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Explainer: How to apply for the new digital number plates

Former Cabinet Secretaries, James Macharia (Transport) with his  Interior counterpart Fred Matiang'i during the launch of new-look vehicle number plates at the GSU Recce Unit. [Standard, file] 

With only six months left for car owners to obtain the new digital number plates, a huge percentage seems to have heeded the call while others remain tucked to the old plates.

The new generation plates were launched by former Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in August 2022, allowing a grace period of 18 months for every vehicle to have switched.

The front plates remain black and white while the rare ones remain yellow and black in colour.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) headquarters in Nairobi is a beehive of activities with most of those visiting visibly carrying the old plates, waiting for a handover before being issued with the new ones.

Benefits of the new generation plates

During the launch last year, then CS said that the new plates will have two unique features that will help not only law enforcement agencies in tracking vehicles but also help curb lawbreakers.

The launch was in line with the Traffic Act of 2016.

Since the plates are digitally synchronised, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will also be able to track and trace tax evaders, especially car dealers.

Why do the new plates stand out?

“They come fitted with a microchip enabling law enforcers to read them remotely. It will be easy to track and trace lawbreakers especially the hit-and-run ones,” Mukami Sue, an officer at NTSA told The Standard.

The new generation number plates also have a Quick Response (QR) Code making them unique and easier for traffic cops to do scanning when the need arises.

“Apart from the QR Code, the plates also have aesthetically pleasing fonts and designs compared to the old ones which were on a metal plate. Sadly, most Kenyans only notice the calligraphy but fail to notice our (NTSA) serial number and the neatly placed Kenyan flag both at the front and back,” Mukami added.

It is key to note that since last year, the imported vehicles have been fitted with the new plates at their point of entry-that is why they all automatically have them. That is from the ‘KDK’ series when the new plates were commissioned.

How to obtain the new generation plates

The user will have to log into their NTSA Transport Integrated Management System (TIMS) account. You will then select your vehicle registration and click on the ‘apply for reflective plates’ tab.

Select the vehicle, then click on the reason for the application.

From here, you can choose whether to be notified via text on your mobile number or via email.

Depending on the shape of your car at the front and rear, you choose the number plate and format. They give two options; square and oblong.

The next step will prompt you to upload (in PDF) your vehicle’s original logbook and a picture of both your number plates.

You will be prompted to select your collection centre and fill in the Identification number of the person who will be collecting it.

Before logging out, you will be required to pay via Mpesa. The fee is Sh3,050.

After payment is successful, you will be notified via text when the new plates are ready for collection.

According to the NTSA website, the process can take at least seven days although most customers claim to have been kept waiting for weeks.

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