Updated on October 26, 2022

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Beginner’s Guide to Acquiring a Drivers License in the Philippines – When you drive for the first time as a new driver, you experience an unexplainable mixture of excitement and nervousness.

But you’ll need a drivers license before you can start driving.

Your drivers license is proof that you are legally allowed to operate a vehicle. Driving without a valid license is prohibited in the Philippines, and there is a ₱3,000 fine associated with it.

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
Philippines List of LTO Violations and Penalty Fees

For new applicants, the Philippine drivers license application procedure might be rather perplexing.

So that you know what to anticipate and what to do when you apply for a drivers license, look over this information on how to get one.

Table of Contents show

What is a Drivers License?

In the Philippines, a drivers license is a legitimate, legally binding document that entitles the holder to operate a motor vehicle.

This identification card serves as a legitimate ID for a range of transactions in both the public and commercial sectors.

In the Philippines, drivers licenses are issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO), a primary government department under the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The organization is in charge of the nation’s registration of vehicles and issuance of drivers licenses.

3 Types of Drivers Licenses in the Philippines

Student permits, non-professional licenses, and professional licenses are the three types of driver licensing recognized by the LTO.

1. Student Permit

Both professional and non-professional drivers licenses require a student permit as a condition.

This LTO-issued document, also known as a student driver’s permit, is a basic license that allows a person to operate a vehicle while being accompanied by a licensed driver (whether with a professional or non-pro license).

Who Can Apply for a Student Permit?

  • Filipino at least 16 years old
  • Foreigners at least 18 years and have stayed in the Philippines for at least 1 month and have proof of residence for up to 6 months
  • People whose license has expired for 10 years or more and have no traffic violations
  • Individuals who are physically and mentally fit to drive vehicles
  • Individuals who have attended at least 15-hour theoretical driving lessons from any of the LTO-accredited driving schools

Student Permit Requirements

  • Valid ID
  • Birth certificate
  • PSA-authenticated 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
  • Theoretical driving course (TDC) certificate (electronically transmitted) from an LTO-accredited driving school

2. Non-Professional Drivers License

If you only have a non-professional or non-pro license, you can only operate private automobiles.

One month to one year following the student permit’s issuance date, you can submit an application for a non-professional drivers license.

drivers license

The DOTr introduced a new drivers license design in April 2022 that is distinct from the previous bluish card in appearance and is pearl white in color.

The updated drivers license still has the security elements that guarantee its legality. The new-looking drivers licenses are now being issued by the LTO.

Who Can Apply for a Non-Pro Drivers License?

  • Filipinos at least 17 years old
  • Foreigners who are at least 18 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
  • Individuals who have completed a minimum of 8-hour practical driving lessons from any LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
Are you going to take the Drivers License Exam? Find How to Take and Pass the LTO Exam in the Philippines

Non-Pro Drivers License Requirements

  • For applicants aged 17 years old, a 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
  • Original valid student permit
  • For Filipinos: Original and a photocopy of a PSA-authenticated birth certificate
  • Additional requirement for foreign residents: Original and a photocopy of passport with an entry date of at least six months from the application date
  • Practical driving course (PDC) certificate (electronically transmitted) from an LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school

3. Professional Drivers License

As the name implies, a professional drivers 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 a Professional Drivers License?

  • Filipinos at least 17 years old
  • Foreigners who are 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)
  • Must be a non-pro license holder for at least a year and have no traffic violation
  • Physically and mentally fit to operate a vehicle
  • Ability to communicate in Filipino and English
  • Must pass the LTO examinations
  • Individuals who have completed a minimum of 8-hour practical driving lessons from any LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school

Professional Drivers License Requirements

  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic
  • Original valid student permit or non-pro drivers license
  • Valid NBI Clearance or Police Clearance
  • Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
  • Birth certificate (for Filipinos) / Passport and visa (for foreigners)
  • Practical driving course (PDC) certificate (electronically transmitted) from an LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school

How to Get a Drivers License in the Philippines: Step-by-Step Guide

A few years ago, getting a drivers license was much easier than it is today.

In 2021, the LTO began introducing several modifications to the application procedure for drivers licenses. Note the modified procedures you must follow to obtain a drivers license.

Step 1: Take a Theoretical Driving Course

You’ll quickly learn that the LTO mandates the completion of a theoretical driving course for all initial applicants if you’re hoping to receive your drivers license in the Philippines.

drivers license

For those who don’t know how to drive, this could seem a little intimidating, but don’t worry; if you take the course properly, you can pass the test.

What is a Theoretical Driving Course and Why is It Mandatory?

You must complete the Theoretical Driving Course (TDC) before submitting an application for a student permit.

To ensure that candidates are thoroughly informed on current rules and road safety before they receive a drivers license, LTO has put in place strict policies.

Filipinos who want to apply for a student permit or a drivers license must complete a 15-hour theoretical driving course, under LTO Memorandum Circular 2019-2176.

Certified instructors from driving schools with LTO accreditation oversee the program.

The principles of driving, including traffic regulations, infractions, and other LTO special road legislation, will be taught to student candidates.

Within two years of the course’s commencement date, they must finish the program. A written test with 100 items is given to TDC students. The cutoff mark is 80.

What Happens After You’ve Completed the Theoretical Driving Course?

You’ll receive a Certificate of Completion once you’ve finished the TDC and passed the written test, which you’ll submit along with other requirements to have your application for a student visa processed.

The certificate serves as documentation that you attended the course. It will include your digitally recorded headshot, contact details (including your full name, birthday, and gender), and the date the certificate was issued.

Step 2: Get a Student Permit

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

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
Guide to the LTO Student Permit: Requirements, Fees, and the Application Process

This learner’s permit is given to competent foreigners and Filipinos who want to drive.

You will be required to show this permit to authorities who may issue you a citation when you test your driving abilities on the road for the first time.

You should budget roughly ₱300 for the hour-long processing of a student permit at the LTO office.

You have the entire year that your student permit is valid to train and enhance your driving abilities.

Step 3: Enroll in a Practical Driving Course

The next step after obtaining a student permit is to enroll in at least eight hours of practical driving instruction at any driving school in the Philippines that has been granted LTO or TESDA accreditation.

drivers license

You will receive a Practical Driving Course (PDC) certificate after finishing your driving lessons and successfully passing a practical driving exam or assessment.

This certificate is needed to apply for a non-professional or professional drivers license.

Step 4: Undergo a Medical Examination

You must provide evidence of your physical and mental fitness to drive in order to obtain a license.

Visit one of the LTO-accredited clinics to have a medical exam, which will run you about ₱500.

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
LTO License Renewal and Registration – Clinics and Physicians in Metro Manila

You can have your medical examination the same day that you apply for your drivers license at one of these clinics that are inside or close to the LTO office.

Your medical certificate must be submitted online to the LTO after receiving the doctor’s approval.

Additionally, a hard copy of your medcert will be sent to you, which you must submit to the LTO for verification.

Step 5: Apply for a Drivers License at the LTO Office

For help with your drivers license application, visit the nearby LTO branch. To avoid any hassles, be sure to bring all the necessary documentation.

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
List of every LTO branch in Metro Manila

It should be noted that the LTO, like other government agencies, has implemented COVID-19 health protocols at Alert Level 1 in all of its offices. Face masks must be worn at all times, and social distancing is another.

Drivers License Application Process: 6 Steps for First-Time Applicants

1. Submit the requirements

Approach the specified window and hand in the necessary documentation for a licensing evaluation. For the purpose of confirming your information, the LTO officer will ask you to sign into your account on the LTO Online Portal.

drivers license

Following that, you will receive an Application for Drivers License (ADL) form, which you must also complete and submit.

2. Have your biometrics taken

You will then be directed to another window to have your fingerprints taken and a license photo taken.

3. Take the LTO written exam

When your name is called, go to the LTO written exam line and then enter the exam room.

The written test is actually a 60-item computerized online test (with English or Tagalog language options). You must receive at least 48 accurate responses for the test to be passed.

The staff will advise you to return the following business day (or any other day of your choosing) to retake the exam and complete the drivers license application process if you don’t pass the first time (except for the medical exam, as your medical certificate is valid for two months from issue date).

4. Take the practical driving exam

If the written exam goes well, you’ll be asked to take the practical driving test outside the LTO office. Either you drive your own car (if a licensed driver is with you) or you rent a car from the LTO.

If you fail the driving test, you must return to the LTO office the following day (or whenever is most convenient) to retake the test and complete the drivers license application process (except for the medical exam).

5. Pay for the drivers license fees

Proceed to the cashier and pay for the drivers license card if you passed the practical driving test.

drivers license

You ask, “How much will it cost me to get a driver’s license?” The following fees are assessed by the LTO for applications for driver’s licenses:

  • License fee: ₱589
  • Application fee: ₱100

A medical exam and a vehicle rental for the driving test, which can cost around ₱500 and ₱200, respectively, are not included in the application fees for a drivers license.

Instead of the LTO, third-party providers impose these fees. Your total out-of-pocket expense for the drivers license application will be about ₱1,500.

Bring at least that much cash, as LTO cashiers do not currently accept GCash or credit cards as forms of payment.

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
Fees for LTO Car Registration, Driver’s License, and Violations

6. Receive your drivers license

Wait for your drivers license card to print and be issued to you after making the payment.

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
Say no to Fixers’ LTO Drivers License Assistance and take these instead

How to Renew Your Drivers License

You should apply for a professional or non-professional license renewal one to 12 months before it expires.

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
Drivers License Renewal: Applying, Read This Guide First

Starting with the medical exam, the license renewal process is essentially identical to that of a new license application.

Choose “Renewal” as your application type if you wish to renew your license via the LTO online portal.

Who Can Apply for Drivers License Renewal?

  • Holders of professional/non-professional licenses that are not expired for over two years
  • Professional/non-professional license holders leaving the country and whose license is due for renewal within one year

Drivers License Renewal Requirements

For license holders in the Philippines:

  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic
  • Original professional/non-pro drivers license
  • A printed copy of your CDE certificate with at least a 50% passing score taken from the LTMS online portal

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 drivers license
      • Original official receipt (temporary license)
    • Photocopy of passport’s first and arrival pages

Frequently Asked Questions on Drivers Licenses in the Philippines

drivers license

1. Does the LTO accept online or walk-in drivers license applications?

Only walk-in applications are processed by LTO branches in areas with Alert level 1. As of this writing, you won’t be able to book an appointment online.

However, keep in mind that some branches only accept a certain number of applicants each day. For instance, the LTO San Juan Licensing Center only accepts 100 applicants per day and assigns queue numbers prior to its 8 a.m. opening time. opening period.

No matter which LTO branch you visit, it is best to arrive very early on the day of application because slots can fill up as early as 6 a.m.

2. How long is the drivers license valid?

In the Philippines, pro and non-pro drivers licenses are valid for either five years (for new license holders and those renewing their licenses with traffic violations) or ten years.

Student permits are only valid for one year (for those renewing their licenses with a clean driving record). Since October 2021, the LTO has been implementing the 10-year license validity.

According to Republic Act 10930, non-professional and professional license holders who have not broken any traffic laws, rules, or regulations within the previous five years are granted a 10-year drivers license validity.

However, when their licenses are renewed, drivers with moving violations will receive licenses that are only valid for five years.

According to Republic Act 10930, non-professional and professional license holders who have not broken any traffic laws, rules, or regulations within the previous five years are granted a 10-year drivers license validity.

However, when their licenses are renewed, drivers with moving violations will receive licenses that are only valid for five years.

3. When will my license expire?

On the front of your drivers license card, you can find the date of your license expiration.

Whether your license was issued prior to or following your birthday will affect how long it will be valid. The current year is incorporated into the validity period if you receive your license before your birthday.

For example, the year 2022 is included in the validity period if you receive your license on July 10, 2022, and your birthday is on July 15. (counted as 2022-2023-2024-2025-2026-2027-2028-2029-2030-2031). Then, in 2031, your license will expire.

The current year, however, is not taken into account when calculating the validity period if your license was issued after your birthday.

For example, if your birthday is on July 5 and you receive your license on July 10, 2022, the counting of your validity period begins the following year (counted as 2023-2024-2025-2026-2027-2028-2029-2030-2031-2032). Your license will expire in this situation in 2032.

4. Where can I enroll for the theoretical driving course? How much does it cost?

Online and in-person classroom-style theoretical driving lessons are offered by LTO-accredited driving schools around the country, including A-1 Driving and Smart Driving School, for about ₱2,000.

For more on the topic, you may also be interested in:
What Driving School Should I Attend in the Philippines? 8 Reasons to Take Driving Lessons

Looking to save money? Fortunately, the TDC is now freely accessible at a few LTO-approved driving centers in your area.

drivers license

To schedule your class as of this writing, you must first get in touch with the center. For a complete list of driving schools in the Philippines, visit the LTO website.

5. What is the coverage of the Theoretical Driving Course and Hands-On Driving Exam?

Here’s what’s included in the 15-hour theoretical driving course:

  • Background and evolution of LTO and its role in the development
  • Basics of LTO organization and functions
  • Processes of vehicle registration and drivers license application
  • Traffic rules and regulations including traffic signs, signals, pavement markings
  • Special laws and administrative issuances established by the LTO
  • Hazard scanning recognitions and avoidance of road accidents
  • Functions and use of vehicle accessories
  • Parking techniques such as parallel, reverse, angle, and three-point turn
  • Vehicle safety and basic troubleshooting
  • Defensive driving, road safety, and discipline practices

The Filipino Driver’s Manual is provided to students, who must finish the course instruction in not less than 15 hours.

In the past, student applicants would have had to pay for such a program, which would have cost them more than ₱10,000.

The hands-on driving exam for non-professional applicants for a drivers license covers safe driving practices in various traffic densities, weather conditions, and road conditions.

Any driving school that is LTO or TESDA-accredited should offer this for at least eight hours.

6. How to pass the hands-on driving exam?

There are some things you can do to ensure you enjoy and maximize the practical driving test, even though it can be a stressful experience.

Just keep in mind that the test is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your driving abilities. Here are some ideas to help you persevere.

Tips to Pass and Enjoy Your Practical Hands-on Driving Test

  • Know your route

Even though it might seem obvious, make sure you are familiar with the test route before the big day. In this way, you won’t have to worry about getting lost while driving. Before your test, if at all possible, practice driving the route a few times to become familiar with it.

  • Be confident

Don’t let your doubts and insecurities get the better of you; have faith in yourself.

Consider yourself halfway there since you already passed the written portion of the driving test! You can do this. Take a deep breath, and relax.

  • Stay calm

On the day of your driving test, self-doubt and anxiety may be your worst adversaries.

Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you know how to drive if you start to feel anxious. The exam is merely a formality, and you’ll do fantastically!

  • Focus on the task at hand

Driving while paying attention. Avoid letting your thoughts stray or being distracted by what is going on in the environment. Maintain a sharp focus on the road and your driving. Most importantly, avoid touching your smartphone with your hands.

  • Have fun!

Having fun while driving is important, so do it! You won’t fail the test if you relax and don’t take it too seriously. You’ll get your certificate with your name on it very soon.

Final Thoughts

The majority of the processes for applying for and renewing a drivers license in the Philippines can now be completed online, making the process more efficient. Take advantage of the LTO online portal’s convenience and security.

But always keep in mind that you should go through the new process—the LTO has introduced a required theoretical driving course to help new drivers learn the rules of the road and how to safely operate a vehicle—before you apply for any of the three types of drivers licenses.

Both non-professional and professional applicants must pass a practical driving test after completing the course. We hope that this explanation of the license application process was useful and that you now have a clearer understanding of the procedure. Be careful on the road!

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