LTO rules drivers need to know

Standardized temporary plates? No OR/CR, No Travel policy? Confused with all this? Get all the answers to your questions here. For ease of reading, we have indicated key words in bold.

What is this new issue with the Land Transportation Office (LTO)?

Well, aside from the backlog when it comes to the issuance of new number plates and driver licenses, there are two new issues here:

The first one deals with a memorandum issued by the Assistant Secretary of the LTO last January 11, 2017 and is already in effect. It has to do with the standardization of temporary plates by using the MV file number for motorcycles and a combination of conduction sticker and MV file number for anything with more than two wheels.

It’s the memorandum requiring all vehicles released on or after February 15, 2017 onwards to have a certain temporary plate format for “unity and ease of visual recognition.” And the memorandum put on vehicle dealers the obligation of attaching on the vehicle the unified temporary plate format with complete information before delivery or release to the buyer.

Now, the MV file number appears only on the Certificate of Registration (CR) which one gets only upon completion of the registration process. And thus the second issue is what impacts on the sale of vehicles.

The second issue is the more pressing one, but is often lumped together with the first issue and because the public has gotten used to lax implementation of the law.

This second issue is the strict implementation of the No OR/CR, No Travel rule.

In the first paragraph of the memo in which it cites Republic Act 4136 or the Traffic Code of the Philippines, the LTO will apprehend and fine drivers using an unregistered vehicle, be it a two-, three-, four-, or even six- or eight-wheeled vehicle.

The exact words the memo uses are: “to ensure that only registered motor vehicles are used or operated on any public highway”. This is the most critical part of the memo and it is much too overlooked.

RA 4136 specifies that only registered motor vehicles can be operated on Philippine roads. People think the conduction sticker allows use of a car.  That’s inaccurate because even on theLTO’s website it says:

(1.a.a.1) Issuance of Conduction Sticker – Conduction Stickers are only issued to accredited assemblers and importers of whole MV for road testing and delivery. The conduction sticker is used to allow legal utilization of motor vehicles prior to its initial registration.

The legal use referred to in the above is road testing and delivery.

Adding to the wrong impression about Conduction Stickers allowing use of a vehicle, is the idea that it is allowed for 7 days. This too is wrong.

The 7-day window for a dealer to register a sold vehicle with the LTO is merely the penalty-free window within which the registration must be processed. (RA 4136. Chapter V. Sec. 56. A.) This doesn’t mean that a vehicle can be operated without registration. In fact, RA 4136 also penalizes driving a motor vehicle without registration. (Chapter V. Sec. 56. D.)

So why exactly is needing an MV file number and not being able to use an unregistered vehicle going to impact on the buying experience? 

Well, if registration happened within the day of purchase, there would be no issue. The impact comes from the fact that it takes anywhere from 14 to 90 days to complete registration.

These completion times are based on transmittal receipts held by vehicle dealers.

Is it possible to complete the registration process within the 7-day period prescribed?

Oh yes, it is possible to complete registration within even 1, 2, or 3 days, but these usually happen when there is public scrutiny or special considerations like “SOP” or high connections.

Are these memorandums affecting Metro Manila only or is it nationwide?

This is nationwide.

Where can I see a copy of these memorandums?

You can check out the memorandum on the standardized plates here.  As for the No OR/CR, No Travel Policy, you can refer to the Traffic Code of the Philippines.

If it’s taking the government so long in issuing plates, why don’t we just use the Conduction Sticker numbers permanently?

As mentioned above, Conduction Stickers serve a very specific purpose. It’s issued to accredited assemblers and importers of whole motor vehicles (MV) for road testing and delivery only. The conduction sticker is used to allow the legal use of a vehicle prior to its initial registration. The LTO is only “enforcing the law” that requires motor vehicles to be registered before its release.

What about these Virtual Plates?

Because of the backlog in getting the permanent plate numbers, the LTO is issuing so-called “Virtual Plates”
. Virtual Plates contain the car registration numbers issued for a new vehicle; it’s just that the assigned plate number isn’t available yet. Having a virtual plate helps in the release of your permanent plate number in the future.

Now, this is where it gets tricky.

The law actually prohibits the making and/or using of improvised plates. It has corresponding fines unless you have an Authority to Operate with the Use of Improvised Plates. With that in mind, if you plan to use your Virtual Plate number, always have a copy of your OR/CR with you and a copy of the Authority to Operate with the Use of Improvised Plates.

If I bought a vehicle before February 15, 2017, how does it affect me?

If you have your OR/CR with you, then these two memorandums don’t affect you much. You can be pulled over by authorized LTO personnel, yes, but there are no fines involved. All you need to prove is that: first, you bought the vehicle before February 15, hence not needing the standardized temporary plate; and second, that you have the OR/CR with you to prove ownership. In other words, if you don’t want the hassle, just ditch those “Euro” or “JDM” look temporary plates and go for the standardized format.

If you don’t have an OR/CR yet, you cannot use your vehicle. The 7-day window using the Vehicle Sales Invoice or Delivery Receipt, does not work anymore. There was never a 7-day legal usage window in the first place. It came about from misinterpretation and “nakagawian”. You can be fined P 10,000 for using an unregistered vehicle. If registered to another owner, the owner is fined P 10,000 and the driver, P 1,000.

If I bought a vehicle on or after February 15, 2017, how does it affect me?

Your vehicle should have been released by the dealer with the standardized temporary plate already attached. It should indicate details such as the Conduction Sticker number, dealer name, and MV File Number. And since the MV File Number is only generated once your vehicle has been registered, you should also have your OR/CR too.

If you still don’t have your OR/CR, you cannot use your vehicle. Even if you use the standardized temporary plate, but don’t have the MV File Number, you are considered an unregistered vehicle. You can be pulled over and fined. The fine is also P 10,000 to the owner and P 1,000 to the driver.