Is it mandatory to register a vehicle?

registration of motor vehicles

In India Owning a vehicle is a luxury that everyone wants for making their life hassle-free. Instead of traveling through crowded bus and metro nowadays everyone prefers to own a vehicle of their own for their convenience either two-tiered vehicle or three-tiered vehicle or four-tiered vehicle. However, when you purchase a vehicle it is mandatory to register the vehicle.

The laws that are governing the registration of motor vehicles either it is a car or bike is governed by the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. It ensures the insurance of the vehicle, the driver is a learned man who is not below the age of majority and is medically fit for driving the vehicle. As per section 4 of the Act the age limit for applying for learning driving license is 16-18 years of age but for those who are 16 years of age are only allowed to drive a motorcycle with 50CC of the engine.

Why is vehicle registration mandatory?

Registering a vehicle is a necessity under section 39 of Motors Vehicles Act, 1988[i] which clearly states that a person should drive a motor vehicle or not allow anyone to drive a motor vehicle until the vehicle is registered.

By registering the motor vehicle the proof of ownership of the vehicle is known by the government which ensures its safety and it also helps for reselling of the vehicle legally. It also helps in easy tracking of the vehicle which is governed by Transport Ministry who keeps a record of all vehicles. 

Where to registera vehicle?

In India registration of the vehicle is done under RTO (Regional Transport Office) Act established as a government organization for monitoring the vehicle on road and for issuing driver licenses. The other work of RTO is to collect tax, check pollution, and enforce transportation rules. These are located in every state and function under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.

There are two types of registration made permanent registration and temporary registration, where once registration is made permanently, the registration number cannot be altered, and if temporary registration is made then it cannot exceed more than a month and cannot be renewed as per chapter IV section 43 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988[ii].

What documents are required for registering a vehicle?

When we buy a vehicle it is necessary to register a vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. For registering the vehicle one has to visit the nearest RTO office. In some cases, Motor Vehicle dealers register the vehicle on the behalf of the owner in exchange for the amount which is to be paid for registering the vehicle. As per section 41 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 following are the procedure that the owner has to follow for registering the motor vehicle:

  • Form 20 is the motor vehicle registration application which has to be filled, as per rule 47.
  • Form 21 which is a sale certificate issued by manufacturer/dealer has to be filled.
  • Form 34 which is details regarding loan hypothecation.
  • Pollution under control certificate which is issued by the Ministry of Road Transport And Highways Government of India.
  • As per section 44, it is required to present the vehicle physically before registration
  • Evidence of payment of motor vehicle receipt issued by the dealer.
  • As per section 43 temporary registration number.
  • Identity proof of residence i.e. Adhaar Card, Passport, PAN Card, Voters ID Card, Driving License, etc.
  • In case if there is a transfer of ownership then form 29 is filled.

Once all these documents are occupied by the owner of the vehicle they will receive the RTO form and one can also file RTO through an online procedure which a government portal named “VAHAN” where all the details of the vehicle are easily available.

With the procurement of the RTO form, the owner can travel anywhere from one state to another without causing any kind of violation which is related to driving a vehicle after the registration is being done with the correct document. 

What are the consequences of not registering a vehicle?

There are rules and regulations which are made mandatory to follow in order to make our movement from one place to another without causing inconvenience to others. Everyone is allowed to do anything but within the ambit of the law. Same when we do not follow those set of rules we have to go through its consequences.

Every state there is traffic laws that take action against the defaulter if the vehicle was not registered as per law which deals with the motor vehicle and when the number under which a vehicle is temporarily registered has been expired.

Traffic laws operated when a vehicle is not registered and when the driver of a motor vehicle does not carry the certificate of motor vehicle registration the violator has to pay fine. However, when a new car which is not registered under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 then in that case dealer provides the owner with a temporary number which is valid for a month and the owner has to apply for permanent registration number within the expiry of the given period. As per Motor vehicle act, 1988 punishment for not adhering to the law is defined from section 177 to section 210D. As per section 192 of the act, the amount which is charged for driving an unregistered vehicle is rupees 5,000 and for again being caught driving the unregistered vehicle then, in that case, that person will be punished with imprisonment of not less than a year with fine of rupees 10,000.

The other punishments in respect of violation of the law are:

  • As per section 180 of the Act, when an unauthorized person on whose name vehicle is not registered, if found driving then that person will be punished with imprisonment of 3 months with fine of rupees 1000.
  • As per section 207 of the Act, an authorized person is permitted to detain the vehicle when the person is driving the vehicle without driving license and is below the majority of the age.
  • As per section 190 whoever drives a vehicle that does not adhere to the pollution norms of the traffic law then in such case, that person will be imprisoned for 3 months with a fine of rupees 10,000 and also the driving license will be disqualified for a period of 3 months.
  • As per section 196, when someone drives a vehicle that is not insured then in that case that person will be punished with imprisonment of 3 months with a fine of rupees 2,000.
  • As per section 199A, when any offense is taken place because of juvenile then in that case the guardian or owner of the vehicle will be punished and the punished of imprisonment for 3 years and fine of rupees 20,000.


Whenever we are driving a vehicle in India it is mandatory to register the vehicle as per the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and it is a punishable offense for driving a vehicle without registering the vehicle. Registration of the vehicle helps the government to keep track of the vehicle which runs on the road and also the air pollution is controlled. Hence, as a responsible citizen, it is our duty to only drive a vehicle when it is in a healthy condition and registered.

Edited by Pushpamrita Roy

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje 




Samridhi Srivastava
I samridhi srivastava is pursuing B.A.LL.b from Lloyd Law college. My inclination is towards writing legal articles and doing legal research work and is also looking forward to have a career in legal journalism. I am also interested in writing shayari; reading novels of great personality like Swami Vivekanand, my experience with truth, APJ Abdul Kamal's sir autobiography etc.; reading news and listening music in my free time.