Today’s Guest Column is from Jim Cunningham. Jim is a long time of LiP who recently relocated to the Philippines and is now enjoying his retirement in Talakag, Bukidnon.
Hi Folks- Before I start this story please bear in mind, I’m a British citizen with a UK driving licence.
We arrived at the LTO just before 9am on February 26th and went to the window and had our forms checked and were then asked to proceed to the Medical/Drug Testing facility escorted by an LTO official.
Medical and eyesight test, height and weight checked fee paid 100 pesos each.
Drug test next door paid 200 pesos each all finished before 10am and it had a steady queue of applicants.
Back to the LTO and handed in all paperwork and was asked to visit office of LTO Driving Licence Director who after exchanging pleasantries informed us that: the UK, Hong Kong and Brazil are the only countries in the world who do not allow their driving licences to be converted to Philippine licences. Well blow me down with a feather. I then ask the Director what can I do now he then explains the law saying we should apply for a Student licence which after one month (30days) we can reapply for a full licence which will be granted rather than wait out the full year of the Student licence if we don’t mind paying for our full licence within such a short period of time. He even informed us that we would not have to retake a Medical or Drug test as the lapsed period is only a month and he gave us back our results in order to resubmit in 30 days time.
We then submitted our papers again and were asked to have a photocopy of our last entry stamp taken which we did and were asked to wait to be called. Within about 10 minutes we were called to have our Photo taken and specimen signature then about another 10 minutes we were called again to pay the cashier 317.64 pesos each then 5 minutes later we were called to sign and receive our Student licences. We left the LTO car park just before 11am so total time taken just under 2 hours from start to finish.
Between us we have been driving for about 60 years to suddenly become learner (student) drivers again but that’s life in the tropics.
The LTO gave us new application forms for next months full licence application we will have to pay again for the full licence next time of course.
That is our story and I’m sticking to it, incidentally the whole process was painless apart from the revelation about the UK/Philippine non agreement to convert each others licences. By the way it’s not the Philippine Government who refuses to convert but instead the UK Government along with those of Hong Kong and Brazil, I would like to find out why this is so.
I have heard of the LTO retaining the foreign applicants licence before issuing their new Philippine licence on other group sites and now I may have the answer why.
On April 2nd we return to LTO in CdeO with our NP Driving Licence application forms duly filled out to be submitted.
We went to the first window at 8.15am and were then told to wait to be called for our photograph to be taken. We were called about 9am and had our photographs taken and our signatures recorded and told to wait till the cashier called us to pay our fees.
At 10.15am we were called to pay our fees 168 pesos for our “theory test” I thought are they joking or what. Joking utot, we were told to proceed to the Lecture Room and were shown a DVD about the do’s and don’ts of driving in the Philippines.
We were after the DVD show asked to sign a sheet and informed that the theory test would be at 1pm and could we come back at 12.45.
We then went to the LTO Canteen and had some lunch (oh dear) and after forty winks returned to await our theory test. We were asked do you wish to take the test in Bisaya, Tagalog or English and with not having Bob‘s expert knowledge of Bisaya language elected to take the test in English.
We were informed that to pass, you had to get 30 questions correct from 40 so let the ordeal begin.
At 1.15pm we started the test and at 1.30pm we were finished and hopefully had done sufficiently well to pass the test.
Not one to mess around I asked the OiC how we had done and since I was the only white man he asked me my name, I almost asked him to guess but thought I was tempting fate.
He came back soon with a big smile on his face and informed us we had passed, so far so good.
At 2.30pm we were asked to go to the cashier and wait to be called and at 3.30 we were called to pay our fees 417 pesos and then asked to wait for our licence and receipt.
At 3.55pm we were called and issued with our licences and at 4pm we left the LTO compound.
What an ordeal but without going through with it you cannot obtain a licence and therefore cannot legally drive.
So now Marilou and I can legally join the throng of Kamikaze drivers who ply the highways and byways that are the motoring routes of the Philippines.
So to anyone going through the same ordeal take a packed lunch, plenty of water and a book and just accept this as being the norm and if you complete the process sooner, consider it a bonus.