I recently got my driver’s license from the Land Transportation Office in East Avenue.
The process is quite simple and, to be fair to the folks at LTO, fast and efficient. Here’s how I did it.
First tip, don’t go through a fixer. You don’t need one. Go through the normal process. It’s faster, simpler and less expensive.
You must first apply for a student permit to drive. This is quite easy. All you need is a valid ID and a birth certificate, I think. If you fall in line at the LTO by 9am, you’d have your student permit before 11am. Go get a form then pay the fees, then get your picture and electronic signature taken. It’s all quite fast. I think I just paid some P130, give or take. The student permit is valid for a year, enough time to learn how to drive.
Start practicing how to drive. Go to a driving school or get a licensed professional driver to teach you. You can only drive with your student permit if you have a licensed professional driver with you. Of course, when you know how to drive, you’d think this is a lame rule but it’s important still especially when it comes to making people accountable for accidents and stuff.
After one month of driving with a student permit, you can now apply for a non-professional driver’s license.
To get your “non-pro” license, bring your student permit and get two important tests done. Get a drug test and a medical test. These are the only other two requirements for a “non-pro”, aside from your 1 month-old student permit of course. To get the drug and medical tests, go to the compound across the LTO office in East Avenue. They have stalls there, parang carinderia, where you can get your drug test and medical test. The medical is just P80. This includes getting your height, weight and testing your eyesight. The drug test costs something more. You can get both for maybe less than P300 only. I got my drug test from High Precision (HP), big mistake, and it costs me P250. The whole thing will just take less than an hour. I would like to believe there are real doctors in those testing areas. =)
Having completed your tests, you can now go to the LTO to get your application form. After filling up the form, with the attached student permit and medical and drug tests, you will go to an evaluator who will take all your documents. Then you will go to a review area, where you will study for the written exam. They have a reviewer where all possible questions are written. You can get them either in English or Filipino.
After the review, you pay some fees then get your picture and electronic signature taken. Then you have your written exam. The exam is simple and is based entirely on the reviewers. The exam process is quite fast and efficient too. There are no cheat codes allowed too. The exam is printed in front of you, and examinees are seated alternately (so if you’re going in as a group thinking you’d be seated together, forget it). Some exam answers are already posted on the walls, especially those dealing with road signs. For a “non-pro”, you need to get 30 correct out of 40 questions. For professional drivers, you need 45 out of 60.
After your written exams, you wait for a few minutes before they call out your name and ask you to go to the practical driving area. There you pay the examinees P60 pesos. I paid P100 because they have no change.
At the practical driving area, you will be asked to drive a vehicle. It is recommended that you bring your own. Why? Because the LTO vehicle is a run-down owner-type jeep. I wasn’t able to bring a vehicle so I drove the jeep. It does relieve you of pressure though. Since you’re not familiar with the vehicle, it’s not entirely your fault if sh*t happens during the test. I saw one examinee bring her own car and still had problems driving around the test area. I survived the owner-jeep as we drove around only at first gear.
After the practical exams, you just have to wait for them to issue your license. It is done within the day. I finished my written and practical tests and payments between 9am and 12noon. There’s a lunch break from 12nn-1pm. I got my license at 2pm. It’s that fast. You get everything within the day. No fixers needed. Congrats to the folks at LTO for doing some good work.