An LTO plate number serves as a vehicle’s proof of legitimacy and identifier in terms of registration, road violations, and compliance with government laws. However, most motorists still await the release of their LTO plate number. With more cars hitting the road every year, the LTO seems to be struggling to catch up.
Of course, this has incensed many vehicle owners who have been patiently waiting for their plates for months, if not years. Given the No Registration, No Travel policy, where enforcers can flag down and fine vehicles without license plates, it’s understandable for vehicle owners to demand faster results.
So how do you check if your LTO plate number is available in 2024? Get all the updates you need below.
Why Do You Need an LTO Plate Number?
Wondering why there’s so much clamor to speed up the LTO plate number release?
Along with your car or motorcycle’s OR and CR, your LTO plate number is your vehicle’s identity. It’s a government-owned legal document that comes in the form of a slim piece of metal that you place onto your car’s front and rear bumpers. It signals to law enforcers and other motorists that your vehicle has been duly registered and has earned the right to traverse public roads.
They’re also essential for safety and security reasons. Plates help authorities monitor if every vehicle adheres to traffic rules and regulations. With a visible identifier, motorists are assured that violators can be caught and penalized.
Without plate numbers, law enforcers must chase or flag down vehicles to check the registration and driver’s license.
The LTO Plate Number Delay Timeline
2013 – Together with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the LTO awarded a manufacturing contract to the joint venture of Knieriem BV Goes and Power Plates Development Concept Inc. as part of the five-year Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program.
2015 – The Commission on Audit (COA) issued a Notice of Disallowance covering the advance payment made by LTO to suppliers in June and July 2014, amounting to ₱477 million. According to DOTr, of the 15 million license plates, only four million were released, resulting in a backlog of 11 million.
2016 – The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing LTO and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) from releasing and distributing 700,000 license plates from the Bureau of Customs after the plates’ supplier-importer failed to pay the required customs duties.
2018 – The Supreme Court lifted the TRO, and COA also lifted the disallowance, which allowed the distribution of 300,000 license plates for cars and 400,000 license plates for motorcycles, amounting to ₱477,901,329.
In the same year, LTO inaugurated its motor vehicle plate production plant. The facility can print up to 22,400 pieces of motor vehicle plates daily.
2021 – The LTO sought suppliers to help cover their 18 million backlogs.
2022 – In September 2022, the plate number backlog went down to 11.5 million.
2023 – The LTO announced its plan to complete up to 90% of its motor vehicle license plate backlog by the end of 2023 by producing a percentage of the required license plates through its own plant. With eight working machines, the LTO increased its production by producing one million plates monthly, catering to motor vehicles and the more extensive backlog for motorcycle plates.
In July, the LTO claimed millions of replacement plates were already available but remained undistributed and unclaimed. To solve the LTO plate replacement distribution problem, LTO announced it would launch a website and mobile app for LTO plate number checks online.
How to Check LTO Plate Number Availability, Claim It, and Apply for a Replacement Plate
👉 How to Verify Your License Plate Availability
You have different ways to check if your LTO plate number is available for release:
- Text LTOVEHICLE<space>plate number of your car and send it to 2600. Wait for an auto-generated reply outlining basic details about your vehicle, including its make, model, manufacturing year, color, last registration date, and LTO violations, if any.
- Visit LTO’s online web portal (https://lto.net.ph) and enter your plate number and the verification code. Note: As of writing, the website is still down and cannot be accessed.
- Coordinate directly with the car dealer where you bought your car and see if they have your plate number. They might be able to update you regarding the status of your MV plate.
- Contact the LTO regional office where your vehicle registration was submitted. Check the official Facebook pages of LTO regional offices for more information.
- Call the LTO Plate Unit hotline at (02) 8922-9063 local 225.
👉 How to Get Your Plate Number From the LTO
Visit your LTO branch, respective district, or extension office. Make sure to bring these documents when claiming your plate number from the LTO:
- Certificate of Registration (CR)
- Latest Official Receipt (OR) of payment
- Government-issued ID
If no plate number is printed on your CR, the LTO will issue a certification that the new plate number given to you is assigned to your vehicle. LTO will also record your assigned plate number in its database.
The LTO may also ask for additional documents. For example, the LTO in Central Visayas requires vehicle owners to furnish an affidavit that allows their dealers to claim their license plates from the regional office.
👉 How to Apply for a Replacement LTO License Plate
- File an affidavit of loss or mutilation at the LTO office where your car is registered.
- Submit your OR/CR, PNP-Highway Patrol Group clearance, and other LTO requirements.
- Have LTO inspect your car and issue an accomplished and approved Motor Vehicle Inspection Report (MVIR).
- Pay the replacement plate cost at the cashier and get your proof of payment.
- Get a copy of LTO’s authorization to use an improvised plate, which is valid for 90 days.
LTO License Plate Rules Motorists Should Know
✔️ Your Temporary License Plate Should Follow the LTO Official Specs
In a memorandum issued on March 22, 2023, Assistant Secretary Jose Arturo Tugade said that while waiting for the issuance of the physical license plates, the attached Conduction Sticker or MV File number will continue to serve as the temporary license plate.
The LTO provided temporary license plate specs for “uniformity and ease of visual recognition.” These specs apply to vehicles released from February 15, 2017 onwards:
- Use of conduction sticker number and MV file number as temporary license plate numbers (you can find the MV file number on the Certificate of Registration from LTO)
- Reflective sturdy material
- Arial Black font
- Use of the LTO’s official temporary plate design and layout
- The name of the dealer placed at the end of the plate for tricycles and motorcycles, and on the sides for four-wheel vehicles
Car dealers who don’t comply with the rules will be fined. Using a non-standardized temporary license plate or one without an MV file number might also cause you to get pulled over by a traffic enforcer.
So make sure your newly purchased vehicle has a standard temporary plate attached, complete with the conduction sticker number, MV file number, and dealer’s name. Otherwise, call the dealer’s attention before the vehicle is released.
✔️ There's a Law for Preventing Motorcycle Crimes
Republic Act 11235, or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, otherwise known as the Doble Plaka Law, requires the use of bigger, readable, and color-coded number plates for every motorcycle to secure citizens against crimes involving riding in tandem.
Important provisions included in the RA 11235 are as follows:
Motorcycle License Plate Display
Motorcycles must use a metal plate at the rear of the motorcycle and a decal number plate in front of the vehicle.
The LTO created a color scheme for new motorcycle plate numbers in the Philippines:
- White background and red alphanumeric characters for government motorcycles
- Yellow background and black alphanumeric characters for public utility motorcycles
- White background with color stripe (dependent on the region) and black alphanumeric characters
- White background and blue alphanumeric characters for diplomatic motorcycles
Motorcycle Plate Number Specifications
The measurements of plate numbers for motorcycles should be as follows:
- Decal plate - Sticker material of 135mm in width and 85mm in height
- Metal plate - Aluminum substrate of 235mm in width and 135mm in height
Penalties, Fines, and Punishments
- Failure to register within five days from purchase or to report after the sale: ₱20,000 up to ₱50,000
- Driving without a number plate or readable number plate: ₱50,000 up to ₱100,000
- Erasing, tampering, forging, covering of number plates: ₱50,000 up to ₱100,000
- Using a motorcycle for the commission of a crime: reclusion temporal (12 to 20 years imprisonment) to reclusion perpetua (20 to 40 years imprisonment)
✔️ Getting a Vanity Plate Costs More
There are pros and cons to customizing your plate number. But one may argue that the cons currently outweigh the pros. After all, with the license plate release as delayed as it is, getting a vanity plate is impractical.
In addition, according to the LTO Memorandum Circular No. 2022-2335 issued on June 21, 2022, you'll have to pay ₱15,000 to ₱35,000 for your Optional Motor Vehicle Special Plates (OMVSP).
The LTO also warned motorists against unauthorized commemorative plates. Vehicle owners using expired commemorative plates will be fined ₱5,000. The said plate will also be confiscated.
So if you’re itching to personalize something, it's best to make changes to the rest of your vehicle.
✔️ Driving Without a License Plate Can Get You in Trouble
As mentioned, driving without a license plate is illegal. It’s primarily because of LTO’s No Registration, No Travel policy.
If caught driving an unregistered car without a license plate, you'll be slapped with a fine of ₱5,000. Worse, your vehicle might be impounded.
Don’t risk it—register your car or renew your LTO plate number registration as soon as possible. Also, bring your OR/CR each time you drive.
✔️ Your License Plate Number is Permanent
Want to change your license plate? Maybe its alphanumeric combo is bad for feng shui, or it reminds you of your ex's initials or anniversary date. Or you just don't like it at all.
Sorry, but the LTO doesn't allow motor vehicle plate change, citing Batas Pambansa Blg. 43, which imposes the permanent assignment of a license plate to a vehicle during its lifetime. You can change your plate number only if you're converting your private vehicle to one for hire.
In short, your plate number is for keeps. It doesn't expire. Yes, buti pa sa plaka, may forever.
✔️ Beware of Fixers
Never deal with fixers, no matter how badly you want to get your new license plate. Unscrupulous people may take advantage of the frustration of car owners, claiming they can help get vehicle plates faster for a fee.
LTO has reminded the public not to enlist the services of these unauthorized people. In December 2022, LTO promised to solve "non-appearance" scams, wherein clients don't have to show up at all for the registration process.
Paying a fixer to assist you with your license plate, car registration, and other LTO transactions will only help spread corruption in the government. Instead, look for ways to get a driver’s license faster without dealing with fixers, review for your LTO exam, and read up on the process of LTO car registration and renewal.
The license plate backlog problem in the Philippines can be traced back to 2014 when LTO introduced the Plate Standardization Program. The initiative was projected to reach completion by 2017.
Years later, in 2024, the license plate backlog is as overwhelming as ever. One wonders whether the LTO can catch up this year and finally match the growing demand for faster plate production and distribution. Motorists can only hope that the LTO plate backlog will be resolved soon for the safety and security of vehicle owners and commuters.
If you plan to purchase a new vehicle, consider LTO’s current backlogs. Manage your expectations and discuss the timelines for registration with your dealer. Also, keep yourself informed on the ways to check LTO plate number availability.
-  LTO explains why car plates are delayed (Philstar, 2017)
-  LTO inaugurates license plate-making facility (Philippine News Agency, 2018)
-  LTO: License plate backlog hits 11.5 million (Philstar, 2022)
-  LTO seeks to fulfill 90% of license plate backlog before end of 2023 (Philstar, 2022)
-  LTO now producing 1 million license plates per month (Philstar, 2023)
-  No backlog after all? LTO finds 1.7M stockpile of unclaimed license plates (Rappler, 2023)
-  LTO rules on use of temporary vehicle plates remain in effect (Philstar, 2023)
-  MC 2022-2335 Revised Guidelines in the Acquisition of Optional Motor Vehicle Special Plates (OMVSP) (Land Transportation Office, 2022)
-  LTO warns against unauthorized use of commemorative license plates (CNN Philippines, 2022)