Over the past few years, the Philippines made the application for a driver’s license more rigorous and quite extensive to ensure that everyone is safe on the road, be it motorists, pedestrians, etc.
Drivers are now required to enroll in a proper theoretical driving course (TDC) and practical driving course (PDC) accredited by the Land Transportation Office (LTO). This actually makes sense, especially for new drivers to protect their brand-new cars, their friends and family, and everyone on the road.
The new processes might become comprehensive, but things are actually more straightforward once you know what to do. The best part is, that there’s no room for fixers and the chance of them scamming you.
That said, here’s a complete guide and everything you should know about getting a driver’s license in the Philippines.
Table of Contents
What are the types of driver’s licenses in the Philippines?
- Student Permit
- Non-Professional Driver’s License
- Professional Driver’s License
- How to get an LTO student’s permit
- How to get a professional or non-professional driver’s license in the Philippines
- How to renew driver’s license in the Philippines
- How much is the total fee to get a driver’s license?
- Things to know when getting a driving license in the Philippines
- Tips on passing the LTO written exam
- How to pass the LTO practical exam?
- Restrictions, Condition, Classification codes
What are the types of driver’s licenses in the Philippines?
Technically, there are only two types of driver’s licenses in the Philippines: Professional and Non-professional. The Student Permit, known by some as a student license, isn’t technically a license. You can check their descriptions below.
Owning a student permit is a requirement before you can apply for a new pro or non-pro license. You also need it before enrolling in a practical driving course.
Not a card, but a student permit is essentially a piece of paper that contains a couple of details about you as a newbie driver. An official receipt from the LTO is mostly printed on the back.
Student permit holders can be in the driver’s seat as long as they are accompanied by a pro or non-pro license holder.
Am I eligible to get a LTO Student Permit?
You can apply for a student driver’s permit if you are:
- a Filipino that’s at least 16 years old;
- a foreigner at least 18 years old, stayed at least 1 month in the Philippines, and with at least 6 months proof of residence;
- a holder of a license that has expired for at least 10 years and with no traffic violations;
- physically and mentally fit to drive;
- completed the 15-hour theoretical driving course at an accredited LTO driving school.
What are the requirements for Student’s Permit?
- Original and photocopy of one valid ID
- Original and photocopy of a PSA birth certificate
- Marriage certificate authenticated by PSA ( only for married women)
- Parent’s consent (notarized, only for minors)
- Medical certificate from an LTO-accredited clinic
- Electronically transmitted theoretical driving course (TDC) certificate from an accredited LTO driving school
Non-Professional Driver’s License
Holders of non-pro or non-professional driver’s licenses allow them to drive private vehicles.
Am I eligible to get a Non-Pro Driver’s License?
You can apply for a non-professional driver’s license if you are:
- a Filipino that’s at least 17 years old;
- a foreigner that’s at least 18 years old;
- holder of a valid student permit, expired non-pro license for over two years but not more than 10 years, expired foreign license;
- physically and mentally fit to drive;
- can communicate in Filipino and English;
- have passed the LTO written and practical exams;
- completed the 8-hour practical driving course minimum in any LTO-accredited driving school.
What are the requirements for a Non-Pro Driver’s License?
- For appointments created on LTO Online Portal: Appointment Confirmation and Official Receipt
- Fully accomplished Driver’s License Application Form (ADL)
- Original and 1x photocopy of original PSA birth certificate
- Original and 1x photocopy government-issued valid ID
- Medical certificate
- Theoretical/Practical Driving Course Certificate
- Notarized parental consent (for 18yrs and below)
- Original and 1x photocopy of a valid government ID of consenting parent (for 18yrs and below)
- PSA-authenticated marriage certificate (for married women)
- For foreigners: Passport with the following (original and photocopy): Entry date of at least one month; and Visa duration of at least 6 months from the date of application. Or, if born in the Philippines, submit a PSA-authenticated birth certificate (original and photocopy).
Professional Driver’s License
Holders of a professional driver’s license can drive vehicles meant for a living. That includes taxis, public utility vehicles (PUV), buses, tricycles, jeeps, transport network vehicle service (TNVS), and more.
Am I eligible to get a Pro Driver’s License?
You can get a professional driver’s license if you’re:
- a Filipino that’s at least 17 years of age;
- a foreigner that’s at least 18 years of age;
- has a student permit issued at least 6 months prior, valid/expired non-pro or pro license (for select restriction codes), valid/expired foreign license;
- passed the LTO exams;
- able to communicate in both English and Filipino;
- physically and mentally fit to drive;
- completed the minimum 8-hour practical driving lesson from an accredited driving school.
What are the requirements for Pro Driver’s License?
- Medical certificate from an accredited LTO clinic
- Original copy of a student permit or non-pro driver’s license
- Birth certificate (for Filipinos)
- Valid NBI or Police clearance
- For foreigners: Passport and visa
- Practical driving course certificate from an accredited driving school
How to get an LTO student’s permit
The whole process of applying for a student’s permit in the Philippines has changed recently. Before you can get one, you should have a 15-hour theoretical driving course certificate. You can check the whole process here.
How to get a professional or non-professional driver’s license in the Philippines
There are a couple of things you should remember before getting a driver’s license in the Philippines, whether it’s a pro or non-pro license. For one, you should first have a student’s permit, which you can’t get without going through a theoretical driving course. You should also have completed a practical driving exam. The rest are listed below.
Step 1: Go to your nearest LTO office and proceed to submit all your requirements for evaluation to the designated window.
To make things faster, you can book an LTO appointment online. Proceed to your designated schedule and jump to Step 3.
Step 2: Receive the Application for Driver’s License (ADL) form. Fill that out and submit.
Step 3: You’d be asked to proceed to another window to have your biometrics taken. That includes your fingerprint, photo, and signature.
Step 4: Proceed to the LTO written examination room. Some offices use the traditional method, while most of them are already computerized. The test consists of 60 items and you need 48 correct answers to pass.
Step 5: Take the practical driving exam with an LTO evaluator. You can use your own personal vehicle for the test, or rent a vehicle from the LTO office.
Step 6: Once you passed all the exams, you can now go to the cashier and settle the payment for your driver’s license.
How to renew driver’s license in the Philippines
The process of renewing your driver’s license is similar to the application for a new license. But since it’s for renewal, no need for theoretical and practical driving courses. You will start with the medical exam.
To start the process, you can head to your nearest LTO office or book an appointment using the LTO Online Portal (LTMS).
When can I renew my driver’s license?
You can renew your driver’s license 1 to 12 months before it expires.
Am I eligible to renew my driver’s license?
You can renew your driver’s license if you are:
- holder of a non-professional or professional license (not expired for more than 2 years);
- holder of a pro or non-pro license that is leaving the Philippines with license renewal coming within 1 year.
Driver’s License renewal requirements
For holders living in the Philippines:
- Original copy of your pro or non-pro license
- Medical certificate from the medical exam
- Copy of the CDE certificate taken on the LTO Online Portal with at least a 50% passing score.
For holders living abroad
- Password (visa, departure, and latest arrival pages)
- Photocopy of the license
- Authorized representative with authorization letter
- Medical certificate from the medical exam (to be submitted within 30 days of arrival)
- Original copy of the driver’s license (to be submitted within 30 days of arrival)
- Photocopy of first and arrival pages in the passport (to be submitted within 30 days of arrival)
How much is the total fee to get a driver’s license?
Just recently, the LTO has changed how you can get a driver’s license in the Philippines. To get a driver’s license, you should have completed a practical driving course, which you can’t do unless you have a student’s permit, which you can’t have until you’ve completed a 15-hour theoretical driving course. Each of those steps has its own respective costs, which we’re breaking down below.
Since there are a lot of variables, the prices we’ve provided are estimates. Personally, I’ve allocated around Php10,000 for the whole process (from driving school fees, student’s permit, etc.) but it can be much lower depending on which driving school you choose.
15-hour Theoretical Driving Course
New PSA birth certificate (if you don’t have one)
Student Permit Fee
Php1,000 – Php2,000
at least 8-hour Practical Driving Course
• 4-wheels, manual
• 4-wheels, automatic
Car rental for practical exam (optional)
|Estimated total cost||Php8,000 – Php10,000|
*The medical certificate you’d be getting from the medical exam is valid for 2 months. That said, if you’re getting your driver’s license less than 90 days after your student’s permit, no need to retake the medical exam.
Things to know when getting a driving license in the Philippines
Now that we’ve detailed the important details, here are the other things you should know about getting and owning a driver’s license in the Philippines.
How long is the validity of a driver’s license in the Philippines?
A student’s permit is only valid for 1 year while a professional and non-professional driver’s license is valid for 5 years. Upon renewal, your driver’s license can be valid for 10 years as long as you don’t have demerit points or traffic violations.
What happens when I fail the written and practical exams?
If you fail the written exam, you can go back the next working day or any day you choose and retake it. Although, you have to go through the entire process again — not including the medical exam, as the certificate is valid for two months.
The same goes if you fail the practical driving exam. You’d be asked to retake it on the next working day and repeat the entire application process sans the medical exam.
Where can I take my medical exam?
LTO has put up a list of accredited clinics. But chances are, the LTO office you’re applying in has an accredited clinic within the area or compound to make the process easier.
Where can I enroll in theoretical and practical driving courses?
Most driving schools have a tag saying that they are LTO-accredited schools. You can check if the school you found is accredited by visiting the LTO website.
Since both theoretical (TDC) and practical (PDC) driving courses are required, most driving schools are offering them as a bundle with big discounts.
Where can I download the driver’s license application form (ADL)?
You can download the ADL form, and all other LTO forms, through their website here.
Tips on passing the LTO written exam
The LTO written exam only requires basic knowledge of the road and driving (road signs, lines, basic laws, driving precautions, etc.). The questions are the same as the tests you’d take during the theoretical driving course, so make sure you remember them.
Alternatively, there are tons of reviewers available online for you to study and practice on. There’s also an LTO Driver Exam reviewer that you can download from your Android or iOS device.
How to pass the LTO practical exam?
- Bring your own car if possible: If you already own a personal vehicle, or if you can borrow from a friend or family member, it is best to practice on that one. Then, use that same car during the hands-on exam, so you’re already familiar with the vehicle. Also, this means you don’t have to rent, thus saving you a few hundred bucks.
- Stay calm and confident: It’s just a test, so don’t panic. A clouded head will never do you good, so try to stay calm during the exam.
- Bear in mind LTO’s scoring system for the hands-on exam, which is listed below.
How LTO scores the practical driving exam
Pre-driving check-up (10 points)
- Checking of tires and batteries
- Checking/adjusting/cleaning mirrors, windshield wiper, and light
- Checking hand and foot brake
- Disengaging clutch when the engine starts
- Use of seat belt and/or helmet
Driving skill (50 points)
- Engine control
- Speed control
Observance of traffic rules (40 points)
- Right of way to other vehicles
- Observance of stop lights, signals, etc.
- Observance or right of way for other vehicles, pedestrians, bikers, etc.
Restrictions, Condition, Classification codes
The LTO revamped the system of displaying the driver’s license restrictions and conditions. Here’s the updated list of LTO codes.
Driver’s license codes in PH
|B||up to 5,000kg gross vehicle weight / 8 seats|
|B1||up to 5,000kg gross vehicle weight / 9 or more seats|
|B2||Goods less than or equal to 3,500kg gross vehicle weight|
|C||Goods greater than 3,500kg gross vehicle weight|
|D||Bus greater than 5,000kg gross vehicle weight / 9 or more seats|
|BE||Trailers less than or equal to 3,500kg|
|CE||Articulated goods greater than 3,500kg combined gross vehicle weight.|
What are the condition codes on driver’s license?
|A||Wear corrective lenses|
|B||Drive only with special equipment for upper limbs|
|C||Drive customized motor vehicle only|
|D||Daylight driving only|
|E||Hearing aid required|
LTO vehicle categories in PH
|L1||two wheels with a max design speed not exceeding 50kmph|
|L2||three wheels with a max design speed not exceeding 50kmph|
|L3||two wheels with a max design speed exceeding 50kmph|
|Tricycles, Quadricycles, etc.|
|L4||motorcycle with sidecars with a max design speed exceeding 50kmph|
|L5||three wheels symmetrically arranged with a max speed exceeding 50kmph|
|L6||four wheels whose unladen mass is not more than 350 kg with max design speed not exceeding 45kmph|
|L7||four wheels whose unladen mass is not more than 550 kg with max design speed not exceeding 45kmph|
|Cars, Trucks, busses, and trailers|
|M1||vehicles that go up to 5,000kg gross vehicle weight with not more than 8 passenger seats|
|M2||vehicles up to 5,000kg gross vehicle weight with more than 8 passenger seats|
|M3||vehicles above 5,000kg gross vehicle weight with more than 8 passenger seats|
|N1||vehicles up to 3,500kg gross vehicle weight for carriage of goods|
|N2||vehicles exceeding 3,500kg gross vehicle weight for the carriage of goods|
|N3||vehicles exceeding 3,500kg gross vehicle weight for the carriage of goods|
|01||Articulated vehicle in either manual or automatic vehicle not more than 750kg gross vehicle weight|
|02||Articulated manual or automatic vehicle exceeding 750kg up to 3,500kg gross vehicle weight|
|03||Articulated vehicle manual or automatic exceeding 3,500kg gross vehicle weight|
|04||Articulated vehicle manual or automatic exceeding 3,500kg gross vehicle weight|
For electric bikes and scooters, you can check out the classifications here.
Driver’s License classifications
- NPL — Non-professional driver’s license
- PL — Professional driver’s license
Clutch restriction codes
- AT — Automatic transmission
- MT — Manual Transmission
These are everything you should know when getting a driver’s license in the Philippines. If you have further questions or you want to share your experience, let us know by leaving a comment below.