Step-by-Step Guide: How to Get LTO Driver’s License

No matter where you are, particularly in the Philippines, owning a vehicle translates to certain responsibilities. If you’re driving, it means getting a driver’s license — be it a student permit, a non-professional, or a professional one. Please follow the tips we share below on how you can apply for an LTO driver’s license in the Philippines.

Just recently, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has been making waves after implementing a few changes to the validity period of the driver’s license and the requirements to get one. Regardless of whether these changes are good or bad, we can only hope it doesn’t cause “undue delay or hardship” as LTO promised.

how to get a drivers license in the philippines

In any case, we updated this guide with the latest policy changes from LTO to walk you through and help you with the most accurate step-by-step procedures to secure a driver’s license or a student permit from hereon. Let’s get started.

Driving permits/license tiers: Definitions and Provisions

Before we even get started with the process, let’s differentiate the tiers of driving permits that a person can get from the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

There are three tiers to the Philippine driver’s license and one has to go through each tier for a certain period before they can advance to the next. Depending on the need, each tier comes with different requirements, conditions, and limitations. To differentiate each from the other, let’s get you acquainted with all of them. Knowing what kind of driving permit you hold will keep you from getting into trouble with traffic enforcers and having to pay the resulting penalties.

The tiers of the Philippine driver’s license are as follows:

Student permit

This is the lowest of the three tiers, sometimes also referred to as the student license. It’s not a license per se. Instead, it’s more like a permit to drive a motorized vehicle, but only under the supervision of a driver’s license holder, whether non-professional or professional. First-time driver’s license applicants will need to apply for and hold a student permit for a month before they can move up the ranks.

Provisions of a student permit

Once you have a student permit in your hands, it means:

  • You should be able to drive any privately-owned vehicle in any destination.
  • You and any passenger you are traveling with are required to use the necessary safety gear: helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, seatbelt, etc. while driving
  • You may enjoy the perks of the student permit for a year from the date of issue.

Though the permit is valid for one full year, you only need to use it for a month if you wish to move up to the non-professional license.

Limitations of a student permit

Naturally, as a low tier license, the student permit comes with some very specific instructions about what you cannot do while holding this type of permit:

  • You are not allowed to drive without the presence of either a non-professional or a professional license holder.
  • You are not allowed to wear slippers, flip-flops or thongs as these are not considered safe, regardless of the type of motor vehicle you intend to drive.

Non-professional driver’s license

Right up the level of the student permit in terms of driving license tiers is the non-professional driver’s license. Holding this license means you may operate and drive a vehicle all on your own. You will need to stay in this tier for at least six months, if you wish to get a professional driver’s license.

Requirements for a non-professional driver’s license

When applying for a non-professional driver’s license, you are expected to:

  • Have a student’s license or even just the receipt as proof of your possession.
  • Good eyesight, as evaluated by an ophthalmologist. If you have less than 20/20 vision, you may still apply for a non-professional license, provided that you will use the necessary corrective lenses.
  • Pass the practical driving test.

Professional Driver’s License

At the top of the list is the professional driver’s license – the tier of driver’s license you’d typically go for if you intend to make a living out of driving. No one can go straight to this tier regardless of the length of time they have spent living with vehicles. You’ll have to at least go through either one or both of the other two tiers for a specific period before you can apply for a professional driver’s license.

Provisions of a professional driver’s license

A professional driver’s license grants the bearer the permission to drive a more comprehensive list of motor vehicles depending on their capability to drive them.

With a professional driver’s license on hand, a driver is allowed to:

  • Choose the particular vehicles to apply for.
  • Drive a wide range of vehicle types, subject to driver’s capability as indicated by the driver’s license (DL) codes.

For instance, driving a 16-wheeler trailer truck or a bus is different from driving a sedan taxi unit.

You will be allowed to indicate the restrictions that you intend to apply for. Depending on what these are, you will be given a practical test with each vehicle that corresponds to the code. Usually, a vehicle will be provided for the test drives at the LTO branch you are applying at; but if they don’t, then you will be responsible for providing one.

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Understanding the new DL Codes for non-professional and professional driver’s license

Each restriction in the professional and non-professional driver’s licenses translates to specific types of vehicles that the driver is allowed to drive. However, it is now defunct as the LTO already released new alphanumeric driver’s license (DL) codes that will replace the old restriction codes 1 to 8.

Let us examine each DL code and their respective subcategories:

DL Code: A

Type of Vehicle: Motorcycle

L1 – two wheels w/ maximum design speed not exceeding 50 kph
L2 – three wheels w/ maximum design speed not exceeding 50 kph
L3 – two wheels w/ maximum design speed exceeding 50 kph

DL Code: A1

Type of Vehicle: Tricycle

L4 – motorcycle w/ sidecars w/ a maximum design speed exceeding 50 kph
L5 – three-wheel symmetrically arranged w/ a maximum speed exceeding 50 kph
L6 – four wheels whose unladen mass is not more than 350 kg w/ maximum design speed not exceeding 45 kph
L7 – four wheels whose unladen mass is not more than 550 kg w/ maximum design speed not exceeding 45 kph

DL Code: B

Type of Vehicle: Vehicles up to 5,000 kgs gross vehicle weight (GVW)/ 8 seats

M1 – vehicles up to 5,000 kgs GVW w/ not more than 8 seats
B1 – Vehicles up to 5,000 kgs GVW/9 or more seats
M2 – vehicles up to 5,000 kgs GVW w/ more than 8 seats
B2 – Vehicles carrying goods ≤ 3,500 kgs GVW
N1 – Vehicles up to 3,500 kgs GVW for carriage of goods

DL Code: C

Type of Vehicle: Vehicles carrying goods >3,500 kgs GVW

N2 & N3 – vehicles exceeding 3,500 kgs GVW for the carriage of goods

DL Code: D

Type of Vehicle: Bus > 5,000 kgs GVW/9 or more seats

M3 – vehicles above 5,000 kgs GVW w/ more than 8 seats

DL Code: BE

Type of Vehicle: Trailers ≤ 3,500 kgs

01 – Articulated vehicle MT/AT not more than 750 kgs GVW
02 – Articulated MT/ AT vehicle exceeding 750 up to 3,500 kgs GVW

DL Code: CE

Type of Vehicle: Articulated C > 3,500 kgs combined GVW

03 & 04 – articulated vehicle MT/ AT exceeding 3,500 kgs GVW

In a nutshell, a driver will get a license with these DL codes printed at the back, signifying the exact type of vehicle they are allowed to legally operate or drive along major thoroughfares all over the country.

Updated LTO condition codes

Along with the new DL codes, the LTO also released new condition codes which will be noted during the practical driving test along with your ability to operate a vehicle. This aims to identify specific conditions which may or may not appear on your license depending on your needs.

Here’s the list of updated condition codes that the LTO uses:

Code: 1

Condition: Wear corrective lenses

Code: 2

Condition: Drive only w/ special equipment for upper/ lower limbs

Code: 3

Condition: Drive customized motor vehicle only

Code: 4

Condition: Daylight Driving only

Code: 5

Condition: Hearing aid required

Note that the LTO driver evaluator will be the one to assess if special driving conditions or special equipment must be used.

Applying for a Philippine Driver’s License

In a recent announcement, the LTO revealed that they have also started to roll out the issuance of a 10-year driver’s license for all law-abiding motorists. If you are looking to secure one, then here are the things that you need to prepare and do.


First, you need to ensure that you meet the LTO’s basic criteria to even apply for a driver’s license.

The basic qualifications listed by the LTO on their official website are as follows:

  • Must be physically and mentally fit to operate a motor vehicle
  • Must be literate in either Filipino, English or any local dialect
  • Must be clean, neat, and presentable (This means you can’t wear underskirt/sando, sports shorts and slippers during the examinations and the picture-taking.)
  • Must pass the written and practical driving examination
  • For foreign applicants: You must have proof that you have been residing in the Philippines for at least one month and that you’ll be staying in the Philippines for at least one year from the date of application.

Documentary Requirements

If you are eligible based on these minimum qualifications, then here are the documents that you’ll need. These requirements will vary, depending on the kind of license—a student permit, a non-professional license, or a professional driver’s license—that you are applying for.

Student permit

If you are looking to apply for a student permit, whether as a requirement for applying for a non-professional or professional license or otherwise, then these are the things that you’ll need:

  • An original and photocopy of your PSA birth certificate (to prove that you are at least 16 years old)
  • A duly filled-out Application for Driver’s License (ADL) form
  • For employed applicants: a taxpayer identification number (TIN)
  • For minor applicants: Written consent from your parents or guardian, plus a photocopy of their valid ID
  • Proof of completion of at least 15 hours of theoretical driving lessons from an LTO-accredited driving school (implemented since August 2020)

Note that a student permit is only valid for one year, and it cannot be modified, revised, or renewed.

Non-professional driver’s license

If you’re already 17 years old or older and have had a student permit for at least one month, then you are eligible to apply for a non-professional driver’s license. If you are applying for this type of driver’s license for the first time, then here’s a list of the documentary requirements that you need to secure:

  • An original copy and a photocopy of your PSA birth certificate
  • A duly filled-out Application for Driver’s License (ADL) form
  • For employed applicants: a taxpayer identification number (TIN)
  • For minor applicants: Written consent from your parents or guardian, plus a photocopy of their valid ID
  • A valid student permit
  • A medical certificate from an LTO-accredited clinic, and
  • A negative drug test result from a Department of Health (DOH)-accredited testing center and/or government hospital
  • For married women: PSA-authenticated marriage contract (original and photocopy)
  • For foreigners: Applicant’s passport containing the following (original and photocopy): (a) Entry date of at least one (1) month; and (b) Visa duration of at least one (1) year from the date of application

Note that the documentary requirements for applying for a non-professional license are generally similar to those that you need when applying for a student permit, but with a few additional documents. Plus, you need to pass the written and practical driver’s tests, of course.

Professional driver’s license

If you’re planning to drive any kind of motor vehicle and you’ve had a valid student permit for at least five months and a valid non-professional driver’s license for at least six months, then you may apply for a professional driver’s license. First-time applicants just need to secure the following:

  • An original copy and a photocopy of your PSA birth certificate
  • A duly filled-out Application for Driver’s License (ADL) form
  • For employed applicants: a taxpayer identification number (TIN)
  • For minor applicants: Written consent from your parents or guardian, plus a photocopy of their valid ID
  • A valid student permit
  • A valid non-professional driver’s license
  • A medical certificate from an LTO-accredited clinic, and
  • A negative drug test result from a Department of Health (DOH)-accredited testing center and/or government hospital

Just like the previous type, a professional driver’s license is now valid for ten years and it requires you to pass the written and practical driver’s tests.

Reminder: In the past, if you are looking to secure a pro license under category 1 (RC 1, 2, 4, and 6), you will need a student permit that has been valid for at least six months prior to your current application. On the other hand, those applying under category 2 (RC 3, 5, 7, and 8) must have a non-professional license held for at least 12 months. A pro license holder under category 1 who wishes to move to category 2 must ensure that their current pro license is at least six months old. The same provision applies though the restriction codes are now defunct and replaced with the new DL codes.

Application costs and other fees

Applying for any of the three types of license costs Php 100.00. However, depending on the type that you are granted, the additional fees are as follows:

Student permit: Php 317.63
Non-professional driver’s license: Php 585.00
Professional driver’s license: Php 820.26

However, do note that depending on the type of license you are applying for, there are other additional fees that you’ll need to pay. These additional fees may include fees for taking the examination, paying for a training course, securing a medical certificate, enrolling in driving school, and the like. That said, it’s best to have about Php 3000 to Php 4000 if you are applying for a student permit. For non-professional or professional license applicants, you’d want to have around P5,000 to P7,000 with you.

Step-by-step procedures in applying for a driver’s license

Following the many changes implemented by the LTO, the process of applying for a driver’s license has slightly changed. To guide you on the processes that you’ll have to go through, here’s a list of the step-by-step procedures to applying for a driver’s license:

  • Go to the Land Transportation Management System (LTMS) portal.
  • Log into the LTMS portal. But, if you are a new user, you may register for an account. For a complete guide on how to do so, you may check our previous article on How to register at the LTMS portal.
  • Once logged in, click “Licensing” on your dashboard, then complete your online application form.
  • After filling out the form, you will be asked to select the type of license you are applying for, the type of application, your preferred appointment schedule, and the LTO office where you want to process your application.
  • You will also see the different options to pay the fees online.
  • Once the appointment is secured and the application fees paid for, you will have a confirmed appointment at your preferred LTO office.
  • On the day of your appointment, go to your preferred LTO office.
  • Submit the complete requirements for application to the receiving personnel. They will assess your application and if you are eligible and your documents are complete, they will inform you if you are qualified for the next step.
  • If you’re applying for a license, you will either take the Basic Driving Theory Test for Non-Professional Driver’s License or the Professional Driver’s License Basic Driving Theory Test. Depending on the LTO office, this will be done through a computer or a written test. If you fail, you will have to retake the exam.
  • Once you pass the written exam, you will proceed to take the practical driving test.
  • If you pass through both exams, the Approving Office will approve your application.
  • Wait for your name to be called, then proceed to get your photo and signature taken and affix to your application.
  • In case you haven’t paid for the necessary fees online, then you may pay it at the cashier. They will issue a receipt, which you’ll need to keep with you.
  • Once paid, you may proceed to the releasing counter and wait to receive your permit or license. Upon receiving, you will have to write your name and affix your signature on the release form.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I still drive without a 20/20 vision?

Yes, you can still drive without a 20/20 vision. The assessor during your practical test will determine if there’s a need to add either or both Condition Code 1 or 4 on your license.

Regarding the upgrade from a Student permit to a Non-professional driver’s license: Do I still need to enroll in the Practical Driving Course (PDC) even though I already enrolled for the Theoretical Driving Course (TDC) when I got my Student Permit?

Yes, you will still need to enroll for the Practical Driving Course. This is different from the Theoretical Driving Course as the PDC will teach you the basics of practical driving. The fees will vary depending on the type of vehicle you wish to drive.

How would I know if I got the Professional or Non-Professional License? The new license no longer shows the license type.

You can check the back of your license card. The license type information is still there, but unlike the old one, it is no longer on the front side.

Things to remember

  • If you’re a holder of a driver’s license that has expired for 10 years or more, you are no longer allowed to drive and you are required by the LTO to apply for a student permit again.
  • Regardless of type, the driver’s license is usually released within the day, though this may vary depending on the office.
  • Failing the LTO Driving/Practical test means you will need to re-take both the written and practical exams at a later date.

How to Contact LTO

ICYDK, the Land Transportation Office, otherwise known as the LTO, handles inquiries, reports, and other LTO related transactions and issues, through various means. So, if you need to reach out to them, you may do so through the following:

  • Via the LTMS portal: Visit the LTO’s official website and fill out their Contact Us form.
  • Via phone call: You may contact them at their telephone number (632) 922-9061 to 66.
  • Via email: You may also send them an email at
  • Via the LTO Text Hotline Service: You may use LTO’s nationwide SMS service for drivers and vehicle owners by typing LTOHELP and sending it to 2600
  • By visiting the LTO office: For information, you may check this list of Complete LTO branches for the one closest to you.

Note that the LTO Text Hotline service is available during office hours on weekdays. If you avail this service after 5 PM, you won’t get any replies, but you will still be charged a Php 2.00 fee, as it is the fee using that service.

Final Thoughts

We know, starting to drive can be one of the most exciting ~adulting~ experiences. But before you start getting on that driver’s seat and hitting the road, we hope you remember that you need to secure a driver’s license. After all, driving is regulated for safety — both for the drivers themselves and those around them.

Remember: It is not difficult to get a license, but not everyone is qualified enough to drive.

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