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Philippines Drivers License

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Hello all!! It’s been long enough since I arrived that I realized I need to get a Philippine drivers license.  They don’t allow you to drive on your Foreign Drivers License forever you know!  So, how long do they let you drive?  That varies depending on who you talk to.  But the general consensus is two months.  Well, I was already over that.  I thought it was three months.  So… off to the LTO(Land Transportation Office) to get a license.  I was told it was simple and easy.  I was told it would take forever.  Simple and easy it was.  Take forever it did!!

My brother-in-law Chad knows a guy who knows a guy. Isn’t that how it is here?  So, he knows someone that works at the LTO, or does something with them.  What he does I don’t really know.  But he is familiar with the process and was willing to help me out for free simply because he was friends with my brother-in-law.  I will pause here briefly to give a HUGE thanks to my brother-in-law who has helped me IMMENSELY since my arrival.  He will never read this, but I still want to give him props.  That’s a Detroit/prison lingo for… thanks bro! 🙂

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

So, Raymond, my new friend has to help me make the process easy to get a license. He is walking me through the process of getting my license.  Step one – walk past the NBI(National Bureau of Investigation) where about 1,000 people are waiting for their background checks so they can get jobs locally and abroad.  Step two – Get in line to get an application.  Wait, he just cut line and got me an application from someone he knows.  Nice!!  I like this guy already.  Step three – Fill out application.  Step four – wait in line to give application to guys at the front door.  Step five – go to the next building to get an eye exam and blood pressure check.  WHAT?  Yes, different building.  Ok.  Now, why am I paying these guys to do this?  Oh… because I am not in the U.S. any more Toto!  Yes, that was a Wizard of Oz reference.  And no… nobody here has ever seen that movie.  Movie references here make no sense to Filipinos, especially OLD movie references like the classic Wizard of Oz.  I sometimes do it just for fun.  LOL.  Ok, I’m my mother and now I’ve ventured off topic.  let’s get this show back onto the road.  Step… where was I… step six – Back to the same guys at the front door to give them my exam results.  Step seven – wait for my name to be called so I can get my picture taken and my digital signature from WINDOW 1.  Step eight – Wait for my name to be called so I can go pay at window 4.  Major pause here.  There seems to be a problem with my application.  Sir, you can’t get your license to drive a car AND a motorcycle at the same time.  What?  Why?  Well, it’s a new license application and not a renewal so you will have to come back on a different day.  Wow.  Ok.  I don’t want to piss anyone off.  So, I keep my mouth shut and nod.  I wait patiently some more for them to call me to window three.  Wait… don’t say it!!!  But wait, what about window two and window three?  Oh man.. you said it!!  I thought it too.  Well, to my horror, I was called to window three.  Why?  Apparently they wanted to take my picture and get my digital signature again.  Don’t ask me why.  Maybe it had to do with the request to get a license with restrictions 1 AND 2.  1 is to be allowed to ride motorcycle.  2 is for vehicles up to 4,900kgs… if memory serves me right.  I think they picture got lost in the digital world during that brief moment when they were asking which mode of transportation I preferred.  Well, since I own only a van at this time, I think driving it legally would be nice.  After window three, I wait AGAIN for window four.  Paying for the joy of driving.  Called to window four, the cashier asks me if I can find someone for her friend and coworker.  I quickly tell her through the tiny hole in the glass that I have a friend that is interested in meeting a lady from the Philippines.  I am quickly invited INSIDE to talk with the single lady and get her information.  LOL.  Not only do I now get to sit down in a nice comfortable chair, but the side of the glass where the workers sit is air conditioned!!!  Not so much where I was before that simple question.  Now, I wait for my license in air conditioning and chat with my new friend, and possible chat mate for my buddy in the U.S.

Step… oh, I lost count. Eight?  Receive my license.  I’m ready to go.  License in hand.  Email address for someone my buddy can chat with and get to know.  And I’m out the door.

But wait. I’m not done.  Remember I don’t have my motorcycle endorsement yet.  I return to the office a week later and apply for restriction code 1.  I’m asked if I know how to ride a motorcycle.  To which, I answer yes.  I am whisked away outside, where they ask me to show them in the parking lot.  They ask where my motorcycle is.  I don’t own one.  Apparently, I should have brought one with me.  Maybe in my pocket?  Anyway, the man asking the questions is nice enough to lend me his, while offering words of encouragement… “please be careful”!!!  LOL.  He was scared.  You should have seen the look on his face.  This is one huge kano on a TINY little “motorcycle” we would call a scooter in the U.S.  They told me to ride to the other side of the parking lot, turn around, and come back.  The parking lot is only about 35 feet.  I didn’t even get out of first gear!  I turned around, drove back, and had about thirty people saying OPS!!!! (pronounced opes) which means STOP!!!!  I don’t think they had faith in me at all.

Back into the LTO to a little room where I paid for the luxury of having my motorcycle skills checked, and then off to windows 1, 4, and five) License?  No.  The machine is broken, so I’d have to return in one more week to actually receive the license.  The receipt for the license served as my license until then.

Week three… license in hand. I liked the first picture better, but I guess I was not destined to be happy with my Philippine drivers license pic.  When are we ever satisfied without license pic?  It is the typical DMV(Secretary of State in Michigan) pic.  I look tired of being there and didn’t want my pic taken.  Truer words could not have been spoken.

But hey… that’s life in the world of getting a drivers license ANYWHERE.

Until next time paalam, ingat, and God bless.

Posted in

Scott Fortune

At the time of this writing, I am 42 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.

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GaryM
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GaryM

Did you have a motorcycle endorsement on your U.S. license?

Scott Fortune
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Scott Fortune

I do not have a motorcycle endorsement in the U.S. I had not ridden one in many years, and to be honest, nobody looks for motorcycles in Michigan much. I’ve witnessed accidents and didn’t want to risk riding one in the U.S. I was given a passing rate from the company offering the course, and I was then given a motorcycle endorsement.

bigp
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bigp

glad to see you back on line and writing again.

Scott Fortune
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Scott Fortune

Thanks BigP.

Pastor Bud
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Pastor Bud

Good for you Scott at least you got the job done. For me 18 years ago I just went to the window paid the money got my pic taken and came back 3 days later for my permit. No test no eye exam no blood pressure no drug test. But now as with many things in the Philippines they have made it complicated. Like helmets. Now you have to wear one of their helmets with a sticker on it. These helmets have never been safety checked heck the other day the strap broke on mine. I think I wore it… Read more »

Scott Fortune
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Scott Fortune

Yeah, that sound about right. The helmet I was given with my motorcycle purchase feels very cheap. I don’t know what their approval process is, but doubt it is as stringent as it is in the U.S. I would love to have a U.S. made one, but that sticker is required, as you say.

Richie R.
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Richie R.

Hi Scott congratulations on your new driver´s license, I took mine in Quezon City LTO about 18 months ago and the process was slightly different from your experience. Firstly,on presenting my UK license, I was told to fill out a form, had my picture taken and was given a temporary license, was told to come back in about 6 weeks time On my return, I was sent to another building about 100 meters from the main building to take a urine and eye test,..I forgot the amt. I paid for the medical. After that it was back to the main… Read more »

Scott Fortune
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Scott Fortune

I too was ushered around from building to building for various things like medical, etc. It was an interesting experience. Lots of fun in the parking lot with the motorcycle test. LOL. All eyes were on the kano.

Richie R.
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Richie R.

Yeah, they were all looking at me too but it was over in a jiffy…was not a bit nervous the car used was a Nissan Micra and the motorcycle was a Honda XRM 125 cc automatic shift…what more can I say….a piece of cake !! Cheers mate!!

Bob New York
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Bob New York

If I had an SMB here I think I would be consuming it after just reading the details of your experience in obtaining a drivers license Scott. LOL. Each time I read an article like this it reminds me more and more that Patience is a key factor to enjoy living in The Philippines. I have had an OP + MC ( operators plus Motorcycle ) New York State license since I was first licensed, lets just say ” a few ” decades ago. The Motorcycle drivers licensing had just been introduced in N Y State a few weeks before… Read more »

Scott Fortune
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Scott Fortune

BobNY,

It was definitely an ordeal. Not so much work, as it was waiting, and wait, and waiting. LOL! Not to mention the numerous return trips. You should rent one sometime when you’re here again. They are fun. I had forgotten how much fun they are!

Rick Fernandez
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perfect timing! gonna get one next week.

Scott Fortune
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Scott Fortune

Awesome Rick!! Good luck! I hope yours comes easier than mine did. 🙂

Bob Martin
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Good luck, Rick.

John Reyes
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LOL Scott! I got dizzy reading your story and laughing at the same time. I wonder why they have so many different windows and buildings to go to to complete ONE business transaction. The part I liked most was you getting invited into this lady’s air-conditioned office to be a matchmaker!

papaduck
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papaduck

John,
Thats the way it is at most government agencies. You go from window to window and back to the original window at least a few times.

Scott Fortune
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Scott Fortune

Yeah, I’m glad she asked. It was my reprieve from the heat, as it was hot every time I went there. I’d stop in to get the email, or ask if they had spoken yet. LOL. There’s nothing quite like getting the aircon special treatment!

Bill S.
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Bill S.

From the driving I have seen there, especially in Cebu, I find it hard to believe that they have any rules of the road there. If they do, I sure cant figure them out, since everyone drives,, like its a free for all, all the time, I dont know if I will even try to get a license there, and I sure wont get a motorcycle lic. there I dont think.

Scott Fortune
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Scott Fortune

Bill,

I have a driving in the Philippines article coming up. I agree, it’s crazy here. But, with some adjustments to your normal driving skill, you can drive here too. Patience, and expecting the worst case scenario is key though.

Oscar Russell
Guest

ok , but Ill never be able to drive in the city lol

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