Vehicle Number Plate Dilemma

November 14, 2017

Buying a vehicle brings a sense of pride to the owner. They know that a vehicle will make their travelling easier and ultimately fetch a good price when it is sold off. Hence, when purchasing a vehicle, consumers pay attention to factors which will ensure their vehicle is marketable in the years to come. No consumer wishes to invest thousands of dollars on a vehicle which will not have a resale value few years down the line.

One of the key factors consumers tend to look at besides the year, make and model is the registration number. There is a perception that the recent number plate registration, will indicate the vehicle is new. However, there may be instances where one buys a vehicle but gets a number plate which is an older series compared to what is already running on the roads.

A similar situation was encountered by Christina.

Christina had long dreamed of owning a car. And to turn her dream into reality, she obtained a loan in October 2016 to buy her first car. Christina visited a renowned second-hand car dealer in the Central Division to choose her vehicle. Once she had selected her vehicle, the dealer sent her car for registration. After few weeks, when Christina finally received her vehicle she was astonished to see the registration number plate as “IR” whereas the vehicles on the road had “IS” registration.

Christina was disappointed that despite her vehicle being recently purchased, she was given an earlier number plate series instead of the latest number series already running on the road.

She immediately raised her concern with the second-hand car dealer to seek clarification on the “IR” series number plate. But the second-hand car dealer failed to respond to her queries, which prompted her to lodge her case with the Council.

The Council liaised with Land Transport Authority (LTA) on their procedures for number plate allocation and to understand why Christina was not given the latest registration number. The Council was informed that the LTA’s Head Office in Valelevu issues certain number of registration plates to its other branches all over Fiji. The number of registration plates are issued based on the demand from that particular office. LTA office in Valelevu and Lautoka have high demands, hence the number of registration plates issued are much higher.

With other LTA office, the chances are that the number plates may be unutilized for some time which can result in getting a number plate of an older series and not the latest registration number series. It all depends on how frequently the number plates are issued from the LTA branch office.

Now, if a consumer buys a vehicle, and the dealer decides to register the vehicle at smaller LTA outlets rather than their main office in Valelevu or Lautoka, the chances are that an older registration number plate may be issued. The reason being the number of vehicles received for registrations may be less therefore it takes longer to use up the allocated number plates when compared to the main office.

In other words, the number plate allocated to a vehicle from the LTA’s branch office may be of an earlier series in comparison to the newer and current number plates issued by their main office. Unfortunately, Christina’s car dealer took the vehicle to the Nakasi LTA Office for registration.

Generally, consumers tend to be of the view that the moment they purchase their car, they will automatically get the latest number plate registration from the LTA office, but this definitely is not the case depending on which LTA office is doing the registration.

Further, if a consumer wishes to get a number plate in the latest series of their choice then he/she will need to reserve the number via a written application process which will incur a fee of $132.

Hence, in order to avoid such misunderstanding, the Council urges consumers to know the process of the number plate registration of their newly purchased vehicles prior to taking it to LTA for registration. Alternatively, the car dealer also has the responsibility to inform their customers on LTA’s number plate registration process.