LTO releases memo clarifying driver's licese restriction codes

Last August, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) released Memorandum Circular No. 2019-2174 re: Operation of Motor Vehicles. On the said memo, it further clarifies that drivers whose restriction codes are 2 and 3 are allowed to drive vehicles with manual or automatic transmissions; while those with restriction codes 4 and 5 can drive or operate vehicles with automatic transmission only.

It may not mean much to many motorcycle riders since what we only need is restriction 1 – which grants the holder the privilege to drive a motorcycle – but it goes to show that many riders (or drivers) are still confused with all these restrictions (found at the back of our driver's licenses) and their meaning.

That confusion (or some would say ignorance), can be exploited by some enterprising traffic or law enforcement officers (LEOs).

For those who are not yet familiar with the driver's license restriction codes and what they mean, please read below: 

License restrictions: know them and what you can drive imageMotorcycle drivers or operators must have Restriction Code 1 on their driver's license.

Restriction code 1: Motorcycles

Restriction code 1 is specific to driving motorcycles or motorized tricycles. Even if you possess a Professional Driver's License but have no restriction code 1, you cannot drive a motorcycle or any motorized tricycle.

Restriction code 2: Vehicles up to 4,500 kilograms of gross vehicle weight (GVW)

In a nutshell, a person with Restriction 2 on his or her driver's license can drive a car, pick up, SUV or any vehicle with manual or automatic transmission, that has a gross vehicle weight of not more than 4.5 tons. Examples would be a Mitsubishi Mirage, up to SUVs like the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series.

Restriction code 3: Vehicles above 4,500 kilograms GVW

A driver who possesses this restriction can drive vehicles, manual or automatic transmission, with a weight that exceeds 4.5 tons, like 6-wheelers and 10-wheeler trucks. This driver can also drive vehicles under 4.5 tons, but not motorcycles. Again, motorcycle drivers must have Restriction Code 1.

Restriction code 4: Automatic clutch of up to 4,500 kilograms GVW

This is like Restriction Code 2. The only difference is that drivers who possess this can only drive vehicles with automatic transmissions.

Restriction code 5: Automatic clutch above 4,500 kilograms GVW

This is like Restriction Code 3, but drivers with this restriction can drive vehicles only with automatic transmission but can exceed 4.5 tons.

Restriction code 6: Articulated vehicle 1,600 kilograms GVW and below

Drivers who possess this restriction are allowed to drive a vehicle with a towed trailer, much like those intended for motorcycles, jet skis, side by sides, or small farming equipment.

Restriction code 7: Articulated vehicle 1,601 up to 4,500 kilograms GVW

Drivers who possess this restriction are allowed to drive a vehicle with a towed trailer intended to carry a small boat, another car, or the like.

License restrictions: know them and what you can drive imageDriving an 18-wheeler (or more) lorries like those pictured above requires restriction code 8. Photo by Manila PIO. 

Restriction code 8: Articulated vehicle 4,501 kilograms and above GVW

To put it simply, a driver with this restriction code can drive trucks with trailers hauling heavy loads, like container vans (or wing vans with cargo) along major thoroughfares that allow these kinds of trucks.

License restrictions: know them and what you can drive imageDrivers of Public Utility Vehicles are required to possess a professional driver's license. Those who also drive as a source of income (work) are required to have a professional driver's license.

Additionally, having a PROFESSIONAL driver's license does not mean you can drive ANY type of vehicle you please simply because you are a “professional”. A pro license doesn't automatically grant its holder the right to drive or operate a motorcycle, nor an 18-wheeler. Again, this all depends on the Restriction Code.

Operating motorcycles specifically requires Restriction code 1. The right to drive a big 18-wheeler truck requires the abovementioned restriction code 8.


Besides the restrictions, there are also a set of conditions listed at the back. These are for people who can drive but have impairments that may limit their driving abilities, like needing to wear eyeglasses, or only being able to drive in the day time. These conditions must be met ALL THE TIME. If pulled over by a law enforcement officer and the driver with conditions on his license is not wearing the required eyeglasses or not accompanied by a person with normal hearing, for example, he or she will face penalties. Below are these conditions.

A: Must wear eyeglasses while driving

B: Can drive only with special equipment for upper limbs

C: Can drive only with special equipment for lower limbs

D: Daylight driving only

E: Must be accompanied by a person with normal hearing

With all these Restrictions and Conditions, we've listed down a few samples to help you understand what they mean when listed on your license.


1 = motorcycles only, no conditions

2A = light cars with manual or automatic clutch; must wear glasses while driving

12 = motorcycles and light cars with manual or automatic clutch; no conditions

4E = light cars only with automatic clutch; must accompanied by a person with normal hearing

12D = motorcycles and light cars with manual clutch; daylight driving only.

We hope that this clarifies some confusion with regards to driver's licenses and their restriction codes. For more info, please do not hesitate to visit any LTO branch near you or message them through their official Facebook page.

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