We all start as learners before we become masters of our chosen fields. This is true for any skill, including driving. The Land Transportation Office (LTO) requires us to obtain a student permit first before getting a license so we can legally drive on public roads. This way, we can learn the basics of driving and the rules of the road under the guidance of a qualified instructor.
In the past, getting a student permit was easy. Just go to LTO, submit a birth certificate, a medical certificate, and a copy of your ID, and then you can get the student permit in a few hours. However, due to the rising cases of road traffic-related deaths in the country, the LTO has come up with a new guideline on student permit applications. From April 6, 2020 onwards, new drivers must undergo a 15-hour theoretical driving course program before applying for a student permit.
In this article, we will discuss this new guideline, the requirements, and the cost involved in getting a student permit online or in person in 2024. Please read on.
What is a Student Permit?
A student permit, popularly called a student license, is a document that allows you to learn and practice how to drive motor vehicles on public roads under the supervision of a licensed instructor. It is a prerequisite for obtaining a driver’s license in the Philippines. You have one year to master the skills and knowledge necessary to pass your LTO driving exams, as the student permit is valid for only 12 months. Moreover, the student permit is non-renewable, which means that if it expires before you get your driver’s license, you will have to apply for a new one and start the process all over again.
Who Is Qualified to Get a Student License?
To qualify for a student permit, you must satisfy the following conditions:
- You must be 16 years old or older.
- To qualify as a foreigner, you must be at least 18 years old, and have proof of stay for at least six months.
- You must be physically and mentally fit to drive a motor vehicle
- Must be able to read in English or Filipino
- Must have accomplished the LTO’s 15-hour Theoretical Driving Course
- No unsettled traffic violations
- Must have a valid email address
The LTO Central Office License Section in East Avenue, Quezon City, is the only place where foreigners residing in the National Capital Region can apply for a student permit. Foreigners living outside Metro Manila have the option to get a student permit at any LTO District Office or Licensing Office nationwide.
LTO Student Permit Requirements
If you think you are qualified to get one, prepare the following documents before applying for a student permit at LTO:
- Application for Permits and Licenses (APL) Form: Write legibly and fill out the form with the required personal information.
- Medical Certificate: Get this from an LTO-accredited clinic or medical facility. They will check your height, weight, eyesight, and blood pressure. If you pass it, they will transmit the certificate electronically to the LTMS and issue a physical copy of the certificate.
- If you are 18 years old and below:
- Submit a consent letter from one of your parents or guardians, giving you permission to apply.
- submit one original and one photocopy of any valid government-issued ID of the parent or guardian, with photo and signature
- Valid ID: Submit a photocopy of your valid ID, and do not forget to bring the original one for verification. Make sure the ID has a photo and signature. If you do not have a valid ID, submit a copy of your PSA-issued birth certificate. Remember, always bring the original one for verification.
- Theoretical Driving Course Certificate of Completion: It is issued by the accredited driving school, TESDA training center, or LTO Driver’s Education Center. They will issue a physical certificate and transmit a copy electronically to the LTO portal. Bring a photocopy and the original one when you go to LTO for the physical appearance.
- If you are a foreigner:
- Submit one photocopy of passport with entry date of at least one month and visa duration of six months from date of application
- If born in the Philippines: one original and one photocopy of birth certificate authenticated by the PSA
- Prepare a PSA-issued marriage certificate if you are a married woman.
Student License Application Using LTO Portal
The next step after you have prepared all the documents mentioned above is to apply for a student permit online. This will save you time and hassle compared to the traditional way. However, you still have to visit the LTO for the photo, signature, and biometric capture, as this cannot be done online. To apply for a student permit online, please follow the step-by-step procedure below:
1. Create an LTMS Account
Using a computer with a internet connection, go to https://portal.lto.gov.ph. You can also use a smartphone or tablet, depending on what is available. For more information about creating an account, please follow this guide: How to Create an LTMS Portal Account.
You must have an LTMS account before obtaining the medical and TDC certificates.
2. Log in and Select Transaction
3. Choose the Schedule and Pay the Fee
Fill out the LTO student permit application form online by choosing your preferred date and time of appointment and the LTO office where you want to apply. After that, choose your preferred payment method and pay the LTO fees.
4. Go to LTO
Go to your preferred LTO District Office or Licensing Office on your scheduled date and time. Make sure to bring photocopies and original copies of the requirements. Wait for your name to be called, then let them have your picture, signature, and fingerprints. After that, wait for the release of the student permit, then sign the release form.
How to Apply for a Student Permit in LTO (Walk-In)
If the nearest LTO is not accepting online applications, you can still apply for a student permit in any LTO District Office or licensing center. You will need to gather all the requirements listed above and go to the closest LTO office. You will also need to have an LTMS account ready, as this will speed up the processing of your application. An LTMS account is required for all transactions in LTO. This includes applying for permits and licenses, and renewing driver’s licenses, even if you are doing these transactions in-person.
- Approach the guard on duty or any LTO personnel, and tell them that you want to apply for a student permit. It is most likely that they will provide you with an application form and a list of requirements.
- Fill out the application form and attach the required documents. Go to Window 1, then submit your application form and documents. The evaluator will check for the authenticity and completeness of your documents. If everything is in order, he or she will give you a queue number and forward your application to the next window. He or she will ask if you already have an LTMS account. Give your registered email if you already have one. Otherwise, create an LTMS account.
- You need to monitor the queue screen, if there is one. The queue display will show you which window you need to go to. Most likely, it will be the cashier window. When it is your turn, you need to go to the cashier window and pay for the student permit. After paying the necessary fees, you need to go back to your seat.
- You need to wait until your number is called again. After that, you need to go to the biometrics window. There, they will take your picture and your digital signature.
- Wait for a few minutes, then wait for your name to be called at the Releasing window. They will release the student permit along with the official receipt. After receiving your permit, sign the release form.
This process will take around 2–3 hours, depending on the number of applicants that day. In my experience, it is best to visit LTO on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, as the lines are shorter during those days. If there is an LTO Licensing Center in the nearest mall, it is wiser to do your transaction there. When I renewed my license this year, it only took me 15 minutes to finish the transaction, which saved me a lot of time compared to doing it at an LTO district office.
Once you have obtained your student permit, you may enroll in the Practical Driving Course (PDC) at any LTO-accredited driving school. The driving school will issue a PDC certificate, which is required to obtain a non-professional driver’s license.
Reminders to LTO Student Permit Holders
- You are only allowed to apply for a non-professional driver’s license 31 days after the issuance of your permit.
- It has a validity of 1 year after the date of issuance, and you must renew it before it expires. If you fail to get a driver’s license two years after the first issuance, you have to apply again for a student permit.
- Remember that a student permit is not a driver’s license. If you are caught driving on public roads without the supervision of a licensed instructor, the authorities will penalize you and impound your vehicle.
Total Cost of Getting a Student Permit
If you are wondering how much it will cost you to get a student permit, here is a breakdown of the cost:
|Student Permit Fee
|Theoretical Driving Course (TDC)
These fees for the student permit are based on the LTO’s official website and may change without prior notice. If you obtain your Theoretical Driving Course for free at the LTO Driver’s Education Center, this cost may be reduced. You may also need to pay for other expenses, such as transportation, food, and photocopying costs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about getting and having an LTO Student Permit:
1. Can I drive if I only have a student permit?
You can drive a motor vehicle on a public road with a student permit, but only if you have a licensed instructor supervising you. Driving alone with a student permit is illegal and can result in penalties and impounding of your vehicle.
2. How much is the penalty if I am caught driving a vehicle alone?
You must always be in the company of a licensed driver if you are driving with a student permit. Otherwise, you will violate the law and face a hefty fine of ₱3,000.00 from the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
3. Can I get a student permit without attending a driving school if I already know how to drive?
No. According to the LTO, you need to complete a 15-hour Theoretical Driving Course (TDC) from an LTO-accredited driving school or an LTO Driver’s Education Center before you can apply for a student permit. This is a mandatory requirement for all applicants, regardless of their driving skills.
4. I failed to get a driver’s license two years after getting a student permit. Do I have to retake the 15-hour TDC?
No. The Theoretical Driving Course (TDC) certificate is valid for a lifetime and has no expiration date. Therefore, you can use it anytime to apply for a student permit
5. Can I apply for a driver’s license at any LTO office using my LTO Student Permit?
Yes, you can apply for a driver’s license at any Land Transportation Office (LTO) in the Philippines using your LTO Student Permit.
For example, if you live in Quezon City and obtained your student permit there, but you moved to Cebu City, you can apply for your driver’s license at the LTO office in Cebu City using your student permit from Quezon City. Just make sure to bring all the necessary documents and comply with all the requirements set by the LTO.
6. Can I use it as a valid ID?
An LTO Student Permit is a temporary document that is not a valid ID in most cases. However, some government offices may accept it as a form of identification, but only if it is in the orange card format. Though you will need to present another secondary ID along with your Student Permit.
7. I do not have a valid ID. How can I apply for an LTO Student Permit?
If you are still a student, please bring a copy of your school ID and your birth certificate from PSA. Always bring the original copies for verification purposes.
If you want to drive legally in the Philippines, you need to obtain a driver’s license. But before you can do that, you need to secure an LTO student permit first. This will allow you to practice driving under the guidance of a qualified driver and prepare you for the next level of licensing. To get your student permit, you need to complete a theoretical driving course, submit your application online or in person, and pay the required fees. The process is simple and convenient, thanks to the LTO LTMS portal. Getting your student permit is an exciting milestone, so make sure you follow the steps correctly and drive safely and responsibly.