Vehicle License Plate types in India

In India the Motor Vehicles Act makes it mandatory for all the vehicles to be registered with the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and hence to bear a registration number – which is also called locally as ‘Number Plate’ or the License Plate. All vehicles in India are supposed to put these number plates on the front and the back and there are some restrictions on the type and size of font that can be used for the registration number.

Once registered with the RTO, the vehicle is issued a Registration Certificate (or as normally called, the ‘RC’). The RC bears the basic information about the vehicle such as owner name, the number of current owner, chassis number, engine number, manufacturer, etc.

In India, there are majorly five categories of registrations under which any vehicle can be registered:

  1. Private Vehicles – cars or motorised 2-wheelers (black text and white background): DL-00-AC-0000
  2. Commercial Vehicles – trucks, tempos, taxis, etc. (black text and yellow background): DL-00-AC-0000
  3. Commercial Vehicles for Self-drive: vehicles available on rent for self-drive (yellow text and black background): DL-00-AC-0000
  4. Foreign Consulates / United Nations (white text and blue background): 00-UN-00
  5. Electric Vehicles – vehicles running on electricity (white text and green background): DL-00-AC-0000
  6. President of India / State Governors – these vehicles are not registered under the RTO system and have a Golden National Emblem embossed on a red coloured plate

Structure of the License Plate Number

All registration number formats (except for foreign consulates and UN) are such that the state in which the vehicle is registered can easily be deciphered. The registration number DL-01-CAA-0707 has following components:

  • First 2 letters: these 2 letters determine the state / union territory in which the vehicle has been registered. Example: DL is for Delhi
  • Next 2 digits: these are numbers assigned to the district within the state where the vehicle is registered. But also, as the volume of registrations increased, the RTOs have been given these number. Example: 01 number in Delhi is given to Civil Lines RTO
  • 3rd part in the registration number has 1-letter or 2-letters or 3-letters. These letters denotes the series within each RTO. For some vehicles, the 3-letters also represent certain categories of vehicle. Example: CAA in Delhi number means – C stands for cars and SUV and AA is the current series in Delhi. Similarly, the E would stand for Electric Vehicles, S for 2-wheelers and P for public transport vehicles
  • Last-4 Numbers: This is the actual number of the registration certificate of the vehicle. Example: 0707
  • 5th part: This is not actually the part of registration number but of the number plate. It is the IND 3-D logo with a chakra. It has become mandatory for Indian vehicles to have number plates with this symbol but still many vehicles does not bear it yet

State / Union Territory RTO Codes India

The first 2 letters in registration plate is the code for the state or a union territory where the vehicle gets registered. Here are the codes and the corresponding 2-letter code:

State or Union TerritoryCode
Andaman and Nicobar IslandsAN
Andhra PradeshAP
Arunachal PradeshAR
Dadra and Nagar HaveliDN
Daman and DiuDD
Himachal PradeshHP
Jammu and KashmirJK
Madhya PradeshMP
Tamil NaduTN
Uttar PradeshUP
West BengalWB

Diplomatic Number Plates

In India these number plates are given to those people who are either United Nations’ members or are of Diplomatic Corps / Consular Corps. These vehicles have the middle component as UN for United Nations and CD for Diplomatic Corps / Consular Corps. These cars are given diplomatic immunity or consular immunity. Also, this immunity stands void if the same car is driven by the driver or chauffeur or any non-diplomat in the absence of the diplomat / consular corps.

The diplomatic number plates have three components:

  • The 1st 2-digit number represents the country from where the diplomat has come to work in India or an Indian who is working for the said country. Example: 68 is Switzerland and 77 is for United States
  • The next 2 letters are either UN for United Nations or CD for Diplomatic Corps / Consular Corps
  • The last component is the number of vehicle registered under the given series
1 Afghanistan
2 Algeria
3 Egypt
4 Argentina
5 Australia
6 Austria
7 Bangladesh
8 Belgium
9 Bhutan
10 Brazil
11 United Kingdom
12 Bulgaria
14 Cyprus
15 Canada
16 Chile
17 China
18 Colombia
19 Cuba
20 Czech Republic
21 Denmark
23 Ethiopia
22 Brunei
24 Finland
25 France
26 Angola
27 Germany
28 Ghana
29 Greece
30 Kyrgyz
31 Holy See
32 Hungary
33 Indonesia
34 Iran
35 Iraq
36 Ireland
37 Italy
38 Japan
39 Jordan
40 Kenya
41 North Korea
42 South Korea
43 Kuwait
44 Laos
45 Gabon
46 Malaysia
47 Mauritius
48 Mexico
49 Mongolia
50 Morocco
51   Nepal
52 Netherlands
53 New Zealand
67 Sweden
68  Switzerland
69 Syria
71 Thailand
72 Trinidad and Tobago
73 Turkey
75 Russia
77 United States
78 Uruguay
80 Vietnam
84 Democratic Republic of the Congo
85 Slovakia
89 Pakistan
93 Belarus
94 Ukraine
95 South Africa
97 Senegal
98 Uzbekistan
99 Kazakhstan
102 Iceland
105 Cambodia
104 Tunisia
109 Israel
112 Bosnia and Herzegovina
113 Suriname
117 Luxembourg
119 Eritrea
120 Azerbaijan
123 Ivory Coast
125 Ecuador
126 Djibouti
128 Tajikistan
133 Botswana
134 Dominican Republic
135 Malawi
137 Malta
141 Burkina Faso
145 Burundi
147 Georgia
152 Niger
153 Guinea
155 South Sudan
156 Estonia
157 Bolivia
160 Equatorial Guinea

Temporary Vehicle Numbers

As soon as a vehicle is purchased, the dealer of the vehicle issues a temporary licence sticker known colloquially as a TR (To Register) number. In Maharashtra (TC test certificate no.is given). This is valid for one month, during which the owner must register the vehicle in the controlling RTO of the area in which the owner is residing to get a standard licence plate. Some states like Tamil Nadu do not allow vehicles with TR numbers on the road, the dealer will hand over the vehicle to the purchaser only after the registration process is done. To register a vehicle, it has to be presented to the RTO’s office, where a Motor Vehicle Inspector will verify the applicant’s address and other details, confirm that the engine and chassis numbers are identical to what is written in the application and issues a permanent registration certificate which is usually valid for 20 years. The permanent registration certificate is one of the four important documents a vehicle plying on the road should always have; the others being a valid insurance certificate, a pollution under control (PUC) certificate and the driver’s licence. For public utility vehicles like buses, trucks, taxis and pick-up vans, there are a number of additional documents like a road-worthiness certificate and a transportation permit.

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