What's with odd license plates?

by Patrick Everett Tadeo | May 29, 2009
Having a vanity plate on your vehicle is just another way to show it off. After all, it shows everyone that you paid a good amount of money to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to have your own choice of letters or numbers form a recognizable phrase, slogan or set of initials on your vehicle.

The LTO has three types of vanity plates: limited; premium; and select. Unfortunately for us plebeians, the limited and premium editions are not being offered anymore, which leaves us with just the select edition with the not-so-commoner-friendly price.

Now, the Limited Edition is just that - it's limited. It's so limited it hasn't been in circulation since 2005. It was offered through a public auction at a floor price of P50,000. The Limited Edition plates consist of four to six characters containing identical numbers or characters; combining both numbers and letters on one plate weren't allowed. What the price of exclusivity really brings is the exemption from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's Unified Vehicle Volume Reduction Program (more popularly known as the color-coding scheme even though colors have nothing to do with it - but that's another story). The most expensive plate on Philippine roads has 88888 stamped on it and it costs just slightly cheaper than a Chinese car at P400,000!

The Premium Edition is LTO's more affordable special plate at P15,000. The characters on the plate have six characters consisting of three numbers and three letters so it looks like a regular plate but with the characters in reversed order, like 888 IOU. Cars carrying premium plates are not exempted from the coding scheme. It was last sold in 2007.

The LTO still offers the Select Edition at P10,000. You can use a unique combination of characters and numbers with a minimum of three and a maximum of six characters. But while you can use your vanity plate to truly proclaim to the world how vain you are with the phrase IMSEXY, you can't use it to dodge traffic enforcers when you violate the coding scheme.

The LTO also offers Special Plates, which can either be a combination of three letters and two numbers, like STI 01 at P25,000; or three letters and three numbers, like BOY 143 at P15,000. Unlike the limited, premium and select plates, the special plates are issued without a regular license plate.

A vanity plate can definitely boost your vehicle's character. But before you shell out thousands over a piece of steel, take some time to think if your idea makes your car laudable or laughable.

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