The last thing anyone wants to do in the time of COVD-19 is to wait in long queues in a busy office for several hours to submit a paper application form. And that is exactly what you used to have to do if you wanted to convert your foreign driver license into a local one for a stay longer than 90 days in the Philippines.
In response to quarantine restrictions and the temporary closure of some of its physical offices during this time, the Land Transportation Office of the Philippines introduced an online portal on May 18th. This will help to reduce their backlog and make the application process easier and smoother for both local and foreign drivers.
What Is Required to Use a Driver License in the Philippines
A lot of visitors to the Philippines are perfectly happy using public transportation or services like taxis or Uber to get around. However, if you don’t want to be restricted by their limited range, it’s not too difficult to drive in the Philippines, especially if you’re just going for a short stay. Driving around some of the islands is really an ideal way to explore and to make sure you get to see everything you want to see.
Drivers whose holiday in the Philippines is under 90 days are able to use a foreign license to drive in the country for the same period of time, as long as it is printed in English.
However, those who not do have their license printed in English are required to have it converted into a Philippines license by the Land Transportation Office.
Foreigners who plan on driving in the country for more than 90 days are also required to obtain a Philippines driving permit from the LTO.
How to Get an Online Driver License for the Philippines
Until recently it was necessary to visit a Land Transportation office in person to obtain a permit before renting a car or motorcycle in the Philippines. It’s now possible to apply for a driving license for the country online from anywhere in the world.
The new LTO online portal can be used to submit an application on any smartphone, tablet or computer and provides 24/7 access to the agency’s services, significantly reducing waiting and processing times in local offices.
The LTO has developed the online portal alongside digital technology partner DERMALOG to include an Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) with facial recognition and fingerprint identification to protect against fraudulent use, as well as a secure online fee system which permits cashless payments.
Applicants are able to upload their documents supporting the application, select an appointment and pay the LTO fee exclusively online.
However, at the moment it is still necessary to visit a local LTO branch once the applicant has traveled to the Philippines to provide biometric information or take the driving exam, in the case of applying for a Philippines driver license.
Renewing a Philippines Driver License Online
In addition to the option to change a foreign driver license to a local permit, the new LTO online portal also allows users to submit documents to renew an expired Philippines driver license.
The process is similar to the online application for an initial Philippines license, and also allows all the necessary supporting documentation to be submitted electronically. However, applicants are required to select ‘Driver License Renewal Online Appointment’ when completing the form in order to choose the time and date most convenient for them to attend an LTO office.