-pointing arrows. These upward-pointing arrows are widely used throughout the British Commonwealth. The year that the military vehicle was bought is indicated by the two numbers that come after the arrow. The base code immediately follows the serial number. The penultimate letter of the license number designates the vehicle’s class.

Red number plate bearing the Indian flag

The Indian flag is stamped in golden colour on this very unique type of license plate.

Various number plates and the designated user

  • White license plate – White license plates are available to regular people.
  • Yellow number plate – Vehicles with a yellow number plate may only be driven by commercial drivers.
  • Green license plate – Drivers of electric vehicles are permitted to use a green license plate.
  • Yellow text on a black number plate – Rental car drivers frequently use this style of number plate.
  • Red license plate – Used on brand-new cars, a red license plate with white alpha-numerals typically belongs to the car’s manufacturer or dealer.
  • Blue license plate: Foreign diplomats and delegates are permitted to use blue license plates with white alpha-numerals.
  • Number plate with an upward-pointing arrow – Military officers are permitted to drive cars with this type of number plate.
  • Red license plate with the “Emblem of India” – The President of India or the Governors of the various states may use a red license plate.

Components of a number plate for a vehicle

Alphanumeric characters are combined to form a new number plate in India. If you are unfamiliar with the meanings of the alphabet and numerals on the license plate, reading it may be difficult. Let’s use an example registration number to better comprehend the parts of a number plate. The specifics of the various parts of a license plate are listed below.

  • The first two characters, in this case, “DL,” are what make up a number plate. It indicates which state or union territory the car is registered in. DL here stands for Delhi.
  • The second element of the license plate is the pair of numbers that come after the state/union territory code. The vehicle’s registration RTO code is indicated by the first two numbers, 01, on the license plate. In a state or union territory, every district has a different RTO code. As a result, each district has a different total. For information on RTO codes, consult the RTO website for your state.
  • The third component of a license plate is the distinctive alphanumeric code, AB1234. Each car has a distinctive code. In most cases, the combination consists of four numerals and one or two alphabets, though it might vary.
  • The IND logo, which stands for India’s international registration code, is the number plate’s fourth component. All High-Security Registration Plates bear this insignia (HSRP). In the portions of this essay that follow, we will go into further detail about HSRP.

Number plate construction

A number plate’s first two letters identify the area or state where the vehicle is registered. A number plate will display MH, for instance, if a car is registered with the Maharashtra RTO. Two more numbers represent the district in which the car is registered. A special alpha-numeric combination code appears after the digits (often four) on the license plate. Vanity numbers like 1111, and 0001 are available through RTO auctions for a fee. The number plate’s tail displays India’s international registration code (IND).

Number plate regulations in India

All motorized vehicles operating on Indian highways are required to have an RTO registration and a functional license plate, by the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. To prevent fraud and clear up any misunderstandings, the Ministry of Roads and Highways (MoRTH) has modified several of the regulations governing the car registration plate. After the 1989 amendment, the regulations were modified. The adjustments that took effect on October 1st, 2020 are listed below.

  • The use of freshly manufactured motor vehicles while having a temporary registration number printed on paper will now be illegal.
  • Temporary license plates won’t have the same colour scheme as before. It will instead have a yellow backdrop and red alpha numerals.
  • Apart from the fundamental English letters and Arabic numerals, MoRTH has discarded the presence of any other characters. Furthermore, the latest update forbids the use of any regional languages, including VIP numbers that are bought or sold by various states or Union Territories.
  • Additionally, The Ministry of Roads and Highways updated the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR). The new regulation specifies the character of the number plate’s size, thickness, and spacing. According to the new rule, the three parameters’ sizes are, respectively, 65 mm, 10 mm, and 10 mm. All motor vehicles, except two- and three-wheeled vehicles, must abide by these laws.
  • BS-VI four-wheelers are part of the latest version. These cars will need to have a 1-cm-thick layer of green paint on the license plate. These requirements will also apply to four-wheel vehicles powered by gasoline, diesel, or compressed natural gas.
  • A sticker will also be applied to the green layer of BS-VI four-wheelers. Diesel-powered vehicles will have an orange sticker, while CNG and gasoline-powered vehicles will have a blue sticker.

Based on validity (temporary, permanent), and security, other vehicle license plates are distinguished.

Temporary registration plate

As the name implies, a temporary vehicle registration plate is given to a newly purchased vehicle that has not yet been registered by the appropriate RTO. The temporary registration number plate has a one-month validity period. All temporary registration plates will have color-coded alpha-numerals according to the vehicle type, per the most recent MoRTH guidelines.

Permanent registration plate

Section 39 of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 mandates all vehicle owners obtain their permanent registration number from the relevant RTO before using their vehicle on Indian roads. Every vehicle has an identification number known as a permanent registration number.

High-security registration plates

All vehicles registered after April 1, 2019, must show a High-security registration plate or (HSRP). All vintage automobiles with vintage license plates must adhere to these new criteria. Under the Ashok Chakra hologram and the International Registration Code of India, a unique laser-etched code is inscribed into the metal of the high-security registration plate (IND). Additionally, this license plate incorporates snap locks that render it useless in the event of tampering. High-security license plates are the norm in India and are designed to store a digital record of every registered car.

Fancy license plate

With fancy license plates, you may personalize the font and size of the number plate that appears on your car. However, before choosing exotic number plates, be sure to educate yourself on the new regulations governing the personalized option.

Indian law governs license plates

A registration number and license plate are required for all motor vehicles operating on public highways under The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. The key guidelines for license plates are shown below.

  • For two-wheelers and light motor vehicles, the registration number should be written in black on a white background (LMV).
  • A yellow backdrop with black writing is required for all commercial vehicles’ license plates.
  • The number plate and font sizes should be by the brochure provided for each vehicle category.
  • The license plate must be prominently visible on all motor vehicles and displayed both on the front and back.
  • The license plates of automobiles, vans, taxis and other vehicles may be mounted in the centre of LMVs with illumination.
  • The registration mark should be visible on any vehicle part, such as a mudguard, for two-wheelers, parallel to the handlebar.
  • Transport vehicles must display their back license plate on the right side, no higher than one meter above the ground.
  • Transport vehicles also have to paint the registration mark on the body’s left and right sides.
  • Stage and contract carriage vehicles must have the registration number painted on the wall separating the driver and passengers or on the front left interior surface facing the passengers. For taxis and other motor cabs, the registration number can also be painted on the dashboard.
  • The English letters and Arabic numerals on the license plate should both be present.
  • The registration number must be displayed in two lines, the first of which must contain state and RTO codes and the second of which must have distinctive alphanumeric codes. However, if there isn’t enough room, the number can be shown at the front of all motor vehicles and two-wheelers in a single line.
  • No elaborate wording, images, or other names should be seen on the license plate.
  • New number plate regulations were recently introduced by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). Following the 1989 amendment, the modifications took effect. These new guidelines will take effect on October 1, 2020.
  • Driving a brand-new motor vehicle with a temporary registration number plate printed on paper is illegal.
  • The temporary license plates will have new writing and background colours: red letters on a yellow background.
  • Regional language symbols are prohibited on the license plate. Additionally, using fancy or VIP registration numbers that states or union territories sell or auction is prohibited. Using such ostentatious license plates may result in severe fines.
  • By the current regulations, the license plate’s characters must be 65 mm in size, 10 mm thick, and 10 mm apart. Except for two- and three-wheelers, all motor vehicles are subject to this law.
  • The number plate should have a 1 cm green colour layer for BS-VI four-wheelers (petrol, diesel, and CNG).
  • The green layer of the registration plate on BS-VI four-wheelers must also have stickers attached. In contrast to gasoline/CNG vehicles, diesel vehicles should have an orange colour sticker.

How to get a vehicle’s license plate

The process of registering a new car must be completed to get a number plate. When you purchase a new vehicle, the dealer will handle the registration and number plate ordering procedures. However, you can follow the instructions listed below if you want to register the new car on your own.

  • Step 1: Drive your new vehicle to the RTO.
  • Step 2: Submit all of the correctly completed forms and paperwork.
  • Step 3: The RTO representative (superintendent) will check all the paperwork.
  • Step 4: Pay the registration fee and road tax at the cash register.
  • Step 5: To confirm the information provided in the documentation, an inspecting officer will physically check the vehicle.
  • Step 6: The RTO will issue the registration number and receipt following a successful inspection.

You can get a number plate once you have the registration number (HSRP). The HSRP license plate is available for purchase from the RTO or any other RTO-approved vendor.

In India, how are license plates distributed?

The registration number is issued by the district-level RTO of the relevant state or union territory, as was previously mentioned. Depending on where the registration is made, the number plate’s components change. The state or union territory code appears in the first two letters, followed by the RTO (district) code. Your vehicle’s unique code is the next six characters (two alphabets, four numerals).

As in KA01AB1234

Here, the state code (Karnataka) is KA, the RTO (district) code is 01, and the unique alphanumeric code for the vehicle is AB1234.

In the beginning, the alphanumeric code spans the ranges A 0001 to 9999. The alphabetically following characters are A, B, C, and so forth. Once all the characters have been used, the sequence starts with just two characters: AA 0001 to 9999. Once all the numbers under the two-character combination (AA) have been used, the three-character sequence (AAA) starts.

India’s states and union territories each have their special two-letter code. This two-letter referencing has been in use since the 1980s. Each district or regional transport officer’s office historically had a three-letter code without the state. The newly created states of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Telangana (from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh, respectively) are registering cars under their new two-letter codes, but the older numbers registered in the RTO offices of these states under the RTO code of the parent state are still valid. In 2007, when Uttaranchal was renamed Uttarakhand, the state abbreviation changed from UA to the UK. The state code changed from OR to OD in 2011 when the state of Orissa was renamed Odisha.

The new High-Security Registration Plates include strict specifications and enforcement rules set by the Body of Road Transport and Highways, the relevant ministry of the Indian Government (new number plates). The states only recently started phasing them in. Due to this standardization and stringent enforcement, changes to law enforcement and the country’s auto registration process are anticipated.

What about unusual numbers?

The final four digits of each vehicle’s number plate, which come in several varieties in India, are distinctive. People will fix expensive, costing up to 1,000,00,000, fancy numbers like 6666 or 3333.

  • Karnataka used to charge $1000 for a unique last four-digit number in 2005. It is currently somewhere around 75,000.
  • Maharashtra raised the price from 1,25,000 to 2,000 in 2012.
  • The highest fee is 50,000 in Uttarakhand for the numbers 0001 and 0786.
  • Gujarat levies $1000 for two-wheelers and $5,000 for four-wheelers.
  • Andhra Pradesh distributes license plates through an auction method. The license plate goes to the highest bidder. Numerous like 0909 0999 0099 0009 are extremely popular and draw the most buyers to the auction.

Number plate types in India – Unique formats

Delhi district 2 numbers show as DL 2 rather than DL 02. This is because the initial 0 of the district code is deleted in several states (including Delhi and previously Gujarat and Bihar).

The registration code for Delhi, a union territory, has an additional code: DL 9 CAA 1111, where DL is the two-letter code for Delhi (DL). S denotes two-wheelers, C denotes cars and SUVs, E denotes electric vehicles (in some circumstances only), P denotes public passenger vehicles like buses, R denotes three-wheeled rickshaws, T denotes taxis and cars with a tourist license, V denotes pick-up trucks and vans, and Y denotes vehicles used for hiring. This approach is applicable to further states. (For instance, P stands for passenger vehicles, C for cars, S for scooters, and G for freight vehicles in Rajasthan, where RJ is the two-letter code.), M for a milk truck, A for an ambulance, and P for the police.

India’s Number Plate Types: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Temporary license plate is what, exactly?

A brand-new vehicle receives a temporary number plate from the dealer. You may use it up until you register the car at the relevant RTO. It is a temporary registration number, as the name implies. The temporary license plate has a 30-day validity period. A temporary registration number plate will include color-coded lettering based on the type of vehicle, by the new number plate regulations.

2. Is a license plate required?

Yes, driving a car without a license plate is prohibited in India. If you operate a car without a license plate, you may run into problems. Consequently, it is advised to operate a vehicle with a number plate.

3. What does an Indian HSRP license plate look like?

The HSRP license plate is a tamper-proof aluminium plate. The Central Motor Vehicles Rule 1989 mandates that all vehicles registered after April 1, 2019, have High-Security Registration Plates (HSRP). The same is true for vintage vehicles with out-of-date license plates.

A unique laser-etched code may be found on the HSRP beneath the international registration code (IND) and Ashoka Chakra hologram. The license plate is both hot-stamped and snap-locked. It loses its usability if it is tampered with. HSRPs, which are only given by RTOs, can help stop car theft.

4. How long does it take to have a license plate installed on a car?

Following document verification by the RTO, you can expect to get your license plate in 10 to 12 days. Once the license plate is ready, you can have it put at the dealership or the RTO that is closest to you.

5. How much does a license plate in India often cost?

Typically, the license plate you get will depend on your car dealer, the area you live in, and the type of plate you choose. However, the cost of a license plate for a car might be between Rs. 1000 and Rs. 2000, and it can be between Rs. 400 and Rs. 1000 for a two-wheeler.

6. What unifies all HSRPs (Higher Security Registration Plates)?

A vehicle’s unique identification is shown by higher security registration plates. It, therefore, avoids a vehicle from being stolen and used improperly. After being removed from the vehicle, HSRP is unrecoverable. Contact RTO to request a replacement HSRP if the original is damaged.

7. Can I obtain my car’s two license plates?

No. In India, a single vehicle is given a single number plate code by the Regional Transport Office (RTO). A similar vehicle cannot have two number plates.

8.  What exactly are IND number plates?

India’s abbreviation, IND, is a crucial component of High-Security Number Plates. The IND license plate represents India’s international registration code. In India, it is located on some types of number plates beneath the hologram. The Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 were amended in 2005 to provide this capability.

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