Different Types of Number Plates in India, their Meaning, Usages and More

There are a set of several types of number plates categorised according to their unique background colour. Here's what they mean.

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A license plate (Number plate) is a combination of numbers (numeric digits) and alphabets resulting in an authorized registration number as given by the RTO (Regional Transport Office). According to the rules for motorized vehicles, these number plates should be placed in the front and rear of these, with an authorized vehicle provision for illumination. 

One thing that is seen the same for all the vehicles registered throughout the country is the international registration code which happens to be IND for India. The number plate consists of the following things: The first two letters on a number plate, such as (DL, KL, HR, MH, etc.) signifies the region or the state the vehicle is registered with. For example, A vehicle registered with Delhi RTO will bear the letters DL. The following numeric digits indicate the district where the vehicle is registered. The third part of the number plate consists of around four numerals, considered unique for every vehicle. 

There are also a few sets of VIP numbers that can only be bought at RTO auctions for a good price. For example, 0001, 0786, and 1111.11. The last part of the number plate denotes the international registration code, similar to all the vehicles belonging to one country. For example, Vehicles belonging to India are registered with the code IND.

There are a set of several types of number plates categorized according to their unique background colour.

White number plate

This is the most common type of number plate. It comes with an all-white background and with the writing is done in black. This number plate is registered to private or non-commercial cars. Vehicles with a white number plate cannot be used for commercial purposes like goods transport, ferrying passengers, etc.

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Yellow number plate

The yellow number plates are also quite common and can easily be spotted on roads. These plates are attributed to commercial vehicles like taxis, cabs, and trucks. A Yellow number plate will follow a different tax structure when compared to the common white number plates. They can only be used for commercial purposes, and if a driver is seen driving a taxi without a yellow number plate, he/she will be liable to pay a penalty. So, according to the designed set of rules, all commercial vehicle drivers with yellow plates are also liable to have an authorized commercial driving permit.

Also Read: Driving Licence Status: How to Check Your Driving Licence Card Status Online and Offline

Green number plate

A green number plate with white letters is applicable for electric vehicles only, like road-legal electric buses and other electric commercial cars (like Mahindra e20, Tata Tigor Electric).

Black number plate

A black Number plate with yellow lettering signifies a vehicle registered as a rental or considered self-driven. These are commonly seen in luxury hotel transport. The only difference that this number plate owns to a yellow number plate is that it is not mandatory for a driver driving a car with a black plate to own a commercial driving permit. No charges or penalties will be imposed on the driver, which is not the case for a driver driving a yellow number plate.

Red number plate

A Red number plate with white lettering signifies that the vehicle is brand new, the RTO does not issue the permanent registration, and the registration is in process. It is only valid for a month. According to the different state rules, not all Indian states allow temporary registration number plates to be driven on roads.

Blue number plate

A blue number plate with white lettering signifies that the vehicles bearing this plate belong to foreign diplomats such as the United Nations (UN), Diplomatic Corps (CD), or Consular Corps (CC). It is rarely seen on the roads.

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Different types of number plates and the designated user

There are different types of number plates, and come with a list of designated users. Below mentioned is the list of all the number plates associated with the type of user that will be seen using it:

  • White number plate- The common citizens can use it.
  • Yellow number plate- Only registered commercial drivers are authorized to drive vehicles bearing a yellow number plate. 
  • Green number plate: Only vehicles operating on electricity, commonly known as electric vehicles. Drivers owning an electric vehicle can drive a vehicle with a green coloured license plate.
  • Black number plate- Only rental car drivers are usually seen driving vehicles with black number plates with yellow lettering. The drivers need not have a commercial driving permit.
  • Red number plate- Red coloured number plate is used on brand-new vehicles and is temporary. It is only valid for a month.
  • Blue number plate- Foreign delegates or ambassadors can use it.
  • Number plate with upward-pointing arrow- It signifies that Military officials are driving these vehicles.
  • Red number plate with the ‘Emblem of India’- This plate is used by the President of India or the Governors of respective states.

Number plate rules in India

According to The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, all motorized vehicles on the Indian road must have a license plate (also known as a number plate) and be registered with the RTO. There are a wide variety of number plates in India, which means that there is not only one type of number plate that is to be followed by every motorized vehicle, but every vehicle can have a suitable category of number plate depending upon the described set of requirements and rules. Any person seen driving a vehicle without a number plate and an RTO registration can face some severe consequences. It will be considered a violation of Indiandian laws and, in turn, attract a heavy penalty.

 A few changes were made to The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 after the 1989 amendment. Below are the new rules that came into effect on 1st October 2020.

  • Suppose a driver is seen driving a new motor vehicle with a paper-printed temporary registration number and without a number plate. In that case, it will be considered an offense, and the driver will face a serious penalty.
  • Temporary license plates will come with red alpha numerals on a yellow background.
  • MoRTH has ruled out the presence of any characters except that of the basic English alphabet and Arabic numerals. According to the latest updates, the usage of any regional language has been banned, including the VIP numbers sold by the various states or Union Territories of India.
  • Further, The Ministry of Roads and Highways has also upgraded the Central Motors Vehicles Rules (CMVR). 
  • The latest updates also give a rule for the BS-VI four-wheelers where they are known to bear a green-coloured layer of about 1 cm (about 0.39 in) on the number plate. All these rules also apply to four-wheelers that are run on petrol/diesel/CNG.
  • BS-VI four-wheelers will also come with a sticker attached to the green layer. Whereas, the vehicles running on diesel comes with an orange coloured sticker and the vehicles running on CNG and petrol will have a blue coloured sticker.

Also Read: Traffic Signs: List of Different and Important Traffic Signs in India to Follow

FAQs

1) Which type of number plates are legal in India?

All the plates registered by the RTO (Regional Transport Office) are legal in India. These plates follow the prescribed rules according to the vehicle type, driver’s purpose, and other categories. Several types of number plates are legal in India, depending on the color scheme. The following are: White number plate- The common citizens can use it.

  • Yellow number plate- Only authorized and registered commercial drivers are authorized to drive vehicles bearing a yellow number plate. 
  • Green number plate: Only vehicles operating on electricity, commonly known as electric vehicles. Drivers owning an electric vehicle can drive a vehicle with a green coloured license plate.
  • Black number plate- Only rental car drivers are usually seen driving vehicles with black number plates with yellow lettering. The drivers need not have a commercial driving permit.
  • Red number plate- Red coloured number plate is used on brand-new vehicles and is temporary. It is only valid for a month.
  • Blue number plate- Foreign delegates or ambassadors can use it.
  • Number plate with upward-pointing arrow- It signifies that Military officials are driving these vehicles.
  • Red number plate with the ‘Emblem of India’- This plate is used by the President of India or the Governors of respective states.

2) What is the cost of an IND number plate?

The cost of an IND number plate depends on the type of vehicle; for a two-wheeler, the cost is likely around Rs. 400, while for a four-wheeler, it might be around Rs. 1,100.

3) What is a VIP number plate in India?

The third part of the number plate, which consists of around four numerals, is considered unique for every vehicle. There are also a few sets of VIP numbers that can only be bought at RTO auctions for a good price. For example, 0001, 0786, and 1111.11. These types of number plates are known as VIP number plates in India.

4) How many days does it take for a number plate to be delivered?

It takes about four to five days for a number plate to be delivered to the users of a new vehicle.

5) Are fancy number plates legal in India?

No, fancy number plates are not legal in India. According to Indian law, fancy design, font style, symbols, names, or pictures are illegal.

6) What do the first two letters of the permanent registration number refer to?

The first two letters on a number plate, such as (DL, KL, HR, MH, etc.) signifies the region or the state the vehicle is registered with. For example, A vehicle registered with Delhi RTO will bear the letters DL.