Meaning of Number Plates Of Military Vehicles


Indian Army Number Plate


In India, a registration number is assigned to all motorized road vehicles from the RTO of their respective states. As per the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), these numbers are visible on the rear and front of the vehicles’ number plates. These vehicles are registered with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.


In the military, however, it’s not the same case.

The vehicles in the military are registered under the Ministry of Defence. They contain :

  • An upward pointing arrow which is generally first or third character followed by the last two digits of the year in which it was manufactured or imported.
  • The next is the base code, followed by the serial number/vehicle number.
  • The letter ending after the serial number indicates the class of the vehicle.
Army Vehincel Number Plate Meaning
A registration number on a Stallion truck of Indian Army

The arrow before the year of procurement is called ‘Broad Arrow’ which is used in parts of British Commonwealth till date. The main function of the arrow is to prevent the number from being read wrongly in case the number plate (and/or the vehicle bearing it) turns upside down.

The use of arrow mark is just not restricted to the number plates of Army vehicles but also to all the property of Ministry of Defence.

These number plates generally contain a green background or a black background. These are used by officers or their kin only for official purposes.

There are additional privileges like not having to stop at traffic signals that these vehicles enjoy. Most of Motor Vehicle Act does not apply to Army Vehicles and neither do CMVR do to specific modifications.

Above the number plates, the Chiefs of respective Staffs have 4-stars that indicate their rank. The Chief of Army Staff has 4-stars on a red plate above the number plate of his car. Similarly, the Chiefs of Naval and Air Staffs have 4-stars on a navy blue/sky blue plate above their number plates.

Vehicle of the Chief of Naval Staff
Vehicle of the Chief of Naval Staff

5-stars are their on the number plates of the Field Marshal, Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Air Force. This indicates that they can wear their uniform even after they’ve retired, till death.


Marshal of the Air Force’s Number Plate
Marshal of the Air Force’s Number Plate

The official cars for the President and state Governors has Indian emblem in gold on red. They drive in vehicles that do not have a number plate.


Additional Useful Information for Number Plates :

  • White coloured number are for private vehicles,
  • Yellow coloured number plate denotes the vehicle is Public carrier/taxi,
  • Yellow letters on a black plate indicate that it is a commercial car that is rented,
  • White lettering on blue plate indicate vehicles belonging to foreign consulates.

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