The hassles of moving homes across cities are plenty. Packing and moving the household goods, changing addresses on all utilities and financial accounts, transferring gas connections, finding new schools or homes – shifting cities can be a big pain. Add to that the fact that the car(s) you own need to be transferred and re-registered in the new city. This involves getting a no-objection certificate from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) where the vehicle was originally registered, repaying tax in the new place, and getting a new vehicle number. Each State and region maintain their own vehicle numbers and related database. For instance, Delhi numbers start with DL, Haryana with HR, Tamil Nadu with TN, Maharashtra with MH and so on.


As per the prevailing regulatory requirement, the vehicle registration is changed when there is a change in RTO region, as different States have different tax structures for vehicles. The car buyers tend to flock to States that offer lower tax rates.  The regulation is primarily meant to discourage people from buying vehicles from those States where the taxes are lower.


The hassle in transferring a vehicle across States prompts many to sell their vehicle in the second-hand market even if they are in reasonably good condition. Some users simply shift along with the vehicle without doing the requisite paperwork and use the vehicle in the destination state, but they risk penalties imposed by the traffic police.


To resolve these issues and make life simpler for car owners, the Road Transport Ministry had written to all the State governments with a suggestion to introduce a common tax regime across States based on the price of cars. Another line of thought in the government is to allow seamless transfer of relatively older vehicles which have completed a few years. This means relatively vehicles of a certain age will not require a re-registration and related paperwork when used in a different State. This would, to some extent, separate the genuine buyers from those looking to “manage addresses” in their hunt for a cheaper vehicle.

The system will function much like mobile number portability, where a subscriber, who is switching over to a new service provider is allowed to retain his old number. The new vehicle can have the same old number while the old vehicle that is still operational will be issued another available new number. The new portability system will be applicable to different types of vehicles, i.e. the registration number of a scooter can be ported and used by a car. If implemented, this will enable number portability of vehicles across regions.


The new portability option, however, may not be cheap and is likely to cost a substantial amount. While the final decision has been taken regarding the cost, the fee may be Rs 25,000 for porting the registration number of two-wheelers and Rs 50,000 for cars. In the new rule, there may not be a precondition that makes it mandatory for the user to retain the number for a certain period of time, nor will it be mandatory to scrap the old vehicle that earlier had ported the number.


The new policy, when implemented, is expected to generate a large amount of revenue for State government.  The new system will come into effect after modifying certain provisions and shortcomings put forward by the State governments.


The proposal is still in the idea stage and was discussed at the Group of Transport Ministers meeting a few months ago. Hopefully the new government will see it through!

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