Life in the Philippines: How to Convert Your Foreign Driver's License to a Non-Professional One

Do you know that you can convert your existing Driver's License abroad for less than Php 650? Yes it is possible and you can get your brand new Non-professional driver's license ID,  hot and fresh, the same day of your application.

I went to Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Paranaque, and I found out they were not doing conversions there.  The nearest one for me was the LTO Office along Domestic MIA Road in Pasay City. 

First things first, prepare everything. Here are the Non-Professional Requirements:
1. Original and one (1) photocopy of valid foreign license. If the foreign Driver’s License is not in English Language, the applicant should submit an Official English translation from the local Embassy of the issuing country. 
Don't worry, even if mine was in Arabic (Dubai Driver's License), they accepted it since there were english subtext on the card.
2. Original machine copy of valid passport showing the latest date of arrival in the Philippines of the foreign applicant.

3. Original and machine copy of valid visa or Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) if the foreign applicant temporarily resides in the Philippines.

Update: At the time of processing the conversion, my husband had balikbayan visa and he didn't have an ACR, it's a stamp  on his passport granted by the immigration officer at the airport upon entry valid for one year from the date of arrival. That is after presenting our marriage certificate to the immigration officer and having his wife present with him, he was given a one-year stay. Unfortunately, my husband's balikbayan visa was expiring six months later during his driver's license application so we had to discuss and prove his intent to stay longer at LTO. Apparently, they have a guideline which states they need a  visa that is valid at least more than a year, which was impossible to get since both balikbayan visa and the application for a residence visa are equivalent to a year and not more than that. The LTO officer finally agreed to give him his driver's license without the ACR.   (We're about to start our application process for his residence visa very soon).

4. Original copy of Medical Certificate with Official Receipt issued by an LTO accredited or government Physician. 

5. Negative drug test result issued by DOH accredited Drug Testing Center or Government Hospitals

There was a small clinic within the grounds where I got my eye examination and checkup issuing the required tests and medical certificate. 

6. Duly accomplished Application for Driver’s License (ADL). Download this form here
7. Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN), if EMPLOYED, (In compliance to Executive Order 98 & MC ACL-2009-1251)

If Foreign License is expired, applicant shall undergo written and practical examinations.

Venue: Any Licensing Center / District Office with DL Transactions

So what's next? Head to the Main LTO Offices nearest you. Outside the gates, I was swarmed by fixers. Keep walking and some might mislead you to think they work there and the one that approached me was offering it for Php 3000 to make the process easy after leading me from one office to the next to get my form filled, to which I declined.  

I wanted to process my license and very first document in this country the right and straight forward way. Guess what, you can get it done within the day.

1. Proceed to the Customer Service Counter to get your checklist of requirements and secure a Driver’s License Application Form. (This form is available for download here. You can accomplish this form prior to transacting your business at the LTO.) Get a queue number and wait for your number to be called.
2. When your number is called, proceed to evaluator counter and submit all the required documents and have it checked for completeness and authenticity. 

3. Proceed to the Photo taking /Signature Area to have your picture and signature taken when your name is called.

4. Proceed to the Cashier when your name is called to pay the application fee.  When your foreign license is valid, skip and proceed to step no. 7

5. Proceed to the Examination Room for the lecture and written exam. 

6. After passing the written examination, wait for your name to be called for the practical exam. 

7. After passing the practical examination, proceed to the Cashier when your name is called for payment of necessary fees and obtain an Official Receipt.

8. Proceed to the Releasing Counter, present the Official Receipt and claim the Card type License. 

The staff behind the LTO counter were professional and were doing their job the fastest possible. 


The Professional license are used for commercial purposes and can drive almost any type of vehicle within the country including ones that weigh more than 4600 kg or more. Having said this, there are more requirements apart from above such as:

-Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN) (In compliance to Executive Order 98 & MC No. ACL-2009-1251)
- Police or NBI or Fiscal’s Clearance and Working Permit or Certificate of Exemption from DOLE

- Must have passed the written and practical examinations.

Once my required documents were ready after completing the Step 1 procedure by 10AM, I left at 1PM. I missed lunch, but I just wanted to get it over and done with.  The waiting area in the middle of summer was really hot. There were large fans but due to the large number of applicants, we were cramped in a sauna-like room.

Yay! Congratulations. I literally kissed my newly printed driver's license as soon as I got it.

Extra tip: Wear light make-up and bring mirror, comb and anything for touch-ups that are handy before your photo taking session. Bring a paper fan too.  Wear something light and comfy but compliant with government offices' dress code. 

Note: Please refer to  Land Transportation Office (LTO) page for fees. They are subject to change. These were the fees at the time of publishing this post. 

Update:  The 5-year driver's license cards at the time of this update have not been rolled out yet. They were supposed to be distributed in August 2017, but I was told it would be pushed later to October. Let's see.

So what you will get would be a temporary driver's license on paper with a 5-year validity and according to some, a 3-year driver's license card.  I say some, because I haven't received my 3 year card yet during renewal.

My take on this? Simple things need not be complicated.  Since expiry dates vary for each card and are encoded individually anyway, existing cards can be re-used for the  5-year validity purpose. Function and efficiency serve more beneficial over newly designed cards that would take more than a year to implement. 

All the best of luck. Enjoy the process.
Happy queueing :)
Love & light,

You Might Also Like


  1. sounds oh so complicated! But such are those bureaucratic things!

    1. You hit the nail on the head, Dezzy. Surprisingly, this is the most straightforward and easiest procedure I have encountered compared to other documents. It makes me wonder which is more bureaucratic, France or the Philippines. Sigh, most government agencies here are always one step ahead in making everything more complicated than they should be, while extracting money from the tax payer in the process. Being repatriates we have no choice but to embrace the bureaucratic way of things.

  2. Do you really need an ACR? Especially if you are like given a BalikBayan visa

    1. My husband is on BalikBayan visa too. You have about 90 days from the date of your arrival where you can use your foreign driver's license here in the Philippines. If it's in a foreign language, a translation is required. However, my husband hasn't tried applying for a Philippine Driver's License conversion, but there might be ways to obtain one if you do prove your intent to stay longer in the Philippines. Though a lot of people do mention being a 'resident' is a requirement, it all depends on the LTO nearest you.

    2. Hello, a quick update : my husband who is on balikbayan visa without an ACR just applied for his driver's license yesterday and he finally got it after discussing and convincing the LTO Officer at the Main Office in QC of his intent to apply for a permanent residence visa ,hence staying longer in the country.

  3. Hi Armi thanks for your blog. Do you think we can apply for NBI clearance in Pampanga as well or only in the main branch in Manila?

    1. Hi There, if you're a Filipino, yes by all means, NBI Clearance can be obtained at the regional NBI office in San Fernando. If you're a foreigner, I'm not sure. At best, if you are a non-Filipino, you'll have a priority/ special queue at the NBI Main Branch in United Nations Manila. Either way, just make sure you have filled in an NBI Clearance Form online. Would love to hear about your experience if you do manage to get one from Pampanga. All the best!