How to Read Army Vehicle Number Plates? What does the arrow mark on defense vehicle number plates mean? Unlike other license numbering systems, defense vehicles have a unique numbering system.
The numbers are registered by the ministry of defense in New Delhi. The first (or the third) character is always an arrow pointing upwards. The next two digits (or the two preceding the arrow) signify the year in which the defense department procured the vehicle. Next is the base code, followed by the serial number. Letter ending after the serial number indicates the class of the vehicle.
The arrow before the year of procurement is called ‘Broad Arrow’ which is used in parts of British Commonwealth till date. Arrow prevents the number from being read wrongly for when the number plate (and/or the vehicle bearing it) turns upside down. Arrow mark is not just used in the number plates of Army vehicles but also to all the property of Ministry of Defense.
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 more 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 changes.
Above these number plates, the Chiefs of respective Staffs have 4-stars that show 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.
So as you may have guessed by now, the Field Marshal, Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Air Force has 5-stars on their respective plates of their cars. This indicates that they can wear their uniform even after they’ve retired, till death.
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. Apart from these, White colored number are for private vehicles, Yellow colored number plate denotes the vehicle is Public carrier/taxi.
Yellow letters on a black plate show that it is a commercial car that is rented while White lettering on blue plate show vehicles belonging to foreign consulates. So, the next time you see a military vehicle be it a car, tank or fighter jet, you know how to read army vehicle number plates correctly.
Content for this question contributed by Sabyasachi Mukherjee, resident of Kolkata, West Bengal, India