What is a Vehicle Registration Number?

Did you know that India produced 25.93 million vehicles in the financial year 2023? Just imagine the number of vehicles of the same brand, type, and colour being manufactured every day. So, when you buy one of these mass-manufactured automobiles, what makes one vehicle different from another? Without a doubt, it is the registration plate. Right?

A vehicle’s registration number is the number linked with the application and certificate granted, as well as the number written on the vehicle registration document. Each state designs the number differently, and some even utilise the number plate number, but the registration number may be found on the state-issued vehicle registration card or certificate.

Why is the Vehicle Registration Number Important?

Let’s say someone from the state of Tamil Nadu has committed a crime and got away in his car. The signal cameras have only captured the car and nothing more. What would the police do first? Look for the TN vehicle registration owner details. Right?

This is just a mere example. There is so much more weight that the vehicle registration would carry, such as – renewal, identification, connection to the state, and much more.

In simple words, Vehicle registrations allow states to assess the number and condition of automobiles and trucks on their roadways more easily. They also make certain that every vehicle has an up-to-date license plate and tag. Some states require a safety or emissions test before registering a vehicle, and the vehicle registration process is used to guarantee that these tests are passed.

What is a Vehicle Number Plate?

A vehicle number plate is also referred to as a “number plate.” It is a metal plate connected to a vehicle and has the vehicle’s official registration number imprinted on it. While it may appear that the official number plate number in India is made up of four different components, each of which serves a specific purpose. Number plates are placed on the front and back of vehicles to assist anyone in identifying a vehicle.

Who Does the Registration of Vehicles?

Every state has a slightly different system for providing vehicle registrations, but plan to travel to the Department of Motor Vehicles or a comparable office to receive your registration. Getting your vehicle registered is a formal process that results in a legal document certifying your ownership and that it is roadworthy.

If you move from one state to another, you must register your vehicle in your new state of residence because each state has its own registration process.

Breaking Down a Vehicle Registration Number

The vehicle’s registration plate is formatted as follows:

  1. The first portion, marked by two letters, represents the state or Union territory. This approach first appeared in the 1980s.
  2. The next two digits are the sequential number of a district. Because every state has at least one district, the registration of new automobiles is handled by the district itself. For this reason, each district has its own Regional Transport Office (RTO) in charge of driver and vehicle registrations.
  3. The third portion of the number plate is a unique number that aids in the identification of the vehicle. If a number is not available, letters are substituted for the last digit. This guarantees that there are enough codes for all vehicles. Buying bespoke numbers at a premium fee is a widespread practice.
  4. The fourth and final component is an oval emblem that says “IND,” the acronym for India, and has a chromium hologram on top that resembles a “Chakra.” High-Security Registration Plates (HSRP) use this. These are tamper-proof license plates that were introduced in 2005 in order to decrease vehicle theft. Though they are required for all motor vehicles, some states have yet to implement the practice.

What Do You Need to Register Your Vehicle?

The documents you would need are:

  • Registration Form
  • PUC certificate
  • Passport size photographs
  • Temporary registration (if any)
  • Form 21
  • Date of birth proof
  • A copy of the PAN card
  • Original sales invoice
  • Roadworthiness certificate
  • Form 22 for transport vehicles
  • Valid insurance
  • Residence proof
  • Custom clearance certificate
  • Fitness certificate, in the case of a transport vehicle

Do Vehicle Registrations Have a Fee?

Yes, there are fees associated with vehicle registration. Fees are set by the state agency that issues them and differ per state. Each state has its own laws regarding when a vehicle’s registration expires. However, many need renewals every 1-2 years.

Police officers may request that you show your vehicle registration. Remember that the certificate is an official document that allows the vehicle to be driven on public roads; therefore, have the registration with you at all times.

Moreover, today, you have the liberty to hold this certificate in the form of a smart card.

What is an RC (Registration Certificate) Smart Card?

The RC Smart Card is merely a small improvement over the regular RC book. Both are proof that your vehicle is properly registered under the Motor Vehicles Act. The RC Smart Card, on the other hand, is in the shape of a card, making it highly useful and comfortable to take around in the wallet.

In contrast, the RC book is a somewhat larger document that must be held or carried at all times. With the advent of digitization, it is now relatively simple to secure an RC Smart Card instead of an RC book. Furthermore, if you have an RC book and want to convert it into an RC Smart Card, you may easily do so by following this simple procedure:

You’d have to write a letter to the traffic police superintendent in your region explaining why you want to change the RC book into a Smart Card.

Along with the letter, bring a copy of your vehicle’s insurance certificate, emission certificate, and the original RC book to an RTO office near you.

Pay the needed amount for the procedure. Within a week or so, the Smart Card RC should be delivered to your registered address.


Now, here is everything you have to know about a registration number. If you have to get your registration done – do it right away, without the delay especially because you know the importance it carries.

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