Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Getting my license renewed a couple of weeks ago wasn't all that bad, except the photo printer at the LTO branch I went to was out of commission so, I had to return a week later to pick up my new license.

I went to the Manila North District Office of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) located at the old Automatic Telephone Exchange compound on Tayuman and Kusang Loob Streets in Manila, a block away from Bonifacio Elementary School on Ipil Street.

I could have gone to SM Manila wherein on its top floor is another LTO office that offers the same services, but I thought passing by the school where I spent six years of my young life would be a swell idea. It was. I had a good time reminiscing some of my elementary school years as I walked by slowly in front of the school.

Anyway, years ago, processing of driver's licenses used to take time because the applications filed in each of the LTO's district and regional branches had to be forwarded to the central office in Quezon City on East Avenue, before being sent back again to each specific LTO branch for applicants to pick up.

Another cause of delay back then was the packaging process itself which was made manually through laminated paper and cardboard, from which license cards were being made. These cards even posed problems as they were easy for the document wizards of Recto to create forged versions of.

According to a Manila Times article, the LTO now uses a card production system that enables any of its branch office to issue a driver's license promptly, at times within a 30-minute period or less. The technology was introduced by Mega Data Corporation and Amalgamated Motors of the Philippines Incorporated (AMPI) in 1992.

Besides being equipped with better security features, the system has also allowed the LTO to decentralize its driver's license processing operations; thus, one-stop license renewal kiosks have been established all over the country - such as in shopping malls and at various commercial centers -- making it very accessible to motorists to renew their licenses.

There are approximately 12 million driver's license holders in the country. Three million of which are renewed each year. And at an average renewal fee of P275, LTO certainly generates a substantial income for providing such services.

Drug test and medical examination establishments across from the LTO office on Tayuman Street

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Related links:

A Guide To Driver's License Renewal

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posted by Señor Enrique at 10:09 AM


OpenID sardonicnell said...

this is what i love about manila, whenever you need notarial svc, photo id, xerox copy, and even drug test. it's just around the corner, minsan nga eh nasa harapan na natin. hehehe!

i'm very glad to hear that it's much easier to get drivers licenses renewed, at may branch pa sa malls. that's neat!

August 20, 2008 2:13 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I used to dread the thought of having to go through the process of going to one of our government agencies because of the perceived red tape, Nell, but it seems that technology is indeed improving the way the government does its business with the people.

Yes, find any government agency and you'll also find right nearby establishments that offer services such as photocopying, notarial, and etc. Oh, I forgot, a carinderia, too ... hehehe. Amazing, isn't it?

August 20, 2008 3:22 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

I got my driver's license just recently---would you believe?

My LTO saga is worth a sitcom segment. But then, I won't tell because the management might get into hot waters again and be called to the main office in Manila if one of them reads my comment here.

Sometimes, I notice some drivers here don't even know how to turn their blinkers on for signaling. Kasi nga, andaling makakuha ng lisensiya! My husband said that in Germany, they would have to go through a battery of exams from the local community, regional and national licensing offices! So, it was my strict (!!) husband who was the one who taught me proper driving rules...not the LTO.

But this is good news for renewals! I hope I won't have to wait for 3 months to get it back...just as I had to get my non-professional license.

Thanks for the info, Eric!

August 20, 2008 6:16 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Although I don’t drive in Manila (out of fear to drive in such a hostile environment) I applied and got my Filipino driver license.

I wonder if those drug tests are useful and I wonder if any of those drug test labs are spending any money on my urine…

Even if there seems to be a CR “open door” policy so that you can’t bring urine from the outside nobody ever dared to tell me not to close the door behind me.

And what if you don’t take drugs a few days/weeks before you renew your license… ?

But I agree with you it is “quite efficient”. Took me just over 3 hours to renew my driver license… ;-)

August 20, 2008 6:30 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Well, my trip to the LTO wasn't totally uneventful, Bernadette. You see, I went there a couple of weeks ago when it had been raining constantly in Manila. The particular LTO branch I went to was near where I live so, I just took a jeepney and wore slippers in case I have to cross some flooded corners along Tayuman.

I wasn't allowed entry to the main office because of my slippers; I had to actually talk to three people to convince them to let me in. My argument: it has been raining and my shoes were still wet from the previous night's rain. I added that my general appearance was rather decent anyway -- Banana Republic khaki chinos, white polo shirt, and a red anorak. An LTO official looked me over and gave me a nod of approval. However, he suggested that I remained inside the building and not roam around.

Everything was fine until an irate woman rushed inside the main office followed by a security guard. The woman was wearing a pair of slippers. And just my luck, she saw me wearing a pair of slippers and pointed me out as example and on top of her lungs exclaimed why she wasn't allowed when, in fact, I was.

Long story short: an LTO officer relented and allowed her to pursue her business inside the main office. I was actually prepared to get booted out as well .... hehehe!

Anyway, a driver's license makes a very good piece of identification. It's worth having one.

August 20, 2008 7:25 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The very same thought came to mind, Sidney. It costs P300 for drug test and P100 for medical exam, but like you I wonder if anything was really done with my urine ... hehehe!

And you're right, although efficient it took them more than 30 minutes to process my application, I also have to return after a week to pick up my new license because the printer was out of order at that time.

Having a license is a good idea in case you have to drive at times of emergency.

August 20, 2008 7:28 PM  

Anonymous bertN said...

How often do you renew your license and does LTO require passing a written test to renew?

August 21, 2008 12:15 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The local driver's license is valid for two years, bertN, and no written test is required to renew it.

August 21, 2008 8:44 AM  

Blogger nerdluck said...

My own harrowing experience in the quest for a drivers license last year:

August 21, 2008 8:56 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Indeed, that was a harrowing day you had, Nerdluck! But I hope you finally got your driver's license.

August 21, 2008 9:09 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Eric, are you sure your driver license is valid for only 2 years?
Mine is valid for 3 years ! :-)

August 21, 2008 9:14 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, you're right, Sidney -- it's valid for three years.


August 21, 2008 11:37 AM  

OpenID bw said...

Good to hear that it takes much less time to get the license these days.

In the past, it used to take ages. I remember I got mine from an unthinkable place - Malabon, when I lived in Makati, just because a kumare's boyfriend worked at the LTO office in Malabon was a high ranking staffer there and I would be given preferential treatment :)

August 21, 2008 12:05 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Due to mounting complaints, the LTO was subjected to intense scrutiny by Pangulong Gloria a few years ago, BW; resulting to its methods and processes getting streamlined.

And along with the implementation of high tech systems and equipment, doing business with the LTO has become more democratized and less bureaucratic.

Gone now, too, are the "fixers" and the once much-needed "connections" just to get a license.

August 21, 2008 12:35 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if a blind person can still get a driver's license,bec. this is pecisely what happened years ago.Unfortunately,LTO is one of the govt. agency that I personally know that is so corrupt and inefficient.Processing license is better,but,making sure that only well trained new drivers are given licences is another matter.LTO's practical driving exam is non-existent.


August 22, 2008 6:07 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...


Missing in all this is the little information about how you for the first time from your long stay abroad secured or secured back your Philippine license.

This would be most helpful for us we are still out and may plan to secure back our old Philippine license.

I still carry around my old and expired Philippine license, 1980 vintage.

August 22, 2008 8:40 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I was one of those completely dumbfounded by the LTO actual driving test, IndioBravo ... it was nothing more than going forward and reverse within the LTO compound in less than a minute ... lol!

August 22, 2008 11:16 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Applying for a license for the first time like for myself, Amadeo, involved certain requirements like first getting a tax ID number, a sedula, and barangay clearance. I was then required to take a written test and a driving test. That's basically it.

And then it's just a matter of getting it renewed every three years.

August 22, 2008 11:21 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I wonder why nothing is being done to correct this practical exam fiasco...No wonder it's so dangerous driving in the metro.Shall we remind media to take a look at this again.


August 25, 2008 1:26 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Blogging about it is a good start, IndioBravo, as I have been doing as well with the horrendous ways that many of our motorcyclists maneuver their bikes in Manila -- as if in some computer game or something.

And you're right ... something has got to be done with improving the process of issuing a driver's license to first time applicants.

August 25, 2008 11:22 AM  

Blogger fernando said...

well, i've been to LTO camp aguinaldo yesterday i got so pissed because of their system. The doctor is out and no one even bother to post outside of the establishment that the doctor is out. Even the personnels there dont know what time the doc will arrive.

September 30, 2009 10:43 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is the passing grade of the written exam. at the LTO?

October 21, 2010 4:52 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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