Drivers license in the Philippines

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.



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      • Some “fixers” are actually real agents and worth the money.
        Problem is you don’t know who’s who unless you have some solid
        personal recommendation from a real and trusted friend.

        Otherwise, do it yourself. All you really need are your required docs, the forms, and marginally sufficient ability to comprehend and speak Tagalog. Even english is ok, it’ll just take longer.

  1. :mean: I live 4 years in Thailand and made now the car and motorcycle driver license valid over 5 years 11 month (it is always to renew at your birthday after validity).

    In the office Land and Transport) I was informed, that this new driver licenses (since January 2010) in form of a cerdit card with magnetic band is VALID in all ASEAN meber countries!!! Somebody hear about in the Philippines?

    • Fredy,
      Thanks for visiting my website.
      I have not heard yet of that statement, it could be true.
      On the other hand, your original (valid ) drivers license (from your home country) will be valid for some time in a country when you go for vacation.

  2. Hi Jan, thanks for the info. I might get a license after a few more years here. Don’t have any plans to purchase a vehicle right now, just riding the jeepneys, tricycles, and pump boats in our little province. Good information, though, thanks. Did you get approached by any fixers?

    • Hi Dave,
      Guimares is not that big, so a tricycle or jeep will do for you. And bring your car on a pumpboat every time you go to Iloilo will be a little difficult (LOL)
      No I was not approached by fixers, maybe because my wife was with me…..

  3. Maybe the fixers were intimidated by your wife… just kidding.
    Normally Pinoys treat caucasians better than their own people.
    I don’t know but that’s for real…
    thanks for the nice blog..
    lito

    • Lito,
      Actually it was easy to get the licence.
      If we (caucasians) are treated better, I do not know. What I am experiencing here is that when I am visiting a mall or in a shop, all employees are greeting me. They do not do that to Filipinos. If you call that treating better….??? They greet my Filipino wife only if I am there too… so…..
      Thanks for your comment.

  4. i plan get international license for my husband and i want to know if he can use here in the philippines.?

    • all foreign drivers licenses are valid until 90th day of stay in the Philippines.
      At LTO office it is easy to get a Philippine drivers licence.

      • when you submit your foreign drivers license to the LTO, will they return it to you?? cos i have a valid california drivers license, and i dont want them to keep it.. although im a filipino citizen.. i didnt get a chance to get philippine DL before.. so i want to know if they will keep or return ur foreign license..

        • Pumpkine, Thanks for visiting my website.
          As far as I know they are not keeping your California drivers license. They also didn’t keep my Dutch one. (but rules might have changed)
          For holiday purposes you do not need a Filipino drivers license. When here, your California license is valid upon 3 months after arrival in RP.
          A Filipino drivers license needs to be renewed every 2 or 3 years.

          • No, LTO will NOT retain/keep your U.S. or other driver’s
            license. They will return it to you, along with any
            other personal (original) documentation that they have
            required for you to present to them.

          • correct Philip,
            LTO doesn’t need those original foreign documents. Aside from that, a foreign drivers license belongs to the country where it was issued.

      • supporting docs (foreign drivers license, passport, etc) will be returned to you. They only keep your form, drug test results, and required fees. No worries.

  5. actually please don’t get misunderstood though.
    it is just very natural for Filipinos to be hospitable to
    foreigners. it is just part of the culture. and as for
    greeting other Filipinos not in the same way, well i guess
    it’s because we are all accustomed to seeing each other
    everyday so we can say that we skip the formalities.

  6. hi, I have a question about getting a drivers license in the Philippines..with foreign license (california DL)

    Im a Filipino Citizen and has a california drivers License.. I do not have a Philippine drivers license and i want to get one.. Its says on there website that you just have to show them ur valid foreign drivers license etc… and they will issue you one..

    However, I heard from ppl that once you submit to the LTO your foreign drivers license is that they will keep it and will not return it to you..
    is it true????

    pls. let me know. highly appreciate ur informative response!

  7. *Does a German Citizen allowed to drive a car in the Philippines?
    *if he stays in Philippines for 60days, does he need to get a drivers licence or he can use his foreign drivers license? I need your advice.

    best,
    susan joven

    • Susan,
      Tourists who stay less than 90 days in the Philippines do NOT need a Philippine Drivers License.
      But warn the German Friend that driving in the Philippines is much different from driving in Germany.

    • Cindy,
      What you can do is go to a driving school, There must me one in your neighborhood.
      They can give you all the details.

  8. Hi Jan, I´m from Spain excuse my poor english.
    I´m going for two months to Philippines, and I would like to know two things, one it´s offtopic but maybe you can help me.
    1º I saw that for less than 90 days it´s ok with original (foreign) drivers license. my question are if I need the international license or with the original (in spanish)it´s enough.
    2º (offtopic) Can I buy a second hand motorbike and register it to my name? or do you know where I can ask for this?

    Thanks a lot and merry Chritsmas from Spain

    • Ola,
      That’s almost all the Spanish I know ;-)
      Muchas Gracias, for visiting my site.
      When coming to the Philippines your foreign drivers license must be valid for at least 6 months. If it is in Spanish is no problem. An International Drivers license is easier because it is in English.
      Bying a second hand motorbike is easy, the driving is NOT. Traffic in the Philippines is so much different from driving in Europe (and Spain). I would advise you to NOT drive yourself, if you like to live longer.
      An other thing is selling your motor before you go home. That might take months. Bying is easy, but selling is very difficult.

      I hope you will have a nice time in the Philippines.
      Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

  9. Hi Jan,
    im a korean student living here in the philippines, i searched so many websites to find out how to get a drivers license in the philippines and this is the best!!
    thanks
    actually i’ve already been to LTO in quezon city to find out the location and what are the requirements needed and really sorry to say but i was so upset with how the officers treated me and how the fixers approached me… the officers treated me with no respect (maybe because they saw a foreign girl alone) and the fixers fighting each other to get me as their client ( so i just came back home and searched the internet for any good advices i can get and here i am.
    i am looking for a driving school in my neighborhood, hope i can get a license soon

    • Hi Ji Hyun
      Thanks for these nice words. I hope that I have been able to help you a little.
      There are many driving schools in the Philippines, and they have offices everywhere. I can only give you one advise: ask first at a few schools about their prices and what you get for that money. Also ask if they can help you to get a temporary drivers permit.
      After taking the necessary lessons they will examine your skills and give you the necessary documents to get your license at the LTO office.
      You better ask the driving school to assist you if you are not good in Tagalog about further requirements and so on.
      Good luck.

  10. hi, im hani… i would like to asked how much it will cost me to renew my non prof licence to prof licence for 5 years not renew? thanks..

    • Hi,
      If it is your first license, you probably have to go to one of the major offices. For renewing a small office will do. On the website of LTO you can find the addresses. Maybe it is wise to make a call first to the office you like to go to and inquire.

  11. I’m 30 days late to report to immigartion, will they still give me a license.
    Im waiting for my check.

  12. Hi Jan,

    Thank you for the concise information on getting a drivers license.

    I have a unique circumstance -I am an American living in South Korea. My American drivers license expires at the end of July which is during the middle of Philippine stay.

    Although I don’t have permanent address in the Philippines, do you think it’s possible to get a Philippine drivers license? Unfortunately, I can’t renew my American drivers license without spending $1500 to fly back to the States.

    • Hi Dan,
      I am afraid that will not be possible, but I am not 100% sure. As far as I know you need to be a resident in the Philippines.
      You better hurry to the US embassy, maybe they can renew it for you.

  13. hi Jan,

    So is it the case there are no exams to get a philippino diriving license even if zI dont have one in my own country?i am spanish but live in korea……is it possible for me to go over to the philippines to do it?I heard I need a long term visa…..is it possible to get it?thanks

    • Hi Mike,
      Even in the Philippines you have to take an exam if you do not have a vaild drivers license already.
      Aside from that you need to have a filipino address.

  14. hi… I would like to ask if there’s an online renewal for drivers license? I am currently living in Germany and my DL is about to expire in Nov 2011… And evidently, going back to PI is going to cost me a lot just for my DL renewal… Thank you very much and Hope to hear from u soon :)

    • You could ask the embassy of the PI in germany about it, but I am affraid that you have to do this personaly when you are in the PI. It has to do with medical and drug tests and fingerprinting and pictures.

      • yeah thats what i thought too… it sucks though :) thank u for the info and for always of service with everyone :) more power to u and wish u won’t get tired of responding to random people like us :)

  15. Hi Jan,
    Thanks for your blog. It is very informative.
    Once we already driving in the Philippines on a foreign drivers license. I am just worried of the following situations:
    1. In case of road accidents, what would happen with the insurance?
    2. In case of minor traffic accidents, what will they do with our foreign driver’s license?
    Any ideas?

    • Hi DonJuanico,
      So far I didn’t experience any accidents on the road, just a little parking damage on my own car. But no other parties involved.
      I cannot tell you what will happen, you probably have to come to the police station for full report. Your foreign license ??
      Do not count on insurances, be prepared that you have to pay yourself and TRY to have it refunded from the insurance.

      Always be prepared for the unexpected, when driving.

    • DonJuanico

      1. If you drive a car in the Philippines, make sure it has proper insurance, comprehensive insurance is ideal. In case accident happen, the insurance company will take care of all your expenses with little participation fee from your end.
      2. In case you involve in any vehicular accident, the TMG or traffic police will confiscate your driver’s license. It will eventually release to you if all issue have been settled.

      HTH

  16. Can the Visa for the driver’s license be a an extended tourist visa, or must it be a residency visa? I can show an address. Thanks for all your help.

  17. What does http://www.lto.gov.ph tells us?
    Penalty to renew non-professional license:
    1 day to 1 year 75.00 PHP
    1 yr. & 1 day to 2yrs. 150.00 PHP
    no additional requirements. After that, 2-10years expired is a whopping PHP225 penalty but also note the additional requirements after 2years deliquent, you may need to re-take the exam.
    Yes, I had to google to get the LTO URL, took me 15seconds, hint! :)
    I don’t see any online renewal portal there, nor would I expect to, in any country, that would make life way too easy.

  18. If no ACR and/or corresponding permanent visa passport stamp, expect to provide some valid document showing your permanent Phils address. Even postal ID should be ok, or maybe even “cedula” (baranguay “tax certificate”). Hint: better to bring more valid ID than not enough.

  19. Correction to my recent reply – after sending I dug a bit deeper into the new LTO website and see that they just _might_ be working on online transaction services. Let’s check back on their site periodically to see what they might provide in future.

  20. Phils drivers license on extended VISA? That was my situation circa 2004, no problem. I just showed proof of permanent physical residency at the address my (then) live-in and I built the house (which I paid for). Point being, you need to produce some sufficiently solid proof of Philippine address to appear on your Phils license – they can’t enter foreign or blank address (see my other postings on such).

  21. If your driver’s license is not written in English, get International Driver’s Permit (IDP) from your country BEFORE you come to the Philippines!

    Save the hassle. There is Catch 22 in the LTO requirements.

    I came from French part of Canada, my driver’s license is completely written in French. The LTO requirement is: Translation from Embassy/Consular Office.

    After traveling 10 hours to Manila and spending one and a half hour in Canadian Embassy in Manila, I didn’t get the translation simply because it is not their job. And they are right.

    Embassies are not translation offices. With more than 80 embassies and hundreds of consular offices and high commissions around the world, Canadian Embassy has very strict rules of what services they provide and what not.

    There are only 3 things they provide: Afidavit/declaration, Certified true copy, and Authenticating a seal or signature.

    After verifying this with Foreign Affairs Canada, it become clear that Embassy is not a translation service and cannot confirm the seal of Alliance Francaise Manila, who translated the drivers license. Alliance Francaise is not an officially authorized translator.

    It seems out of logic, Driver’s license has 10 words to translate and both French and English are official languages in Canada.

    It might as well be true for all other non English speaking country embassies – translation to English is not part of their consular services.

    Years ago I remember converting my foreign license into Canadian license. Canadian Ministry of Transportation did not send me to some local Embassy for translation. They sent me to an authorized translator. I was done in one day.

    In short, save the hassle. Get International Driver’s Permit (IDP) from your country BEFORE you come to the Philippines!

    • hi Novig,
      Embassies are not translation offices, that’s true. But what they could have done is stating that your drivers license was a genuine one. That’s what the Dutch Embassy did and it was accepted by LTO.

      • I assume the statement you got from Dutch Embassy was in English, not in Dutch. If so, that statement is equal to translation, it included license number, name and dates.

        Kudos for the Dutch Embassy who had human approach in your case. They could have easily refused you, but they spend their time in writing a document in a language which is not official in Holland.

        I also expected human approach from Canadian Embassy. How difficult is it to put a stamp on already translated license when you are fluent in both English and French. It takes 5 minutes.

        Instead, the attitude was to try to get rid of me, sending me to different rooms. I spent one and a half hour of my and their time, way more than it will take to put a stamp. I was not rude or arrogant, we had a nice one hour talk, but with no result. They only do: declaration, copy, signature.

        LTO requirement leaves you at embassy’s will. Instead of sending you to authorised translator, they send you to the embassy.

        Get the International Driver’s Permit before comming to Philippines. It could save you a lot of time and energy.

  22. I haven’t driven in about 20 years when i moved to NY City, my license has long since expired and I don’t even know where it is. I live in Aurora province for almost a year now. We want to get a motorcycle. Can I get a license without having a valid license from the US?