We have seen vehicle number plates all your life, on every single vehicle out there. However, most of us have never stopped to think why every vehicle needs to have these alphanumerical plates on them.
These number plates aren’t unique to India. They’re found across all motor-vehicles, throughout the world! Why? Why is this a standard across borders? Have you by any chance, wondered what these random strings of characters and numbers even mean? Yes? Well, so have we! So, let’s go find out everything you need to know about vehicle number plates!
In India, every motor vehicle needs to be registered under the Regional Transport Office (RTO). The RTO is the main authority on all road and motor-vehicle related matters. Once your car documentation is processed by the RTO, a unique alphanumerical registration ID is provided to you.
A vehicle number plate is nothing but a metal board representation that unique registration ID. The number plate is also commonly referred to as the registration plate or a license plate.
In India, anytime someone buys a new vehicle, the dealer has to provide a ‘To-Register’ sticker for it. The ‘To-Register’ (TR) sticker is a temporary number which is valid for 30 days. Within those 30 days, the buyer of the car has to visit his local district’s RTO office. This is so that, the registration formalities of vehicle are completed. Once the formalities are completed, the vehicle get a permanent unique alphanumeric registration ID. In certain parts, dealers in smaller towns may not affix ‘TC’ sticker which is meant for shifting vehicle from their warehouse to showroom or their trade purpose but not valid once vehicle is sold. As such customer first has to get the vehicle registered temporarily at the RTO where the vehicle is getting handed over. If insured is residing at some other place/ distant to the dealership then he has to present the vehicle before concerned RTO office for the permanent registration. The temporary registration (TR) usually remains valid for 30 Days during which time the permanent registration has to be completed.
However, most vehicle dealers now take care of the permanent registration on your behalf. This is because the process is cumbersome and requires too many documents. The dealer usually charges the customer extra for registration formalities.
By the Motor Vehicles Act, it is mandatory for every vehicle to display the number plate on both the front and the back. The law also states that all number plates should be in English. Along-with that, the government has a list of fonts that can be used for a number plate. Not following the mentioned guidelines can lead to a problem with the enforcing authorities as the insurer may deny a claim if the vehicle was unregistered at the time of the accident.
Suppose the number plate of a vehicle says MH01CA1234. Well, what does that mean? Is there more to it than what meets the eye? Yes, there is. All number plates have a format. The prescribed format has been laid out by the government over the years.
Let’s take the above example and look at the try understanding the format:
-The first, two alphabets, “MH” indicate the state where the car had been registered. Every state has 2 alphabets from their name, denoted to being used in the number plate. For example, “MH” is Maharashtra.
-The second, two numerals, in this case,“01”. This indicates which RTO has the car been registered by. For example: MH 01 means Maharashtra’s first/capital RTO district which is the RTO Office in South Mumbai.
-The third, two alphabets + four digits, this is the unique part of your vehicle’s registration number.
Exclusions to the standard format rule include the following:
-The President of India’s vehicles.
-The State Governor vehicles.
-Certain state government vehicles.
-Certain states which omit a numeral from the format and replace it with an alphabet. The alphabet usually denotes the type of vehicle the license has been granted to.
-Plates for private cars and motorized two-wheelers have black lettering on a white background.
-Taxis and commercial vehicles including buses, and trucks have black lettering on a yellow background.
-Rented commercial vehicles, self-drive rental cars, cars owned by hotels have yellow lettering on a black background.
-Vehicles belonging to foreign consulates have white text on a light blue background.
Some of us believe that certain numbers bring us luck, don’t we? Some believe that if we spend a lot of money on buying our dream car, it should stand out. These are the 2 main reasons people in India opt for vanity number plates. And yes, they’re gaining popularity.
Vanity number plates, commonly referred to as custom number plates or fancy number plates are unique special numbers. For example: Getting a number like MH01CV2222 is not going to be easy, nor is it going to be free.
These vanity number plates are often available for sale and cost a lot of money. There have been auctions done by district and state RTO’s where vanity number plates have sold for over INR 3,00,000.
Remember, if you are interested in buying a vanity number plate for your car: All the vanity number plates are listed on the state RTO’s website, so there is no need to hire an agent or a broker to get your vehicle a vanity number plate. Most agents and brokers run a scam-show. Therefore, it’s recommended that you buy your vanity number plate directly from the concerned RTO.
Also note, it is extremely difficult to get any number lesser than ‘100’ because most state-governments reserve that for themselves. Some states let those numbers get auctioned and make a lot of profits on them!
In 2005, The Government of India and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, formulated strict specifications and enforcement rules for the new High Security Registration Plates (HSRP). These new number plates are also known as tamper-proof number plates.
These next-gen number plates include having a chromium hologram and other security features. They also include, a retro-reflective film bearing a verification inscription of “India” at a 45-degree inclination.
However, not all states have made them mandatory yet and are introducing them in a phased manner. These new number plates, will bring standardization and make tampering with number plates less viable.
In conclusion, we wanted to draw your attention to the fact that number plates have been evolving since before 1939 in India, when there was only one letter and four numerals issued per vehicle, to now, where we have tamper-proof high security number plates. So, that’s it from us, guys! That was everything you needed to know about how the vehicle number plates system and format work in India!
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