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Can A Foreigner Drive In The Philippines?

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    Can a foreigner drive in the Philippines? A quick answer to the question is. Yes, they can. There is little information on the internet about this topic, but after some research, through various channels, and my own experience, we will share with you the things you need to know. The official website for driving in the Philippines is. has a great deal of information about licenses and divining but does not cover every question you may have, so in today’s article, I’m going to break down the complexity of the law into easily readable chunks.

    Can I Drive Without A Philippines Driving Licence

    Can a foreigner drive in the Philippines? The law states that you will need a driving license from your original country, and this license needs to be in English. There are ways you can translate your driving licenses, if required, into transcription, which will be accepted (This is normally performed at a local embassy). However, the costs to do so are covered by the driver.

    The next point to cover is that a foreigner can only drive in the Philippines for up to 90 days after they arrive in the Philippines. In other words, if you have been here for over three months, then you will need to apply officially with the LTO – Land transportation office.

    When driving in the Philippines for the first 90 days, I would suggest always carrying your local driving license from your home country and your passport or at least a copy. This is often needed if you are stopped by the police or sometimes if you reach a checkpoint.

    The basic stages of obtaining your driving license in the Philippines

    • Step 1: Submit an application
    • Step 2: Photo and signing for your application
    • Step 3: Pay License fee’s
    • Step 4: Written examination (Must pass to move onto the next stage)
    • Step 5: Practice driving test
    • Step 6: PDL card with the Official Receipt will be realized to the driver
    • Please Note: Exams may not be required if you have a full driving license from your home country.

    The process seems complex from reading but feedback and speaking to others, the process is actually fairly simple and quick both for the student permit and the non-professional driving permit, but this will depend on the day and also any additional requirements that they may ask for which bring me onto the next question…

    Are There Any Driving Scams In The Philippines

    Due to recent years, under the leadership of Rodrigo Duterte, corruption has been decreasing dramatically. As a result, there have been very few reports of police scams compared to neighboring countries such as Thailand. A small tip from me is to fix a dash on your motorbike or in your car. When I did this, I noticed in Thailand that the police would always let me drive past without needing to pay for the scam.

    If you are not familiar with this scam, the police will change you in Thailand even when you have all the correct documentation, and you are within the law. So I’m not sure if this trick would help you avoid any scams in the Philippines, but as I mentioned, there have been minimal reports of scams of driving scams in the Philippines.  

    How Can I Apply For A Philippines Driving Licence

    If you have passed your original three-month period, you are most likely wondering how to apply for your Philippine driving license. There are many different types of driving licenses for foreigners.

    The first stage is a student driving license or student permit. This process is very similar to the official driving license. The process for a student permit can be completed 60 to 120 minutes on average. After you have your student permit, you can apply for the next driving license type after 30 days, the standard driving license for drivers called the non-professional driving license.

    After 30 days have passed from your student permit driving license, you can get the standard non-professional driving license. To do this, you will need to go to the LTO once again and submit your application. Applications have requirements such as;

    Must be at least eighteen (18) years old
    Must be physically and mentally fit to operate a motor vehicle
    Must be able to read and write Filipino, English, or the applicable local dialect;
    Must be a holder of a valid SP issued at least thirty (30) days before the application

    With the LTO, there is also an extra piece of information for foreigners, which states…. “The applicant must have been in the Philippines for at least one (1) month with proof that he/she will stay in the country for at least one (1) year from date of application.”

    Are There Any Common Problems Applying For A Licence In The Philippines

    Can a foreigner drive in the Philippines? After speaking to foreigners who have applied or are currently applying for a driving license here in the Philippines, I found that many foreigners noticed a few different hurdles when applying for a driving license these were.

    • Not been accepted because there were on a tourist Visa
    • Not accepted because there are not married
    • Under 25 years old but over 18 and not being accepted

    My Advice: LTO Is just like BDO, Or Jollibee, or any other kind of business. They all have the same rules to follow but often operate slightly differently from branch to branch. You DO NOT need to be married or be on a special permanent visa to get a driving license in the Philippines.

    Often if you do face problems, this is due to a minor factor, and this can often be overcome simply by visiting another branch or speaking to a senior manager. However, many times, hurdles have been created simply due to communication issues or the wrong information being given. However, all these are simply fixed.

    Driving In The Philippines Tips

    • Anyone driving a motorcycle should always wear a helmet this includes the passenger.
    • Always carry some form of ID with you including any copies of insurance.
    • Illegal parking has been cracked down on in the last few years and as a result, more people are having their vehicles towed. This is still common, especially in more metro areas.
    • Don’t have more than 2 people per motorcycle. It’s common in provenance areas but is actually against the law.

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