These 10 Types Of ‘Temporary’ License Plates Can Get You In Trouble

We all know that the government is having a hard time issuing license plates to newly registered vehicles.

Although the Land Transportation Office (LTO) already has a portal that allows car owners to check if their plates are available, it’s still a waiting game for motorists.

Philippine Licence Plates

Whether you’re a proud bearer of a permanent license plate or unfortunately stuck in limbo with a temporary plate, there are certain guidelines for displaying your vehicle ID. However, you can’t help but see a handful of motorists willfully ignoring the LTO’s guidelines.

To make sure you are not a kamote driver displaying your license plates incorrectly, we’ve prepared a handy visual guide to properly sporting license plates—as well as some really bad examples we’ve encountered along the way.

The rule of the law

Since 2013, the LTO has been issuing (albeit sluggishly) new license plates to cars that were registered from the said year and beyond. Currently, the proper format for the official license plates are as follows:

  • For vehicles, they will follow the LLL DDDD format
  • For motorcycles, they will follow the LL DDDDD format

The said plate numbers will be displayed in high contrast, with the colors depending on the use of vehicles:

  • White/black: private vehicles (see above)
  • Yellow/black: public utility vehicles
  • White/red: government vehicles
  • White/blue: diplomatic vehicles

If you have a new vehicle and your registration plate has already been issued, good for you. You don’t have to worry about these.

However, everyone knows that the government is painfully slow in handing out plates to motorists. There was no singular template used by car owners in making sure they won’t accidentally get flagged for a “no registration, no travel” policy. This is where the government comes in.

In 2017, the agency, along with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), issued guidelines regarding the use of conduction sticker number for the temporary plates. According to the government, new vehicles and motorcycles should use the following format for the temporary plates:

Image source: LTO

Unfortunately, Filipinos aren’t known for their compliance to the law. Just last week, Top Gear Philippines reported that the LTO will not renew a vehicle’s registration if it doesn’t come with the improvised license plate following the prescribed template above.

You’ve already been warned, people.


If you’re a law-abiding citizen, good for you. You’re one of the people who keep our roads safe and more amenable to other Filipinos. As for the bad apples, we’ll make sure that people shouldn’t emulate you.

Here are a few examples on how you should NOT sport your license plate. The list covers both cars and motorcycles, for both official and improvised plates. These are all based on true stories, both actually seen on the law and photos circulating social media.

1. Low-contrast license plates

Philippine Licence Plates

There’s a reason the LTO uses high-contrast colors for vehicle plates—and it’s definitely not a cool factor. Maybe you should brush up on your color theory classes. Or maybe you’re just colorblind.

2. “Japanese-style” license plates

Image source:

Yes, it looks cool. Yes, you feel like Takumi from Initial D. But even if you’re driving a Japanese car, you’re not in the Land of the Rising Sun so don’t be such a tryhard. You’re not impressing anyone.

3. Tinted license plate covers

Philippine Licence Plates

Whenever they say “good guys don’t tint their car windows,” we partially disagree with that because window tints have actual benefits. This, on the other hand, screams “I will beat the red light and drive against traffic and maybe even run over a dog—and there’s nothing you can do because you won’t be able to report me!” Traffic constables, take note: these drivers are a rolling red flag.

4. Stickers deliberately obstructing the plates

Philippine Licence Plates

This is probably people who want to buy tinted license plate covers but are too dirt cheap to buy one.

5. Using old license plates

Philippine Licence Plates

A “PHILIPPINES 2000” plate on a Mirage G4? The new mu-X sporting a “MATATAG NA REPUBLIKA” one? You can fool some people some time but you can’t fool the world for the rest of your life.

6. Commemorative plates on top of real license plates

Image source

We’ve discussed this one before. If you have to resort to commemorative plates just to feel powerful, then we’re almost sorry for you.

7. (Deliberately) damaged text on license plates

Philippine Licence Plates

Yes, the dog ate the last digit of your improvised plate. Yes, a splash of mud on your entire plate wouldn’t come off even if you just had your vehicle detailed. Let’s just say we believe you. Wink wink.

8. Conduction number written using permanent marker

Philippine Licence Plates

Oh, come on! You expect us to believe you’re too poor to get one for your car yet you are driving a 2017 Vios?

9. Using an actual plate in lieu of an improvised one

Philippine Licence Plates

How is this believable as “legal” in any sense of the word?

10. The biggest offender of them all

Based on a true story, we saw a vehicle sporting this kind of temporary license plate in the Makati area. Not only can’t you make out the text from that font,the style is also pretty horrendous. It’s like a registration plate designed by the restorer who turned the Ecce Homo to “Potato Jesus.”

This is offensive to law enforcement. And most especially, the people who practice typography.

Sources: LTO, Topgear