Does my car’s LTO registration need to reflect the color of an aftermarket wrap?

Is this necessary?
by Drei Laurel | Sep 28, 2021
PHOTO: Shutterstock

So, you’re tired of your car’s stock color and what to replace its finish with something a little flashier. Problem is, you aren’t willing to go through the process of registering your vehicle’s new look with the Land Transportation Office (LTO). If you believe you can skip the process by just wrapping your car instead, you might want to think twice.

During our recent Calamansi live session, lawyer and car enthusiast Carlo Chungunco said that it isn’t advisable to forgo registering your car’s wrap with the LTO. According to him, there is no “straight answer” as to whether or not this practice is allowed. But for the sake of avoiding a hassle, just register your car’s new color properly.

“Honestly, there’s no straight answer. But it’s the same thing if I ask you: If you’re wearing a blue shirt and then you’re wearing a green shirt on top of it, what color of shirt are you wearing? Diba? It’s going to be green,” Chungunco explained.

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“Look at what the purpose of registration is. Your purpose of registration there is to identify the car, and it doesn’t say what color the car was painted when you registered. It just says what color is the car, period,” he continued, adding that trying to work your way around this requirement is problematic.

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“Imagine you’re going to LTO for your registration renewal and your car is blue, and then you have to explain to the person that, ‘Oh, no, it’s really silver underneath, it’s just a wrap.’ It sounds like something that would be a little bit of a hassle. I don’t think you’ll be able to get it registered properly or there will be too many questions about it.”

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Chungunco said that an application to change a car’s color is necessary as it will prevent individuals with encumbered registrations from running away with vehicles.

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In this case, the vehicle’s registration document will read ‘Certificate of Registration Encumbered.’ “Encumbrance means that there’s a mortgage on your car, basically,” Chungunco said.

“You’ve loaned money to purchase your car, so the bank has a lean on your car. The reason you have to present all this, including a joint affidavit of a change of color by the owner—which, in general, would be a bank or something—is because the owner of the vehicle would have to be informed that the car was a different color in case, God forbid, you try to run or something.

“For me, although there’s no clear ruling because it’s the external of the car, if you wrap it, you have to put ‘change color’ on your certificate of registration. Or at least be prepared to rip everything off at a moment’s notice.”

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