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25 Years of Fun with the RP’s Land Transportation Office

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In the past few months here on LIP I noted that some had found fault with the Philippine LTO System, I’m here to present another point(e) of view, just to defend these much-maligned hard working folks.

The Land Transportation Offices are the folks in charge of Drivers Licenses, Tags and Car Registrations (They might do other stuff too, but damn if I know) I met them for the first time in 1994 and was pleasantly surprised in the way they functioned.

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I was waiting in Oakland California for a ship assignment and was going to Lifeboatman School at California State Maritime Academy, Vallejo, CA. plus the next week Fire Fighting School on Treasure Island Naval Station San Francisco Bay.

I was given a ship assignment and flew to the Philippines on the way to my next ship. And while sitting in California I noted that my Florida Drivers License had expired. I was driving a rental car, and even Avis failed to notice my expired license. Florida requires that if you are over fifty you must come to Florida to take their eye exam. No other way to do it, as they told me. My oh my was I in a pickle, to hell with that, I’ll get a license in Olongapo while I’m there.

Off to the LTO for my first time ever, “Easy Peasezy” Expired Florida license, no problem, not yet a resident, no sweat. Medical exam and urinalyses was not a rule yet. Pay the money; bring two passport photos (No computer photos in the olden days.)

In three days I had to fly to Singapore to meet that ship. My license can be picked up within a few months but I had the “Official Receipt which BTW is accepted in every country I visited, including Avis in at SFO Airport. To make a very long story short, I received my hard copy of my Philippine Drivers License within four months of its expiration date five years later! I’m flying out again; I only need a new “Official Receipt” Sooff to the LTO and ask if I may renew my license early. Of course, they said yes, and I was pleased. Two years later I received my Philippine hardcopy License but found when renting cars around the world, the “Official Receipt” just worked better with far fewer questions then the hard copy.

Then in the year 2000, I retired, from sailing and renewed my license and received my hard copy that day. And in another five years, it happened again with an instant hard copy. That’s when I found out that the law required we to always have the Official Receipt, and I thought it was just while waiting for the real one. Not my first time being wrong.

But three years ago, it took a year to get my hard copy license. But did I care? Not at all, Boboy (My wife’s High School batch mate (LTO High Person) called and informed me it was there. (A bottle of Good Brandy as a gift helps too)

Other visits to our friends at the LTO

My car was wrecked and repaired, but not painted the original color I was required to bring a notarized letter from an Abogado (Lawyer) Known as a “Letter of Color change”.

A person scraped my official tag sticker off my front tag. Once more I went to an Abogado (The same one) to get a notarized letter of “Letter of the Vandalized tag.” Then they replaced all three stickers?

While renewing my tag I provided a rendering of my Engine Number that I brought from home while the motor was still cool. No way said the man behind the window; I must do it then at the LTO from the hot motor. My wife went to see Boboy to tell him what I was told. He came, and agreed with the employee but then sent the employee to my car to trace the number from a hot engine. I love KARMA?

During my first trip to the Smoke Belcher Station, before going to the LTO they failed my car but passed the Diesel Jeepney in front of my car. And they could fix my car for a small pile of Pesos. I refused, and then I passed with no problem.

Now for funny new rules from the LTO that were never Philippine law:

All stainless steel owner jeeps were required to be painted because of the glare. I ignored it but my friend didn’t and painted his owner jeep. That was never a law and was canceled.

We were told that we had to purchase a reflective safety triangle to replace the tree branch we all had in our trunk, But the LTO was out of stock, and a month later that rule was canceled.

I have enjoyed every visit to the LTO Office in the Philippines as no matter what they ask from you, it beat any DMV in any of the 50 states in the United States.

Of course, the one from your home state or country is exempt. I as we all must purchase the $50.00 auto insurance from the kiosk near the LTO, and then go and buy real insurance. But remember; never tell the other driver you have it. Just say you paid cash for the car. The same office I go to provides House Insurance too, a one-stop shop.

My only problem is I only get to visit the LTO, once a year and wait until it’s time again. It is so much fun.

Posted in

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson; has resided in the Philippines since 1993, living close to Subic Bay. I’m married to a wonderful girl named Maria (AKA Mayang).Who is from Gordon Heights in Olongapo where she grew up with her Mom & Dad and seven siblings Our two daughters are both grown up and have left the nest, the eldest married to a wonderful guy named Chris, and they have blessed us with our granddaughter Heather Colleen Our youngest daughter and her husband Cecil have blessed us with a grandson named. Jayden Logan. I’m a retired U.S. NAVY Senior Chief after 22 years of active duty. After retirement from the Navy I lived for 7 years in Puerto Rico as a Night Club owner. Then Hurricane Hugo told me to find a new line of work, I was hired by Military Sealift Command and went back to sea in Asia as a Merchant Seaman for 10 years. After 30 plus years at sea I buried my anchor on a mountain in the Philippines and am now residing in Dinalupihan (or DinBat for short), Roosevelt, Bataan where we built our home. And last but not least, anything I writes will be pure "Tongue in Cheek "If anybody is offended, I'll lose no sleep over it, but here's a quick Mea Culpa in advance!

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Rob Ashley
Rob Ashley
4 years ago

Good article Paul. I have found LTO pretty trouble free in the past also. I have done car registrations and driver’s license renewals. I no longer have a US license, only a Philippines license. I have also been surprised by other government offices. When I first saw the woman take out a big hand written record book and a sheet of carbon paper, I thought, “Oh My God.” But, they are amazingly efficient in this computer age. This goes from the office that certifies documents in Manila to the office where you get copies of your Marriage and Birth Certificates.… Read more »

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Rob Ashley

Bob;
The old Royal typewriter i don’t see very much anymore (Or Remington) , and I wondered what the world did with all it’s old carbon paper.. As I said above, they can still run circles around any DMC stateside even without a WIFI Connection. (LOL)

Dennis Glass
Dennis Glass
4 years ago

Paul…….you are a man with great patience. I won’t share my LTO details

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Glass

Dennis;
The patience of Job., But I’m retired and haven’t been late for anything in 18 years. Two weeks ago the doctors nurse came to the coffee shop to find me, but he was an hour late, I call that a push. (lol)

Gary
Gary
4 years ago

A couple of years ago the LTO made it difficult to nearly impossible for temporary visitors to get a new PHL driver’s license. This is an issue for some people since your foreign driver’s license is only valid for 90 days past your date of entry into the PHL. (This did not affect renewals of a PHL driver’s license.)

http://www.lto.gov.ph/license-permit-issuance/284-non-professional-driver-s-license.html

NEW APPLICATION/CONVERSION

…for foreigners, original and photocopy of passport with entry of at least one (1) month and visa duration of at least one (1) year from date of application…

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Gary;
I’ve heard there are new rules, but then aren’t there always I had trouble converting my Puerto Rico DL to Florida in 1989. Then Florida to Philippines. But that was my last change and rules remain flexible here in the RP. But that is why I like it so much (lol).

Cordillera Cowboy
Cordillera Cowboy
4 years ago

Hello Paul,

My visits to the LTO have been drama free. Mostly because I mostly knew what to expect. My wife hasn’t trusted me with the vehicle registration aspect of it though. We did have a few hiccups, but they were mostly from the dealer, not the LTO. I suspect that I’ll get my feet wet in that regard in a year or so, when we re-up our registration

Take care,
Pete.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago

Pete;
If it’s a new car the tag should be good for three years, go check the sticker on your windshield. (Windscreen for our British readers)Or ask your dealer why? But it is normally a hassle free function. But never let the LTO employee apply the new sticker or god only knows where they’ll put it. I always reward myself with a beer after I exit any government office..

John Reyes
4 years ago

Hi Paul – You had 25 years of fun dealing with the LTO, I had zero. But, I did have fun during the one time I personally experienced interacting with another Philippine government agency, when one day back in 2000, my mother and I visited the Kapitolyong Panlalawigan (Provincial Capitol) in Iba, Zambales, for the day to get a land title authenticated. I enjoyed the visit immensely, Mom not so much. We spent the whole day being ushered from one station to the next, land title in hand. Many people would be exasperated by this – the redundancy, unnecessary bureaucratic… Read more »

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Hi John;
Where have you been? City Hall is different in every town, whereas LTO is standardized to a small degree.I’ve dealt with Olongapo City Hall, and now Dinalupihan City Hall to compare them is like apples and oranges, but both taste good and are refreshing on a hot day. (LOL) I’m with you the watching is the real prize. It is amazing how it works, but you’re right: “It does work. The underwood typewriter comment struck me funny, as I say Royal or Remington, with ample carbon paper. Stay well sir, and don’t be a stranger!

alanouel
4 years ago

Paul, enjoyed your article. I renewed my PHL driver’s license here in Angeles City a few years ago but it wasn’t a quick process. It took five trips to the LTO over several months time. LTO closed due to some holiday LTO closed due to materials out-of-stock LTO closed due to a Pampanga holiday LTO announcement (over loud speaker) while I was waiting that they just ran out of material (no plastic?) Victory. Only 5 trips and I got my license. It took my wife only three trips to get her new license. Not fair! My license expires in May… Read more »

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  alanouel

alanouel;
The only two things they could have added would be a Volcano and a typhoon on the same day, or a meteor strike? Good luck in May, oh wait the rainy season is starting…(LOL) It still bears any DMV anywhere on the planet..Remember if it goes fast or slow, you still get to reward yourself with a COLD SMB!

Malcolm
Malcolm
4 years ago

I got my first Philippine driving license in 1991 and a very simple process it was too. Someone from our office who knew someone at the LTO accompanied me to the LTO where I handed over P.300 and was told to take a written test. The nice man smiled and said I should write my answers on a separate slip of paper rather than the multiple choice test sheet. Odd procedure I thought but I couldn’t think of any reasonable reason to question his instructions. Once I’d finished he proceeded to transcribe my answers from the paper to the test… Read more »

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm

Malcolm;
Since I had an expired Florida license I was not required ant test written or driving. Your right about when they added the blood pressure and drug test. The drug test must have been real ad the Trike Drivers were failing it left and right. As usual those test didn’t last long.
I’ve got one ticket here, and the officer wanted to take my license (Official Receipt) Instead he got in the car and we drove to his office where I paid the fine and then took him and his boss to lunch. I love it here.

PapaDuck
PapaDuck
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Paul,
I’ve only been to LTO once and that was in December to get a Ph DL. It was crowded when i arrived and thought i would be there all day. But i was in and out in 3 hours with hard license in hand. Now dealing with BIR at the local and national level is another story and is ongoing. Bet in the end we will be rewarded for our patience.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  PapaDuck

Papa Duck:
My local BIR is painless but the BIR in Manila…just put a sharp stick in my eye.
I’ve never been to an LTO longer than an hour, and that was when they had the drug and medical test.

PapaDuck
PapaDuck
4 years ago

John,
Glad to see you on here more. Alway’s enjoy your insights on the Philippines.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  PapaDuck

Papa Duck;
It is alway good to hear from John.

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