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Here's Why You Should Never Use a Fancy Number Plate on Your Bike!

By Vikas Chandra Das
08 September 2022, 3:17 PM

You’ve finally done it! You’ve invested a lot of time and energy in deciding on the perfect bike for you, and bought the bike insurance as well. Now, wouldn’t you want to go a little further and personalise its look? You have changed your headlights, given it an attractive coat of paint, and also customised your number plate. However, a fancy-looking number plate may not be the best accessory for your bike to have. Here’s why: Having a fancy number plate is actually against the law, specifically the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. A traffic police officer could penalise you for it. Before we get into the details, first let us understand what is the procedure you have to follow to procure a number plate after you have bought your bike.

What to do After Buying the Bike?

What is the first thing we do when we buy a high-end product like a laptop or mobile phone? We immediately register it with the parent company for its warranty, to safeguard it from expensive repairs. Similarly, the first thing you should do after completing your bike purchase, is to register your bike at the nearest Regional Transport Office (RTO). The difference is that registering your bike is not only desired, but mandatory, according to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Therefore, getting number plates for your bike is mandated by law.

What is the Registration Process Like?

Some bike dealers initiate the registration process on your behalf. So, when you’re in the process of purchasing your bike, make sure to ask your bike dealer whether they will apply for the temporary bike registration on your behalf. If they don’t do it, then you yourself could go to the nearest RTO and initiate the process. Since the RTO takes about a month to release your permanent registration number, they will give you a temporary registration number so that you can start riding your bike. Do not ride on an unregistered bike since it is illegal and you’ll have to pay a hefty fine if you are caught. 

As soon as you get the temporary registration number, you must apply for your permanent registration number at the RTO. You will receive your Registration Certificate (RC) from the RTO. You will be given a 4-digit registration number. This will then enable you to get two number plates for your bike, one for the front and one for the back. Remember also that it’s only when you have a registration number that you can go ahead and buy two wheeler insurance.

What Should Your Number Plate Have?

According to Rules 50 & 51 of Central Motor Vehicles Rule 1989:

  1. The numbers and letters on the number plate should be in black colour on a white background (for private vehicles).
  2. The numbers and letters on the number plate should be in black colour on a yellow background (for commercial vehicles).
  3. The font size has to be large enough to be clearly visible and readable.
  4. The vehicle number should be placed both in the front and the rear.
  5. In the case of motorcycles, the registration numbers in the front should be placed parallel to the handle bar on any part of the vehicle such as the mudguard or on a plate in a line.
  6. The size of the number plate for two- and three-wheelers should be 200 x 100mm.
  7. The letters of the number plate shall be in English (Roman script) and the numbers should be Arabic numerals.

Here are some font guidelines that the MV Act has provided for the number plate:

Class of vehicle and specificationParticularsHeight (mm)Thickness (mm)Space (mm)
Motorcycles with engine capacity less than 70 ccFront letters and numerals152.52.5
All motorcycles and three wheeled invalid carriagesRear letters3575
Rear numerals4075
Front letters and numerals3055

Here is an example of what a number plate on a bike typically looks like:


MH05 EB 3658



EB 3658

The first two letters of the number plate should represent the Indian state in which the bike is registered. For example, in this number plate, MH stands for Maharashtra. The two numbers next to the state code represent the code of the RTO (Regional Transport Office) where the vehicle has been registered. The final four numbers in your number plate are the registration number assigned to you. This number always ranges from 0001 to 9999. The two letters before this registration code will keep on increasing as the number of bikes bought keep increasing.

What Should Your Number Plate NOT Have?

  1. Your number plate should not have any words or letters other than your vehicle number.
  2. It should not have any stickers, designs or artwork that hides the vehicle number.
  3. The number plate should have no images or pictures on it.
  4. The number plate should not have any fancy font size, style or colour that makes it unreadable.
  5. No names of organisations, people, or places should be on the number plate.

Why Should You Not Have a Fancy Number Plate?

This may be surprising, but there has been an increase in the number of fake registration certificates and number plates in recent times. Additionally, people sometimes use a fancy number plate with words and designs to hide their identity. So, to avoid getting stopped and fined by the traffic police, you must make sure to follow the guidelines given above. What is the kind of fine you would have to pay if your bike has a customised number plate? Sections 51 and 177 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules state that you could be fined anywhere between INR 2000 to INR 5000 if you are caught having a fancy number plate on your bike, which does not follow the prescribed format.

Imagine this scenario: your bike has been stolen and you go to the nearest police station to file a complaint. Having a fancy number plate on your bike would make it difficult for the officers to track your bike. This is the biggest reason that the registration number has to be very clear and visible.

To Sum Up…

Now you know why there is a standard format for all number plates. Your number plate should be clear, visible and easy to read. Remember to register your bike, choose the best bike insurance for you, and take a friend or family member on a joyride. Just make sure to never have a fancy number plate, and you’re good to go!



1. If not a fancy number plate, can I get a special number?

Yes. You’d have to shell out extra money to get special registration numbers. But the State Transport Department reserves such numbers to allot them through auctions. So, you cannot avail a unique number through regular registration. There may be more applicants for that number and it cannot be given to multiple people.

2. How much would a special number cost and where can I check a list?

Special number costs can be to the tune of INR 3 lakh. You may check the available numbers on your state’s official transport websites.

3. Can I get a single-digit number plate?

No. Single digits, or those below 100, are kept aside for registered government vehicles. 

4. Is it possible to change the registration number of my bike?

No. The registration number remains the same if you are in the same state. Only if you move to another state, does the RTO transfer require a new registration number.

5. Does motor insurance cover damage to the number plate?

Yes, if your bike has been in an accident and the number plate was damaged. However, since it’s a depreciable part, it will only be partially covered under motor insurance. There are add-on covers or zero depreciation two wheeler insurance that will ensure you don’t pay from your own pocket. 

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