How to Get a Driver’s License in the Philippines

Moneymax
·8 min read
Driver's License in the Philippines | Moneymax
Driver's License in the Philippines | Moneymax

As a new driver, there’s this indescribable mix of excitement and anxiety to take your car for a spin for the first time. But before you can drive, you’ll need a driver’s license. Driving without a valid license is illegal in the Philippines, and you will be fined PHP 3,000 for that violation.

The process of license application in the Philippines can be quite confusing for first-timers. Check out this guide so that you know what to do and what to expect when you apply for a license.

What is a Driver’s License?

A driver’s license is an official document that authorizes the cardholder to drive a motor vehicle in the Philippines. This identification card also functions as a valid ID for various transactions in the government and private sectors.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO), a frontline government agency under the Department of Transportation, issues driver’s licenses. The agency is responsible for driver licensing and motor vehicle registrations in the Philippines.

Related: Valid IDs in the Philippines You Need to Have

Types of Driver’s License in the Philippines

Driver's License in the Philippines - Types of Driver's License
Driver's License in the Philippines - Types of Driver's License

Photo by ANC 24/7 Facebook page

The LTO has three classifications of licensing: student permit, non-professional driver’s license, and professional driver’s license.

1. Student Permit

A student permit is a prerequisite for both professional and non pro driver’s licenses. Also called student driver’s permit, this LTO-issued document is a basic license authorizing a person to drive a vehicle accompanied by a licensed driver (whether with a professional or non pro license).

Who Can Apply for Student Permit?

  • Filipino and foreigners at least 16 years old

  • People whose license has been expired for 10 years or more

Student Permit Requirements

  • Valid ID

  • Birth certificate

  • Marriage certificate (for married women)

  • Notarized parent’s consent to secure a student permit and valid ID of the parent/guardian (for minors)

  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic

2. Non-Professional Driver’s License

Having a non-professional driver’s license allows you to drive private vehicles only. You may apply for a non pro driver’s license one month to one year after the issue date of your student permit.

Who Can Apply for Non Pro Driver’s License?

  • At least 17 years old

  • Holders of a valid student permit, expired foreign license, or expired non pro license for over two years but less than 10 years

  • Physically and mentally fit to operate a vehicle

  • Ability to communicate in Filipino and English

  • Must pass the LTO examinations

Non Pro Driver’s License Requirements

  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic

  • Original valid student permit

  • Birth certificate (for Filipinos) / Passport and visa (for foreigners)

3. Professional Driver’s License

As the name implies, a professional driver’s license allows you to drive a vehicle for a living. Apply for a professional license if you’ll drive any public utility vehicle (PUV) such as a taxi, transport network vehicle service (TNVS), jeepney, tricycle, bus, etc.

Who Can Apply for Professional Driver’s License?

  • At least 18 years old

  • Holders of a valid student permit issued at least six months before license application, valid/expired foreign license, or valid/expired professional or non pro license (for certain restriction codes)

  • Physically and mentally fit to operate a vehicle

  • Ability to communicate in Filipino and English

  • Must pass the LTO examinations

Professional Driver’s License Requirements

Driver’s License Validity

All driver’s licenses in the Philippines (except for student permits, which are valid for one year) are valid for five years. How your validity period is determined depends on whether your license is issued before or after your birthday.

If you get your license before your birthday, the current year is included in the validity period. For example, if you get your license on July 10, 2020 and your birthday is on July 15, the year 2020 is included in the validity period (counted as 2020-2021-2022-2023-2024). Your license will then expire in 2024.

But if your license is issued after your birthday, the current year is not included in counting the validity period. For example, if you get your license on July 10, 2020 and your birthday is on July 5, the counting of your validity period starts the following year (counted as 2021-2022-2023-2024-2025). In this case, your license will expire in 2025.

Under Republic Act 10930[1], a 10-year driver’s license validity will be given to non-professional and professional license holders who have never violated any traffic law, rule, or regulation within the five-year period. However, according to the LTO, it will start implementing the 10-year license validity by October 2021[2].

How to Get a Driver’s License in the Philippines

1. Get a Student Permit

Driver's License in the Philippines - How to Get a License
Driver's License in the Philippines - How to Get a License

To become eligible for a non pro or professional license, you should accomplish a student permit first from the LTO.

This driving permit is issued to qualified Filipinos and foreigners who wish to learn how to drive. When testing your driving skills on the road on your first few tries, you’ll need to present this permit to authorities who might issue you a ticket.

A student permit will cost you around PHP 300 for around an hour of processing at the LTO office. The one-year validity of your student permit is your time to practice and improve your driving skills.

Read more: LTO Student Permit Application Guide for First-Time Drivers

2. Undergo a Medical Examination

To get a license, you need to go through a medical exam (which will cost around PHP 500) from an LTO-accredited clinic.

You need proof that you’re physically and mentally fit to drive. If you get clearance from the doctor, your medical certificate will be submitted online to the LTO.

Read more: Accredited Clinics and Physicians in Metro Manila for LTO License Registration and Renewal

3. File Your Driver’s License Application Online

Driver's License in the Philippines - LTMS Portal
Driver's License in the Philippines - LTMS Portal

Although the LTO continues to accept walk-in applicants, your license processing will be much faster and easier if you schedule an appointment first through the LTO online portal. You won’t have to line up and spend hours in an LTO branch to secure a license.

The LTO launched in May 18, 2020 an online service called the Land Transportation Management System (LTMS)[3] where you can process your driver’s license application from home.

The LTMS portal allows you to complete the following steps:

  • Upload the driver’s license requirements

  • Create an appointment at your preferred LTO office

  • Pay for the license fee online through BancNet, BPI Online, GCash, or UnionBank Online

To use the LTO online portal, you have to register for an account first. Registration in the LTMS involves filling out an online form and verifying your email address.

Once your user account has been created, log in to the LTMS portal, click on “Licensing,” enter and verify your medical certificate number, select “New” as your application type, and proceed with your online driver’s license application.

Read more: LTO Fees for Driver’s License Application and Renewal

4. Complete Your License Processing

Driver's License in the Philippines - Complete Your License Processing
Driver's License in the Philippines - Complete Your License Processing

Photo by SunStar Cebu Facebook page

On your scheduled date and time, go to the LTO office where you booked an appointment online. You need to personally appear to have your fingerprints scanned and your photo taken for your license. You’ll also take a theoretical and a practical driving exam at the LTO office.

Within minutes after your biometrics capture, the LTO will issue your driver’s license card to you.

Note that the LTO implements the following health protocols[4] in all its offices under the general community quarantine (GCQ), which everyone is expected to observe:

  • Mandatory wearing of face masks

  • Physical distancing at all times

  • No transactions allowed for people below 21 years old, senior citizens (age 60 and above), and pregnant women until the lifting of the community quarantine

Read more:

How to Renew Your Driver’s License

One to 12 months before expiry, you should apply for the renewal of your professional or non pro license.

The procedures for license renewal is almost the same with a new license application, starting with the medical exam. To renew your license through the LTO online portal, select “Renewal” as your application type.

Who Can Apply for Driver’s License Renewal?

  • Holders of professional/non-professional license that is not expired for over two years

  • Professional/non-professional license holders leaving the country and whose license is due for renewal within one year

Driver’s License Renewal Requirements

For license holders in the Philippines:

  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic

  • Original professional/non pro driver’s license

For Filipinos living abroad:

  • Passport (first, visa, departure, and latest arrival pages)

  • Authorization letter for the authorized representative

  • Photocopy of license

  • Documents to submit to the LTO office within 30 days of arrival in the Philippines:

    • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic

    • Original driver’s license

    • Original official receipt (temporary license)

    • Photocopy of passport’s first and arrival pages

Read more: 12 Tips for a Quick and Stress-Free Driver’s License Renewal

Final Thoughts

Driver’s license application and renewal have become more efficient nowadays because you can do most of the procedures online. Take advantage of the convenience and safety that the LTO online portal offers.

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