LTO License Plate Updates and Rules Car Owners Must Know

Published: April 24, 2018 | Updated: June 3, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Government Services

LTO License Plate |
When will LTO release my new license plate number? Can I change my vehicle plate? Can I drive without one? What to do when my license plate is damaged or lost?

These concerns may not be as urgent as an overheating engine or a flat tire, but your plaka matters, too. Serving as a vehicle’s identification, the license plate is required by law when driving on public roads in the Philippines.

Here are six license plate updates and rules car owners shouldn’t overlook.

1. You’ll Get Your New License Plate Soon If It’s Registered in 2016 Onwards

Temporary License Plate |

Instagram photo by @poyiegs

Still awaiting your new LTO license plate for what seems like forever? What a bummer. While Dubai is starting to implement high-tech smart plates[1] (with GPS and other digital features to boot) for driver safety and convenience, here we are—wondering for several years when our physical plates will be issued.

Gritting your teeth and clenching your fists in frustration right now? Relax. The latest developments may mean that the long wait for the LTO plate number release will soon be over:

  • In January, the Supreme Court (SC) allowed the release of 700,000 license plates after lifting its temporary restraining order (TRO) issued in June 2016.
  • The Land Transportation Office (LTO) issued guidelines on the license plate release[2] for the prompt distribution of new plates to vehicle owners, following the SC’s lifting of the TRO.
  • LTO can now make license plates and reduce its production backlog after receiving seven manual embossing machines last February 26. The machines can churn out 22,000 plates daily.
  • LTO will also get an automated embossing machine, which will start making 12,000 license plates daily in August.

When is the LTO plate number release date? The government agency has not announced an exact date yet as of this writing. But it has begun issuing license plates this April to those who purchased vehicles from July 2016 to December 2017, said LTO Executive Director Romeo Vera Cruz[3].

As for vehicles bought and registered before 2016, the excruciating wait is far from over, as the license plates for these units are still being questioned before the courts, according to LTO.

2. Your Temporary License Plate Should Follow LTO Official Specs

Temporary LTO License Plate Specs |
Although LTO can’t supply the actual license plates right now, it wants you to follow a standard design for your temporary plate.

In a memo, LTO provided temporary license plate specs[4] 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 (Refer to the image above.)

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 standardized 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.

3. You Can’t Apply for a Vanity Plate Yet

vanity plate

Photo by Charlesng85 via Wikimedia Commons

With the delayed license plate release, getting a vanity plate is totally impractical. Besides, LTO has temporarily suspended applications for Optional Motor Vehicle Special Plates[5] since December 15, 2017.

4. Driving Without a License Plate Can Get You in Trouble

ICYDK, it’s illegal to drive without a license plate because the LTO implements a “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.

Don’t risk it—register your car or renew its LTO registration ASAP. Also, bring your OR/CR (Official Receipt/Certificate of Registration) each time you drive.

5. Your License Plate Number is Permanent

LTO License Plate |
Want to change your license plate? Maybe its alphanumeric combo is bad for Feng Shui, or it reminds you of your ex’s initials and anniversary date. Or you just don’t like it at all.

Don’t even think about it. LTO doesn’t allow motor vehicle plate change, citing Batas Pambansa Blg. 43 that imposes 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.

6. Get a Replacement Plate When Yours is Damaged or Lost

When you damage or lose your vehicle plate, don’t delay replacing it so that you won’t be hassled getting pulled over by the police for driving without a license plate.

Here are the steps to replace a lost or damaged 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[6].
  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.

Final Thoughts

What are your thoughts about these LTO license plate rules and updates? Let us know in the comments!
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