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 standardization of color shades. So, you can buy color cards from RAL. The paint in RAL colors you will find in specialized shops.

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

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

How is the RAL CLASSIC color collection structured?

RAL CLASSIC is a collection of currently 213 colors 188 of which are body colors, 2 are micaceous iron colors, 5 are daylight luminous colors and 15 others are pearlescent colors. In order to be admitted to this collection a color 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 colors of Germany’s Armed Forces?

No, the colors of the German Bundeswehr are listed separately. Currently, these are the camouflage colors 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 colors being formed?

The RAL CLASSIC colors 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 color shade (e.g. melon yellow for RAL 1028) is an auxiliary designation. For a definite identification of a color one should use both in order to avoid confusion caused by possible transposition of digits.

Do RAL DESIGN colors – like RAL CLASSIC colors – have such color names in addition to the number?

No. With 1625 colors the RAL DESIGN System simply has too many colors to give a name to each of them. Here, the colors are systematically spread in the CIELab color space and the number of the color indicates the location in the color 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 color 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-colored 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 color shades. So, for example, the RAL DESIGN System color 000 90 00 is a white shade (hue H = 0 and chroma C = 0) and it is not the designation of a RAL CLASSIC color using the code 9000.

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

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

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

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

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

The structure of the RAL DESIGN System follows the internationally accepted L*a*b* color 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 color must be of overriding public interest and not be subject to passing fashion.
  2. The color 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 color 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 color to be included.
  • RAL arranges for the manufacture of the color 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 color 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.


After concluding the inclusion process RAL will charge an inclusion fee of € 1000.00.

Where can I get information on historical RAL colours?

For information on historical RAL colours, please call Mr Kiroff on +49 (0) 1805 – 74 80 66 (14 cents/min. from German landlines).

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