Driver’s are not the same everywhere. There are, in fact, different types of drivers as categorized by the different classifications of driver’s licenses (DL). In the Philippines, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) regulates the drivers and identifies who can drive what vehicle through the different LTO Driver’s License classifications.
The different DL classifications exist so that the drivers of different types of vehicles can be categorized accordingly. You can get a certain class of driver’s license depending on your age, competence, the type of vehicles you can drive, how long you have been driving, as well as if you are driving for a living or not. Though the procedures for getting a driver’s license is generally the same for all types, there’s an innate difference in the driving tests and requirements, too. You can learn more about the different driver’s license classifications here.
What is an LTO Driver’s License (DL)
An LTO driver’s license is essentially a driving permit or a legal authorization expressly written in an official document confirming such an authorization, issued by the government (LTO, in particular) to an individual so they can legally operate one or more types of motorized vehicles—like motorcycles, cars, trucks, or buses—on a public road. These different license types are often made from plastic and take the size of a credit card.
The driver’s license issued by LTO also has different categories or classifications. Each type offers different levels of permission to drive. The type or class of driver’s license you can get highly depends on your age, competence, the type of vehicles you can drive, how long you have been driving, as well as if you are driving for a living or not. It also defines where you can legally drive a motor vehicle. Though the license application procedures are generally the same, there are different evaluation procedures, requirements, and fees for each class, and the difficulty of the driving test also varies considerably between DL classes.
LTO Driver’s License (DL) Classifications
There are several classifications for LTO driver’s licenses in the Philippines. As of writing, there are three types of driver’s licenses currently being issued in the country.
One of the most exciting parts of becoming an adult is taking care of things only adults are allowed to do, just like driving. In the Philippines, every driver is required to go through a “student” phase, the period when they need to secure a student permit and operate a motor vehicle in public, under the guidance of either a non-professional or professional licensed driver. It’s like the first step to take or the first level in getting a driver’s license, so to speak. For some, it is a rite of passage—one that many teenagers look forward to.
To secure a student permit, the interested applicant needs a notarized letter from either a parent or guardian (for minors), proof of identity (original and certified true copy (CTC) of your PSA-authenticated birth certificate with receipt or original and photocopy of your passport), and Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN). Of course, it’s a given that the applicant must be at least 18 years old, physically and mentally stable, and able to speak and understand English and Tagalog.
Non-Professional Driver’s License (NPDL)
Tired of being chaperoned in your own ride? Well, if you are of age and have survived a month on a student permit, then you can go on and secure your first government-issued ID card by applying for the Non-Professional Driver’s License. This license classification is designed for rookie drivers fresh out of the “student” phase as well as those who have no intention of driving a public vehicle or any motor vehicle for a living. It is the perfect license for those who intend to drive private vehicles that weigh no more than 4500 kilograms, including hatchbacks, pick-up trucks, or sports utility vehicles (SUVs).
To secure an NPDL, applicants must pass the written examination composed of 40 randomized questions by acquiring at least 30 correct answers. Other requirements include a valid student permit that is at least a month old, a medical certificate electronically transmitted from any LTO-accredited medical clinic, doctor, or if you are a military personnel, a valid AFP/PNP organic personnel ID and a negative drug test result from a DOH-certified drug testing facility, a clearance certificate from either NBI, court, or commanding officer (which applies only to medical personnel).
Professional Driver’s License (PDL)
However, if you are securing a driver’s license in the name of pursuing a career as a public utility vehicle (PUV) driver or a commercial driver in the Philippines, what you will need is neither a student driver’s permit nor a Non-Professional Driver’s License but a Professional Driver’s License (PDL). This is a requirement for drivers who intend to operate vehicles that weigh more than 4600 kilograms like bulldozers and other heavy construction vehicles.
To apply for this class of driver’s license, applicants must be at least 18 years old, has secured a medical certificate electronically transmitted from any LTO-accredited medical clinic or doctor or, if you are a military personnel, a valid AFP/PNP organic personnel ID, a negative drug test result from a DOH-certified drug testing facility, and a clearance certificate from either NBI, court or commanding officer (applicable only for medical personnel). Unlike the written examination for Non-Professional Driver’s License, a Professional Driver’s License requires you to secure a score of at least 45 out of 60 random questions which can either be in English or in Tagalog.
Other Driver License Not Issued by the LTO
Aside from the LTO-issued driver’s license, there is another type of driving license that citizens can acquire to be able to drive legally on public roads.
International Driver’s License/Permit (IDP)
An international driver’s license, otherwise known as the international driver’s permit (IDP), is a license issued to permanent residents of the Philippines who would like to be able to use their license to drive a motor vehicle freely on the roads of over 150 other countries in the world, except for Australia and Spain which allow Filipinos to operate vehicles with either their professional or non-professional license.
Unlike the LTO driver’s license, the IDP is only issued at the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP), the country’s biggest and oldest auto club committed to the general welfare of motorists in the Philippines. To secure an IDP, motorists applicants need to submit two (2) photocopies of their current driver’s license and two (2) 2×2 pictures with white background.
If you wish to secure any of these driver’s license, you’d want to take note of these tips and reminders:
- If it’s your first time to secure a driver’s license, you will need to start with a student permit before you can apply for the other classes.
- In Spain and Australia, regular LTO-issued driver’s license, whether Non-Professional or Professional driver’s license, can be used.
- Non-professional driver’s license (NPDL) issued for the first time is only valid for five (5) years.
- Holders of license with five-year validity must take the PME within 60 days before their 3rd birthdate from the issuance of their license.
- Those with a ten-year license, must undergo their PME before their 4th and 7th birthdays from the issuance of their license.
- For those who are securing an LTO driver’s license, you may do so via the Land Transport Management System (LTMS) online portal.
- Regardless if you are initiating the driver’s license in person or online, you will need a medical certificate electronically transmitted to the LTO by an LTO-accredited medical clinic.
Video: How to Get a Non-Professional LTO Driver’s License in the Philippines
For a clearer guide on how to secure an LTO Non-Professional driver’s license (NPDL), you may check out this video guide posted by It’s Ally.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some common questions and answers regarding the LTO Driver’s License in the Philippines:
1. Does the LTO accept online driver’s license applications?
Yes. Applications for an LTO driver’s license may be done online if you register an account on the LTMS portal. You might still need to visit an LTO office though, especially for NPDL and PDL as you will need to take the LTO exams before a driver’s license can be issued to you. You may also apply for any LTO driver’s license through any of the LTO branches nationwide, though you’d want to check first if you need an appointment or if they entertain walk-in applicants.
2. How long is the validity period of an LTO driver’s license?
Depending on the license classification, the following validity period may apply:
- For Student Permits: The validity period is one year.
- For first-time professional and non-professional driver’s licenses as well as those who are renewing with traffic violations: The validity period is five years.
- For those with NPDL or PDL with a clean record: The license may be renewed with a 10-year validity period as per Republic Act 10930.
3. Where can I find the expiry date of my driver’s license?
If you are looking for the expiry date of your driver’s license, then you can find it on the card’s front side. The validity period of your DL will also depend on whether your license is issued before or after your birthday. If your license was issued before your birthday, the current year is included in the validity period. Otherwise, the current year is not included when counting the validity period.
4. Where can I find the information on my license classification?
If you need to check your LTO driver’s license for the license class and DL code, then you can turn your license card face-down and look. The license classification information is in the back, unlike the old one which is on the front side.
When it comes to driving, it is imperative to consider the age, competence, the type of vehicles you can drive, how long the driver has been driving, as well as if they are doing it for the money or not. It is because these factors decide how well they can drive safely and if they deserve to be allowed on the road with a motor vehicle. After all, the main goal of issuing a driver’s license and having restriction codes added is to regulate the drivers by allowing only the responsible and roadworthy ones to ensure not just their safety, but also the safety of the people around. It is important to understand the difference between the different driver’s license classifications not only because there are varying processes of its application but also because the classification can tell a lot about how well the driver can keep the motor vehicles and the roads safe.