Types of car number plates in India: All you need to know


Types of car number plates in India: All you need to know

  • The Indian transportation system has a variety of registration plates, each meant for certain types of vehicles.
The Indian transportation system has a variety of registration plates, each meant for certain types of vehicles. (Representational image)

While we often talk about the diversity of Indian culture and traditions, have you ever thought about how many different types of vehicle registration plates are used in the country? It is a common sight on roads to see cars with white, yellow or red number plates. With the rise of electric vehicles, cars with green registration plates too are visible. Besides that, we often see some cars in urban areas with blue registration plates. Ever wondered what each colour type of registration plate defines?

Here is a quick guide for you to understand the different types of car registration plates available in India and what they define. This would also help you to understand a part of the country’s transportation regulation system.

White number plate

In India, the most common number plates are White-coloured ones, which are used by non-commercial private vehicles. The format of the White registration plate varies from state to state or union territories, where the vehicle is registered. However, in general, the format is alphanumeric consisting of a series of letters and numbers that define the state code, the district code and the vehicle’s registration number.

Yellow number plate

Another common colour for vehicle registration plates in India is Yellow. The Yellow registration plates are used by commercial vehicles such as taxis, buses, trucks etc. These vehicles use the Yellow plate with Black text. Like the White plates, the Yellow plates too come in an alphanumeric format, which comprises state code, district code and the vehicle’s designated registration number.

Green number plate

With the rising number of electric vehicles, the number of vehicles with Green registration plates is increasing on the roads. The Green number plate is specially meant for electric vehicles, irrespective of four-wheelers, three-wheelers or two-wheelers. These registration plates feature a green background with white text, which contains letters and numbers in a similar format as the White and Yellow plates.

Red number plate

While commuting on roads, we often see vehicles with Red number plates. This type of registration is a temporary one and these vehicles are used for testing. Usually, the test drive vehicles in automobile dealerships come with Red number plates. These registration plates are issued to vehicles that are yet to be registered with the Regional Trasport Office (RTO) but are being driven on public roads for various reasons like transit, demonstration or testing. The format of the text in these registration plates remains the same as others.

Blue number plate

A lot less in number, but some vehicles carry blue license plates. Usually seen on city roads, these are cars belonging to foreign diplomats, embassies or consulates. These Blue number plates are given out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Usually, these number plates carry white letters and numbers. Also, they may carry the logo or emblem of the diplomat or embassy’s country. These vehicles are given certain rights and protections such as they don’t have to pay local taxes, tolls or other fees.

Black number plate

In recent times, some cars are visible on public roads, especially in the cities, which come with Black number plates. Usually, the Black registration plate denotes a commercial vehicle registered as a self-driven rental car. The use of a Black number plate is strictly reserved for commercial vehicles in the country.

Red number plate with emblem of India

Red number plates with the Indian government’s emblem are typically used for vehicles that are owned and operated by the central government or state governments. These vehicles are meant to ferry high-ranking government officials, diplomats, and other dignitaries. These number plates carry the ‘Lion Capital of Ashoka’, which is the national emblem of India.

Number plate with upward-pointing arrow

Another commonsight is vehicles with a number plate having an upward pointing arrow. Though lesser in numbers, such vehicles are visible on public roads. These number plates denote the vehicle belongs to the armed forces such as the army, air force or navy. These registration plates are issued by the Ministry of Defense and are strictly reserved for use by the members of the armed forces. These registration plates are different looking than the standard number plates used by civilian vehicles and are subject to their own set of rules and regulations as well. These vehicles don’t always have to follow certain traffic rules and regulations such as speed limits and parking rules. Also, they can use the special lanes or routes that are usually reserved for emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire service vehicles.

First Published Date: 28 Mar 2024, 18:30 PM IST

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