What is RAL?

RAL is a colour matching system used in Europe. In colloquial speech RAL refers to the RAL Classic system, mainly used for varnish and powder coating but nowadays there are reference panels for plastics as well.

Approved RAL products are provided with a hologram as of early 2013 to make unauthorised versions difficult to produce. Imitations may show different hue and colour when observed under various light sources.


In 1927 the German Reichs-Ausschuß für Lieferbedingungen und Gütesicherung (Imperial Commission for Delivery Terms and Quality Assurance) invented a collection of 40 colours under the name of "RAL 840". Prior to that date manufacturers and customers had to exchange samples to describe a tint, whereas from then on they would rely on numbers.

In the 1930s the numbers were changed uniformly to four digits and the collection was renamed to "RAL 840 R" (R for revised). With tints constantly added to the collection, it was revised again in 1961 and changed to "RAL 840-HR", which consists of 210 colors and is in use to this day. In the 1960s the colours were given supplemental names to avoid confusion in case of transposed digits.

As "RAL 840-HR" covered only matte paint the 1980s saw the invention of "RAL 841-GL" for glossy surfaces, limited to 193 colours. A main criterion for colours in the RAL Classic collection is to be of "paramount interest". Therefore most of the colours in it are used on warning and traffic signs or are dedicated to government agencies and public services (for example: RAL 1004 - Swiss Postal Service, RAL 1021 - Austrian Postal Service, RAL 1032 - German Postal Service). The first digit relates to the shade of the colour:

1xxx — yellow (30 pcs)
orange (13 pcs)
3xxx — red (25 pcs)
4xxx — violet (12 pcs)
5xxx — blue  (25 pcs)
6xxx — green (36 pcs)

7xxx — gray (38 pcs)
8xxx — brown (20 pcs)
9xxx — white and black (14 gab.), incl. metallics.


In 1993 a new colour matching system was introduced, tailored to the needs of architects, designers and advertisers. It started with 1688 colours and was revised to 1625 colours. Contrary to the preceding systems RAL Design features no names and its numbering follows a scheme based on the CIELAB colour space. Each colour is represented by 7 digits, grouped in a triple and 2 pairs, representing hue, brightness and saturation. The colours of RAL Classic and RAL Design do not intersect.


RAL Effect comprises 420 solid colours and, as a particular highlight, seventy metallic colours. It is the first collection from RAL to be based on waterborne paint systems. No use is made of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and chromates.

The newly developed, multifunctional double colour fan RAL E2 underlines the character of RAL Effect. RAL Effect allows eco-efficient colour production for all paint and lacquer producers


The software for architects, interior decorators and all those who deal with colours in a creative way. It integrates the colours of RAL Classic, RAL Effect and RAL Design into graphics and CAD programms.


"Colour Feeling 09/10" is primarily designed as a professional planning tool for designers, architects, interior designers, interior decorators and painters. It is meant to be a source of inspiration on how to creatively combine the main trend colours for the coming two years. But also general consumers can be inspired by the work book to develop their own ideas and to create their personal colour design.
Correlation between RR color catalog and RAL catalog
RR 11 RAL 6020
RR 20 RAL 9003
RR 21 RAL 7040
RR 22 RAL 7000
RR 23 RAL 7015
RR 24 RAL 1002
RR 25 RAL 1003
RR 26 RAL 1006
RR 27 RAL 3011
RR 28 RAL 3011
RR 29 RAL 3009
RR 30 RAL 1001
RR 31 RAL 8025
RR 32 RAL 8019
RR 33 RAL 9004
RR 34 RAL 5024
RR 35 RAL 5001
RR 36 RAL 6021
RR 37 RAL 6002
RR 38 RAL 6025
RR 40 RAL 9006
RR 41 RAL 9007
RR 750 RAL 8004