License plates must be attached and displayed in conspicuous places, on the front and rear ends of the motor vehicle, as stated on the Land Transportation Office (LTO) Memorandum Circular VPT-2013-1772. This is also mandated by the Republic Act (RA) 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.
Though it is one of the most important parts of a vehicle, a license plate number doesn’t exactly come as a standard feature of a car. It is applied for and is given once you have gone through the proper vehicle identification and registration regulations. It is also necessary, unless you want your car to be literally limited to the four walls of your garage or stuck to the curb.
Using a License Plate in the Philippines
As mentioned above, a license plate is a necessary slim piece of reflectorized metal ID mandated by law. Its use is implemented and regulated by the LTO to ensure that only vehicles that are roadworthy and traceable are allowed on public roads.
A vehicle’s license plate also serves as the vehicle’s legal and official identification document, proof of registration, and visual permit to drive on the road. It features a unique set of alphanumeric characters which serve as the primary identifier in cases of theft or loss, or in the event of traffic violations, accidents, and involvement in criminal activities.
Tips for Use and Care of LTO License Plates
As an important part of your car, there are certain rules governing their use, the chief of which is that they should be conspicuously displayed on the front and rear bumper. There are also a few other things you can do to ensure that your license plates are taken care of.
Here are some of them:
Ensure visibility and readability of license plate numbers at all times.
As a duly-issued government document, your license plates must be in plain sight at all times. That said, drivers and car owners must ensure that the plate numbers are prominently displayed on the front and rear bumpers of the vehicle. It is unclear whether it can be side-mounted, so long as it is on the front bumper, but most cars come with a stock plate holder in the center where it is visible from any angle. The plate must also be mounted perpendicular to the ground, so JDM-inspired swiveling plate holders and tinted plate covers are not allowed. Remember, the reason they should be put there is so that they will be readily visible and unobstructed, so it’s important that your plate number Philippines are kept neat and clean, with nothing covering or otherwise blocking them.
Expert tip: Avoid placing the license plates inside the windshield or rear window, as doing so can potentially hamper their readability, especially with glare from reflected light on the windows.
License plates should be displayed exclusively.
Apart from being in plain sight, license plates must always be displayed exclusively. That said, it is imperative to keep the license plate mounted by itself. It should not be accompanied by any other plate, especially those that are not legally valid in the Philippines to prevent traffic enforcers from getting confused when apprehending them on coding days.
Ensure safe installation of license plates.
Properly mount the license plates on the bumper using the specialized LTO-provided 10mm bolt head, screws, plate locks, nuts, and washers, otherwise known as LTO security locks, in order to prevent tampering and unauthorized removal. The Philippine license plates must also be kept tightly screwed, clean, and unobstructed with sturdy materials for its mount to avoid damaging it for as long as possible.
Don’t modify the license plate number.
License plates are meant to display the alphanumeric code in a uniform format, layout, and color scheme, as prescribed by the law. That said, regardless of preferences for aesthetics, no stylistic touches are allowed on the license plates. You can customize and personalize your car all you want, but you simply can’t touch or change your license plates. Even if you use a vanity plate, the most you can do is choose the letters and/or numbers that will appear on the plate.
Replace your damaged or lost plate immediately.
Like everything else, there is a possibility that license plates can get damaged or lost. In such cases, it is important to inform the LTO branch where your car was registered by filing an affidavit of mutilation or loss and requesting for replacement or duplicate plates. When you do, the LTO will issue a temporary authorization to use an improvised plate, designed according to LTO specifications, which is good for 90 days or three months until a replacement plate is ready. Failure to do so may otherwise cause you to get flagged down and slapped with a traffic ticket that translates to hefty LTO fines, penalties, and even result in getting your car impounded on the spot.
License plates, though issued to car owners, remain as government property, so it must be used and handled carefully. The government also wants it visible on both the front and back ends of the vehicle, so it must be mounted on both sides. Though it is unclear whether it must be in the center at all, it’s best to simply maintain the stock configuration. Plus, it’s easier to explain stock side-mounted plates like in Lancer X if you end up being flagged by officers who are unfamiliar with the design.