In the Philippines, a valid driver’s license from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is required to operate a motor vehicle on public roads. However, not all LTO driver’s licenses are the same. Depending on the type and purpose of the vehicle you are driving, you need to have the appropriate license classification. For instance, if you want to drive for a living in this country, you need to obtain a valid LTO Professional Driver’s License.
This article will guide you through the steps of upgrading your LTO Non-Professional Driver’s License to an LTO Professional Driver’s License. You will also learn about the required documents and the applicable fees for this LTO transaction. Let’s get started.
What is a Professional Driver’s License?
A professional driver’s license (PDL) is a legal document that grants the holder the right to operate a public vehicle in the Philippines. The Land Transportation Office (LTO) issues this license to eligible individuals who wish to earn a living by driving vehicles. Therefore, if you plan to drive a car, van, jeepney, motorcycle, or tricycle for hire or work as a company driver, you must have a professional driver’s license.
The process of applying for a professional license has become more rigorous than before, when a student permit was enough. You need to have a non-professional DL (NPDL) first before you can upgrade to a professional one. If your non-professional license has DL codes A or A1 (Restriction 1), you need to hold it for at least six months. However, if your NPDL has DL codes B, B1, or B2 (Restriction 2), you need to wait for at least a year before you can obtain a professional driver’s license.
Qualifications for Professional Driver’s License
So, who can apply for a professional driver’s license? To know if you are qualified, here are the qualifications you must meet before you can get a PDL from LTO:
- If you are a Filipino citizen, you must be at least 17 years old to qualify
- For foreigners, you must be at least 18 years of age to get a PDL.
- You must be a holder of NPDL for at least six (6) months.
- Must be physically and mentally fit to operate a vehicle.
- Must have no unsettled traffic violations
- You must know how to read and write in English, Filipino, or the regional language where you are located.
Requirements for LTO PDL Application
Here are the documents you need to prepare before going to LTO:
- A fully-accomplished Application for Permits and Licenses (APL) form. You can get it online or in the LTO office.
- A medical certificate from an LTO-accredited clinic. The clinic must electronically transmit the result to the LTO database. Secure a physical copy of the result for submission to LTO.
- Bring your valid non-professional driver’s license. You need to surrender this LTO upon the issuance of your professional driver’s license.
- TIN ID or TIN Number. Get this from the BIR-Revenue District Office.
Converting your NPDL to Professional Driver’s License
Once you have all the required documents, visit the closest LTO District Office or Licensing Center to submit your application. Avoid going to the Driver’s License Renewal Office (DLRO) located in malls, as they do not handle this type of application.
Follow these steps to apply for your PDL:
- Approach the guard on duty or the customer service desk and ask for an APL form. They will hand you a form and a list of the required documents.
- Fill out the form with the required information. Submit it, along with the other documents, to the evaluator window.
- The evaluator will check your papers for authenticity and to see if they are complete. If all is clear, they will send your application to the next step.
- Wait for the cashier to call your name, then pay the application/computer fee.
- Once you have paid the fees, go to the examination room. The examination method varies depending on the LTO office. Some offices use a pen and paper test, while others use a computer. It is a 60-item test, and you must get at least 80% or 48 correct answers to pass. If you fail the exam, you can retake it the next day.
- After passing the exam, proceed to the cashier to pay the licensing fees.
- Go back to your seat and wait for the releasing window to call your name and issue your brand new professional driver’s license.
If you do not have any demerits in your records, the LTO will give you a 10-year-validity driver’s license. The process may take up to 3 hours, depending on the number of applicants that day. Based on my experience with LTO, the least busy days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. You may also find it less crowded if you visit the office after 1:00 PM. However, this may vary depending on your selected LTO branch. If they have a daily quota, it is advisable to arrive at the site as early as possible.
How Much Is the Cost of Getting a Professional Driver’s License?
Here is the breakdown of the cost of getting a professional driver’s license from LTO:
|Change Classification Fee
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the frequently asked questions about getting a professional driver’s license in the Philippines.
1. Do I need to get a Practical Driving Certificate if I want to apply for a PDL?
No. You do not need to take the practical driving course again, as you have already completed it when you applied for your non-professional driver’s license.
2. Do I need to take and pass the Practical Driving Test?
No. You only need to pass the written exam, unlike the NPDL application, which requires both the written exam and the practical driving test.
3. Can I drive trucks, buses, and other heavy vehicles with my professional driver’s license?
Yes and no. You are now eligible to drive these heavy vehicles, as long as you have the necessary DL codes on your license. To know more about adding DL Codes (restriction codes) to your license, please check out this post: How to Add DL Code
4. Can I drive private vehicles with a professional driver’s license?
Yes. You can drive private vehicles using your PDL.
5. How much is the penalty if I am caught driving a for-hire vehicle without a professional driver’s license?
You will face a hefty fine of ₱3,000 and a demerit on your record.
6. I want to work as a delivery rider for Lazada, Shopee, J&T, or Grab Food. Do I need a PDL to get hired?
Yes, you need a valid LTO Professional Driver’s License to qualify for these jobs.
A professional driver’s license is a prerequisite for any job that requires driving on public roads. However, the application process has changed, and it now takes longer and costs more to get one. Therefore, if you aspire to make driving a career in the future, you should get your NPDL as early as possible. You can easily upgrade your NPDL to a PDL at the LTO, as long as you meet all the requirements and pass the exam.