Motorcycle Feature

Quick guide: What types of top boxes should be registered with the LTO?

This guide also covers saddle bags and panniers
top box and saddle bag on motorcycle
PHOTO: Leandre Grecia

Top boxes, saddle bags, and panniers for motorcycles are a dime a dozen these days.  They’ve all become staple accessories for motorcycle owners, as these accessories provide a lot of utility and convenience, especially for those who ride around Metro Manila on a daily basis.

However, what a lot of riders might not know is that it’s not as simple as ‘plug and play’ with accessories like these. Some boxes sometimes need to be registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), and failure to do so will result in a P5,000 penalty.

The LTO has recently suspended the apprehension of motorcycles with potentially unregistered top boxes as it works on lowering the fines for violators, which means riders don’t really have to worry about anything for now. That doesn’t change the fact, though, that motorcycle owners should know what’s allowed and what isn’t.

In this article, we do a quick rundown on which types of boxes and bags require registration with the LTO and which don’t.

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What legislation specifies the guidelines on top boxes and saddle bags?

The current guidelines are based on an LTO memorandum dated March 15, 2016, the subject of which is stated as: ‘Guidelines on inspection and apprehension relative to motorcycle top boxes and saddle bags.’

How does the memorandum define boxes and bags?

top box attached to a motorcycle


A top box is a “storage compartment fitted behind the seat of a motorcycle or scooter and is considered a motorcycle accessory.” Saddle bags or boxes, meanwhile, are similarly but more vaguely defined as “storage compartments and are considered motorcycle accessories.”

What top boxes and saddle bags do not require registration with the LTO?

a motorcycle with a top box and a motorcycle without a top box

A top box specifically designed for two-wheelers and is approved by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) “may not be subject for inspection, registration, or apprehension” provided that the said box attached securely to the motorcycle and has a maximum capacity of two full-faced helmets.

A saddle bag or box that is also specifically designed for motorcycles and approved by the DTI may also not be the subject of inspection, registration, or apprehension given that the accessory is also securely attached to the motorcycle and that it is not installed higher than the seat of the motorcycle.

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Other custom-built boxes or bags are subject to inspection and registration.

What are the LTO’s guidelines for registering top boxes and saddle bags?

custom motorcycle top box

Custom-made top boxes such as those used by fast-food delivery vehicles must conform to the following:

  • The box must be securely attached to the motorcycle.
  • The box must not exceed two feet in length, two feet in width, and two feet in height (2ft x 2ft x 2ft).
  • The box must not impede or obstruct the rider’s view of the road from the side mirrors.

As for custom saddle bags or boxes, here are the guidelines for those:

  • The bags or boxes must be securely attached to the motorcycle.
  • Installation of saddle bags must not be higher than the seat of the motorcycle.
  • The bags or boxes shall not exceed 14 inches from the sides of the motorcycle.
  • The length of the bags or boxes must not exceed the tail end of the motorcycle.

What are the corresponding penalties for violators?

Unregistered top boxes, saddle bags, or boxes that are found to be non-compliant with the LTO’s guidelines will be subject to apprehension with a P5,000 penalty pursuant to DOTC Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01 Section 11-D, Motor Vehicle Operating Without or With Defective/Improper/ Unauthorized Accessories, Devices, Equipment and Parts.

Violators may only be apprehended by LTO officers or by the LTO’s deputized agents.

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PHOTO: Leandre Grecia
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