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How to Check If Your LTO Plate Number is Finally Available

Moneymax Editorial Team

Moneymax Editorial Team

Last updated January 25, 2023

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, a vast majority of motorists are still waiting for their LTO plate number release. With more cars hitting the road every year, LTO seems to be having a hard time catching up.

Of course, this has incensed many vehicle owners who patiently wait for their plates for months, if not years. Given LTO's No Registration, No Travel policy, it’s understandable that vehicle owners are demanding faster results.

Under the said policy, vehicles without license plates can be flagged down anytime and will be asked to present a Certificate of Registration (CR) and Official Receipt (OR). Hefty fines are also imposed on transgressors.

Wondering how to check if your LTO plate number is available this 2023? 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 new plate number release? Besides license plates being necessary to drive vehicles as mentioned, it’s essential for safety and security reasons. Moreover, together with your car or motorcycle’s OR and CR, your LTO plate number serves as your vehicle’s identity.

A license plate is akin to 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 therefore earned the right to traverse public roads. Plates also help authorities monitor if every vehicle on the road is adhering to traffic rules and regulations.

With a visible identifier, motorists are assured that violators can be caught and penalized. Without a plate number in the Philippines, law enforcers would need to chase or flag down vehicles just to check the registration and driver’s license.

The LTO Plate Number Delay Timeline

how to check lto plate number - 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 4 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[1] 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.[2] The facility can print up to 22,400 pieces of motor vehicle plates per day.

2021 – The LTO sought suppliers to help them cover their 18 million backlogs.

2022 – In September 2022, the plate number backlog went down to 11.5 million.[3]

2023 - The LTO announced that it aims to complete up to 90% of its motor vehicle license plate backlog by the end of 2023. According to the agency, it plans to produce a percentage of the required license plates through its own plant.[4]

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How to Check LTO Plate Number Availability, Claim It, and Apply for a Replacement Plate

👉 How to Verify Your License Plate Availability

how to check lto plate number - How to Check LTO Plate Number Availability

You have different options for checking if your LTO plate number is available for release:

  • One way how to check LTO plate availability is to 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.
  • To check your LTO plate number's availability online, visit LTO’s online database.[5] Using a laptop or desktop computer, hold down the CTRL + F keys and type in your plate number with no spaces in between the letters and numbers. You can also use the chat feature on the website for assistance.
  • Another way how to check LTO plate number availability is to 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.
  • You may also contact the LTO regional office where your vehicle registration was submitted. Check the official Facebook pages of LTO regional offices for more information.
  • For your LTO plate number backlog inquiry, call the LTO Plate Unit hotline at (02) 8922-9063 local 225.

👉 How to Get Your Plate Number in 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

  1. File an affidavit of loss or mutilation at the LTO office where your car is currently registered.
  2. Submit your OR/CR, PNP-Highway Patrol Group clearance, and other LTO requirements.
  3. Have LTO inspect your car and issue an accomplished and approved Motor Vehicle Inspection Report (MVIR).
  4. Pay the replacement plate cost at the cashier and get your proof of payment.
  5. Get a copy of LTO’s authorization to use an improvised plate, which is valid for 90 days.

LTO License Plate Rules Every Motorist Should Know

✔️ Your Temporary License Plate Should Follow the LTO Official Specs

how to check lto plate number - temporary plate format

For those who still have to wait for their license plates, they can still use a 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 (the MV file number can be found on the Certificate of Registration from LTO)
  • Reflective sturdy material
  • Arial Black font
  • Use of the LTO’s official temporary plate design and layout
  • 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 to it, complete with the conduction sticker number, MV file number, and dealer’s name. Otherwise, call the dealer’s attention to it before the vehicle is released.

✔️ There's a Law for Preventing Motorcycle Crimes

how to check lto plate number - Doble Plaka Law

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 are required to use a metal plate at the rear of the motorcycle and a decal number plate to be displayed in front of the vehicle. 

Color Scheme

The LTO created a color scheme for new 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)

✔️ You Can't Apply for a Vanity Plate Yet

how to check lto plate number - vanity plate
Photo: Charlesng85 (Wikimedia Commons)

With the delayed license plate release, getting a vanity plate is totally impractical. There are pros and cons to customizing your plate number, but one may argue that the cons currently outweigh the pros. Besides, LTO has temporarily suspended applications for Optional Motor Vehicle Special Plates since December 15, 2017.[6]

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.[7]

On a side note, remember that you’re also not allowed to add stylistic touches to your plate. Just leave it as it is, with no additional marks. If you’re really itching to personalize something, make changes to the rest of your vehicle. The license plate is off-limits.

✔️ Driving Without a License Plate Can Get You in Trouble

It goes without saying, but it’s illegal to drive without a license plate. This is primarily because of LTO’s No Registration, No Travel policy.

If you’re caught driving an unregistered car without a license plate, you’ll be slapped with a fine. Worse, your vehicle might be impounded. Pasig City, for instance, recently increased its efforts to apprehend drivers using cars without license plates. 

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

how to check lto plate number - 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.

Don't even think about it. 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.[8]

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 LTO car registration and renewal

Final Thoughts

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.

Six years later in 2023, the license plate backlog is as overwhelming as ever. One wonders whether the LTO can really catch up this year and finally match the growing demand for faster plate production and distribution. Motorists can only hope that the LTO plate availability will be resolved soon for the safety and security of vehicle owners and commuters.

If you’re planning to purchase a new vehicle, consider LTO’s current backlogs. Manage your expectations and discuss the timelines for registration with your dealer. Keep yourself informed on how to check your LTO plate number availability.

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The Moneymax Editorial Team consists of talented and experienced writers, editors, investors, and subject matter experts on a mission to help Filipinos build healthier financial lives. Browse the Moneymax blog for information and advice on credit cards, loans, insurance, investments, and other personal finance topics. For more financial news and articles, follow Moneymax on LinkedIn.