Driving without a valid license is against the law in the Philippines, and if caught, you could face a significant fine of P3,000. Your license is considered invalid if it is expired, revoked, or suspended, or if it has an inappropriate driver’s license restriction code or classification. Using a fake driver’s license, driving as a tourist with a foreign license beyond the 90-day limit, or driving as a student without a duly licensed driver accompanying you are also violations according to the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
If the foreign driver’s license is not in English, the individual must obtain an official English language translation from the local embassy of the issuing country.
In this guide, we will help foreigners and expats who are living or visiting the Philippines for more than 90 days and do not have an International Driver’s License.
As a foreigner or expat, you have two (2) options:
- Apply for a new driver’s license from the Land Transportation Office (LTO)
- Convert your foreign driver’s license to a local equivalent driver’s license.
TYPES OF LICENSE
In the Philippines, we have variants of the license:
- Student Permit
- Non-Professional Driver’s License (NPDL), also known as Non-Pro
- Professional Driver’s License (PDL), also known as Pro
Each variant comes with a restriction code for motorcycles, cars, and trucks. For detailed information, inquire at the front desk of the LTO.
To be eligible for the exchange or conversion of a foreign driver’s license to a Philippine LTO-issued driver’s license, the applicant must meet the following requirements:
- must be in good physical and mental condition to operate a motor vehicle
- must be at least 18 years of age
- must have resided in the Philippines for a minimum of one month before applying for the license exchange
- visa must be valid for a minimum of 120 days from the date of arrival
- must be able to furnish evidence indicating their intention to remain in the country for at least one year from the application date
- should not have any outstanding traffic violations
- must complete both the written and practical driving examinations administered by the LTO
- must possess a valid foreign driver’s license
- passed the practical driving exam for applicants from countries operating right-hand drive
- If the foreign driver’s license has expired, the applicant must have completed both the theoretical examination and practical driving test
Prepare to provide the following documentary requirements:
- Duly accomplished Application for Permits and Licenses (APL) Form available at the nearest LTO office
- One (1) photocopy and presentation of the original electronically transmitted medical certificate from an LTO-accredited medical clinic
- Present the original and submit one photocopy of the valid foreign driver’s license
- Present the original and submit one photocopy of the valid passport showing the first page, visa page, and the most recent entry date into the Philippines
- Tax Identification Number (TIN) is required if the applicant is employed in the Philippines
- negative drug test result from a Department of Health (DOH) or LTO-accredited drug testing center or hospital
- applicants temporarily residing in the Philippines, present the original and a photocopy of the visa and stamp or Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR), available at the immigration office
Once you have gathered all the general and documentary requirements, follow these steps:
- Head to the closest Land Transportation Office (LTO).
- Submit the APL form together with the necessary documents.
- After your documents are approved, proceed to the cashier to settle all relevant fees.
- Undergo the written examination.
- If failed, receive a computer-generated letter indicating that the applicant may return the following day at their convenience.
- If passed, proceed to the practical driving test.
- If unsuccessful in the practical driving test, the transaction concludes at that point.
- If you pass the practical driving test, proceed to the cashier to settle any remaining relevant fees.
- Proceed to the encoding or biometric window for further processing.
- Have your photo taken and sign the required documents.
- Wait for the issuance of the official receipt (OR) and the driver’s license card.
- Sign the release form and the LTO logbook.