When will they release my new LTO license plate? 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 some of the latest LTO license plate updates every car owner should know.
Your LTO License Plate from 2016 is Ready for Release
Instagram photo by @poyiegs
Still awaiting your new LTO license plate for what seems like forever? What a bummer. While other countries have started implementing high-tech license plates, here we are—wondering for several years when our physical plates will be issued.
But the long wait seems to be over (for some). For four-wheel vehicles registered from January to June 2016, their license plates will be ready for release. LTO started releasing new plates and replacement plates last year and they are now available for claiming.
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.
How to Verify Your License Plate Availability
One way to check your LTO license plate availability is to text LTOVEHICLE<space>plate number of your car and send to 2600.
You can also head to the Motor Vehicle 7-Character Plate Backlog Inquiry page and enter your MV file number or also known as Motor Vehicle number.
Try calling the car dealership where you bought your car and see if they have your license plate.
How to Claim Your License Plate from LTO
You may get your new license plate yourself or assign a representative to do so on your behalf. Make sure to bring these three documents when claiming your license plate from the LTO:
Certificate of Registration (CR)
Latest Official Receipt (OR) of payment
If no plate number is printed on your CR, the LTO will issue a certification that the new license plate 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 currently 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.
Your Temporary License Plate Should Follow LTO Official Specs
For those who still have to wait for license plates, you can still use a temporary license plate.
In a memo, 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
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.
President Duterte Signs the Doble Plaka Law
Photo from PhilStar.com
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11235 (Motorcycle Crime Prevention Law) into law on March 8, 2019. Also known as the Doble Plaka Law, RA 11235 requires motorcycle owners to display two big license plates—one in the front and one in the back of the vehicle. Failure to comply will result in hefty fines up to PHP 100,000 plus jail time.
Senator Richard Gordon, one of the principal authors of the Doble Plaka Law, has pushed for the immediate release of the law’s implementing rules and regulations. “This is yet another case of remorseless murder committed by riding-in-tandem assassins. This is very much appalling, especially that we are currently facing a pandemic. This brutal act should stop at once,” said Sen. Gordon in a statement.
LTO will also change the license plate format into a “bigger, readable, and color-coded number plate for every motorcycle, which shall consist of a.) a metal number plate to be installed at the rear of a motorcycle, and b.) a decal number plate to be displayed in its front. It shall bear a unique combination of alphanumeric characters using the following format: ABC123.”
The LTO were supposed to implement the law immediately, but the pandemic delayed those plans. LTO delayed the distribution further to add more safety features to the license plate, including an RFID sticker, QR Code, and reflectorized sheeting.
LTO Releases First Batch of NEW Motorcycle Plates
The good news is that the LTO has started distributing the first batch of RA 11235-compliant motorcycle plates in Metro Manila. According to LTO National Capital Region director Clarence Guinto, an initial 5,000 plates were already turned over to dealers. The LTO-NCR West received a total of 70,000 plates and may be distributed to NCR dealers anytime soon.
For those who have yet to receive their new plates (especially those outside NCR), don’t panic just yet. The Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO) has assured motorcycle owners that enforcers won’t apprehend anyone using the old plate number or MV-file number plate.
Additional LTO License Plate Reminders
You Still Can’t Apply for a Vanity Plate Yet
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 since December 15, 2017.
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.
Don’t risk it—register your car or renew your registration ASAP. Also, bring your OR/CR (Official Receipt/Certificate of Registration) 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 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.
Beware of Fixers
Never deal with fixers, no matter how badly you want to get your new license plate ASAP. Unscrupulous people may take advantage of the frustration of car owners, claiming they can help get vehicle plates faster for a fee.
The LTO has reminded the public not to enlist the services of these unauthorized people. Paying for their assistance in claiming your license plate, getting a driver’s license, and other LTO transactions will only help spread corruption in the government.
It’s best to keep up on the latest updates from LTO so you won’t end up scrambling when enforcers apprehend you. Don’t underestimate the importance of your vehicle’s license plate. You’ll never know how much it’ll cost you if you fail to comply with LTO’s standards.
Read more about LTO:
 LTO to release plates of vehicles registered from January to June 2016 (TopGear Philippines, 2019)
 New motorcycle plates out (PhilStar, 2020)