You may have seen various coloured number plates for different kinds of vehicles. But, ever wondered what these colours mean?

Well, let us tell you that various types of number plates bear distinctive meanings depending on the type of vehicle. Therefore, go ahead and read about different types of number plates before you move on to buy your first motor vehicle.

In this post, Pritish Kumar Halder takes a brief look at different types of number plates in India

Different types of number plates in India

A vehicle registration plate or number plate is issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) of the respective state and demands to be attached in the front and rear portion of the vehicle with clear visibility.

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

Different types of the number plate and their meaning

1)White number plate- White number plates with black lettering are the most common types of vehicle registration plate. Cars with these number plates are solely used for private purposes. In other words, these vehicles cannot be used for commercial purposes such as for transporting goods and ferrying passengers.

2)Yellow number plate- Yellow number plates come with a black text pattern. These vehicle registration plates can only be used for commercial purposes. Please note, the driver must have a commercial driving permit to drive such vehicles.

3)Green number plate- If you see a green coloured number plate on roads, be sure that these number plates belong to electric cars. These are applicable for use on road-legal electric buses as well as commercial electric vehicles.

4)Black number plate- These number plates are very popular as luxury hotel transport. Moreover, these cars can be used as commercial vehicles that can run on roads without the necessity of drivers having a commercial driving permit.

5)Red number plate- The red number plate symbolizes that the brand new car has a temporary vehicle registration plate and yet to get a permanent one (issued by the RTO). Temporary vehicle registration comes with 1-month validity. The rules regarding temporary vehicle registration plates differ from one state to another. In fact, some of the Indian states do not allow vehicles with temporary number plates to drive on roads.

6)Blue number plate- A blue coloured number plate with white letters is issued by the respective authority to a vehicle reserved for foreign diplomats. These number plates bear alphabets such as DC (Diplomatic Corps), CC (Consular Corps), UN (United Nations), etc. These license plates do not bear a state code; instead, they come with the country code of the diplomat.

7)Number plate with upward-pointing arrow- If you have closely observed a military vehicle, you could notice that the number plates attached to the vehicle have a unique style. The numbers found on those plates are registered under the Ministry of Defense. The first and third upward-pointing arrow of the type of license plates is known as Broad Arrow.

These upward-pointing arrows are used in many parts of the British Commonwealth. The two digits immediately after the arrow point to the year the military vehicle was procured. Next comes the base code, which is followed by the serial number. The penultimate letter of the license number refers to the class of the vehicle.

8)Red number plate with the emblem of India- This is a very special kind of number plate and comes with the emblem of India branded in golden colour.

Different types of number plates and the designated user

1)White number plate- Common citizens can use white number plates.

2)Yellow number plate- Commercial drivers are authorized to drive vehicles with a yellow number plate.

3)Green number plate- Electric vehicle owners can drive with a green coloured license plate.

4)Black number plate- Rental car drivers usually drive vehicles with black number plates with yellow lettering.

5)Red number plate- Red coloured number plate with white alpha-numerals is used on brand new cars and usually stays with the vehicle manufacturer or dealer.

6)Blue number plate- Foreign delegates or ambassadors can use a blue number plate with white alpha-numerals.

7)Number plate with upward-pointing arrow- Military officials have the permission to drive vehicles, with a number plate having an upward-pointing arrow.

8)Red number plate with the ‘Emblem of India’- President of India or Governors of respective states can use red coloured license with the ‘Emblem of India.

Laws related to number plates in India

According to the Motors Vehicles Act of 1988, all motorized vehicles running on Indian roads must have an RTO registration and a valid license plate.

The Ministry of Roads and Highways (MoRTH) has brought about some changes in the existing rules related to the vehicle registration plate to restrict fraudulent activities as well as to eliminate any confusion.

The changes in the rules were made after the 1989 amendment. Below are the updates that came into effect from 1st October 2020.

1)As per the new update, driving new motor vehicles with a paper-printed temporary registration number will be considered an offense.

2)Temporary license plates will no longer follow the previous colour scheme. Instead, it will come with red alpha numerals on a yellow background.

3)MoRTH has discarded the presence of any characters except the basic English letters and Arabic numerals. In addition, the new update has banned the usage of any regional language, including VIP numbers sold or auctioned by the various states or Union Territories.

4)Further, The Ministry of Roads and Highways has also upgraded the Central Motors Vehicles Rules (CMVR). The new rule states the size, thickness and spacing between the characters in the number plate. As per the new rule, the sizes of the three parameters are 65 mm, 10 mm, and 10 mm, respectively. Please note that these rules are applicable on all motor vehicles barring the two and three-wheeled vehicles.

5)The new update also includes BS-VI four-wheelers. These vehicles will have to bear a green coloured layer of 1 cm on the number plate. Moreover, these rules will be applicable to four-wheelers running in petrol/diesel/CNG.

6)BS-VI four-wheelers will also have a sticker attached to the green layer. The vehicles running in diesel will have an orange-coloured sticker and the vehicles running in CNG and petrol will bear a blue coloured sticker.

Till now, we have discussed the colour scheme of different types of number plates. However, other vehicle licensing plates are distinguished based on validity (temporary, permanent) and security.

Take a look

1)Temporary registration plate- As the name suggests, a temporary vehicle registration plate is assigned to a brand new vehicle that is yet to get registered by the respective RTO. The temporary registration number plate comes with a validity period of one month. As per the updated norms released by MoRTH, all temporary registration plates will come with colour-coded alpha-numerals depending on the vehicle type.

2)Permanent registration plate- According to Section 39 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, all vehicle owners must get their permanent registration number from the respective RTO before plying on Indian roads. A permanent registration number is an identification number that is unique to every vehicle.

3)High security registration plates- As per the Central Motor Vehicles Rule 1989, all registered vehicles after 1st April 2019 must bear a High security registration plate or (HSRP). This new norm is applicable for all old vehicles having old number plates. High security registration plate is made with aluminum and features a unique laser-etched code below the International Registration Code of India (IND) and Ashok Chakra hologram.

In addition, this number plate comes with snap-locks which makes it non-reusable after an attempt to tamper it. High security registration plate is standard across India and aims to maintain a digitized record of all registered vehicles.

1)Fancy number plate- Fancy number plates enable your vehicle to bear a customized number plate in terms of font and size. However, before you opt for fancy number plates, make sure you learn about the new norms related to the personalized option.

Do you know that driving with a number plate displaying ‘Applied For’ or without a number plate can incur a penalty of Rs. 100 under section CMVR 105(2) (ii) and Rs.4500 under 177 Motor Vehicle Act, respectively?