Vehicle registration plates of India
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All motorised road vehicles in India are tagged with a registration or licence number. The licence plate (commonly known as number plate) number is issued by the district-level Regional Transport Office (RTO) of respective states — the main authority on road matters. The licence plates are placed in the front and back of the vehicle. By law, all plates are required to be in modern Hindu-Arabic numerals with Latin letters. Other guidelines include having the plate lit up at night and the restriction of the fonts that could be used. In some states such as Sikkim, cars bearing outside plates are barred from entering restricted areas.
Plates for private car and two-wheeler owners have black lettering on a white background (e.g., TN-05-TA-0025). Commercial vehicles such as taxis and trucks have a yellow background and black text (e.g., TN-85-Z-2223). Vehicles belonging to foreign consulates have white lettering on a light blue background (e.g. 22 UN 14). The President of India and state governors travel in official cars without licence plates. Instead they have the Emblem of India in gold embossed on a red plate.
The current format of the registration index consists of 3 parts, They are
- The first two letters indicate the state to which the vehicle is registered.
- The next two digit numbers are the sequential number of a district. Due to heavy volume of vehicle registration, the numbers were given to the RTO offices of registration as well.
- The third part is a 4 digit number unique to each plate. A letter(s) is prefixed when the 4 digit number runs out and then two letters and so on.
This scheme of numbering has some advantages:
- the State or District of registration of a particular vehicle
- In the case of a police investigation of an accident or vehicle-related crime, witnesses usually remember the initial area code letters — it is then quite simple to narrow down suspect vehicles to a much smaller number by checking the database without having to know the full number.
In some states (such as the state of Delhi, Gujarat and Bihar) the initial 0 of the district code is omitted; thus Delhi district 2 numbers appear as DL 2 not DL 02.
The state of Delhi has an additional code in the registration code:
DL 11C AA 1111
Where DL is the two letter code for Delhi (DL). The additional C (for category of vehicle) is the letter 'S' for two-wheelers, 'C' for cars and SUVs, 'P' for public passenger vehicles such as buses, 'R' for three-wheeled rickshaws, 'T' for tourist licenced vehicles and taxis, 'V' for pick-up trucks and vans and 'Y' for hire vehicles. This system is also applicable in other states.(For example Rajasthan, where 'RJ' is the two letter code, 'P' is for passenger vehicles, 'C' for cars, 'S' for scooters and 'G' for goods vehicles.)
All Indian states and Union Territories have their own two-letter code. This two-letter referencing came into action in the 1980s. Before that each district or Regional Transport Officer's office had a three-letter code which did not mention the state. This led to a fair degree of confusion — for example, MMC 8259 could fit in anywhere in the country. To avoid this ambiguity the state code was included along with the district or RTO's office. In some states, such as Maharashtra, licence plates before 1960, when the state was known as Bombay Presidency, bear notations such as BMC.
The newly created states of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand (from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar respectively), are registering vehicles under their new two-letter codes, while the old numbers registered in the RTO offices of these states under the RTO code of the parent state still stay valid. In 2007, the state of Uttaranchal was renamed Uttarakhand, thus the state code changed from UA to UK.
The Government of India, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the nodal ministry, has formulated strict specifications and enforcement rules for the new High Security Registration Plates (new number plates). The states have recently started introducing them in a phased manner. This standardisation, along with strict enforcement, is expected to bring about a change in law enforcement and in the registration process of vehicles in the country.
The list of two-lettered state codes is as follows:
E.g. TN 15, TN 15 denotes the ULUNDERPET RTO in TAMIL NADU.
Since all the states have two or more districts, the district is given the charge of registering the vehicle. A vehicle bears the registration of the district in which it is bought rather than the district of residence of the owner. In many states, officials insist that the plates be changed to the local numbers if the owner shifts residence.
The number of districts in the state need not equal the number of permutations of the district field of the licence plate. Often, in large cities the geographical district can be split into two or more administered regions, each governed by an RTO. A case is the Tirupur district which has the plate bearings TN-39,TN-42,TN-78 .
Also the 01' digit may reflect the capital district of the state, though it may not always be the case.
In some states such as West Bengal, each RTO issues two numbers, one for commercial vehicles and another for private vehicles. E.g. Kalimpong, has the numbers WB-79 for private vehicles and WB-78 for commercial or public ones.
The last four digits numbers are unique to the vehicle. Usually, the lower 100 numbers are government registered numbers, but it may not always be the case. Special "lucky" numbers (also called fancy numbers) such as 3333 or 6666 fetch a premium and may touch above 1,00,000.
Prior to 2005 Karnataka used to charge 1000 for obtaining a unique last four digit number. These numbers used to be issued either from the current running series or from one or two future series. When the numbering system was computerised numbers could be issued from any future series. However the Karnataka RTO steeply hiked these charges to 6000 if the number to be obtained is in the current series, and 25,000 if it was to be issued from a future series. It was increased again in 2010 from 6,000 to 20,000, and from 25,000 to 75,000.
As of 2007, Maharashtra has increased the price of unique numbers to the range of 25,000 to 1,25,000. In 2012, Maharashtra increased the price from 1,25,000 to 2,00,000.
In Uttarakhand, number 0001 and 0786 has the highest charge of 50,000.
In Gujarat, for city Baroda, RTO is charging Rs. 500 for 2-wheeler vehicles and Rs. 1000 for 4-wheeler vehicles for chosen numberplate, but the chosen numberplate not be unique, Ex 4521, 6523, etc. For VIP number "1" (4-wheeler vehicle), RTO distribute an application form to bid for unique numberplate which will be attached with amount of money. The highest payer of the amount will get the unique number like "1". Sometimes it takes 2 Lac Rs. to 5 Lac Rs. (maximum) for this type of number.
In Andhra Pradesh the RTO Follows the Auction system for unique numbers. The highest bidder gets the number. Numbers like 0909 0999 0099 0009 are in high demand always and also numbers like 0786 have a high premium and maximum bidders for the auction.
If all the 9999 numbers are used up, the RTO adds the letter 'A before the number space so that more numbers can be accommodated. In some states, the two letters also give the description of the make of the vehicle.
The letters may also reflect the subdivision of the district if the district is geographically large.
In Tamil Nadu, the letter G is reserved for Government (both the Union Government of India and State Governments) vehicles and the letter N is reserved for Government Transport Buses. For e.g. TN 88 G 3333 could be a government vehicle registered in Namakkal, whereas a TN 33 N 2828 could be a government Bus registered in Erode District.
In Andhra Pradesh, the letter Z is reserved for the State Road Transport (APSRTC) buses (AP9Z, AP10Z, AP11Z, AP28Z and so on). The letter P (AP 9P, 9PA and 9PB;— Khairatabad RTO) is reserved for the state police vehicles.the letters T,U,V,W,Y,X is reserved for commercial ones whereas letters A to S ARE RESERVED FOR PRIVATE ONES
Karnataka started number series KA 01 AA 1111 from 1 January 1990. While issuing these numbers they reserved the "AA" for certain categories of vehicles. Numbers issued without AA e.g. KA 01 1111 was for commercial vehicles, E for two wheelers and M for cars. The letter G is reserved for Government vehicles, F for KSRTC and BMTC buses, T for Tractor and trailer. The letters I and O, were never issued. In all cases when the last number 9999 number is exhausted the next letter is used for that vehicle category. So A to D for commercial vehicles, E, H, J to L, Q to S, U to Y for two wheelers M, N, P, Z for private vehicles. Additional letters are added as each series is exhausted e.g. M, MA, F FA and so on.
In Madhya Pradesh the Numbering System is similar to other states, with a few exceptions. MP-01, and MP-02 are reserved for the state government, while MP-03 is reserved for the police. Other vehicles are registered in RTOs starting from MP-04.In Madhya Pradesh vehicles used in agricultural purpose are numbered with series A e.g. AA, AB, AC etc. Big cars by BA, BB. small cars by C, special purpose vehicle such as ambulance crane by D. medium size goods vehicle by G. hevy vehicles by H. small loading vehicle by L. motor cycles by M. passenger buses by P. passenger auto by R. Scooter by S and taxis by T. When a series is exhausted or reaches MZ rto can start any othr series. For example Bhopal adopted AM, DM, EM following M while Indore started NA, NB, NC, and so on...
In Goa, the letter X is reserved for the State Road Transport (Kadamba Transport Corporation) buses (e.g. GA 03 X 0109).the letters T,U,V,W,Y,Z is reserved for commercial ones whereas letters A to S ARE RESERVED FOR PRIVATE ONES
In Uttarakhand, the letter C is reserved for commercial vehicles, T for Taxis, P for public transport vehicles and G for government vehicles with an additional letter added such as TA, TC, GA, PA and so on. For Example, UK 07 TA 0251, could be a taxi in Dehradun and UK 07 PA 0250 could be a local bus in Dehradun.
In Gujarat, government vehicles have number plate with letter 'G' & 'GJ', which is reserved for government firm vehicles. Ex : GJ 18 G XXXX & GJ 18 GJ XXXX.
In Gujarat, the number series GJ 18 Y is reserved for the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) buses. For e.g. GJ 18 Y 5432 is an GSRTC bus. Earlier GJ 18 V was used, after the completion of this series GJ 18 Y was used. For e.g. GJ 18 v 8844
High Security Registration Plates
On June 1, 2005, the Government of India had amended rule 50 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, mandating introduction of new tamper proof High Security Registration (HSRP) number plates. All new motorised road vehicles that came into the market after that needed to adhere to the new plates, while existing vehicles had been given two years to comply. Features incorporated include the number plate having a patented chromium hologram, a laser numbering containing the alpha-numeric identification of both the testing agency and manufacturers and a retro-reflective film bearing a verification inscription "India" at a 45-degree inclination. The characters are embossed on the plate for better visibility. The letters "IND" were printed in a light shade of blue on the observers left side under the hologram. However it has yet to be implemented since the various state Governments has not yet appointed an official source for manufacture of these plates, due to a disputes which is currently in various Indian courts. On 8 April 2011 the Supreme Court of India summoned the transport secretaries of Delhi, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh for contempt of court proceedings regarding nonenforcement of the high-security registration plates. The Supreme Court on 30 November 2004, had clarified that all states had to comply with the scheme. Currently Meghalaya, Sikkim and Goa are the only three states which have complied in full. The states of Tripura, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala have not proceeded after having called tenders. Besides these states none of the other states have taken any action to implement the new scheme.
Haryana and Punjab has launched the High Security Registration Plates Scheme in the state High Security Registration Plates have been made mandatory in for all new and old vehicles.
Maharashtra announced that it had planned to implement new number plates soon.
Gujarat also started giving high security number plates for vehicle.
Military vehicles have a unique numbering system unlike any other licence numbers. The numbers are registered by the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi. The first (or the third) character is an upward-pointing arrow. This is known as a Broad Arrow, whose origins lie in the UK Office of Ordnance and is still used in many parts of the British Commonwealth on assorted army items, not just vehicles. The next two digits (or the two preceding the arrow) signify the year in which the Military procured the vehicle. The next is the base code, followed by the serial number. The letter ending after the serial number indicates the class of the vehicle.
Vehicle belonging to foreign missions bear the plates UN, CD or CC, which stand for United Nations, Diplomatic Corps or Consular Corps respectively. A diplomatic plate numbered 13 CC xxxx would refer to country 13, probably a country close to the letter A or B. For example, a vehicle bearing the number 77 CD xxxx in India refers to a vehicle owned by either the United States mission in India or by a person working with the mission. The "Double Seven" on US embassy vehicles is same as the Indian soft drink brand that displaced Coca-Cola when the company was asked in 1977 to leave India.
Cars bearing UN, CD or CC licence plates are granted the level of diplomatic immunity or consular immunity corresponding to whom the vehicle has been attributed to by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. Immunity is void if a UN, CD or CC licence-plated vehicle is driven by a chauffeur or non-diplomat in an absence of an accredited member of the diplomatic or consular corps.
In the aftermath of the Devyani Khobragade incident, Delhi Traffic Police was instructed to deal sternly with traffic offences by diplomats. In case of acts of drunken driving by US diplomats, Delhi Police have been directed to remove the diplomat from the vehicle and perform a breath-analysis test on the spot. In case the diplomat is found under the influence, the car is to be impounded and necessary action taken as with other drunk drivers (including a blood-test in a Government hospital if the driver refuses to submit to a breath-analysis test on the spot).
Other numbering include the special numbers allotted to public transportation such as buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws. The numbers are registered by the organization which run the services and are usually printed on the side of the vehicle. This mechanism is used for unique identification.
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. 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.
Until the late 1980s (June 30, 1989)', the Indian licence plate system followed the scheme
Where B was the state code (e.g. C for Karnataka since K was allotted to Kerala); MU were letters of the specific RTO; and 1111 was the unique licence plate number. Older vehicles still exhibit this legally valid numbering scheme.
In the early 2000s, the number plate colouring scheme changed from white over black (BMU 7711) to black over white (BMU 7711) for private non-commercial vehicles, and from black over white (BMU 7711) to black over yellow (BMU 7711) for all other vehicles. The usage of the older colour scheme was made illegal after a period during which both styles were tolerated.
When Madhya Pradesh was known as Central Province, all vehicle license plates began with,
- CPZ — For All Government vehicles
- CPP — Central Province Police
- CPX — where "X" represented the district code (for example, vehicles registered in Jabalpur had a registration plate starting with CPJ)
When renamed to Madhya Pradesh,
- MPZ — For All Government vehicles
- MPP — Madhya Pradesh Police
- MPX — where "X" represented the district (for example, vehicles registered in Jabalpur had a registration plate starting with MPJ)
- "Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989, Rule-50(2)(d)". GOI. Government of India - Department of Road Transport & Highways. 1989. p. 4. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- GHeather_UK [cancellato] (2007-06-09). "Idiot No. 3 at DEL | Flickr – Condivisione di foto!". Flickr.com. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- "Number plates to sport OD". telegraphindia.com (Calcutta, India). 2012-07-19. Retrieved 30 August 2012. "the vehicles will have OD instead of OR"
- "To Obtain Advance Registration Mark (Fancy Registration Number)". Transport Dept, Karnataka. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- "HIGH SECURITY REGISTRATION PLATES". Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Retrieved 2010-06-29.
- "M J Antony: Number plate logjam". Sify Finance. 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-06-29.
- "Don’t buy high-security number plates, it’s illegal’". Hindustan Times. 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2010-06-29.
- "Number plate scheme: SC notices to UP, Delhi, Haryana". Indian Express. 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- High Security Registration Plates http://iharnews.com/index.php/government/274-high-security-registration-plates
- Sen, Somit (2012-05-28). "High-tech number plates for 20 lakh vehicles soon". The Times Of India. Times of India. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- "India sets Delhi Police loose on US diplomats". The Daily Mail UK. 9 January 2014.
- "MVDKerala - Registration Numbers". Keralamvd.gov.in. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- List of two-letter codes
- Government of Tamil Nadu - State Transport Authority
- Road Safety in India
- Ministry of Road transport and Highways