How to Apply for a Driver’s License in the Philippines: An Ultimate Guide


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Owning a driver’s license comes with a lot of responsibilities.

You’re not only responsible for your own safety, but also the safety of your passengers and other vehicles around you. 

It’s the main reason why the LTO (Land Transportation Office) requires applicants to submit a lot of documents and pass a series of written and practical driving examinations before getting issued a driver’s license. 

This guide will walk you through the process of obtaining a driver’s license in a quick and efficient way.

Related: How to Renew Driver’s License in the Philippines: An Ultimate Guide

 

Table of Contents

What is a Driver’s License?

A driver’s license is a government-issued document that can give you the proper authority to drive a motor vehicle in the Philippines. It has a validity of five (5) years while the student permit is only valid for one (1) year.

 

Types of Driver’s License in the Philippines.

The following are three types of driver’s license in the Philippines

  1. Student Permit – Every individual who wishes to obtain a Professional or Non-Professional Driver’s License is required to get a Student Permit first. The Student Permit or Student License authorizes its holder to drive a motor vehicle but in the presence of someone who holds a valid Professional or Non-Professional Driver’s License. The student permit is only valid for one year and cannot be modified, revised, or renewed.
  2. Non-Professional – A Non-Professional Driver’s License can give you the authority to drive motorcycles and vehicles with up to 4,500 GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight). Holders of this license will be able to drive vehicles with both manual and automatic transmission. Some of the vehicle types included in the weight limit are sedans, minivans, pickups, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles.
  3. Professional – A Professional Driver’s License is the most useful type of driver’s license. Professional Driver’s License holders are permitted to drive almost all types of vehicles, including motor vehicles exceeding 4,500 GVW like heavy construction equipment.

 

How to Get a Student Permit in the Philippines.

drivers license requirements 1

Every individual who wishes to obtain a driver’s license will have to apply for a student permit first. This will give you the authority to drive specific types of vehicles while accompanied by a Professional or Non-Professional Driver’s License holder.

The student permit will give you the chance to learn how to drive for one year before taking written and practical driving examinations. You can apply for a Student Permit at any LTO District Office, Licensing Center, and Extension Office that processes Driver’s License transactions.

1. Qualifications.

  • You must be at least seventeen (17) years old.
  • You must be able to read and write in English, Filipino, or any applicable local dialect.
  • You must be physically and mentally fit to drive a motor vehicle.
  • You must have attended at least 15 hours of lecture on road safety. This additional qualification is part of a new LTO policy which will be implemented soon after it gets approved.
  • For foreign applicants: You must be at least eighteen (18) years old and have been residing in the Philippines for at least one (1) month and will stay in the country for at least one (1) year from date of application.

2. Requirements.

a. Basic Requirements.

For both Filipinos and foreigners:

  • Fully accomplished Driver’s License Application Form
  • PSA-authenticated birth certificate (original and photocopy). If you don’t have a birth certificate, you can go to the Customer Service Counter of any LTO Office and explain the reason why you don’t have a birth certificate. Depending on your case, they might come up with an alternative document that can be accepted. So far, these are the alternative documents accepted if a birth certificate cannot be presented:
  • Medical examination certificate (online-only/electronically transmitted). Medical certificates of Student Permit applicants should only come from an LTO-accredited clinic or physician. To save time and avoid long queues, you can get a medical certificate a few days before your date of application at the LTO office. As of this writing, the medical certificate costs Php 450 and is valid for two (2) months. 

b. Additional Requirements.

For applicants below eighteen (18) years old:

  • Parental or guardian’s consent (original)
  • 1 valid government-issued ID of consenting parent or guardian with signature (original and photocopy)

For married women:

For foreigners:

  • Applicant’s passport containing the following (original and photocopy):
    • Entry date of at least one (1) month
    • Visa duration of at least one (1) year from the date of application
  • If born in the Philippines, submit PSA-authenticated birth certificate (original and photocopy)

3. Fees.

  • Application Fee – Php 100
  • Computer Fee – Php 67.63
  • Student Permit Fee – Php 150

4. Step-by-step Guide.

  1. Arrive at the LTO office early. Preferably, choose to transact with an LTO District Office where most applicants are for renewal. If you’re lucky, you can get your Student Permit in less than 30 minutes.
  2. Go to the Customer Service Counter and request an Application for Driver’s License Form and the Checklist of Requirements. You’ll also be given a queue number.
  3. Fill out the application form and prepare the required documents.
  4. Submit the filled out application form and other documents with your queue number. The evaluator will check the completeness and authenticity of your application and documents.
  5. You’ll be asked to recite the Driver’s Road Safety Pledge. The evaluator will encode your information to the system to create a transaction number.
  6. Head to the designated area for the photo/signature taking and wait for your turn.
  7. The approving officer will review and approve your application.
  8. Head to the cashier and pay the required fees when your number gets called.
  9. The releasing clerk will issue your Student Permit and Official Receipt. After receiving your Student Permit, write your name and affix your signature on the log sheet.

5. Additional notes.

  • A student permit is only valid for one year.
  • A student driver’s permit is usually not accepted as a form of identification because it’s only meant to be a temporary permit. However, in some cases, it can be considered as a valid ID if it’s in a card format like when applying for a passport. It can also be used, along with the Official Receipt, for SSS transactions.
  • 30 days after the date of student permit issuance, you can start the application process for a Professional or Non-Professional Driver’s License.

 

How to Get a Non-Professional Driver’s License in the Philippines.

drivers license requirements 2

This guide is for individuals who are planning to apply for a Non-Professional Driver’s License, a type of license applicable to individuals who will drive motorcycles and vehicles with up to 4,500 GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight).

Applications for a new Non-Professional Driver’s License can be submitted at any LTO District Office, Licensing Center, and Extension Office that processes Driver’s License transactions.

1. Qualifications.

  • You must be at least eighteen (18) years old.
  • You must be physically and mentally able to drive a motor vehicle.
  • You must be able to read and write English, Filipino, or any applicable local dialect.
  • You must be a holder of a valid Student Permit issued at least thirty (30) days before the Non-Professional Driver’s License application.
  • You must have attended an LTO-accredited and TESDA-certified driving school (LTO will be offering the same services but at a lower rate for those who cannot afford to enroll in a driving school). This additional qualification is part of a new LTO policy which will be implemented soon after it gets approved.
  • For foreign applicants: You must be residing in the Philippines for at least one (1) month and will stay in the country for at least one (1) year from date of application.

2. Requirements.

a. Basic Requirements.

  • Completely filled out Driver’s License Application Form
  • Valid Student Permit issued at least thirty (30) days before the date of application
  • Medical examination certificate (online-only/electronically transmitted). Medical certificates of Non-Professional Driver’s License applicants should only come from an LTO-accredited clinic or physician. To save time and avoid long queues, you can get a medical certificate a few days before your date of application at the LTO office. As of this writing, the medical certificate costs Php 450 and is valid for two (2) months. 

b. Additional Requirements.

For foreigners:

  • The applicant’s passport containing the following (original and photocopy):
    • Entry date of at least one (1) month
    • Visa duration of at least one (1) year from the date of application
  • If born in the Philippines, submit PSA-Authenticated Birth Certificate (Original and Photocopy)
  • If holder of a valid foreign driver’s license:
    • Valid foreign driver’s license (Original and Photocopy)
    • Official English translation of foreign driver’s license from Embassy of the issuing country, if not in English. (original and photocopy)

3. Fees.

  • Application Fee – Php 100
  • Computer Fee – Php 67.63
  • License Fee – Php 585
  • Additional Computer Fee – Php 67.63

4. Step-by-step Guide.

  1. At the LTO Office, submit all the documentary requirements for the Non-Professional Driver’s License Application to the receiving personnel.
  2. The receiving personnel will check the completeness of the documents and then transmit them to the evaluator.
  3. The evaluator will then review the applicant’s qualifications and if qualified, the application will be encoded in the system.
  4. Head to the designated area for the photo and signature taking and wait for your name to be called.
  5. Head to the Cashier and pay all the necessary fees when your name gets called.
  6. Take the Basic Driving Theory Test for Non-Professional Driver’s License. You’ll be informed of the results right after the written examination.
  7. If you have passed the written examinations, the next step is to take the practical driving test.
  8. After passing both the written examinations and the practical driving test, the application will be approved by the Approving Officer.
  9. After the approval, the Non-Professional Driver’s License will be released as well as the Official Receipt. You also have to write your name and affix your signature on the Release Form.

5. Additional Notes.

  • A Non-Professional Driver’s License is only valid for five years.
  • The written examination for the Non-Professional Driver’s License consists of 40 items and you need to get a score of 30 in order to pass.

 

How to Get a Professional Driver’s License in the Philippines.

drivers license requirements 3

This guide is for individuals who are planning to apply for a Professional Driver’s License which enables one to drive vehicles exceeding 4,500 GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight).

Applications for a new Professional Driver’s License can be submitted at any LTO District Office, Licensing Center, and Extension Office that processes Driver’s License transactions.

1. Qualifications.

  • You must be at least eighteen (18) years old.
  • You must be physically and mentally able to drive a motor vehicle.
  • You must be able to read and write English, Filipino, or any applicable local dialect.
  • You must have attended an LTO-accredited and TESDA-certified driving school (LTO will be offering the same services but at a lower rate for those who cannot afford to enroll in a driving school). The additional qualification is part of a new LTO policy which will be implemented soon after it gets approved.
  • For foreign applicants: You must be residing in the Philippines for at least one (1) month and will stay in the country for at least one (1) year from date of application.
  • For Restriction Codes 1, 2, 4, and 6: You must be a holder of a valid Student Permit issued at least six (6) months before the date of application.
  • For Restriction Codes 3, 5, 7, and 8: You must be a holder of a valid Non-Professional Driver’s License at least one (1) year before the date of the application OR You must be a holder of a Professional Driver’s License with Restriction Codes 1, 2, 4, and 6 at least six (6) months before the date of application.

READ: The Meaning of LTO’s Restriction and Condition Codes On Your Driver’s License

2. Requirements

a. Basic Requirements.

  • Completely filled out Driver’s License Application
  • Medical examination certificate (online-only/electronically transmitted). Medical certificates of Professional Driver’s License applicants should only come from an LTO-accredited clinic or physician. To save time and avoid long queues, you can get a medical certificate a few days before your date of application at the LTO office. As of this writing, the medical certificate costs Php 450 and is valid for two (2) months. 
  • Clearance from both the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and PNP (Philippine National Police), indicating that the applicant has not been convicted in any offense that involves moral turpitude or reckless imprudence resulting from reckless driving

b. Additional Requirements.

For Restriction Codes 1, 2, 4, and 6:

  • Valid Student Permit issued at least six (6) months before the date of application (original and photocopy)

For Restriction Codes 3, 5, 7, and 8:

  • Valid Non-Professional Driver’s License issued at least one (1) year before the date of application (original and photocopy) OR;
  • Professional Driver’s License with restriction codes 1, 2, 4, and 6 and valid for at least six (6) months before the date of application (original and photocopy)

For Foreigners:

  • The applicant’s passport containing the following (original and photocopy):
    • Entry date of at least one (1) month
    • Visa duration of at least one (1) year from the date of application
  • If born in the Philippines, submit PSA-authenticated birth certificate (original and photocopy)

3. Fees.

  • Application Fee – Php 100
  • Computer Fee – Php 67.63
  • License Fee – Php 585
  • Additional Computer Fee – Php 67.63

4. Step-by-step Guide.

  1. At the LTO Office, submit all the needed documents for the Professional Driver’s License Application to the receiving personnel.
  2. The receiving personnel will check the completeness of the documents and transmit them to the evaluator.
  3. The evaluator will evaluate your qualifications and if you’re qualified, your application will be encoded to the system.
  4. Head to the photo and signature taking and wait for your name to get called.
  5. Head to the Cashier and when your name gets called, pay all the necessary fees.
  6. Take the Professional Driver’s License Basic Driving Theory Test. You’ll be informed immediately of the results of the written exam.
  7. If you’ve passed the written examination, you’ll then take the practical driving test.
  8. If you’ve passed both the written examination and the practical driving test, the Approving Officer will approve your application.
  9. After the approval, the Professional Driver’s License and the Official Receipt will be released to you. You’ll also be asked to write your name and affix your signature on the Release Form.

5. Additional Notes.

  • A Professional Driver’s License is only valid for five years
  • The written examination for the Professional Driver’s License consists of 60 items and you need to get a score of 45 in order to pass

 

How to Prepare for the LTO Driving Test.

drivers license requirements 4

When applying for a Professional or Non-Professional Driver’s License, you’ll undergo two types of exams: a written examination in the form of the Basic Driving Theory Examination and a practical driving test. You need to pass both in order to successfully obtain a Driver’s License.

1. Written Examination.

The written examination will cover the following topics:

  • Emergency Situations
  • Handling and Driving
  • General Information
  • Parking Rules and Restrictions
  • Penalties and Violations
  • Road Positioning
  • Signs and Markings

When preparing for both the written and practical driving test, the following files will help you study:

  • To review the road traffic signs and pavement markings, refer to this link.
  • For a Driver’s License Reviewer in Tagalog, refer to this link.
  • For a Non-Professional Driver’s License Reviewer in English, refer to this link.
  • For a Professional (Light Vehicles) Driver’s License Reviewer in English, refer to this link.
  • For a Professional (Heavy Vehicles) Driver’s License Reviewer in English, refer to this link.

Examination rules:

  • If you fail the Basic Driving Theory Examination and/or the Practical Driving Test, you will not be allowed to take the same test within one (1) month from the date of your last examination.
  • If you fail the Basic Driving Theory Examination and/or the Practical Driving Test twice within a period of one (1) year, you will not be allowed to take the same test within one (1) year from the date of your last examination.
  • If you fail the Basic Driving Theory Examination and/or the Practical Driving Test three times in a row, you will not be allowed to take the same test within two (2) years from the date of your last examination.
  • If you fail the exam for additional restriction codes, you’ll still be able to renew your current license but without the additional restriction codes you’ve applied for. The examination results will also be included in your driving record.

 

2. Practical Driving Test.

  • During the practical driving exam, there’s an additional fee of Php 250 to rent a car or Php 150 to rent a motorcycle. You can also use your own vehicle.
  • The complete practical driving test consists of one full round of driving at your preferred LTO Office’s course.
  • It’s very easy to pass the practical driving so there’s nothing to be nervous about. Stay calm while driving and make sure to follow the instructions indicated on the back of your application form.
  • To prepare for the driving test, you can also watch YouTube videos. It will help if you practice reverse parking, too.
  • In order to pass the practical driving test, you need to score at least 70 points out of 100.

 

Penalties and Other Fees Every Philippine Driver Should Know.

drivers license requirements 5

It’s important to be well-informed about the different traffic rules and driving regulations. Violation of multiple traffic and driving rules may be indicated on your driving record and may even prevent you from processing various driver’s license transactions.

List of Traffic Violations and their Corresponding Fines.

  1. Driving without a valid driver’s license – Php 3,000
  2. Submitting fake documents in applying or renewing a driver’s license – Php 3,000
  3. Driving without a driver’s license, Official Receipt, or Certificate of Registration – Php 1,000
  4. Driving an unregistered vehicle – Php 10,000
  5. Committing traffic violations like parking violations, illegal turn, disregarding traffic signs, illegal overtaking, and others – Php 1,000
  6. Unauthorized modification of vehicle – Php 5,000
  7. Driving a vehicle with unauthorized, defective, or improper parts, accessories, devices, and equipment – Php 5,000
  8. Driving a vehicle with an improperly attached or unattached license plate – Php 5,000
  9. Vehicle renewal or registration fraud – Php 3,000
  10. Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or dangerous drugs:
  • Not resulting in injuries or death – Php 20,000 to Php 80,000
  • Resulted in injuries – Php 100,000 to Php 200,000
  • Resulted in death – Php 300,000 to Php 500,000
  1. Reckless Driving:
  • First offense – Php 2,000
  • Second offense – Php 3,000
  • Subsequent offense – Php 10,000
  1. Driving without a seat belt and/or having a child passenger below 6 years old on the front passenger seat:
  • First offense – Php 1,000
  • Second offense – Php 2,000
  • Third offense – Php 5,000
  1. Driving without a motorcycle helmet:
  • First offense – Php 1,000
  • Second offense – Php 3,000
  • Third offense – Php 5,000
  • Fourth and subsequent offenses – Php 10,000
  1. Smoke belching:
  • First offense – Php 2,000
  • Second offense – Php 4,000
  • Third offense – Php 6,000

Underage Drivers.

If you’re an underage driver who gets caught and was proven to have misrepresented your age in order to obtain a driver’s license, you’ll be asked to surrender your current driver’s license.

If you wish to get obtain or renew your driver’s license, you have to submit an appeal and pay a fine of Php 5,000 plus additional miscellaneous fees.

If you prefer the one (1) year cancellation of license, you must surrender your temporary license and you’ll be barred from getting a new driver’s license for one (1) year from the day you surrendered your license.

 

How to Get an International Driver’s License in the Philippines.

drivers license requirements 6

In order to use your Philippine Driver’s License in other countries, you have to apply for a Philippine International Driving Permit at any AAP (Automobile Association of the Philippines, Inc.) Office.

1. Requirements.

  • Original and photocopy of Professional or Non-Professional Driver’s License (must be valid for at least one year)
  • 2 pcs. 2 x 2 colored ID photo (must have a white background)

For foreign nationals, dual citizens and Filipino citizens born in another country:

  • Original passport
  • Photocopy of passport information page and page with the date of the last arrival
  • Alien Certificate Registration (if permanent resident)

 

2. Fees.

  • AAP Joining Fee – Php 300
  • AAP Annual Registration – Php 1,200
  • PIDP Processing Fee – Php 300

It must be noted that the AAP Joining Fee will be waived for OFWs. You only need to present a proof of being an OFW like a valid Employment Contract and Seaman’s Passport.

 

3. How to Apply.

Head to the nearest AAP office and submit all the required documents. You can find an AAP office in the following areas (with their corresponding processing time):

  • NCR:
    • Alabang: 2 – 3 business days
    • Makati: 2 – 3 business days
    • Quezon City: 1 hour
  • Luzon: Batangas and Pampanga (2 – 3 business days)
  • Visayas: Cebu (4 – 5 business days)
  • Mindanao: Davao (4 – 5 business days)

Your Philippine International Driving Permit will be valid for one (1) year from the date of application if your current Philippine Driver’s License is still valid for at least one (1) year. If it’s valid for less than one (1) year, your Philippine International Driving Permit will have the same validity period.

 

Tips and Warnings.

  1. The government agency now only accepts online medical certificates (instead of hard copies) with fingerprints of doctors who conducted the physical examination, a move that will eradicate “pre-signed” medical certificates illegally issued to applicants even without doctors examining them. You can get a medical certificate from a clinic usually situated within the vicinity of the LTO office but in case it’s closed/unavailable, you can take your medical exam somewhere else, provided that it’s on the list of clinics/physicians accredited by LTO.
  2. The medical certificate is valid for two (2) months. This means that if you’re going to apply for a Student Permit and then either a Non-Pro or Pro Driver’s License within the two-month period, you will only be required to get a medical certificate once.
  3. To save time and finish early, you can complete the required medical examinations as early as 15 days before the date of application.
  4. Arrive at your preferred LTO branch early to avoid long lines and to have your transaction processed quickly. LTO Offices and Licensing Centers are open for business starting from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. However, some LTO branches are open as early as 7:00 AM so if you’re a walk-in applicant, make sure to check with the LTO office to know exactly what time they open and don’t just rely on what’s stated on their Facebook or Google business page. On the other hand, LTO branches inside shopping malls usually open at around 10:00 AM.
  5. Alternatively, you can also go to the LTO office an hour before the closing time. Since very few applicants are left, you can finish the application in a short amount of time. This strategy also works for other government offices.
  6. If you can, set up an online appointment to ensure that you’ll be accommodated when you go to any LTO office. Your transaction will also be processed quickly since there will be special lanes for online appointments. As of this writing, this is only applicable to renewal applicants
  7. If possible, apply for license renewal before its expiry date so you won’t have to pay a penalty fee. You’ll also be able to fix any possible issues with your application before it expires.
  8. Dress appropriately when applying for a new license since your photo will be taken.
  9. Avoid fixers since you don’t really need them. Getting the services of one will only cost you a lot of money and might even result in issues in your license.
  10. Bring smaller bills as well as coins, especially if you arrive at the LTO office very early. LTO cashiers still have little to no cash at this time so they can’t accommodate applicants with larger bills (e.g., Php 1,000) who are paying for relatively smaller application fees.
  11. Download and accomplish the application form at home so it’ll be ready for submission when you go to an LTO Office.
  12. Foreigners can get a driver’s license in the Philippines. They can either apply for a new Philippine driver’s license or convert their foreign driver’s license. If their foreign driver’s license is valid, they can convert it to a Philippine Driver’s License without taking exams. However, if their foreign driver’s license has expired, they’ll have to take the written and practical driving exams before they can convert their foreign license.
  13. A driver’s license is one of the major requirements when purchasing a car since the sole reason for a vehicle purchase is to drive it. However, if you’ll be buying the car for a different reason other than to drive it, then you can talk to your dealer about it and help you find a solution. Some individuals have purchased cars without a driver’s license but provided a different type of identification.

 

Frequently Asked Questions.

1. What is the meaning of restriction codes and condition codes on my LTO driver’s license?

2. How can I apply for additional restriction codes?

3. I applied for a driver’s license but left to work abroad without claiming it. How can OFWs get their unclaimed driver’s licenses without going back to the Philippines?

4. How can I convert a Non-Professional driver’s license to a Professional driver’s license (and vice versa)? 

5. I have changed my name/citizenship/marital status/etc. How can I update my driver’s license and obtain a new one?

6. I need a driver’s license certificate for the job/visa I’m applying for. How can I get one?

7. Can I drive in the Philippines using my foreign driver’s license?

8. How can I convert a foreign driver’s license to a Philippine driver’s license?

9. My driver’s license has expired/is about to expire. How can I renew it?

10. Can I renew my driver’s license in advance? How early can I renew it?

11. I’ve lost my driver’s license. How can I get a new one?

12. My driver’s license has been damaged/mutilated. How can I replace it?

13. My driver’s license has been stolen. What should I do?

 

About the Author.

Anna Pamela R. Capistrano is an experienced content writer who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in multimedia studies at the University of the Philippines – Open University. She has been working as a freelance writer for over 6 years and has created a wide range of content for various websites. Aside from writing, she also loves cooking, baking, dancing, and watching K-dramas. As an Aquarius woman, she’s passionate about making the world a better place one step at a time.

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