The yellow-crowned parakeet is a small, forest-dwelling, long-tailed, predominantly green parrot with a yellow crown, a narrow crimson band between the crown and the cere, a red spot on each side of the rump and a blue leading edge to the outer wing. The bill is pale bluish-grey with a black tip and cutting edge; the legs and feet black-brown.

Voice: a characteristic chatter made by both sexes when flying, and a variety of quieter and less distinctive calls.

Similar species: very similar in appearance to the orange-fronted parakeet, but the yellow-crowned parakeet is brighter green, has a crimson (not orange) band above the cere, and red (not orange) spots on the flanks. Also similar to the red-crowned parakeet which is larger and has a red crown, and a red patch behind the eye.