Riding a scooter or motorcycle in Manila: What is the law?

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In a city which is renowned for having terrible traffic, unsurprisingly Manila’s most popular modes of transport are Motorcycle’s and Scooter’s.

Riding a Motorcycle or Scooter in Manila gives you so much benefit in terms of being able to weave your way through the hideous traffic jams.

When travelling abroad you often assume that the highway code or riding/driving laws are going to be the same or similar to your home country, however this is where a lot of travellers get caught out when renting a scooter or motorcycle in Manila, Philippines.

Scoot.com.ph takes a look at the most prolific laws that all travellers should pay attention to when renting or travelling by scooter or motorcycle in Manila, Philippines.

The Philippine riding laws can be can be found under LTO Administrative Order No. AHS-2008-013. It is not the most exciting of topics and most definitely comes highly recommended if you have trouble sleeping…….this is guranteed to give you the best nights sleep you will ever have, we pick out the best bits!

All motorcycles and scooters being used on ANY HIGHWAY in the Philippines should be registered with the LTO in accordance with Republic Act (R.A.) No. 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

What this means is, that when you rent a scooter or motorcycle in Manila, Philippines please make sure you are provided with the certificate of registration (CR) and official receipt (OR), if you do have the misfortune to catch the eye of a traffic enforcer he/she will most definitely be looking to see both and failing to produce these documents could lead to your rental scooter or motorcycle being confiscated.

Every motorcycle and scooter’s license plate should be visible and clean so your bike can be identified by everyone.

In any normal country have a registration number plate on any vehicle is naturally a given, something you would assume when renting a scooter or motorcycle, of course it has a number plate!!…. however it’s more fund in Manila, Scoot.com.ph has experienced the release of new scooters and motorcycles registration plates taking up two years to be issued by The Philippines LTO… crazy right!!

Motorcycles follow the same speed limits as cars. In case you do not know the speed limits on Manila’s roads, heres a most convenient list to remind you:

  • 80 kph on open country roads with no blind corners
  • 40 kph on “through streets” or roads clear of traffic and without blind corners
  • 30 kph if there’s light traffic and it’s not a through street
  • 20 kph everywhere else

Passengers, often referred to as back riders, are limited to one. Cargo, on the other hand, is limited to saddlebags or luggage carriers approved by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Both driver and passenger must wear a DTI-approved (i.e. with an ICC sticker) helmet when riding a motorcycle as per R.A. 10054 or the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009.

The easiest way to ensure that the crash helmet you are using or have been given by the scooter or motorcycle rental company just keep an eye out for DOT on the back of the crash helmet you are considering…. if it has those three letter, you are good to go…..

All motorcycles should have headlights, tail lights, signal lights, brake lights, side mirrors, and a horn. The LTO also allows a maximum of two supplementary white or selective yellow LED/high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps with six bulbs each, directed downward and never towards the left side, and should let you see 10 meters ahead.


Any other accessories have to be approved by the LTO and the DTI.

Reading this law made me smile, it feels as if every single scooter and motorcycle on the road has some sort of accessory from lights to horns, big or small you can not miss them on the majority of personal scooters and motorcycles that you will see when taking your rental scooter or motorcycle around Manila.

DUI is still illegal for motorcycle riders, along with using a mobile phone or similar gadgets.

This is a common sense law, but sometimes travellers may forget that drinking all day and night and then jumping on a rental scooter or motorcycle in manila is a great idea and will lead to no issues….respect the law and it will respect you (Do not give your driving license to any law enforcement office especially if it is a foreign license they do not have the power to confiscate… their police colleagues do though!!

Normal rules apply, when travelling abroad if you act like a dick and start disrespecting the country or individuals within that country you should expect to be treated like one… and not in a good way!! Dick.

LANE SPLITTING. It’s legal in New South Wales and other parts of Australia, as well as the UK. But not in the Philippines… really?!? 

Lane splitting is prohibited as per this rule.Lane splitting, or lane filtering, is the act of driving in between slow-moving vehicles.

You would not think that this is true but it is in fact illegal to lane split and duck and dive through traffic here in Makati City, once you have travelled through the traffic on in Manila on your rental scooter or motorcycle you will see exactly what I mean as everyone weaves, it’s like and inbred natural talent!.

Shoes are the only kind of footwear allowed when riding a motorcycle. This means no slippers, sandals, flip-flops, or even bare feet. Then again, who would want to ride their motorcycle with bare feet?

According to R.A. 10666 or the Children’s Safety on Motorcycles Act of 2015, children are not allowed to ride a motorcycle on public roads with either heavy traffic volume, has a lot of fast-moving vehicles, or where speeds more than 60 kph are allowed unless:

  • The child can comfortably rest his/her feet on the foot peg,
  • The child’s arms can reach around and grasp the waist of the driver,
  • The child has a helmet, or
  • The child is in dire need of medical attention

As you can see, apart from the obvious and the unique (i.e. no lane splitting and shoes only, please), motorcycles are pretty much treated like cars in the Philippines. This means you have to follow whatever road rules and regulations the LTO has for cars. For a list of fines, visit dotr.gov.ph.

If you are looking to rent a scooter or motorcycle in Manila, Philippines, check out Scoot.com.phScoot.com.ph offers a wide range of scooters and motorcycles available to rent in Manila from 125cc automatic scooters through to 1800cc Harley Davidson motorcycles, if you plan to travel outside Manila, please also remember that the on all highways the engine capacity of scooters or motorcycles must be above 400cc.