Quick guide: What types of custom license plates are legal?

The ‘2JOINTS’ plate doesn’t fit the bill, that’s for sure
by Leandre Grecia | Jul 22, 2022
sample of a custom license plate
PHOTO: Shutterstock

We’ve been seeing more and more of those utterly stupid custom license plates lately. It’s becoming clear now that a lot of motorists have either no idea or have simply lost track of which custom plates are legal and which aren’t, so we’re here with a quick explainer.

There are two main types of custom license plates allowed by the Land Transportation Office (LTO): Vanity License Plates (VLPs) and Optional Motor Vehicle Special Plates (OMVSPs). We’ll run through the basics here.

Vanity License Plates

What are these?

These VLPs are similar to those custom plates that have recently gone viral. We suspect one of the reasons there’s been an increase in illegal license plates is that the LTO’s VLPs are currently unavailable as per the agency’s website. That doesn’t mean you can go out making your own custom plates, though.

Where I apply for a vanity license plate?

You can do so at the MID-Computer Section of the LTO Central Office located on East Avenue, Quezon City, or at any LTO regional or district office nationwide.

Continue reading below ↓

What are the requirements for a vanity license plate?

Continue reading below ↓
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Another prerequisite for a VLP is that the motor vehicle must already have a registered license plate. Having just the OR and CR of the vehicle will not suffice.

How much do vanity license plates cost?

There are two types of VLPs: the Premium Edition, which costs P25,000, and the Select Edition, which costs P10,000. Reservation for vanity license plates are also available for an additional P1,000, but reservations are only valid for 30 days.

What vehicles are eligible for a VLP?

  • Cars
  • SUVs
  • Vintage and collectors’ cars
  • AUVs
  • Pickups

Both existing and new motor vehicles can be registered with a VLP.

How do I install my VLP?

You will get only one VLP, and this can be mounted onto your vehicle’s rear license-plate holder. You will also get a VLP sticker that must be placed at the upper right-hand corner of the rear windshield.

Continue reading below ↓

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Optional Motor Vehicle Special Plates

What are these?

OMVSPs are ones that still follow the standard letter-number plate format, but with special combinations. One example is the triple alpha or non-triple alpha plus two numeric characters from 01-99: AAA 01, ABC 02, or LTO 99. Another is the triple alpha or non-triple alpha plus the numeric character 100: AAA 100 or TGP 100.

How much do OMVSPs cost?

Plates with two numeric characters cost P25,000, while the 100 plates cost P15,000.

Where can I apply for an OMVSP?

Same place where you apply for a VLP: at the MID-Computer Section of the LTO Central Office or at any regional or district office nationwide.

What are the requirements for an OMVSP?

  • Certified true copy of the motor vehicle’s OR and CR issued by the TDO
  • Certification from the TDO that the motor vehicle has yet to be issued any license plates, as well as an official receipt for the certification fee
  • Certified true copy of the OR for the plates ordered, by the cashier and noted by the district head or regional director if necessary
  • Sales invoice of the motor vehicle
Continue reading below ↓

How are OMVSPs installed?

Unlike vanity license plates, OMVSPs will serve as the actual plates of your vehicle. That means you mount them on both the front and rear ends of your vehicle.

What vehicles are eligible for an OMVSP?

  • Cars
  • SUVs
  • Pickups
  • Commuter vans

Any motor vehicle with more than four wheels is automatically ineligible. Government vehicles, PUVs, service vehicles, and imported vehicles are also ineligible.

Take note that neither VLPs nor OMVSPs are exempted from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s number-coding scheme. Vehicles with any of these plates will still be covered by coding based on the last digit of the registered alphanumeric plate. If you want to learn more about coding, you can check out our full guide here.

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