FAQs – Frequently asked questions

Can I buy RAL paint directly from RAL?

No. RAL neither produces nor sells the paint itself. RAL is exclusively involved in the definition and standardisation of colour shades. So, you can buy colour cards from RAL. The paint in RAL colours you will find in specialised shops.

What is the difference between RAL CLASSIC colours and RAL DESIGN System colours?

RAL DESIGN is a colour system containing 1625 body colours. RAL CLASSIC, on the other hand, is a collection.

How is the RAL CLASSIC colour collection structured?

RAL CLASSIC is a collection of currently 213 colours 188 of which are body colours, 2 are micaceous iron colours, 5 are daylight luminous colours and 15 others are pearlescent colours. In order to be admitted to this collection a colour must be of superior interest and should not be subject to fashion trends. For example, RAL 5002 is the blue of THW, the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief.

Does RAL CLASSIC include the camouflage colours of Germany’s Armed Forces?

No, the colours of the German Bundeswehr are listed separately. Currently, these are the camouflage colours RAL 6031 F9 bronze green, RAL 8027 F9 leather brown and RAL 9021 F9 tar black as well as RAL 6031 HR bronze green for non-camouflage use.

How are the designations of the RAL CLASSIC colours being formed?

The RAL CLASSIC colours have a four-digit number in combination with the letters “RAL” (e.g. RAL 1028). The first digit is a system code number (1: yellow, 2: orange, 3: red, 4: violet, 5: blue, 6: green, 7: grey, 8: brown and 9: white and black shades). The remaining three digits are chosen sequentially.
The name of a colour shade (e.g. melon yellow for RAL 1028) is an auxiliary designation. For a definite identification of a colour one should use both in order to avoid confusion caused by possible transposition of digits.

Do RAL DESIGN colours – like RAL CLASSIC colours – have such colour names in addition to the number?

No. With 1625 colours the RAL DESIGN System simply has too many colours to give a name to each of them. Here, the colours are systematically spread in the CIELab colour space and the number of the colour indicates the location in the colour space.

How are the numbers of the RAL DESIGN System composed?

The RAL DESIGN System uses the first three digits to identify the hue, the following first pair of digits defines the lightness L while the second pair identifies the chroma C. For example, the RAL DESIGN System colour 270 30 20 is a dark blue with a hue H of 270, a lightness L of 30 and a chroma C of 20. Special attention should be paid in this respect to the designation of non-coloured grey shades. As their hue H is 0 the initial zeros may not simply be dropped because the remaining four digits would inevitably lead to confusion with the RAL CLASSIC colour shades. So, for example, the RAL DESIGN System colour 000 90 00 is a white shade (hue H = 0 and chroma C = 0) and it is not the designation of a RAL CLASSIC colour using the code 9000.

Are the RAL CLASSIC colours included in the RAL DESIGN System?

No, but the RAL CLASSIC body colours and daylight luminous colours can be shown in the CIELab colour space.

Does the RAL colour system also exist in a digital form?

The 3.0 RAL DIGITAL software contains not only the 210 RAL CLASSIC colours but also the 1625 RAL DESIGN System colours. Those who are interested in the 210 RAL CLASSIC colours only will use the 2.5 RAL CLASSIC Colour Data software.

Does the RAL DESIGN colour system meet a standard or an agreement?

The structure of the RAL DESIGN System follows the internationally accepted L*a*b* colour measuring system developed by CIE (Commission Internationale d’Eclairage) in 1976.
In this system, value a represents the red-green axis (negative values for green, positive ones for red), value b represents the yellow-blue axis (negative values for blue, positive ones for yellow) and L represents the lightness (zero stands for the ideal black while 100 represents the ideal white). The grey or neutral point lies at a = b = 0. The CIELab formula is described in DIN 6174.
RAL CLASSIC Colour Collection RAL 840-HR – Inclusion of New Shades


  1. The colour must be of overriding public interest and not be subject to passing fashion.
  2. The colour must be at a certain minimum distance from the ones already existing.
  3. It must be possible to produce the shade by use of commercial pigments that have not been found to be environmentally hazardous.
  4. The colour must – with a few exceptions – have good opacity on “black-white”.
  5. It must be possible to manufacture the shade in a way as to ensure a good resistance to outdoor weathering.

Inclusion of a new shade

  • Application for inclusion on the Main Register RAL 840-HR

If all requirements are met and RAL decides to include the shade on the register the procedure will be as follows:

  • RAL receives a binding opaquely painted sample of the colour to be included.
  • RAL arranges for the manufacture of the colour cards the supervision of which is the exclusive task of RAL.


  • RAL receives a non-opaquely painted sample, e.g. a fabric, printing ink or plastic sample of the colour to be included.
  • Specimen coatings of reproduced samples are submitted to the applicant for matching.
  • Upon receiving applicant’s approval the manufacture of the colour cards and their supervision is in the hands of RAL exclusively.

The colour card can by obtained by everybody from RAL. The use of the colour will not be limited to the original use.

Where can I get information on historical RAL colours?

For information on historical RAL colours, please call Industrial Physics +31(0)10 7900 100.

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