Vehicle Number Plates – Different Kinds of Car Number Plates in India – A Complete Guide, 2024


8 min read

Updated on Feb 15, 2024

We all have seen different kinds of colorful number plates in different vehicles in India. However, do you know what these colors represent? Read on to know their meaning. Different types of number plates on different vehicles represent different meanings. Let us read about the various number plate types in India in this blog to help you understand their meaning before you buy your vehicle.

What Do You Mean by a Number Plate?

A number plate is a vehicle registration plate, which is an aluminum plate fixed to the front and rear of a vehicle to display the registration number of the vehicle. The numbers and letters on the number plate signify specific details of a vehicle and serve the vehicle’s identity.

What Components Does a Vehicle Number Plate have?

A vehicle number plate also known as a license plate in India has some components that a vehicle owner should know. Below are the various component details of the number plates of vehicles in India.

The initial two numbers of an Indian vehicle number plate denote the state of registration of the vehicle. For instance, a car that is registered in Assam will have the ‘AS’ as the first two letters to connote the state name.

The next digits connote the RTO or the Regional Transport Office in which the vehicle is registered.

Next, each vehicle has a unique alpha-numeric code, which serves as the third component of the vehicle number plate.

Finally, the component at the end implies the international registration code of India – “IND”

Different Types of number plates in India

In India, you would come across 8 different types of number plates. These are –

  1. White number plate
  2. Yellow number plate
  3. Green number plate
  4. Red number plate
  5. Blue number plate
  6. Black number plate
  7. Number plate with an upward-pointing arrow
  8. Red number plate with the emblem of India

A number plate is the same as the vehicle registration plate. The Regional Transport Office (RTO) of different states issues different number plates in India for vehicles registered in their states. As per RTO rule, the number plates are to be fixed in the rear and front of a vehicle to offer clarity and visibility.

There are 8 types of Indian number plates available, including, White, Blue, Yellow, Green, Red, and Black number plates along with a number plate that has an arrow pointing upward and a Red color number plate that has India’s emblem etched on it. All these plates represent different number plate designs and meanings.

Also Read: Bharat Series Number Plates

Meaning of Different number plates in India

1. Significance of white number plates:

The white number plates having black letters is what is normally used. It is the most popular type of number plate that you get while registering your vehicle. These registration numbers are specifically used for vehicles that are private used and cannot be used for commercial vehicles.

2. Significance of Yellow number plates:

Yellow number plates are used only for the purpose of commercial driving and commercial vehicles. These number plates have black text on a yellow background. Drivers driving cars with these number plates should compulsorily have commercial permission to drive such vehicles.

3. Significance of Green number plates:

The green number plates seen on the roads these days represent electric cars. The green number plates in India are used for both electric buses and other commercial and private electric vehicles.

4. Significance of Black number plates:

The black number plates are used for hotel transport, especially for the luxury hotels. Further, cars with black number plates are used as commercial vehicles. Moreover, these cars can be used by drivers without a commercial license for driving.

5. Significance of Red number plates:

The red number plates in India are allocated to brand new cars as a temporary number plate of vehicle registration.  In this case, the car owner is likely to receive a permanent number plate allocated by the RTO soon. The temporary vehicle registrations are available with a validity of one month. Depending on the state you reside, the rules of obtaining a temporary red number plate for vehicle registration differ. Some states in India don’t permit vehicles to drive with temporary vehicle number plates.

6. Significance of Blue number plates:

The blue number plates in India are specifically reserved for foreign diplomats and are allocated by the relevant authorities. These vehicles have a blue background with white letters on them. These number plates come with alphabets like DC, CC, UN to represent Diplomatic Corps,  Consular Corps and United Nations respectively. These plates are available with the diplomat’s country code rather than having a state code.

7. Significance of number plate with upward-pointing arrow:

These number plates are devised for military vehicles. If you observe an armed forces vehicle closely you will notice that these vehicles have a unique style of number plate. The registration of the numbers of military vehicles is done under the Defense ministry. These number plates have arrows pointing upwards, which are called Broad Arrow. Besides, the number plate also specifies the year in which the vehicle was acquired, along with offering the base code,  the serial number and finally the vehicle category.

8. Significance of red number plate with India’s emblem on it:

This number plate is a unique one that comes with India’s emblem in golden color. These vehicles belong to the President of India or to the Governor of States.

Also Read: Vehicle owner details by number plate

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Users of different types of number plates

  • White number plate- Ordinary persons can use white number plates.
  • Yellow number plate- Commercial drivers are permitted to operate vehicles with yellow number plates.
  • Green number plate- Owners of electric vehicles can drive with a green license plate.
  • Red number plate- A red number plate with white alpha-numerals is used on new cars and is normally retained by the vehicle maker or dealer.
  • Blue number plate- A blue number plate with white alpha-numerals might be used by foreign delegations or diplomats.
  • Black number plate- Rental car drivers typically drive vehicles with black number plates with white numbers in India.
  • Number plate with an upward-pointing arrow- Military officials are permitted to drive automobiles with an upward-pointing arrow on the number plate.
  • Red number plate with the emblem of India- The President of India or the Governors of respective states may use a red number plate with the ‘Emblem of India.

Also Read: Traffic violation check by vehicle number

Laws Related to Number Plates in India

The Motors Vehicles Act of 1988 specifies that each and every vehicle that are plying on the Indian roads should compulsorily have a valid license plate with RTO registration.

From 1st October 2020, some new motor laws came into effect in India as mentioned below:

  • The new law makes it clear that driving new vehicles with a temporary RC number that is paper-printed is an offense.
  • Further, as per the new updates the color scheme of temporary license plates have been changed to red on a background that is yellow.
  • The number plates can only use characters written in Arabic numerals and English letters and no regional language can be used.
  • Further, the new law has also upgraded the Central Motors Vehicles Rules in terms of size, spacing and thickness that should be there between characters in the Indian vehicle number plates.
  • The rules should be applied to all petrol, diesel and CNG run four-wheeler vehicles.

Number Plates Validity and Security

Now, let’s see how the number plates are distinguished based on validity and security. In terms of validity, the number plates can be distinguished as temporary and permanent number plates.

  • Temporary number plate-Temporary number plates are the ones that are allocated by RTO to a brand new car for a period of one month.  As per the new law, temporary number plates will have red color numerals based on the type of vehicle.
  • Permanent number plate-As per new law, vehicle owners must compulsorily have their permanent number plate or permanent RC from RTO before they start using their vehicles on roads.
  • High security number plates-As per the new law, vehicles registered on or after 1st April 2019 must have a High security registration plate or (HSRP). Also, this rule is applied to all old number plates in old vehicles as well. HSRP are created with aluminum. They have a special code that is laser-etched with the Ashok Chakra hologram and the International Registration Code of India (IND) mentioned in it.

Also Read: What is a High Security Number Plate (HSRP)?

How to obtain a vehicle number plate?

To obtain a number plate for your vehicle, you have to go through the process of vehicle registration. Generally, the motor dealer whom you buy your new vehicle from takes care of both the processes of vehicle registration and the procurement of the number plate.  However, if you prefer to get the process done on your own, you can follow the steps below:

1. Go to the RTO with your new vehicle
2. Carry the duly filled forms and submit them along with other documents
3. The forms and the other papers will be verified by the RTO superintendent
4. You will have to pay the registration fee and road tax at the concerned counters
5. Your vehicle will be inspected by an officer to match the details mentioned in the papers you have submitted
6. Once the inspection is completed, the RTO will issue your vehicle registration number (RC) and receipt

You can obtain your High Security Registration Plate (HSRP) after getting the RC from the RTO. The HSRP number plates are available at the RTO as well as with the RTO-authorised sellers.

What Does High-Security Registration Plate (HSRP) Imply?

HSRP is a type of number plate in India that is tamper-proof. It is made of aluminum and has a unique code etched with a laser and an Ashoka Chakra hologram underneath the international code of the country.

What are the Vehicle Number Plate Rules in India?

There are certain rules about the different types of number plates in India as mentioned below:

  • The number plate in India should have no fancy letters or pictures on it
  • The rear number plate of the vehicle should be fixed at 1-meter height from the ground on the right side

The registration number of the vehicles should be painted on the left and right sides of the vehicle

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As already discussed, now you are aware of the different number plates that are used for different vehicles. Further, you also know about the different color schemes that are applicable for different vehicles. These rules are also applicable for bike number plate designs. The new updated rules have made the process of differentiating between vehicles easy and hassle-free.

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FAQs: Different Types of Number Plates in India

How many types of number plate in India?

The RTO issues a total of 8 different types of license plates in India.

What does the red color number plate in India connote?

The red number plate means in India that the vehicle belongs to the President of India

What does the black number plate in India signify?

Black number plates in India are generally used for self-rental vehicles including bikes and cars.

Does the blue number plate in India mean anything specific?

The blue number plate means that the vehicle belongs to a foreign diplomatic mission like an embassy or consulate.

What does the yellow number plate in India imply?

The yellow number plates in India distinguish commercial vehicles from private vehicles.

What is the procedure to apply for a number plate for a new vehicle in India?

You can register your vehicle with the RTO in your city to receive a new number plate.

Is it allowed to personalize number plates in India?

No, it is not allowed to personalize number plates in India.

What is a temporary number plate?

A temporary vehicle number plate is provided to new vehicles from the RTO till the permanent number plate for the vehicle is available.

Can the general public use number plates with different colors?

No, one cannot use any random color for number plates in India. Only the colors specified for the particular number plate type are allowed.

Can green number plates be used for petrol or diesel vehicles?

Green number plates in India are available only for electric vehicles.

Is it mandatory to have high-security number plates for all vehicles in India?

Yes, high-security number plates are compulsory for all new vehicles running on Indian roads.

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Apr 14, 2022
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