The Land Transportation Office (LTO) will start issuing new license plates bearing the new standardized design starting September 1, 2013. The move has been prompted by the looming problem of running out of alphanumeric combinations for license plates by the agency. The LTO has issued the Memorandum Circular VPT-2013-1772 otherwise known as the Motor Vehicle Plates Standardization Program on July 15 to aid law enforcement, improve motor vehicle registration database and enhance the government’s institutional capability. The order covers both four-wheeled vehicles and motorcycles. 

The new directive also aims to standardize the currently nine different designs of license plates, with some dating back to 1981 and clamp down on the proliferation of counterfeit, dilapidated and illegal license plates.

The new plates will bear new designs and number series, special security bolts, and a third plate sticker. The new number series are as follows: Motor vehicles - three alphabetic and four numerical symbols (AAA 1234); Motorcycles - two alphabetic and five numerical symbols (AA 12345); Diplomatic - five numerical symbols (12345).

The new plate design will feature a new color scheme: Private plates will use black symbols on white background; For-hire plates will use black symbols on yellow background with an authorized route indicated.

For official plates: Government plates will have red symbols on white background with the name of agency/office indicated; Protocol plates will have red symbols on white background with the name of agency/office indicated; Diplomatic plates will have blue symbols on white background; and Other Exempt Vehicles (OEV) will have black symbols on light blue background with port of origin indicated.

License plates are required to be placed conspicuously on the front and rear of the vehicle as stated in Republic Act 4136. Only special LTO plate security bolts are allowed to be used, they have been design to break when removed or tampered with to prevent transferring of plates to other vehicles. The third plate sticker meanwhile is said to be attached to the upper right corner of the windshield of vehicles except for motorcycles.

For motorists worrying about not having the same license plate combination for their replacement plates, the memorandum also states that the alphanumeric identification of all vehicles are permanently assigned to the vehicle for its lifetime as provided under Batas Pambansa 43.

Once implementation begins, vehicle owners will be asked to surrender their old plates upon renewal of registration with the LTO. The agency in turn will have to supply the new plates and sticker within forty-five days. The order further states that "no other license plate, plate cover, frame may be attached to and/or around the license plate".

The new plates valid for five years will cost no more than Php450 for motor vehicles, and no more than Php120 for motorcycles.  The costs include the cost of stickers and security bolts. In the case of loss or dilapidation, the registrant is required to apply for duplicate or replacement, and will have to pay again for the new plates.

The September 1 implementation covers new registrations, applications for duplicate and replacements as well as re-classification of motor vehicle plates. Renewal plates processing for motor vehicles and all forms of processing for motorcycles will be implemented on January 2, 2014.

As of presstime, the Department of Transportation & Communications (DOTC) has yet to award the supplier for the supply of the new plates. The bidding is still marred by controversy with a protest lodged by RNA Holdings questioning its process and conformity to a non-existent 'ASTM D 4956 8.5' standard required by the DOTC-LTO Bids and Awards Committee.