If you bought a brand new bike locally from a dealer the dealer usually registers it for you and also provides some basic third party liability insurance for one year. You will first get a temporary licence plate saying e.g. “For registration” and a “Certificate of Registration” while the dealer processes the registration at the Land Transportation Office. The temporary plate is valid for 30 days so that you can start using the bike straight away. If you want to use it excessively ask the dealer for an authorization letter from the Land Transportation Office confirming that you can use the vehicle with an improvised license plate.
Certificate of registration (left) and Official Receipt (right)
If you bought a second hand bike and you don’t want to leave it registered under the previous owner you need to process a transfer of ownership at the LTO. To avoid wasting time and to prevent people trying to take advantage of you being a foreigner the best way not to get personally involved. It is always a good idea to involve a go-between or middlemen to get official work done to avoid dealing with corruption. It might be a bit more expensive than the official fees but it safes a lot of time and anger. There are many go-betweens offering services for registering vehicles. Ask someone you trust for recommending a reliable one. For around P2,500 you can avail the services of a “fixer”. This is around twice of what you have to pay registering or changing ownership by yourself (TMG clearance - P250; TPL insurance - P220; Emission testing - P200; LTO fees - P530; Total - P1,200).
Documents needed for Transfer of Ownership
Any registration expires after 12 months and therefore you need to annually re-register any bike that you own longer than one year. Re-registration costs between 2,000-3,000 Pesos. The last character the license plate tells the month when the registration is due. A bike with the license plate no. "5103 CA" for example has to be re-registered every April. Failing to re-register in time adds a penalty to the registration fees and can cause problems at police checkpoints. Before being able to re-register the bike you need to submit it to inspection and measurement of emissions The results are written up in a Motor Vehicle Inspection Report, which is needed for the re-registration.
Documents needed for re-registration
If you have successfully imported a bike (see Section ___ on page __) you can drive it in the Philippines for __ months with the registration and insurance of the country of origin before you need to register it locally.
Additional documents needed for an imported bike
Land Transportation Office of the Philippines: http://www.lto.gov.ph/