how to get a driver's license | Moneymax

As a new driver, there’s this indescribable mix of excitement and anxiety to take your car for a spin for the first time. But before you can drive, you’ll need a driver’s license.

Your license is your proof that you’re authorized to drive with a car. Driving without a valid license is illegal in the Philippines, and you will be fined ₱3,000 for that violation.

The driver’s license application process in the Philippines can be quite confusing for first-timers. Check out this guide on how to get a driver’s license so that you know what to expect and what to do when you apply for one.

What is a Driver’s License?

A driver’s license is an official, government-issued document that authorizes the cardholder to drive a motor vehicle in the Philippines. This identification card also functions as a valid ID for various transactions in the government and private sectors.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO), a frontline government agency under the Department of Transportation (DOTr), issues driver’s licenses in the Philippines. The agency is responsible for driver licensing and motor vehicle registrations in the country.

3 Types of Driver’s License in the Philippines

The LTO has three classifications of driver licensing: student permit, non-professional driver’s license, and professional driver’s license.

1. Student Permit

A student permit is a prerequisite for both professional and non pro driver’s licenses. Also called student driver’s permit, this LTO-issued document is a basic license authorizing a person to drive a vehicle accompanied by a licensed driver (whether with a professional or non pro license).

Who Can Apply for a Student Permit?

  • Filipino at least 16 years old
  • Foreigners at least 18 years and have stayed in the Philippines for at least 1 month and have proof of residence for up to 6 months
  • People whose license has been expired for 10 years or more and have no traffic violations
  • Individuals who are physically and mentally fit to drive vehicles
  • Individuals who have attended at least 15-hour theoretical driving lessons from any of the LTO-accredited driving schools

Student Permit Requirements in 2022

  • Valid ID
  • Birth certificate
  • PSA-authenticated marriage certificate (for married women)
  • Notarized parent’s consent to secure a student permit and valid ID of the parent/guardian (for minors)
  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic
  • Theoretical driving course (TDC) certificate (electronically transmitted) from an LTO-accredited driving school

2. Non-Professional Driver’s License

how to get a driver's license - new license card

Having a non-professional or non pro driver’s license allows you to drive private vehicles only. You may apply for a non pro driver’s license one month to one year after the issue date of your student permit.

In April 2022, the DOTr unveiled a new design for the driver’s license with a pearl white color, which looks different from the old bluish card. Ensuring its legitimacy, the redesigned driver’s license still keeps the license’s security features. The LTO has started issuing driver’s licenses with the new design.

Who Can Apply for a Non Pro Driver’s License?

  • Filipinos at least 17 years old
  • Foreigners who are at least 18 years old
  • Holders of a valid student permit, expired foreign license, or expired non pro license for over two years but less than 10 years
  • Physically and mentally fit to operate a vehicle
  • Ability to communicate in Filipino and English
  • Must pass the LTO examinations
  • Individuals who have completed a minimum of 8-hour practical driving lessons from any LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school

Non Pro Driver’s License Requirements in 2022

  • For applicants aged 17 years old, a notarized parent’s consent to secure a student permit and valid ID of the parent/guardian (for minors)
  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic
  • Original valid student permit
  • For Filipinos: Original and a photocopy of PSA-authenticated birth certificate
  • Additional requirement for foreign residents: Original and a photocopy of passport with entry date of at least six months from application date
  • Practical driving course (PDC) certificate (electronically transmitted) from an LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school

3. Professional Driver’s License

As the name implies, a professional driver’s license allows you to drive a vehicle for a living. Apply for a professional license if you’ll drive any public utility vehicle (PUV) such as a taxi, transport network vehicle service (TNVS), jeepney, tricycle, bus, etc.

Who Can Apply for a Professional Driver’s License?

  • Filipinos at least 17 years old
  • Foreigners who are at least 18 years old 
  • Holders of a valid student permit issued at least six months before license application, valid/expired foreign license, or valid/expired professional or non pro license (for certain restriction codes)
  • Must be a non-pro license holder for at least a year and have no traffic violation
  • Physically and mentally fit to operate a vehicle
  • Ability to communicate in Filipino and English
  • Must pass the LTO examinations
  • Individuals who have completed a minimum of 8-hour practical driving lessons from any LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school

Professional Driver’s License Requirements in 2022

  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic
  • Original valid student permit or non-pro driver’s license
  • Valid NBI Clearance or Police Clearance
  • Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
  • Birth certificate (for Filipinos) / Passport and visa (for foreigners)
  • Practical driving course (PDC) certificate (electronically transmitted) from an LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school

How to Get a Driver’s License in the Philippines 2022: Step-by-Step Guide

The process of getting a driver’s license is not as simple as it used to be several years ago. The LTO started implementing some changes to the driver’s license application process in 2021. Take note of these updated steps you have to take to get a driver’s license.

Step 1: Take a Theoretical Driving Course

how to get a driver's license - take a theoretical driving course

If you’re looking to get your driver’s license in the Philippines, you’ll soon find out that the LTO requires all first time applicants to take a mandatory theoretical driving course. 

This can be a little daunting for those who are not familiar with how to drive, but don’t worry, if you take the course seriously, you can pass the test.

What is a Theoretical Driving Course and Why is It Mandatory?

The Theoretical Driving Course (TDC) is a course program that you need to take before you apply for a student permit. LTO has implemented stringent policies for applicants to make sure that before they get a driver’s license, they’re fully knowledgeable about road safety and existing laws.

According to LTO’s Memorandum Circular 2019-2176,[1] Filipinos who want to apply for a student permit or a driver’s license must go through a 15-hour theoretical driving course. The program is supervised by certified instructors from LTO-accredited driving schools. 

Student applicants will learn fundamentals of driving, including traffic rules, violations, and other LTO special road laws. They should complete the program within two years from the start date of the course. 

TDC students undergo a written examination consisting of 100 items. The passing score is 80.

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What Happens After You’ve Completed the Theoretical Driving Course?

Once you’ve completed the TDC and passed the written exam, you’ll receive a Certificate of Completion, which you’ll submit together with other requirements to process your student permit application. 

The certificate is proof that you have taken the course instruction. It will have your electronically captured head shot, personal information (such as your full name, birthday, gender), and the issuance date of the certificate. 

Step 2: Get a Student Permit

To become eligible for a non pro or professional license, you should apply for a student permit first from the LTO.

This driving permit is issued to qualified Filipinos and foreigners who wish to learn how to drive. When testing your driving skills on the road on your first few tries, you’ll need to present this permit to authorities who might issue you a ticket.

A student permit will cost you around ₱300 for around an hour of processing at the LTO office. The one-year validity of your student permit is your time to practice and improve your driving skills.

Step 3: Enroll in a Practical Driving Course

how to get a driver's license - take driving lessons

After securing a student permit, the next step is to take at least eight hours of practical driving lessons from any LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school in the Philippines. 

After completing your driving lessons and passing a practical driving exam or assessment, you’ll receive a Practical Driving Course (PDC) certificate, which is a requirement for your non pro or professional driver’s license application.

Step 4: Undergo a Medical Examination

To get a license, you need proof that you’re physically and mentally fit to drive. Go through a medical exam (which will cost around ₱500) at any LTO-accredited clinics. Such clinics are located within or near the LTO office premises, so you can have your medical exam on the day of your driver’s license application.

You need If you get clearance from the doctor, your medical certificate will be submitted online to the LTO. You’ll also be given a hard copy of your medcert, which you’ll submit to the LTO for validation.

Step 5: Apply for a Driver’s License at the LTO Office

Go to the nearest LTO branch for your driver’s license application. Make sure to bring all the required documents to avoid any hassle.

Note that the LTO, like other government offices, implements COVID-19 health protocols[4] in all its offices under Alert Level 1, which everyone is expected to observe. These include the mandatory wearing of face masks and social distancing.

Driver’s License Application Process: 6 Steps for First-Time Applicants

1. Submit the requirements

how to get a driver's license - submit requirements

Approach the designated window and submit the driver’s license requirements for evaluation. The LTO officer will ask you to log in to your account on the LTO Online Portal for validating your details.

You’ll then be given an Application for Driver’s License (ADL) form,[3] which you’ll have to fill out and submit as well.

2. Have your biometrics taken

Next, you’ll be asked to go to another window where your fingerprints scanned and your photo taken for your license.

3. Take the LTO written exam

Proceed to the queue for the LTO written exam and enter the examination room once your name is called.

The written exam is actually a computerized online test consisting of 60 items (with an English or Tagalog language options). To pass the exam, you need to get at least 48 correct answers.

If you’ve failed the exam, the staff will tell you to come back the next working day (or any day at your convenience) to retake the exam and go through the entire driver’s license application process again (except for the medical exam, as your medical certificate is valid for two months from issue date).

4. Take the practical driving exam

If you’ve passed the written exam, you’ll then be asked to go outside the LTO office to take the practical driving test. Either you use your own vehicle (if you come with a licensed driver) or rent a vehicle in the LTO premises.

If you’ve failed the driving exam, you’ll have to come back to the LTO office the day after (or any day at your convenience) to retake the exam and go through the entire driver’s license application process again (except for the medical exam).

5. Pay for the driver’s license fees

how to get a driver's license - pay the fees

If you’ve passed the practical driving exam, proceed to the cashier and pay for the driver’s license card.

How much will I pay to get a driver’s license, you ask? The LTO charges the following fees for driver’s license application as of 2022:

  • License fee: ₱589
  • Application fee: ₱100

Note that the driver’s license application fees listed above don’t include the costs of medical exam and vehicle rental for the actual driving exam, which can set you back around ₱500 and ₱200, respectively. These fees are charged by third-party providers and not by the LTO.

All in all, the driver’s license application will cost you roughly ₱1,500. Bring at least that amount in cash, as LTO cashiers don’t accept other payment methods like GCash and credit card as of this writing.

Read more: Every LTO Fee for Car Registration, Driver’s License, and Violations

6. Receive your driver’s license

After making the payment, wait for your driver’s license card to be printed and issued to you.

Read more: How to Get a Driver’s License Faster Without Dealing with Fixers

How to Renew Your Driver’s License in 2022

One to 12 months before expiry, you should apply for renewal of your professional or non pro license.

The procedure for license renewal is almost the same with a new license application, starting with the medical exam. To renew your license through the LTO online portal, select “Renewal” as your application type.

Who Can Apply for Driver’s License Renewal?

  • Holders of professional/non-professional license that is not expired for over two years
  • Professional/non-professional license holders leaving the country and whose license is due for renewal within one year

Driver’s License Renewal Requirements

For license holders in the Philippines:

  • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic
  • Original professional/non pro driver’s license
  • Printed copy of your CDE certificate with at least 50% passing score taken from the LTMS online portal

For Filipinos living abroad:

  • Passport (first, visa, departure, and latest arrival pages)
  • Authorization letter for the authorized representative
  • Photocopy of license
  • Documents to submit to the LTO office within 30 days of arrival in the Philippines:
    • Medical certificate issued and submitted online by an LTO-accredited clinic
    • Original driver’s license
      • Original official receipt (temporary license)
    • Photocopy of passport’s first and arrival pages

FAQs on Driver’s License in the Philippines

how to get a driver's license - wait for card issuance
Facebook photo from TJ Reyes

1. Does the LTO accept online or walk-in driver’s license applications?

In areas under Alert level 1, LTO branches process walk-in applications only. You won’t be able to set an online appointment as of this writing.

However, note that some branches accommodate only a limited number of applicants per day. For example, the LTO San Juan Licensing Center accepts up to only 100 applicants daily and issues queue numbers before its 8 a.m. opening hour.

Slots get filled up as earlier than 6 a.m., so it’s best to arrive very early on your day of application, regardless of the LTO branch you’ll visit.

2. How long is the driver’s license validity?

Student permits are valid for one year, while pro and non-pro driver’s licenses in the Philippines are valid for five years (for first-time license holders and those renewing their licenses with traffic violations) or 10 years (for those renewing their licenses with a clean driving record).

The LTO has been implementing the 10-year license validity since October 2021.[5]

Under Republic Act 10930,[6] a 10-year driver’s license validity is given to non-professional and professional license holders who have never violated any traffic law, rule, or regulation within the five-year period. However, motorists with traffic violations will get driver’s licenses with only five-year validity upon renewal.

3. When will my license expire?

You’ll see your license expiration date on your driver’s license card’s front side.

How your validity period is determined depends on whether your license is issued before or after your birthday.

If you get your license before your birthday, the current year is included in the validity period. For example, if you get your license on July 10, 2022 and your birthday is on July 15, the year 2022 is included in the validity period (counted as 2022-2023-2024-2025-2026-2027-2028-2029-2030-2031). Your license will then expire in 2031.

But if your license is issued after your birthday, the current year is not included in counting the validity period. For example, if you get your license on July 10, 2022 and your birthday is on July 5, the counting of your validity period starts the following year (counted as 2023-2024-2025-2026-2027-2028-2029-2030-2031-2032). In this case, your license will expire in 2032.

4. Where can I enroll for theoretical driving course? How much does it cost?

LTO-accredited driving schools nationwide, such as A-1 Driving and Smart Driving School, offer online and face-to-face/classroom-type theoretical driving lessons for more or less ₱2,000.

Looking to save money? Fortunately, the TDC is now available at selected LTO-accredited driving centers in your region for free. As of this writing, you must first contact the center and schedule your class. Check the LTO website for the complete list of driver’s education centers in the Philippines.[7]

how to get a driver's license - free tdc enrolment

5. What is the coverage of Theoretical Driving Course and Hands-On Driving Exam?

Here’s what’s included in the 15-hour theoretical driving course:

  • Background and evolution of LTO and its role in development
  • Basics of LTO organization and functions
  • Processes of vehicle registration and driver’s license application
  • Traffic rules and regulations including traffic signs, signals, pavement markings
  • Special laws and administrative issuances established by the LTO
  • Hazard scanning recognitions and avoidance of road accidents
  • Functions and use of vehicle accessories
  • Parking techniques such as parallel, reverse, angle, and three-point turn
  • Vehicle safety and basic troubleshooting
  • Defensive driving, road safety and discipline practices

Students are given a copy of the Filipino’s Driver’s Manual and must complete the course instruction for not less than 15 hours. Previously, such a program would require student applicants to pay for it, and that would cost them more than ₱10,000. 

For non-pro driver’s license applicants, the hands-on driving exam covers safe driving techniques in different road conditions, densities of traffic, and weather conditions. Drivers should complete this for at least eight hours at any LTO or TESDA-accredited driving school. 

6. How to pass the hands-on driving exam?

The practical driving test can be a nerve-wracking experience, but there are some things you can do to make sure you enjoy it and make the most of it. Remember that the test is just an opportunity to show off your skills as a driver. Here are some tips to keep you going.

Tips to Pass and Enjoy Your Practical Hands-on Driving Test

Know your route

This may seem like an obvious one, but make sure you know the route of your practical driving test before the day of the test. This way, you can focus on your driving and not worry about getting lost. If possible, drive the route a few times before your actual test so that you are familiar with it.

Be confident

Believe in yourself and don’t let your insecurities and doubts get the best of you. Remember that you have already passed the written portion of the driving test, so you’re halfway there! Take a deep breath and relax—you can do this!

Stay calm

Self-doubt and anxiety can be your worst enemies on the day of your practical driving test. If you start to feel anxious, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you know how to drive. The test is just a formality and you’ll do great!

Focus on the task at hand

 focused while you’re driving. Don’t let your mind wander, and don’t get distracted by anything else going on around you. Keep your eyes on the road and focus on your driving. Most importantly, keep your hands away from your smartphone. 

Have fun!

Driving can be fun, so make sure you enjoy it! Don’t take the test too seriously and relax—you’ll be fine. Before you know it, you’ll receive your certificate with your name on it.

Final Thoughts

Driver’s license application and renewal in the Philippines have become more efficient nowadays because you can do most of the procedures online. Take advantage of the convenience and safety that the LTO online portal offers.

But always remember that before you apply for any of the three types of driver’s license, you should go through the new process—the LTO has introduced a mandatory theoretical driving course to help new drivers learn the rules of the road and how to safely operate a vehicle. 

After completing the course, for non-pro and professional applicants, you’ll need to take a practical hands-on driving test. 

We hope this information on how to get a driver’s license has been helpful and that you now have a better understanding of the process. Drive safely out there!

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