• Vehicle Number Plate in India: All you need to know

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    Every individual would’ve, at some point, noticed that all vehicles have number plates at the front and at the back. This number plate is not a random combination of letters and numbers. Essentially, every registered vehicle is required to have a number plate according to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The Indian government has laid down certain guidelines as to how the number plate has to be formatted.

    Parts of a number plate

    Each part of the number plate has been formulated to make it easy to identify a vehicle. Each part of the vehicle number is explained below:

    • The first two letters such as ‘KA’, ‘MH’, ‘TN’, etc. indicate the state in which the vehicle was registered.
    • The next part is usually a pair of numbers that represent the district in which the registration was made. Since a large number of registrations are made regularly, each district has an RTO in which vehicle registrations, as well as driver registrations, are made.
    • The third part of the number plate is a unique combination of letters and numbers that help identify the vehicle. Usually, two letters are followed by four numbers in this part. In case all combinations of numbers are used up, the last digit is replaced with a letter.
    • The number plate of a vehicle also has a fourth part which is an acronym for India, IND. Above IND, there is a chromium-based hologram in the shape of a chakra.

    Colour formats of a number plate

    Different colour schemes have been decided for different classes of vehicles to help figure which class the vehicle belongs to. The colour formats for number plates used in India are:

    • White: Private two wheelers have a white plate with black text.
    • Yellow: Commercial vehicles and taxis have yellow-coloured plates with black text.
    • Black: Commercial vehicles that have been rented out on commercial basis have black number plates with yellow text. A commercial driving licence is not mandatory in this case.
    • Blue: Vehicles used by foreign delegates have blue number plates with white text. The state code, in this case, is replaced by the country code.
    • Red: Vehicles in which the governors of states or The President of India are travelling in have red plates. The licence number, in this case, has the emblem of India and is embossed in gold.

    Exclusions of vehicles from the standard format

    Here is a list of vehicles that do not follow the standard format, some of which have been mentioned in the earlier section:

    • Vehicles of governors or the President of India
    • Certain state government vehicles
    • Diplomat vehicles
    • Military vehicles have an upward arrow before the number and have no state code. In place of the state code, the year in which the two wheeler was registered will be included. The vehicles are typically registered with the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi.
    • Vehicles belonging to certain states that omit the use of ‘0’ for the district code and replace it with a letter that signifies the class of vehicle. For example, S stands for two-wheelers, C stands for cars and SUVs, T for tourist licensed vehicles, Y for vehicles for hire, and so on.

    Special registration numbers for vehicles

    Many individuals want the licence number of their vehicle to stand out, hence they opt for special combinations of numbers such as 3333, 1111, 6666, etc. Since there is a high demand for such numbers, RTOs of each state hold auctions for numbers on a regular basis. To check if a certain combination of numbers is available, check the official website of the district RTO. Usually, numbers less than 100 are taken by government vehicles.

    High-Security Registration Plate (HSRP)

    High-security number plates have special features that prevent thefts. Regular number plates can be stolen easily. However, HSRPs are tamper proof and come with snap lock systems that cannot be removed. Verification inscription of ‘India’ is inscribed on the plate at a 45-degree inclination on a retro-reflective plate. Roadside vendors cannot duplicate such number plates and these high-security plates cannot be misused by anyone. Also, an advantage of these new-age number plates is that the information about the driver and the vehicle will be available. The information can be accessed in case there is an accident or a criminal incident. Once HSRPs are introduced throughout the country, a centralised record of all vehicles will be available.


    At the time of purchase of a vehicle, a temporary registration is made that is valid for 30 days. It is important to get a permanent registration before completion of the 30 days. Installing a vehicle number plate at the front and back of a vehicle is mandatory. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, also states that the vehicle owner should have a two wheeler insurance. A vehicle owner should ensure he/she has all such important documents.

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