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Do you need to get a Philippine Driver’s License?

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If you come to the Philippines for a vacation, did you know that you can drive without need of obtaining a Philippine Driver’s License?  It’s true.  As long as you have a license from your home country, you may drive here using that license.  That, however, is only good for 90 days from the time you enter the country.  If you intend to stay longer than 90 days, and intend to drive after that 90 day “grace period” then you will need to obtain a Philippine Driver’s License.

So, if you have decided that you need to (or want to) get a Philippine Driver’s License, what steps should you follow?  Let’s have a look:

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  1. You need to first go to the LTO (Land Transportation Office) in the City where you will be applying for your license.  By the way, like when you visit the Bureau of Immigration, you should wear long pants (not shorts) when you go to the LTO.
  2. When you go to the LTO, you should bring the following items:
  • Your original driver’s license from your home country.
  • Your original passport.
  • A good photocopy of your driver’s license.
  • A good photocopy of the photo page of your passport.
  • A good photocopy of the Philippine entry stamp for your latest entry to the Philippines in your passport.
  • A good photocopy of your latest visa extension stamp in your passport (if applicable).
  • A report from your LTO approved medical exam (the medical exam will cost you around P100).
  • A report from your LTO approved drug test (the drug test will cost you around P150).

When you go to the LTO with these items, you will have to wait, generally between 1 hour and 8 hours.  All of your original documents will be compared against the photocopies to ensure the accuracy of the photocopies.  Once that is checked out, the originals will be returned to you.

Next, you will have a photo taken for the driver’s license.

You will pay a fee of just over P300, and then you will be given your license.  If you are applying in a small town, they will give you a paper receipt for the license, and the actual laminated license will be sent from Manila.  This can take anywhere from 3 months to a year for you to receive it.  The paper receipt will serve as your temporary driver’s license while you are waiting for the actual license to arrive.

For the medical exam and the drug test, as you see listed above, these services are generally available at small booths located just outside the LTO office.  They are quick, easy, and painless!  For the medical exam, they will generally take your blood pressure, ask you a few questions, and give you the results form. For the drug test, you will be required to urinate in a cup, it will be analyzed,  and you will be on your way in only a few minutes.  In my experience, the medical and drug tests are accomplished at the same office.

Now, your next challenge is to learn how to drive in the Philippines.  It’s not quite the same as back home!

Posted in

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Pete
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Very Informative Bob, and you already told us about how to drive "Dont have a collision and give way to larger vehicles" and if anything comes in your direction, move to the right, does that cover it Bob ?

Gary
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Gary

Thanks for the information on the Philippine driver's license. I have printed this out and stored it in my "things to know" file that I will be taking with me when I head over in August. Yes, driving in the Philippines is "Walang ganyan sa States". I have driven in Samar and that was not too bad, other than terrible roads. I have also driven the NLE (Northern Luzon Expressway) and that was fine. However, there is no way I am ready to try driving in Manila or in Angeles City. It is nuts. The only traffic rules are that… Read more »

Ron LaFleur
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Ron LaFleur

Bob you did not mention however that you need to carry your passport while driving on the 90 day exemption. The passport verifys your length of time in the Philippines for that particular trip. Ron

Scott
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Scott

Hi Bob,

Useful information about the license, here in the UK there are other considerations.

1. Cars needs to be insured, minimum third party cover but can be comprehensive.

2.Also we pay road tax each year as well, a disk being attached to the windscreen.

3. The cars are checked to see if they are roadworthy [ MOT test ] each year for cars more than 3 years old

What is the situation in the Philippines for insurance etc. ?

Thanks,

Scott

Bob
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Bob

Hi Gary – Ha ha… there indeed IS one traffic rule that you should always observe. He who is bigger has the right of way! Do that, and you'll always come out OK! Hi Ron – technically, you are correct. If you don't live here on a permanent visa you are always supposed to have your passport with you. Hi Scott – Yes, you must have insurance on your car. When you get your license plate renewal every year, there is a minimal insurance which is included with that. It is a bare minimum, though! You will want to get… Read more »

Bob
Guest

Hi Ken from SC – Haven't heard from you for a long time, Ken! I hope you are doing well. I am not a farmer, so I just don't know about this, I am happy to get a second opinion, though.

Elisa
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Elisa

I don't plan on driving, but the bit about wearing long pants into Immigration and LTO kinda caught me off guard. Since Immigration will probably be one of my first stops after I arrive, that is good to know.

Bob
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Bob

Hi Elisa – any kind of government office will require that you wear long pants. Also, if you go anywhere that is even semi-nice I advise against wearing shorts. If you happen to go to any Muslim areas, shorts should not be worn too.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Hi Pete – as far as I can remember, that's about it! But, I will post anything new that comes to mind!

Kevin
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Kevin

Bob,
Is the Philippine Drivers license good for driving a motorcycle and mo-peds or just for a car?

Bob
Guest
Bob

Hi Kevin – When you apply for the Philippine Driver's License, you will need to indicate that you plan to use it for motorcycle use, and then you will be given an endorsement for motorcycle use. If you don't get the motorcycle endorsement, you will only be able to drive cars.

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