In the know: Understanding your driver’s license restriction codes

driver's license

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) has revised the driver’s license restriction codes that guide and define what type of vehicle one can drive on the road. Because of the additional subcategories, the new code system could be confusing, especially for new drivers.


  • How many restriction codes are featured in the updated system?

    The updated system now brings the number of restriction codes to nine.
  • What are the available restriction codes for non-professional drivers?

    Non-professional drivers are only allowed to get restriction codes from A to B1.
  • That said, we take a deep dive into LTO’s current restriction code structure to help you understand what they mean.


    Cracking the code

    On top of the 10-year driver’s license validity, LTO added new restriction codes to better grasp the ever-changing automotive landscape in the Philippines. The implementation of the new system effectively replaces the old numeric restriction codes with a set of alphanumeric ones.

    Here’s what they mean.






    Vehicles with eight seats, up to 5,000kg GVW


    Vehicles with nine or more seats, up to 5,000kg GVW


    Vehicles carrying goods, up to 3,500kg GVW


    Vehicles carrying goods, above 3,500kg GVW


    Buses with nine or more seats, above 5,000kg GVW


    Trailers, up to 3,500kg GVW


    Articulated vehicle, above 3,500kg combined GVW

    Under Motorcycles or Restriction Code A, LTO added three subcategories: L1 (for two-wheelers not exceeding 50kph), L2 (for three-wheelers not exceeding 50kph), and L3 (for two-wheelers designed to exceed 50kph).

    Restriction Code A1 or Tricycles, on the other hand, get four subcategories: L4 (for motorcycles with sidecars designed to exceed 50kph), L5 (for symmetrically-arranged three-wheelers designed to exceed 50kph), L6 (for four-wheeled vehicles not exceeding 45kph with an unladen mass of 350kg), and L7 (for four-wheeled vehicles not exceeding 45kph with an unladen mass of 550kg).

    Those with permits for B and B1 will notice subcategories M1 for the former and M2 for the latter. The M1 subcategory refers to vehicles with up to eight seats with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 5,000kg while the M2 subcategory means a driver is permitted to drive vehicles with a (GVW) of 5,000kg with nine or more seats.

    Drivers steering vehicles carrying goods will have to secure Restriction Code B2 with subcategory N1, allowing them to drive automobiles that can be laden with goods with a GVW of not more than 3,500kg, or a DL Restriction Code C with subcategories N2 and N3, allowing them to take charge of automobiles that carry goods with a GVW of over 3,500kg.

    The three succeeding restriction codes are pretty much like Restriction Code C which are reserved for people who are drivers by profession.

    Restriction Code D has a single subcategory, M3. Drivers who have this type of permission can drive buses that can seat nine or more passengers with a GVW of more than 5,000kg.

    BE and CE are for those who drive articulated vehicles or vehicles with permanent or semi-permanent pivot joints with a combined GVW of more than 5,000kg.

    Bottom line

    It’s important to understand and follow the restriction codes in your permit. These codes were set by LTO to ensure that drivers are capable of commandeering the vehicles they are driving to ensure the safety of everyone using the road.

    Failure to comply with your assigned restriction codes will lead to corresponding fines.

    Photos from Paulo Papa and Ruben Manahan

    Also read: 

    In the know: How to secure a driver’s license

    In the know: How to get an international driving permit

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