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EAM: Driver’s License Procedure

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Back when I first moved to the Philippines, I felt pretty much stranded.  As an American, we are really hooked to having a vehicle of our own, and without one I just didn’t feel normal!

Only about 2 weeks after my arrival, I bought a car.  I just could not make it without one, or so I thought.  It didn’t take much longer, I decided I better go and obtain a Philippine Driver’s License.  So, I went down to the LTO (Land Transportation Office) and inquired on the procedure, found out what documents I needed and generally got ready to obtain my Philippine Driver’s License.

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LTO - The Land Transportation Office

LTO – The Land Transportation Office

Really, it is quite simple to get a Philippine Driver’s License.  You can generally do it in an afternoon (or a morning if you prefer).  If you listen to the Podcast it will lay out where to go and what to bring with you in order to obtain your Philippine Driver’s License.

These days, I don’t do much driving anymore.  I prefer to leave that task to public transportation.  I mostly like to ride the jeepneys, but from time to time I also take the taxi.  I do drive as well, but not often.  I honestly think that I probably use less than a full tank of gasoline in a year!  Much different than I used to do!

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Thanks again for listening, everybody!

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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GaryM
GaryM
6 years ago

Chapter III, Sec. 21 of the Republic Act (RA) 4136, otherwise known as the “Land Transportation and Traffic Code” states that:. “Bonafide tourists and similar transients who are duly licensed to operate motor vehicles in their respective countries may be allowed to operate during but not after (90) days of their sojourn in the Philippines.”

http://www.lto.gov.ph/index.php/faqs/driver-s-licensing

SUMMARY OF DRIVERS LICENSE AND PERMITS FEES AND CHARGES

http://www.lto.gov.ph/index.php/services/drivers-licensing/115-summary-of-drivers-license-and-permits-fees-and-charges

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  GaryM

Yes, Gary, this is what I said in the podcast. Only difference is that some municipalities in the Philippines do not allow you 90 days. Davao is one of them, they want you to get a Philippines driver license much more quickly, and will actually penalize you if you use a foreign driver’s license for more than about a week.

GaryM
GaryM
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

My question is how is that legal? How can you will get penalized for following Philippine’s written law and an International Treaty that the Philippines signed in 1973? I understand that it is the Philippines.

https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetailsIII.aspx?&src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XI~B~19&chapter=11&Temp=mtdsg3&lang=en

GaryM
GaryM
6 years ago
Reply to  GaryM

I found my answer that it is not.

17. Tourist operating or allowing the use of non Philippine
registered motor vehicle beyond the 90 day period of his
sojourn in the country
– the MV shall not be allowed to operate by the
confiscation of its plates, OR & CR until properly
registered
– in addition, if the driver is a holder of local driver’s
license, the same shall be suspended for one(1) month
5,000.00

http://www.davaocity.gov.ph/tmc/downloads/Penalties(LTO)20120528161152.pdf

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  GaryM

That’s just how things work in the Philippines, Gary. It happens every day. A friend always likes to say that things in the Philippines are “consistently inconsistent”. And, they are.

You can cite all the laws that you wish, but I am telling you how it really works here, not the way the paper says it is supposed to work.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  GaryM

It seems, though, that you don’t really understand how things work in the Philippines. I am not trying to be mean to you, Gary, only telling you how things actually work here, and how the driver’s license issue is enforced. That might not be what the law says, but it is how it works in real life.

GaryM
GaryM
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

I am not upset. I understand where you are coming from. You have the experience of living there.

Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said it best “criminals have more fun in the Philippines. This sounds like it is along the lines with what I have been discussing here. Criminals can be on both sides.

Its more fun in the Philippines!

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  GaryM

Not a problem, Gary. No worries.

RT Cunningham
6 years ago

First podcast I listened to, Bob. Pretty good.

I agree with your previous comments. Just because the law says it’s supposed to be a certain way doesn’t mean it is that certain way. I speak from experience.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  RT Cunningham

Hi RT, thanks for listening in, glad to have you on board.

Yes, there is the law as it is written, and there is the actual way it is enforced. Not always the same thing.

Greg
Greg
6 years ago

My experience … as a long time regular visitor to Davao and who intends residing there permanently In 2015 I decided to get my Philippines drivers license while there on my last visit in August. I used a recommended agent to streamline the process … these agents adjoin the LTO office. Anyway, as instructed I went down there with my passport, my foreign drivers licence and the fee … after a quick eye and blood test (P100) I was escorted to the LTO by the agent to have my photo taken and license issued (so I thought) … so off… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Greg

Hi Greg – Thanks for sharing your story. Honestly, I think somebody was scamming you, that P2000 fee is bogus. I have never heard of a policy where an ACR card is required. In fact, under Philippine law the only government agency that can ask for your ACR card is the Bureau of Immigration.

Greg
Greg
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Hi Bob, Maybe a scam but it all seemed legit … I personally spoke to the LTO counter person and then her supervisor and they remained adamant they require the ACR ID number to process the application … the P2000 offer came two days later from a third party with connections 😉 … nothing lost but my time as LTO gave me a full refund on the spot after returning from immigration … cheers

James Speight
James Speight
6 years ago
Reply to  Greg

Scam or no scam $50 us is still a small fee to pay to get it done. and after you get your first Drivers license. it is easy to renew over and over again. divide that fee over a life time it maybe comes out to $1 or $2 a year? sometimes you have to weigh out your time or your money. sometimes time wins.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  James Speight

Every time an expat takes that attitude and says “well, it is not too much…” it affects every other expat. It makes it where the “bribes” and “scams” will only increase. I would take the opposite approach, James…. don’t ever pay the bribe.

James Speight
James Speight
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Yes I guess you are right, Bob.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  James Speight

I think it is the wise way to go, James. You can get stuff done here without paying bribes, I know because I get stuff done, and I don’t pay. Just takes a little persistence. Paying bribes, in my opinion, is never the right thing to do.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Greg

There is nothing legit about it, no matter how legit it seemed. There is no “P2000 fee” to ignore the rules (which don’t even exist). It was a scam, pure and simple.

Greg
Greg
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

The ‘legit’ I was referring to was the requirement of the Davao LTO that I must have an ACR ID number to have my application processed … at no time did the Davao LTO offer or hint at proceeding with my application for an additional fee … I concur with you that the offer from GenSan LTO through a third party was definitely a scam and for the record I reiterate that I declined the offer.

Greg
Greg
6 years ago

oops … should have read blood pressure test

john.j.
john.j.
6 years ago

Because im old lol, my licence from the UK is on paper so LTO in Tagum will not accept it unless it is authenticated by the British embassy in Manila. So I wont bother with it, unless they pay for my flight lol.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  john.j.

I hear you, John. If I were in your shoes, I’d probably do without one too!

Carl Duell
6 years ago

Good to know.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Carl Duell

Thanks, Carl.

Dave C
Dave C
6 years ago

Hi Bob and others…..I just went down (3 months ago) and got my Temporary RP drivers license and it took about 4 hours. It was a conversion from Calif. DL. No one ever asked for a ACR card? I had help but it was no charge….They even take your picture at the LTO so no need for pictures. I don’t drive in Davao or the rest of RP but I wanted the license for a photo ID and proof of residence.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Dave C

Hi Dave, thanks for letting us know about your LTO/Drivers license experience. That is the same as what I have experienced.

James Speight
James Speight
6 years ago

Hey I wonder? How do the police officer know you have been in the country over 90 days when he stops you? I know It is on your passport, but personally I don’t carry my passport around everywhere I go. That was the real reason I went ahead and got my Philippine Drivers License, so I didn’t have to worry about the 90 day thing. And one time when I was stopped before I got my Philippine Drivers License the officer wanted to keep my US drivers license and I wasn’t interested in that at all. And I figured if… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  James Speight

Philippine law requires you to carry your passport at all times if you are a foreigner. Even if you have a Philippine Driver’s license, if they ask for your passport you are required to have it.

RT Cunningham
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

I was told I only need to have my ACR I-Card on me at all times, by the Bureau of Immigration. I’ve never carried my passport anywhere unless I was leaving or entering the country. I suppose it would be different for a temporary stay.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  RT Cunningham

I have no doubt you were told that, but there is a law on the books that you must carry your passport if you are not a citizen. Now.. do I carry my passport? No. But, the answer to the question asked is that you are actually required by law to carry it. 🙂

Michael Boo
6 years ago

Driving , ahhh no thx lol

James Speight
James Speight
6 years ago

Yes I figured I was suppose to have it, but I have never been asked for it.

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