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Types Of Number Plates In India & HSRP Explained

A vehicle's number plate, also known as a license plate, is a strip of flat metal attached to any vehicle with its registration number embossed on it. As per the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, all vehicles running in public places are mandatorily required to have a registration number approved by the relevant authorities. To obtain the number one would have to duly undergo the registration process, after which the official number plate is assigned to the vehicle.

Every number plate is unique and no other vehicle across the nation can have the same registration number. The license plate comprises four different parts, each with a specific purpose.

All number plates have a format that has been specially prescribed by the government over the years and is followed by all vehicle owners.


The first two letters of the number plate indicate the state or union territory where the registration of the vehicle took place. For example, if it took place in Maharashtra, the first two alphabets of the vehicle number plate will be 'MH.'

The two numbers following the first two letters refer to the district where the vehicle registration took place. Every region has an assigned sequential number and this is one of the main reasons why the government has established the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in every district of our country. The vehicle owner's area of residence is usually responsible for the vehicle registrations. The third part of the number plate is unique and helps in easy vehicle identification. In case there are no leftover unique numbers to assign, then the last digit is usually replaced with alphabets. If you are someone who wants a customized vehicle number plate, you can pay a premium amount to get the same.

The oval symbol displaying 'IND,' is the last part of the number plate and it signifies that the vehicle has been registered in India.

Special Formats for Vehicle Number Plate

There are various types of number plates in India and some of them have specific exclusions to the standard number plate format and they are as follows

● The President

● The State Governor

● Military officers

● Diplomats, and

● State government employees

Types of Number Plates In India

● Personal car registration

The most common types of number plates are the personal number plates which have a white background with black letter embossing. These are strictly for privately owned vehicles and cannot be used for commercial purposes like transporting goods, ferrying passengers, etc.

● Commercial car registration

These are typically for vehicles like taxis, cabs, and trucks. They have a yellow number plate with black numbers embossed on them. These vehicles have a different tax structure compared to privately owned ones and require their drivers to mandatorily have a commercial driving permit.

● Self-driven/rental car registration

Black number plates are for self-driven vehicles or those registered as rentals. These types of number plates are also commonly used by luxury hotel transport departments. The cars ply as commercial vehicles without the driver having to own a commercial driving permit.

● Electric Vehicle Registration

Electric vehicles rightly use number plates with a green background and white letter embossing. This number plate functions as a unique demarcation against petrol/diesel cars. This number plate is also applicable to road-legal electric busses and other electric commercial vehicles.

● Temporary Car Registration

The red registration plate with white letter embossing is issued as a temporary registration for a brand new vehicle until the permanent registration is issued by the RTO. Temporary registration is valid for only a month. While all states provide this number plate, not all of them allow a temporarily registered vehicle to ply on road alongside regular vehicles.

● Foreign Diplomat

A blue coloured number plate with white lettering belongs to vehicles of foreign diplomats from the United Nations (UN), Diplomatic Corps (CD), or Consular Corps (CC).

● Military Vehicle Registration

A registration plate having an upward-pointing broad arrow at the first or after the second character is assigned to military vehicles that are registered with the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi. The digits that follow after the arrow denote the year in which the vehicle was procured. The base code comes next in line, followed by the serial number. The class of the vehicle is indicated by the ending letter that comes after the serial number.

What is a high-security registration plate (HSRP)

High-security registration plates are made up of aluminum and are attached using about two or more non-reusable snap-on locks. The plate has a 20mm x 20mm hot-stamped hologram of Ashoka Chakra in blue colour on the top left corner, made with a chromium base. At the bottom left corner is a 10-digit permanent identification number (PIN). This PIN is then laser branded onto a reflective sheeting. It also includes a hot-stamped film applied on the numerals and the inscription "INDIA" at a 45-degree angle. Once it has been attached, the unique high-security registration plate is then linked to the vehicle electronically.

Benefits of high-security registration plate (HSRP)

1. The conventional and old number plates can be tampered with or even changed easily. This is usually the first thing that most thieves do after stealing a vehicle. Replacing the registration plate makes it difficult for the police and authorities to track that stolen vehicle. But HSRP's come with non-removable snap-on locks and are difficult to replace.

2. HSRP plates are issued only after the vehicle owner provides the necessary information like engine number and chassis number, which becomes a crucial step in preventing counterfeiting of high-security registration plates. This information is then stored in a centralized database which helps authorities identify a stolen vehicle when combined with the 10-digit PIN.

3. When vehicle owners use different font styles for the registration plates, the traffic police find it hard to comprehend the registration number of a vehicle. HSRPs solve this problem by standardizing the pattern of displaying motor vehicle registration numbers and making it uniform for everyone.

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