As per The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, all motorised vehicles plying on Indian roads must be registered with the RTO and bear a license plate (number plate). There are various types of number plates in India. An unregistered vehicle falls in direct violation of the act which can attract a heavy penalty.

A license plate is a combination of alphabets and digits that form a registration number. The license plate is issued by the district RTO (Regional Transport Office) and should be placed in the front and the back of the vehicle with provision for illumination. The international registration code for India is IND.

Deciphering The Indian Number Plate

Number Plates In India
Car Number Plate In India
  • The first two letters on a number plate (DL, KL, HR, MH etc) denote the region or the state the vehicle is registered with. For a vehicle registered with Chhattisgarh RTO will bear the letters CG.
  • The following digits indicate the district in which the vehicle is registered.
  • The third part of the license plate is a set of numbers (typically four) which is unique to the vehicle. Vanity numbers, like 0001, 0786, 1111 are regaFrded as VIP numbers and can be bought at RTO auctions for a premium price.
  • The last part of the license plate displays the international registration code for India IND.

What Is HSRP (High Security Registration Plate)?

Number Plates In India
Types Of Car Number Plates In India

The number plate regulations associated with the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 state that all vehicles registered after April 1, 2019, should bear HSRP or High Security Registration Plate. This is also applicable to old vehicles registered with old number plates. High security number plates help prevent vehicle theft as these special plates are only issued by the government. HSRPs also help in creating a digitised national database of registered vehicles.
High security number plates are vehicle license plates standard across all states in India. Made of aluminium featuring a unique laser-etched code below the IND (international registration code for India) and the Ashoka Chakra hologram. The registration number is hot stamped with IND engraved at a 45-degree angle. The number plates are secured with snap locks which becomes non-reusable when tampered with.

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Types of Number Plates In India

  • White number plate with black lettering
Number Plates In India
Personal Car Registration

The most common type of number plate, attributed to private or non-commercial cars. Vehicles bearing this number plate cannot be used for commercial purposes like goods transport, ferrying passengers etc.

  • Yellow number plate with black lettering
Number Plates In India
Commercial Car Registration

These are commercial vehicles like taxi, cabs, trucks. Yellow number plates have a different tax structure compared to white number plates and commercial car drivers with yellow plates are also mandated to have a commercial driving permit.

  • Black number plate with yellow lettering
Number Plates In India
Self Driven/Rental Car Registration

Black number plates are for a vehicle registered as rental or self-driven. These types of number plates are also popular with luxury hotel transport. These cars can ply as a commercial vehicle without the driver having to own a commercial driving permit.

  • Green number plate with white lettering
Number Plates In India
Electric Vehicle Registration

This number plate is unique to electric cars only. This is applicable to road-legal electric busses and other electric commercial vehicles (like Mahindra e20, Tata Tigor Electric).

  • Red number plate with white lettering
Number Plates In India
Temporary Car Registration

The red registration plate is issued as a temporary registration for a brand new vehicle until permanent registration us issued by the RTO. Temporary registration is valid for 1 month only. However, all Indian states do not allow temporarily registered vehicles to ply on road.

  • Blue number plate with white lettering
Number Plates In India
Diplomat/Embassy Car Registration

A blue coloured number plate with white lettering is issued to a vehicle belonging to a foreign diplomat United Nations (UN), Diplomatic Corps (CD) or Consular Corps (CC).

  • Number plate with an upward-pointing arrow
Number Plates In India
Military Vehicle Registration

A vehicle bearing these number plates are military vehicle registered Ministry of Defence in New Delhi. This registration plate has an upward pointing arrow at the first or after the second character, known as Broad Arrow. The digits succeeding the arrow denote the year in which the vehicle was procured. The next is the base code, followed by the serial number. The letter ending after the serial number indicates the class of the vehicle.

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