How to Buy (and Register) a New Bike in the Philippines

If I’m gonna go through all that trouble getting my bike registered, the least I can do is get some blog fodder out of it. Besides which online information, while helpful, was often scattered about across different forums and sites. I could’t find any guides or walkthroughs of the process, so I may as well pay it forward and put one together.

My first piece of advice about buying and registering a new bike in the Philippines is not to do it. Just buy a used or repossessed bike that already has its OR/CR and live your life. But if you’re determined to buy a new bike (as I was), then settle in for either a long wait (if the dealer handles your paperwork) or an uphill battle (if you do it yourself).

If you let the dealer process the registration, the wait is 4–6 months on average. This is the status quo. Dealers send paperwork to the LTO (Land Transportation Office) in batches and it takes a while to get them back.

On the bright side, since this is the status quo, you won’t be the only one on the street without an OR/CR. You’re allowed to use your bike without registration for up to 7 days from purchase, so the dealer will just give you numerous postdated invoices to cover the wait until your official paperwork eventually arrives. (In theory. My dealer never gave me postdated invoices; they just said I couldn’t to ride my bike until the OR/CR came in.)

If you’re just planning on riding around town and not going on any long trips, this should be fine. If, however, you wanna take it on major highways (which often have motorcycle checkpoints) or on ferries (which ask for the OR/CR as proof you didn’t steal the bike), you’ll be better off with your paperwork in order. And if you don’t want to wait half a year, you’ll have to do it yourself.

This is the uphill battle. Expect resistance every step of the way, because “that’s not how it’s done.” Maybe not, but it’s still your right and no one can legally stop you. Remember that; keep it as your mantra.

So here’s how to do it:

Buy the bike in full, in cash—it’s the only real way to have any negotiating leverage here. If you don’t have the money and need to get a loan, do it from an outside source, not the dealership.

Manufacturers list the Suggested Retail Prices for their bikes on their websites. Look it up before you head in because it’s a guarantee the dealership’s sticker price will be above the SRP.

After the dealer agrees to a price, tell them you intend on filing the registration yourself and ask if that will be a problem. They’ll likely try to convince you to let them handle it; hold your ground and insist it’s a deal-breaker. They’ll concede rather than lose the sale.

Once the dealer agrees to let you handle it yourself, ask them how long it’ll take for them to prepare the necessary papers (for reference, my papers were ready two days after I requested / demanded them).

You will need:

– Sales Invoice (you’ll get this when you buy the bike)
– PNP clearance
– Certificate of Stock Reported
– Third Party Liability Insurance
– Stencil of Chasis & Engine
— Certificate of Quality Assurance

Once you have them, make two copies immediately.

Call your local LTO branch first to make sure they can handle new registrations. Not all branches do, and they’re far enough apart that you don’t want to have to shuttle from one to another if you can help it.

Be clear that you want to register a new vehicle; people almost never file their own initial registration and LTO agents will often assume you mean to renew your registration and respond accordingly.

Once at the LTO, ask for new (again, specify lest you want to chase down a bunch of dead ends) registrations and bring over your paperwork. You’ll meet more resistance and people might grumble at having to do more work, but so long as your papers are in order they can’t turn you away. Put on your winningest smile, hand over the paperwork, and go home to wait.

It took the Cebu LTO four days to process my papers. Some have supposedly gotten it done in a day. Either way, it’s in God’s hands now, so just sit back, wait, and start planning your road trip.

Good luck!

2 comments

    • It was four days from when I submitted the papers until when I had a valid OR/CR. I actually still don’t have plates, though, because I moved to Manila before they were ready. For all I know they’re still waiting for me in Cebu. I’ll find out when I’m back there in December. 🙂

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