Know everything about vehicle number plates in India

According to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, no vehicle can be driven by a person in a public place unless it is registered by a registering authority of India. When the registration process of a vehicle is completed, an official number plate is given to the vehicle owner.  The number plate is assigned to a vehicle that is unique and no other vehicle in the country will have the same number plate.

Components of a vehicle number plate:

A vehicle number plate is assigned by the registering authority to the motor vehicle is not just a collection of a random number and alphabets. Each number plate has a specific format as mentioned below:

Part 1

The first part of a vehicle number plate indicates the state or union territory in which the motor vehicle has been registered. For example, if the vehicle has been registered in the state of the Tamil Nadu, the first two alphabets, of the vehicle number plate will be ‘TN’. This is the method of denoting the state in the number plate started in the 1980s.

Part 2

The next two digits after the first two alphabets are referred to the district in which the vehicle was registered. Each district in a state is assigned its own sequential number. This is the reason why the government has set up a Regional Transport Office(RTO) in every district in the country.  The RTO in the applicant’s district of residence has the responsibility of doing motor vehicle registration.

Part 3

The third part of the vehicle number plate process is getting a number that is unique. In case, there are no unique numbers left, alphabets are also used by the registering authority to replace the last digit. Applicants at that time may pay considerable sums of money to get custom made vehicle number plates.

Part 4

The fourth part of a vehicle number plate is an oval symbol in which letters ‘IND’ are written to signify that the vehicle has been registered in India. All High-security registration plates come up with the oval symbol including a hologram made of chromium on the top of it which resembles’ Chakra’. This hologram chromium is mandatory by the government for all the high-security vehicles.

What is a temporary Vehicle number plate?

When a  customer makes a vehicle purchase, a To Register (TR) sticker is issued to her. A TR sticker is nothing, but a temporary registration number provided by the registering authority. This sticker is nothing, but a temporary registration number provided by the registering authority which is valid for a month. During this period, the owner of the vehicle must be careful not to drive the vehicle on the road to avoid paying a huge fine.

One must go through a proper procedure for motor vehicle registration. The owner of the motor vehicle must give valid and authenticated documents such as a roadworthiness certificate, driving license, sales invoice, and PUC. The engine and chassis number of the vehicle are also verified by the registering authority. The license number issued by the registering authority is valid for a period of 20 years.

The process of selling unique number plates

The Regional Transport Office (RTO) sells unique number plates to all those motor vehicle owners who want their vehicle number plate to stand out. RTOs hold auctions for vehicle number plates that are considered lucky or have huge demand. The bidding price for these numbers can go as high as Rs.3 Lakh.

The numbers which are below 100 are very difficult for the owners to get as these numbers are reserved for government-owned vehicles.

Variation of the font in the vehicle number plate

Variation of the font in the vehicle number plate is applicable where the font is clear and can be read with no problem at all from a distance.

If the font in the vehicle number plate creates a problem while reading it, it could land the owner of the vehicle in trouble with traffic police.

In certain states, the first 0 of the district court is replaced from the vehicle number plate with an alphabet. These alphabets denote the category to which the vehicle belongs.

The alphabets and the category of vehicles are:

  • C for cars & SUVs.
  • S for two-wheelers.
  • E for electric vehicles.
  • P for passenger vehicles, i.e. buses.
  • R for three-wheeler rickshaws.
  • T for tourist licensed vehicles.
  • V for vans and pickup trucks.
  • Y for vehicles for hire.

Importance of the color in vehicle number plates

White: White color vehicle number plate with black font shows that the vehicle is private, and it cannot be utilized for commercial purposes.

Yellow: A yellow number vehicle plate with a black font shows that it is a commercial vehicle or a truck which also requires a permit from registering authority to drive it.

Blue: A blue color vehicle number plate with white text indicates that the vehicle is used for foreign delegate which also includes country code instead of the state code.

Black: A black color vehicle number plate with a yellow font shows that the vehicle is commercial with a private owner who has rented the vehicle to someone else to drive. The permit is not required by the driver in this case.

Red: Red color vehicle number plate is used by the President of India or any of the state governors.

Upward Arrow: Military vehicles are having a different vehicle system for vehicle number plate than any other type of vehicle. The system uses a broad arrow as a prefix and the state code is replaced by the year in which the vehicle was manufactured.

Overall, a vehicle plate number has lot of components which are essential for any driving license holder to know.