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How to read a number plate?

Snapshot: We bring you a guide to determine what number plate signifies what and how to read it?

Growing up in a small town, one of my favourite pass time was to watch the cars approaching and quickly analyze which state or U.T they belonged to or was it a private car or a Taxi or an Army vehicle. And how would one do that? Well, like an ID card number, every car has a unique identity which can be revealed by looking at its number plate.

There are various parameters to decide what place a car belong to our what does various colored number plates indicate? We bring you a feature story to understand a car number plate better!

What do the different colors indicate?

The background color and the color with which number is written plays and important role in distinguishing the type of vehicle one is driving, be it personal or taxi or government vehicle. Here's what different number plates indicate -

White number plate

Cars bearing white number plates with the text written in black letters mean one is driving a private vehicle. Private vehicle can be defined as a car used by an individual for personal purpose and cannot be used for commercial purposes. 

Yellow number plate

If a vehicle bears a yellow number plate with black text used to denote number of the vehicle, it means the vehicle is a commercial vehicle such as a taxi or a bus and can be used for any commercial purpose.  However, the driver should pay road tax according to the commercial laws and must possess a commercial driving permit.

Black number plate

The cars bearing black number plate with yellow text (exactly opposite to commercial vehicles) are actually commercial vehicles but of a different sort. These vehicles are used in leasing services, rental services and for self-drive purposes. The driver of the car is not liable to possess a commercial driving permit. 

Blue number plate

The cars bearing blue number plates are limited only to Delhi-NCR area, Mumbai and few other metropolitans, and represents foreign consulates or embassies. The text is written in white on a light blue background with a unique annotation method we will be explaining below.

Red number plate

Although a sight for the sore eyes, one must know what the red number plate means. Any car bearing a blank red plate with gold colored Emblem of India embrossed must be the official vehicle of either the President of India or the Governors of various states. 

How to read a car number?

Now that you know how to identify a number plate based on color system, it's time to dig deeper and analyze the place from where the car belongs or the RTO where the car is registered.

1. Passenger and Commercial vehicles

Both the passenger and commercial vehicles have the same format of numbering and can be easily identified via the method given below. We will explain the process taking an example

UK 07 AN 1234

UK - State Code, Uttrakhand in this case. Below is the attached list of state codes belonging to 28 states and 7 UTs.

Code

State or Union Territory

Code

State or Union Territory

AN

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

LD

Lakshadweep

AP

Andhra Pradesh

MH

Maharashtra

AR

Arunachal Pradesh

ML

Meghalaya

AS

Assam

MN

Manipur

BR

Bihar

MP

Madhya Pradesh

CG

Chhattisgarh

MZ

Mizoram

CH

Chandigarh

NL

Nagaland

DD

Daman and Diu

OD

Odisha

DL

Delhi

PB

Punjab

DN

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

PY

Puducherry

GA

Goa

RJ

Rajasthan

GJ

Gujarat

SK

Sikkim

HR

Haryana

TN

Tamil Nadu

HP

Himachal Pradesh

TR

Tripura

JH

Jharkhand

TS

Telangana

JK

Jammu and Kashmir

UK

Uttarakhand

KA

Karnataka

UP

Uttar Pradesh

KL

Kerala

WB

West Bengal

07- RTO Code or the area where RTO belongs, Dehradun in this case.

AN- Series number which can be done in many ways and differ from state to state. Generally the series ranges from AA-ZZ.

1234- These are the final 4 digits and ranges from 0001 to 9999.

Special formats

The UT of Delhi has a different type of annotation method. Let's take an example to understand -

DL 11 C AA 1111

DL- Delhi

11- RTO code. Below is the list of RTOs in Delhi

C- Category of vehicle, like car or SUV or motorcycle.

·         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-licensed vehicles and taxis, 

·         V for pick-up trucks and vans and 

·         Y for hire vehicles.

AA- Series

1111- Unique number

2. Consulate cars

These number plates bear UN, CD or CC, which stand for United Nations, Diplomatic Corps and Consular Corps respectively. Below is the list of countries to identify the numbers.

3. Defense vehicles

Military vehicles have their own unique numbering system and the numbers are registered under the Ministry of Defense. The first and third character is an upward-pointing arrow called the Broad Arrow, used in many parts of the British Commonwealth. The two digits after the arrow denotes the year in which the Military procured a vehicle. 

You can click here to know about the odd-even rule!

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