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What you need to know about your vehicle’s number plate

A vehicle’s license plate is generally known as the number plate. They are found in every single vehicle across the world. In India, the Regional Transport Office (RTO) issues them using a combination of numbers and letters that give each vehicle a distinct identity. As per the Motor Vehicles Act, it is mandatory for every vehicle to display the number plate in the front and backside of the vehicle. The vehicle’s number plate should be in English and as per the prescribed font. Non-adherence to this will attract heavy fines. The very purpose of having a number plate is to trace the whereabouts of the vehicle when the need arises.

Number Plate Format

Vehicle number plates in India consist of four parts. Each serves a specific purpose. Let’s understand the format with an example: TN 01 AB 1234

Part 1 - TN

The first part denotes the state or the union territory where the vehicle is registered. For Instance, a vehicle registered in Tamil Nadu starts with TN, a vehicle registered in Delhi starts with DL. This practice started in 1980 and still continues.

Part 2 - 01

The second part represents the district in which the vehicle is registered. Each district has its own Regional Transport Office (RTO) which is in charge of issuing driving license and vehicle registration numbers.


Part 3 - AB 1234

The third part contains a unique registration number that is assigned to the vehicle. However, this combination can also have fewer digits if the vehicle owner wishes for a fancy number which usually costs more.

Part 4 - IND

This part came into effect from 1st April 2019. All the vehicles will have to be affixed with high security number plates (HSRP). An oval logo which reads “IND”, an acronym for India has a chromium hologram on top of it. These are tamper-proof number plates intended to prevent vehicle thefts.

Number Plate Colors

You would have noticed number plates in different colors. Each color represents a specific category.

Number Plate Colors


White number plate with black text

Private vehicles that cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Yellow number plate with black text

Vehicles such as buses, trucks, mini-vans, load-vans, auto-rickshaws and taxis used for commercial purposes.

Black number plate with yellow text

Self-driving cars, cars owned by luxury hotels.

Blue number plate with white text

Vehicles used by diplomats. The state code is replaced with a country code to identify the country where the vehicle is registered.

Green number plate with white text

Private electric vehicles such as cars and bikes that are road legal.

Green number plate with yellow text

Commercial electric vehicles such as taxis, buses, trucks that are road legal.

Red number plate with white text

Brand new vehicles that are temporarily registered until permanent registration is issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO). Temporary registration is valid only for 1 month.

Red plate

Vehicles used by the President of India and State Governors. Here the number plate is replaced with an Emblem of India, embossed in gold.

Upward Arrow

Military vehicles registered with the Ministry of Defence, New Delhi.

We hope you gained more knowledge on vehicle number plates, make sure your new vehicle is registered with a high security number plate. Happy motoring from all of us here at Cholamandalam car insurance.

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