The problems keep on coming for the LTO. Most recently, the dwindling supply of license plates for both motor vehicles and motorcycles came to light, and to that, agency Chief Jay Art Tugade responded with their contingencies and what they’ll allow for MC and MV owners to do and use in the absence of plates. He did, however, clarify the details after his preliminary statement. Here’s what you need to know.
LTO’s rules on temporary and improvised plates
During a recent interview, Chief Jay Art Tugade was asked what the agency’s contingencies are in case the supply of motorcycle and motor vehicle plates does run out, and he was quoted as saying, “For motorcycles and 4-wheeled vehicles, we are working on a contingency that we have now. One of the contingencies that we have in place is to allow the temporary issuances of motor vehicle plates and motorcycle plates by the owner. So, for example, iyung motorcycle owners, in the absence of a plate number, they can ‘create a plate number and on the plate number it will say the motor vehicle’s file number.'”
His statement may be misconstrued as owners being allowed to just make their own, and that may be a legitimate misinterpretation given the wording. This was further explained and later cleared by Tugade himself, though.
Let everyone be reminded that it is clear in the law that printing your own plate, especially if it does not meet the agency’s standards and security measures, is strictly not allowed.
So, what then is a temporary and an improvised plate?
A temporary plate is that which is issued by the dealership for the vehicle owner to be able to use it. On these temporary plates for motor vehicles, the Conduction Sticker number is indicated, whereas for motorcycles, it is the File Number that is displayed. The agency reiterated that a temporary plate must meet material, font and letter, design, and layout standards. Once the official license plates are issued, owners are to swap these temporary plates out and in their place, use the plates with the actual plate numbers (and letters) from the LTO.
Under a Memorandum that has been in place since 2017, temporary license plates are given for newly-purchased vehicles, and only dealers can make or print them. Yes, these must only be issued by dealers and NOT DIY’d.
“Ang general rule po ay bawal po mag-print ng sariling plate number. Tanging mga dealer lamang po ang pinapayagang mag-issue ng temporary plate para maiuwi ang mga bagong sasakyan dahil mayroon tayong “no plate, no travel” policy [The general rule is printing your own plate number is prohibited. Only dealers are allowed to issue temporary plates so the new vehicle can be brought home because we have a ‘no plate, no travel’ policy],” Tugade explained.
As for an improvised plate, these can only be used under these specific circumstances: loss, theft, or damage of existing plates. Those who are unfortunate enough to have lost, stolen, or damaged plates must have the vehicle owner first report the incident and then secure proper authorization from the LTO to be able to use an improvised plate. On this improvised plate, the LTO advised that “LOST PLATE” be clearly indicated and that there is no need for the original or official design to be used. “Hindi dapat na kamukha ng orihinal o opisyal na disenyo ng plaka ang gagamitin” are the exact words used by the agency in their posted explanation.
Chances are that motorcycles and motor vehicles will be pulled over by law enforcement units when they see an improvised plate mounted. So what must be done? You simply have to have your Authorization to Use Improvised Plate from the LTO as well as the motorcycle or motor vehicle’s OR/CR in hand; these are what enforcers will use to determine the legitimacy of your improvised plates.
“Itong paggawa ng improvised license plates ay masasabing exception sa general rule na bawal gumawa ng sariling plaka pero dapat ay nasusunod ang panuntunan ng LTO hinggil dito [The making of improvised plates can be seen as an exception to the general rule that making your own plate is not allowed, but the LTO’s rules must still be followed in this situation],” the LTO Chief reiterated.
In line with the use of improvised plates, the Tugade advised, “Kung ‘yung plaka po ninyo ay ninakaw o may sira na dahil sa katagalan ay huhulihin po kayo. Para po maiwasan ito ay kinakailangan lang pumunta sa opisina ng LTO para magpagawa ng duplicate plate at para na rin ma-apply ng authorization to use improvised plate [If your plate has been stolen or is damaged because it is old, you will be apprehended. To avoid this, you will have to go to the LTO to have duplicate plates made and to apply for an authorisation to use an improvised plate].”
With these clarifications, what are our takeaways? Well, first, if you have just purchased a brand new vehicle, make sure that it comes with a dealership-made and issued temporary plate before you drive it out. Second, you cannot print your own temporary plate just because you don’t have one from the dealership. And third, you can only print or make your own improvised plate if the original has been lost, stolen, or damaged. That’s it. These are the only conditions where any vehicle is allowed to use either a temporary or an improvised plate.
Now that that’s been cleared, let’s all be reminded that the LTO Chief is confident and maintains his hopes that the DOTr will do all in its power to avoid the full depletion of license plate stocks as well as plastic license card supplies in the country. One thing’s for sure, you’re not the only one hoping, Chief Tugade.