When a foreigner wants to drive a car or motorcycle in the Philippines, a drivers license is needed. This can be the original (foreign) drivers license in the first 90 days of his or her stay in the Philippines.

An Expat in the Philippines, who mostly lives here permanently has to take care for a Filipino Drivers License before the 90th day of his / her stay, because foreign drivers licenses are not accepted after the 90st day of arrival in the Philippines.    The problem is how to get one.

Fact is, it is easy to get one !!
LTO, the Philippine department for issuing drivers licenses, has a lot of offices in the country. When I got mine I was told at a local renewal office that I had to go to a larger office where new driver licenses are issued. I went to the main office of LTO in East Avenue, Quezon City.
Once there I received an application form and was ordered to have a medical examination and a drug test. After that I should return to the same window.

The general requirements are the following:

  1. A valid foreign drivers license, and if not stated in English, a translation in English. (your local embassy can take care for that, so contact them first)
  2. A copy of the original birth certificate of the holder (also in English, ask your local embassy for assistance)
  3. A copy of the passport and a copy of the visa to stay in the Philippines
  4. A document that is stating your home address in the Philippines (can be issued at the Barangay where the applicant is living)
  5. The results of the medical examination and the drug test
  6. The application form (issued at LTO)

Note: A foreign driver’s license is not acceptable for conversion into Philippine driver’s license if:
– The foreign license is not written in the English language; or
– The country of origin of the driver’s license has no embassy in the Philippines
The LTO website , click on the ‘service’ tab at the left.  (link to LTO removed because the website is too often un-reachable)

(links to government sites in the Philippines are often broken, why? They have more traffic than the hosting company allows !!)

On the other side of East avenue in Quezon City are several small test labs. After inquiring they all ask the same prices, so it’s not important where to go, as long as they are “LTO accredited”.
Every new applicant has to undergo such tests. The ‘drug test’ is nothing more than giving some fresh urine in a little bottle and filling out a form. The physical examination is just a simple eyesight test, blood pressure measuring, weight measuring and answering a few questions about previous illnesses. Those two tests costs around 400 pesos.
After those tests I went back to LTO and gave the officer all the requested papers and documents.
Some time later I was called and a digital picture was taken of me and I should sign my signature digitally. Then I was sent to the cashier to pay the dues and taxes: 618 pesos.
After 10 minutes waiting, the new Filipino drivers license was issued to me. All together it took me about 1 to 2 hour to have this drivers license.

A few TIPS:

  • It might be wise to call first if a specific LTO office near your place is able to issue a drivers license to foreigner drivers license holders
  • Take care for a translation of your drivers license if it is not completely in English, your Embassy might be able to help you
  • If you are in the Philippines already, and you don?t have a birth certificate yet, try to get one at your Embassy or ask family in your home country to take care for it
  • Be patient at all time, waiting at offices is a part of living in the Philippines.

For the latest requirements and fees check LTO website.

(links to government sites in the Philippines are often broken, why? They have more traffic than the hosting company allows !!)

I have removed all links to LTO because they never work properly. Use a search engine for the right links.