Short Story: From what I can gather, insert plate, means that your vehicle is not registered in the national database of LTO. Instead your record is still in a district office (usually the district office where the vehicle was first registered) and it has to be that district office which manually uploads the file to the national database. I use manually as you have to physically go to that district office and tell them to insert plate.
In Dec 2013 I bought a new car from the Honda dealership at Shaw Blvd. The dealership had already registered the car at the LTO district office in Marikina. The license plate of the car ends in 1.
Skip forward to January 2017 and I needed to renew the registration of my car for the first time (a new car is considered registered for 3 years from date of purchase). As I live in Makati I figured I could register the car at LTO Makati. Information around the internet suggested it would be no problem renewing in Makati even though the car was originally registered in Marikina. That link I shared specifically says you can renew at any LTO office, just subject to a PHP100 “transfer fee.”
So I get my emissions test (“smoke” is the slang term) and insurance done, both in Makati. Unfortunately both smoke and insurance were unable to find the file of my car online. (Both the emissions testers and insurance providers have access to the LTO database as they are required to upload/attach their findings and insurance policy to the file of the motor vehicle in question). Both assured me though I just needed to go to Window C (Records) at LTO Makati and ask records to “insert plate”.
Dutifully I head off to Window C where they inform me that they are unable to insert plate from there and I have to go to LTO Marikina.
At this point no one can explain to me what this magical “insert plate” even means.
I ask the Motor Vehicle Inspector (the guy usually at the front of every LTO office who handles renewal of vehicle registration) why I can’t can’t renew my registration in Makati. He says they just can’t do it but I can pay a 2 year penalty if I renew at Makati.
More on this “penalty”. It’s not really a penalty. Since I got my car in Dec 2013 I have to pay a 1/4 year fee for 2013 and the subsequent 3 years, 2014, 2015 and 2016 are free (since new cars are considered registered for 3 years). According to the guy at Window C (LTO Makati) I only needed to pay a 1/4 penalty at LTO Marikina. MV Inspector Makati says that’s true but if I want it done in Makati I would have to pay a penalty worth 2 years.
To top it all off the Makati Inspector was not even clear if after all that expense I would be able to register my car in Makati or if I would run into the same insert plate problem with Records.
Makati looked like a bust so I had no choice to go to LTO Marikina, Window 7 (Records). Window 7 was able to insert plate but the whole process, including getting my 2017 registration took me to the inside of the LTO office where I had to ask the IT guy to update my vehicle records. Further I had to pay twice, the 1/4 fee for 2013 and then the full fee for 2017, both times the lines for the cashier were long.
Basically I spent 2 mornings (1 at Makati and 1 in Marikina) running around LTO for something as simple as registering a car.
I have no idea why:
- The record of my vehicle had not been uploaded to the LTO database in the first place (and was “stuck” in the LTO Marikina database)
- Why LTO Makati couldn’t just call LTO Marikina and tell the latter to upload/update the vehicle file