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RTOs in India – What you need to know

RTOs in India - What you need to know

Vehicles play an integral role in people’s lives. Whether it’s a car, a motorcycle, or a cab, we rely on these vehicles for transportation. Though the auto industry is associated with massive factories and enticing showrooms, its back-end managerial aspects often go unnoticed.

In India, most of the operational functions of the automobile industry are handled by regional transportation offices (RTOs). While RTOs in India are often associated with issuing driving licences and car registrations, they perform several other functions related to the entire vehicle ecosystem.

Section 213(1) of the 1988 Motor Vehicles Act provided for the establishment of the Motor Vehicles Department. This is a federal law that applies across the country. Enforcing various provisions of this act is the responsibility of the motor vehicles department. The Transport Commissioner heads this department.

In every state and city of India, there is an RTO. It is the responsibility of every RTO to carry out the functions and activities laid out in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The regional transport office (RTO) in India has the following functions:

The regional transport office (RTO) in India has the following functions

  • The enforcement of the provisions of the various motor vehicle acts, both at the central and state level, as laid down by the government.
  • Coordination of road transport development through permit management.
  • Assessment and collection of taxes.

The RTO carries out the following activities :

  • The registration of vehicles
  • Tax collection on motor vehicles
  • Licensing of public transit and freight traffic
  • Conducting driving tests, issuing licences, and renewing them
  • Keeping a list of registered vehicles
  • Registration of mortgage transactions and the transfer of vehicles
  • Validating the insurance for motor vehicles
  • Inspecting vehicles involved in accidents
  • Certifying vehicles for transportation
  • Issuance of badges to drivers of public service vehicles such as auto-rickshaws and taxis
  • Issuing international driving permits

Registering a vehicle at the RTO

According to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the process of vehicle registration is mandatory for all car owners. The documents needed for the registration process include:

  • Application for the registration of the vehicle – Form 20
  • Documents proving your age and address
  • Passport-size photos
  • Certificate of sale of the vehicle, Form 21
  • Certificate of roadworthiness, Form 22
  • Certificate from the PUC
  • Registration of the vehicle with insurance
  • A customs clearance certificate to register an imported vehicle
  • A sales tax certificate, if the vehicle was purchased in one state and must be registered in another
  • An RTO no objection certificate and dealer registration certificate if the vehicle is purchased in one state and registered in another.
  • The temporary registration number
  • The invoice for the vehicle
  • The Transport Minister must approve the design of semi-trailers and trailers before they can be registered
  • Hypothecation form 34, in case of a loan
  • Payment of the requisite application fee

It is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to bring the above documents to the RTO. In addition, the application fee must be paid and the documents must be submitted. A vehicle number is issued to the owner of the vehicle after verification of the documents and inspection of the vehicle. A certificate of registration is issued after seven days, which is proof of the vehicle’s registration.

Here are some things you should know about vehicle registration in RTO’s in India

Here are some things you should know about vehicle registration in RTO’s in India

  • The initial validity of a certificate of vehicle registration is 15 years. Thereafter, the certificate must be renewed every 15 years. Renewing the certificate depends on the vehicle’s roadworthiness and fitness.
  • Temporary vehicle registration is typically valid for one month. The temporary registration may be extended when the chassis and body of the vehicle are not attached.
  • Renewal requests can be rejected if:
  • Insufficient documents and details were provided
  • If the RTO believes that the vehicle has been stolen
  • There is a problem with the vehicle’s safety and/or emission standards
  • The Indian RTO is required to follow both the Central Motor Vehicles Act and state-specific regulations, but the registration is valid for all states and union territories.
  • Re-registration is required for vehicles moving between states. In states where moving for more than 12 months is required, re-registration is mandatory.

Motor Vehicle Re-Registration in a New State

If a motor vehicle is moved to a different state, it needs to be re-registered. The documents required for re-registration of the vehicle are pretty much the same; however, NOC must be obtained from the vehicle financer, as well as the original registration certificate. After the documents are submitted and the application fee is paid, the vehicle is re-registered within 15 days.

Transfer of vehicle ownership at the regional transport office

The transfer of vehicle ownership can be carried out in the following ways:

  • Form 29 and 30 must be completed for the transfer of vehicle ownership
  • If the vehicle is registered in another state, the NOC must be obtained from the RTO where it was initially registered.
  • If the vehicle is financed, a NOC must be obtained from the financier
  • Certificate from the PUC
  • Insurance certificate for a vehicle
  • Fees and taxes applicable to applications
  • Certificate of registration of the vehicle
  • Buying and selling affidavit for the vehicle
  • Documents proving your age and address, and passport-sized photos

Temporary registration of vehicles under RTOs in India

The registration number of a vehicle is permanent once it has been registered with an RTO. Even if the vehicle is sold, the registration number does not change. An interim registration certificate may be issued under Section 43 of the Central Motor Vehicle Act if the vehicle was bought in one state or union territory and requires registration in another state or union territory.

What is the procedure for getting a fancy vehicle number from the RTO?

What is the procedure for getting a fancy vehicle number from the RTO

Among some people, fancy number plates like 1111 or 9999 are popular choices for their vehicle number plates. Other choices might be related to astrology or numerology. A fancy number plate or a specific number plate can be requested, and there is a specific process for it.

  • You can apply for special or fancy numbers at the respective RTO.
  • As soon as a number of your choice is approved and assigned to you, you will be required to pay the necessary fees.
  • Whenever there is more than one applicant for a given registration number, the number will be selected through an auction.
  • The booking of the select number of your vehicle will remain valid for 30 days during which you must register the vehicle.

Digitalisation in RTO, India-VAHAN

Digitalisation in RTO, India-VAHAN

Vahan is an integrated software solution for vehicle registration. This system is used for vehicle registration and other functions of RTOs, like issuing renewal permits and fitness certificates and registering the transfer of the ownership of a vehicle. It frees up the RTO officials so they can focus on more important tasks.

How do I check my Vahan registration details online?

To obtain vehicle registration information via Vahan, send the following SMS text: VAHAN{SPACE}VEHICLE NUMBER to 77382 99899. Within five minutes you will receive the appropriate information, including:

  • Name of the registered owner
  • RTO office where the vehicle was registered
  • The expiry date of the latest fitness certificate issued
  • Ownership serial number, i.e., how many hands the vehicle has changed thus far.

In addition to the above information, “Vehicle Search” is also available at Vahan.nic.in. Although the above information is made public, additional information is only accessible to authorised users. The information includes:

  • Chassis number
  • Engine number

What are the services offered by VAHAN?

What are the services offered by VAHAN

The transport department in India is governed by both the state-specific Motor Vehicle Regulations and the Central Motor Vehicle Regulations. As such, Vahan has been conceptualised to capture functions that cut across both CMVR and the state MVR. Vahan currently offers the following services:

· Registering a vehicle

· Registration of a new vehicle

· Renewing registration

· Ownership Transfer

· Changing address, etc.

· Licence

· Issuance of National and Interstate Permits

· Renewal of the permit

· Impediments

· Calculation and payment of state-specific taxes

· Fitness

· Issuance of fitness certificate

· Certificate of Fitness Renewal

· Compliance/Enforcement

· Challan issuance

· Penalty Settlement

Forms related to RTO in India

You will have to fill out and submit appropriate forms at the RTO office to avail most of their services. These forms can be downloaded directly from the RTO website. There are several important forms, including:

Form 20 – Motor vehicle registration application

Form 21- Certificate of Sale

Form 23- Registration certificate

Form 24- Motor vehicle registration

Form 29- Transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle

Form 38 A- Inspection report

Form 50- Bill of lading

Form 51- Insurance certificate

Form 54- Information about accidents

Form 57- Foreign insurance certificate

RTO codes in India for different regions.

Each state and union territory in India is assigned a different RTO code. You can see the same as the first two characters of the vehicle registration number. Listed below are all the codes:

AP—Andhra Pradesh

AR—Arunachal Pradesh




AN– Andaman and Nicobar Islands


DN—Dadra and Nagar Haveli



HP—Himachal Pradesh



JK—Jammu and Kashmir







MP—Madhya Pradesh








TN—Tamil Nadu



UP—Uttar Pradesh


WB—West Bengal


We hope that you have learned all the relevant information about RTOs. To know more, click here.

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