Can a Driver Use a Photocopy of a Driver’s License While Driving in the Philippines? 

The driver’s license card issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is perhaps one of the most important documents a driver needs. It’s just like a passport that officially grants them permission to drive a motor vehicle or a motorcycle on the open roads. It requires regular renewal, too, as it does come with a 3-, 5-, and 10-year validity, depending on the licensee. 

The use of the LTO driver’s license is governed by many rules. One such rule requires drivers to have the license card with them at all times, much like a passport for international travelers. Though the LTO now offers a digital ID and a paper-based temporary driver’s license, the question about whether photocopies and scanned images of these types is legal to use remains. 

can a driver use photocopy of drivers license philippines

Using a Copy of Driver’s License

The use of the LTO driver’s license is governed by many rules, but even so, a lot of people interpret these rules differently. One interesting question that keeps coming up from among the licensees in the Philippines and abroad is the need to know if a photocopy of a driver’s license can serve the same purpose as the actual one. 

It may seem like a ridiculous question to ask, but it is indeed a valid one. So, can a photocopy of an LTO driver’s license serve as the substitute for the actual one? The short answer is: No. The driving regulations in the Philippines explicitly state that all drivers must carry their physical license each and every time they operate a motor vehicle or a motorcycle on open roads. 

Using a Laminated Photocopy of a Driver’s License 

If you are still wondering if a laminated photocopy works, then we’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no, it’s no different from a regular photocopy and is not a legal and acceptable substitute for a physical driver’s license card, even in cases of lost driver’s license. 

Again, we don’t usually feel the need to state the obvious, but here we go anyway: A laminated photocopy cannot serve as a substitute for your LTO driver’s license card, especially in cases of apprehensions due to traffic violations. It might even cause an additional violation if you ever present a laminated photocopy. In the Philippines, you need to have the real thing with you whenever you’re behind the wheel. A laminated photocopy is technically still nothing but a photocopy of the real thing and is not an acceptable alternative. 

Using a Saved Image of a Driver’s License in Lieu of the Physical Card

If you’re wondering if a saved image of an actual license card can work as a substitute for the physical one, then the answer is no. A saved image of the physical license card is bo different from a photocopy, so it is unacceptable for official use. After all, like the photocopy, the saved image would not allow traffic enforcers to verify its authenticity. 

Having said that, If an officer asks you to produce your driver’s license when you are operating a motor vehicle or a motorcycle, then you must immediately produce the physical card and allow them to take it in hand to examine it. A saved image of the physical license card just won’t cut it. 

LTO Digital ID

If you have heard about the LTO digital ID, note that this is a different license version and is bot referring to a saved image of the physical ID. The LTO Digital ID, otherwise known as the electronic driver’s license (eDL), and its use is detailed in a recent memo from the LTO, Memorandum Circular No. HAV-2023-2410. According to this, the LTO, along with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforcers, is now accepting this digital or electronic version of the driver’s license, thanks to the LTO problems regarding the shortage of plastic cards. 

The new LTO digital ID is an electronic driver’s license (eDL) accessible from the Land Transport Management System (LTMS) portal. It was designed to serve as a valid alternative for driver’s license cards while the agency resolves its problem on the shortage of plastic cards. 

With its rollout, the LTO digital ID can be used to replace the official license card, which is traditionally printed on a plastic card. It can also be used and presented to apprehending officers, though it comes with very specific guidelines. 

To use the LTO Digital ID, all you need is your mobile phone with data so you can access your eDL via the LTMS portal online anytime you need it. Do note, however, that just like the photocopies and saved images of the physical card, saved pictures and screenshots of your eDL is also unacceptable. 

For more detailed information, you can check this guide on the LTO Digital ID or eDL and its usage. 

LTO Paper-Based License

In lieu of the shortage of plastic cards resulting in a backlog in the issuance of LTO driver’s licenses, the LTO also announced that they will be issuing paper-based temporary driver’s license. This will be in the form of an official receipt for driver’s license printed on paper and will bear a unique QR code so the enforcers can validate whether or not the official receipt is legitimate. Unlike the other types, the holders of the paper-based driver’s license may take a photo of their permit’s printout and use it on the road, though they would need to ensure that the QR code can be clearly scanned for verification.


There is an innate difference between a physical license card, a photocopy of the physical license card, and a saved image of the license card. It is also quite different from the LTO Digital ID and the paper-based temporary driver’s license. Understanding the differences between these things would help you understand why the LTO implements the rules the way it does. After all, it is their job to regulate the drivers allowed on public roads in an effort to ensure road safety for everyone. 

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