Types of Number Plates in India and Their Meaning


When was the last time you saw a motor vehicle pass by you without a number plate? Most probably never, unless it stood in a showroom. Does this number plate play a vital role? Of course, it does! It becomes a source of identification, a link to the owner, vehicle state, and just so much more.

Importance of an RTO Number Plate

Let’s say you live in Odisha. You bought a new vehicle. What is the one thing that connects the vehicle, you, and the state?

It isn’t just the Odisha RTO code but a source of identification for your ownership and where you come from.

Mainly, it becomes important for:

  • Number plates identify both the vehicle and its owner.
  • Number plates assist with law enforcement and accountability.
  • Number plates help to keep people safe and traffic flowing.
  • Number plates ensure appropriate vehicle registration and help to keep the roads in order.

Types of Number Plates and What It Means

The various kinds of number plates are:

1. White Number Plate

  • Who Can Use This Plate – Common Citizens

The white number plate, which is used for personal automobiles, is the most common type of number plate in India. This number plate has black digits and lettering against a white backdrop.

2. Yellow Number Plate

  • Who Can Use This Plate – Commercial Drivers

In India, number plates are used on vehicles such as taxis, rickshaws, buses, and lorries. The lettering and numerals on these number plates are black on a yellow background.

3. Green Number Plate

  • Who Can Use This Plate – Electric Vehicle Owners

In India, electric vehicles have green license plates. White lettering and digits are set against a green background on these number plates. There is, however, a distinction in letter coloration between commercial and private automobiles. Private vehicles receive a green number plate with white text, whereas commercial vehicles have a green number plate with yellow lettering.

4. Black Number Plate

  • Who Can Use This Plate – Rental vehicles

In India, self-rental vehicles (bikes and cars) have black license plates. They are commercially registered vehicles. A business driver’s license is not required to operate a vehicle with a black number plate. Yellow lettering and digits are set against a black backdrop on these number plates.

5. Red Number Plate

  • Who Can Use This Plate – Brand new cars and stay with the manufacturer.

New automobiles are given red license plates. These are provisional registration numbers. The interim registration number is shown in white on a red number plate. It is only good for 30 days. However, certain states may prohibit you from driving with this style of vehicle license plate.

6. Number Plates with Upward Arrow

  • Who Can Use This Plate – Military Officials.

In India, military vehicles have number plates with upward-pointing arrows. These license plates have black lettering and numbers on a yellow background, with an upward – facing arrow in the initial section of the plate.

7. Blue Number Plate

  • Who Can Use This Plate – Foreign missions and embassies.

Vehicles with blue license plates belong to foreign missions and embassies in India. White lettering and digits are set against a blue background on these number plates. The number plate indicates CC for Consular Corps, UN for United Nations, DC for Diplomat Corps, and so on.

8. Red Number Plate with Indian Emblem

  • Who Can Use This Plate – the President of India or the Governor.

Official vehicles of the President of India, the Vice President of India, the Governors of States, the Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories, and other high-ranking government officials have red number plates with the India logo. These license plates have white lettering and numbers on a red background, with the Indian flag in the center.

Laws Associated with Number Plates

Some laws you just can’t overlook:

  • Driving a new car with a paper-printed temporary registration number is an offense.
  • The old color scheme for temporary license plates will no longer be used. It will instead have red alpha numerals on a yellow backdrop.
  • BS-VI four-wheelers are also included in the current version. These vehicles must have a 1 cm green coating on their license plates. Furthermore, similar laws will apply to four-wheelers that run on petrol, diesel, or even compressed natural gas.
  • MoRTH has removed all characters except the fundamental English letters and Arabic numerals. Furthermore, the new upgrade prohibits the use of any regional language, including VIP numbers issued or auctioned by states or union territories.
  • The Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR) have also been updated by the Ministry of Roads and Highways. The new guideline specifies the size, thickness, and spacing of the characters on the license plate. The new rule specifies the dimensions of the three parameters as 65 mm, 10 mm, and 10 mm, respectively. Please keep in mind that these restrictions apply to all motor vehicles, excluding two and three-wheeled vehicles.

What is an Offense with Vehicle Number Plates – Things You Shouldn’t Do

If you do these things – it becomes an offense, so just be aware of it:

  • There should be no fancy lettering.
  • There should be no pictures on the number plate.
  • In the case of a transport vehicle, the rear number plate should be on the right side at a height of 1 meter from the ground.
  • Transport vehicles need to have the registration mark on both the left and right sides of it, etc.


Each number plate tells you a story. So, you would know what the vehicle carries with it. Also, make sure you do not make any of the number plate mistakes mentioned above.