If you want to have more freedom and flexibility to travel around the Philippines, you might consider driving your own vehicle instead of relying on public transportation or taxis. Driving in the Philippines can be a great way to discover the beauty and diversity of the country, from its bustling cities to its serene islands. However, before you hit the road, you need to make sure that you have a valid driver’s license that complies with the local regulations.
If you are a foreigner or an OFW with a driver’s license from another country, you can use it in the Philippines for up to 90 days from your arrival date. However, if you plan to stay longer than that, you will need to convert your foreign driver’s license into a Philippine driver’s license. This will allow you to drive legally and avoid any trouble with the authorities. In this article, we will show you how to convert your foreign driver’s license into a Philippine driver’s license easily and quickly. We will also give you some tips and advice on how to prepare for the qualifications and requirements set by the LTO.
Benefits of Converting Foreign DL into a Philippine DL
There are many benefits to converting your foreign driver’s license to a Philippine driver’s license, including:
- Legality: It is illegal to drive in the Philippines for more than 90 days with a foreign driver’s license. Converting your license makes it legal for you to drive in the country for as long as you have a valid visa.
- Peace of mind: Knowing that you have a valid Philippine driver’s license gives you peace of mind when driving in the country. You don’t have to worry about getting pulled over by the police and fined.
- Convenience: A Philippine driver’s license is a valid form of identification in the country. You can use it to rent a car, when using your credit cards, or when doing bank transactions.
In addition to these benefits, converting your foreign driver’s license to a Philippine driver’s license is a relatively straightforward process. You can do it at any LTO branch in the country (unless you are living in Manila).
Qualifications for Converting Foreign DL into a Local DL
To be eligible for a foreign driver’s license conversion to a Philippine LTO driver’s license, applicants must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have been in the Philippines for at least one month before applying.
- Have a valid visa for at least 120 days upon arrival.
- Be able to provide proof that they will stay in the country for at least one year from the date of application.
- Be physically and mentally fit to operate a motor vehicle.
- Be able to read and write in Filipino, English, or any local dialect.
- Not have any unsettled traffic violations.
- Pass the LTO written and practical driving examinations.
- Be a holder of a valid foreign driver’s license.
- Have passed the practical examination for applicants (foreigners and Filipinos) from countries operating right-hand drive vehicles.
- If an applicant’s foreign driver’s license is expired, they must also pass the theoretical examination.
Requirements for DL Conversion
To convert your driver’s license to a Filipino one, you need to prepare the following documents before visiting one of the LTO offices:
- Application Form for Driver’s License: You can download it or get it from the LTO office. Fill out the form with the required information.
- Foreign Driver’s License: You need to bring both the original and a photocopy of your Foreign Driver’s License, showing the front and back sides. Your license must be valid. If your license has expired, you will have to take and pass the written exam and practical driving tests before you can proceed.
- Tax Identification Number: Provide your TIN if you are employed here.
- Passport: Bring the original and photocopy of your foreign or Filipino passport (front ID page and Philippine arrival stamp page).
- Original and a photocopy of the visa or Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR), if you temporarily reside in the Philippines.
- If your foreign driver’s license is not written in English, obtain an official English translation from your embassy.
- Medical Certificate from LTO-Accredited Clinics: The medical certificate costs between Php 400 and Php 450 and is valid for two (2) months as of this writing. No urine or stool samples are required because the medical exam will just check your vision, measure your blood pressure, and ask for details about your medical history. After that, they will electronically transmit the certificate to the LTO servers and give you a hard copy of the medical certificate.
To avoid any inconvenience and long waiting times at the LTO, it’s advisable to make photocopies of all your documents before visiting their office.
What are the Steps to Convert a Foreign License to Philippine License
After securing all the needed documents, it is time to convert your foreign driver’s license to a Filipino one. Going online is the first step to ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience when doing this transaction. However, you cannot complete this process entirely online, as you will need to visit an LTO office to finalize this transaction. To guide you through this process, please follow these steps:
1. Create an LTMS Portal Account
Creating an LTMS account is a necessary step for this process. You cannot proceed without one, even if you go directly to the LTO office. They will ask you to create an account on the LTMS portal anyway. It is much easier to do this at home using a computer than on your smartphone or a smaller device. If you need help with creating an LTMS account, please follow our guide here: LTO Portal Guide
2. Go to LTO
If you live in Metro Manila, you have to go to the LTO Main Office in East Avenue, Quezon City, to process this transaction. You cannot go to any other LTO branch in Metro Manila or elsewhere. However, if you live outside of Metro Manila, you can choose any LTO branch that is near you to convert your foreign license.
Ask the on-duty guard where to start your transaction. At most, they will direct you to the customer service window.
3. Submit your Documents
The customer service personnel will instruct you to obtain a medical certificate first, if you do not already have one. Once you have your medical certificate, the personnel will give you an application form for a driver’s license. Fill out the form and submit it along with the other required documents. The personnel will then check your documents to ensure that they are complete and accurate.
If your documents are in order, the personnel will give you a queue number and endorse your documents to Window 5 (the verification window).
Depending on your citizenship status, the evaluator may inquire if you have ever had a Philippine driver’s license before. They will check your personal information in their record if you did. However, your record may have been erased if your driver’s license expired a long time ago.
4. Pay the Fees
Wait for your queue number or name to be called. Once it is, you will be instructed to pay the fees at the cashier window.
The following table provides a comprehensive breakdown of the fees you need to pay for your foreign driver’s conversion in the Philippines:
|TYPE OF FEE
|AMOUNT (in PHP)
Once you have paid the required fees, return to your seat and wait until your name is called.
5. Get Ready for the Biometric Capture
When your name is called again, proceed to Window 3 for your biometric capture. They will record your photograph, signature, and fingerprint data.
Freshen up, because it’s time for a mug shot! Make sure you look good, or you’ll be sporting that awkward license photo for the next five years.
6. Wait for the Release of Driver’s License
When they print your Philippine driver’s license, wait for it and then go to the Releasing window when they call your name. You may be lucky enough to get your brand new driver’s license on a plastic card. However, if the LTO branch where you applied has no plastic cards available, you will only receive a temporary paper license. Do not worry. You can use your digital driver’s license, which is available on your LTMS account, instead of your paper license.
The whole process may take around 2–3 hours, depending on the number of applicants that day. Based on my experience, LTO branches usually have larger crowds on Mondays and Fridays.
When you convert your driver’s license, you may be able to drive both a motorcycle and a car, depending on the types of vehicles you are authorized to drive in your home country. The Filipino driver’s license has restrictions that indicate the vehicles you can drive with numbers and letters. You can inquire about the vehicle restrictions at the assistance desk before you submit your documents.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the common inquiries about converting a foreign driver’s license to a Philippine driver’s license.
1. I am a Filipino; can I use my foreign driver’s license to drive in the Philippines?
You can use your foreign driver’s license in the Philippines for up to 90 days from your arrival date, regardless of your citizenship status. The same restrictions apply to foreigners, Filipino citizens, and dual citizens.
2. Do I have to surrender my foreign driver’s license if I convert it to a Philippine one?
You do not have to surrender your foreign driver’s license if you convert it to a Philippine one. You can keep your foreign license as long as it is valid. However, you cannot use both licenses at the same time in the Philippines.
3. What is the total cost of converting a foreign driver’s license to Philippine driver’s license?
The total cost of converting a foreign driver’s license to a Philippine driver’s license may vary depending on the validity and language of your foreign license. Here are some possible scenarios and their corresponding fees:
- If you have a valid foreign license written in English, you will need to pay PHP 785 for LTO fees and PHP 450 for a medical certificate fee. The total cost is PHP 1,235 or around USD 22.
- If you have a valid foreign license written in a non-English language, you will need to pay for its translation, which may cost around PHP 2,000 depending on your nationality. Add the LTO fees of PHP 785 and the medical certificate fee of PHP 450, and you will get a total amount of PHP 3,235 or around USD 57.
- If you have an expired foreign license, you will need to pay PHP 785 for LTO fees, PHP 450 for a medical certificate fee, and an additional fee of PHP 200 for the practical driving exam. The total amount is PHP 1,435 or around USD 25.
Please note that these fees are subject to change, so it is always best to check with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for the latest updates.
By converting your foreign driver’s license to a Philippine driver’s license, you will enjoy many benefits. For instance, you can have a Philippine-issued valid ID for many transactions. You will also be able to retain your foreign license and use it in other countries. Moreover, you will have more freedom and convenience to drive legally and safely on Philippine roads. Lastly, you will save yourself the hassle and cost of hiring a driver or taking public transportation.
If you have an eligible visa, I suggest that you convert your driver’s license as soon as possible. It is a simple and quick process that will make your life easier in the Philippines. However, you should always follow the traffic rules and regulations and drive responsibly and courteously. I hope this article has been useful and informative for you. Thank you for reading!