Getting my Foreign Husband's Driver's License in the Philippines

If I were struggling to re-create my identity back in my home country after being absent for more than a decade, I can't imagine how it must be for my husband.  Every time he was asked for a second identification card apart from his passport, he had no choice but to give his UAE driver's license that is nearly expiring. 

"Are you ready to apply for your Philippine driver's license?" I asked him a few weeks ago. He nodded and started looking up how to start the process.  Remember when I wrote about my own experience obtaining my foreign driver's license conversion at the Land Transportation Office a while back?  He went  through the same process as I did. 

After obtaining much research and preparing the required documents and copies, (Check requirements here)  we went to Land Transportation Main Office in Quezon City.  For foreign nationals' application, we were advised by a friend of my brother's who works in one of the south branches of LTO to head over to Quezon City.  I'm not sure if other LTO offices do process foreign applications as well. To avoid making a mistake leading to a waste of time despite its distance, we just followed her advice. 

Where is it?

It was a long commute for us. LTO Quezon City is located along East Avenue.  If you're taking the MRT Northbound train headed towards North Avenue, take GMA Kamuning station.

We circled Manila via LRT 1 all the way to Roosevelt Station to avoid the massive queues at MRT Station in Taft Avenue that day. We took a cab at WalterMart and a detour for a quick lunch in Maginhawa Street near Teacher's Village, thinking LTO is closed for lunch. 

Guess what? They're not. LTO is open during Noon. 

When we got inside the premises, we entered the wrong building first. The one next to the Chowking building is for application of transport registration.  We were directed to a much bigger building with blue painted columns.  The guard at the entrance was very accommodating and helpful, he directed us straight to Window 14. There's a central hall  with rows of waiting chairs on either side and a chapel at the center. The main hall is open and airy. A complete contrast to the one where I applied mine.  I'm glad we came here instead. There is good ventilation and the environment is pleasant.

They seem more strict as well. We hardly spotted any "fixer."  If there were any lurking outside the gates, they were not as aggressive as the ones in Pasay City.

We approached the window and we spotted the LTO officer who was preoccupied encoding information. When we told him that we want to apply for my husband's foreign driver's license conversion, he checked his passport and entry date.  We informed him that he doesn't have ACR (Alien Certificate Registration) but he intends to apply for both an ACR and a permanent residence visa.

We were told by the officer that it is mandated that the applicant's visa should be valid at least more than a year from the date of license application and he showed us their memo dated October 2015 of such rule.  We then explained to him that my husband's visa is currently under "Balikbayan Visa",  a free one year stay visa, this is an entry stamp valid for a year to foreign nationals married to a Filipina granted by an immigration officer under their own discretion at the airport on the condition that the couple present their marriage certificate and his Filipina wife be present with him upon entering the country.

My husband's  Balikbayan visa is expiring in September which gives him less than 6 months stay. He intends to start his permanent visa process very soon before his Balikbayan visa expires. We showed the officer our company's SEC certificate and documents showing his name as a stockholder  to convince him of my husband's long stay intentions.

We also mentioned that even if we start the residence visa application, my husband will only be granted a temporary one-year visa, not more, during his first year of application.  He will only be granted a longer one during his second application process  and he needs to drive soon.

The kind LTO Officer verified it with his colleagues after which, he returned with the good news. Yay, it's possible! :)

He was immediately given an application form to fill.  We were directed to get a medical certificate complying with tests such as eye and physical test.  This medical exam and certificate costs Php 200. The medical clinic is located on the first floor above Chowking.

After completing the form with his medical documents and requirements, we submitted them all back to the officer at Window 14 where he was given a number.  His photograph was later taken as well as his signature.  His name was then called at the cashier after 20-30 minutes of waiting. At the adjacent window, his name was finally called where he was handed his fresh and new driver's license.

The whole process took 1 and a half hours. The commute was longer  but it was all worth the wait. Victory dance. Yay!

Love & light,

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  1. Congrats on the license! I'm always interested to see how other countries go about seemingly "ordinary" things like getting a license!

    Stephanie ● Sartorial Diner

    1. Thanks Stephanie. :) Hopefully the rest of the processing goes smoothly.

  2. The paper business gives me creeps, I've recently had to take out a new ID and it took me all morning with a scheduled time.

    1. I hope all went well? The preparation in completing list of requirements gives me a shot of anxiety. After all the windows and paper business, did you feel like celebrating afterwards? I usually need a pint of cold beer or something refreshing after such a day.

  3. I am not sure why Cebu LTO is asking for the conversion of the code stated in the US driver's license.

  4. Hello! Thanks so much for writing up your experience - I randomly found this blog post when Googling how to go about converting my US license (dual citizen here) and found it really helpful. I also went to the East Avenue LTO (showed up at 7am, fearing a long queue, and found they were already open) and had my new license in hand in only 55 minutes, even including the time it took to go out and get the medical exam! - Roger in Hong Kong

    1. Hello Roger, thank you for your comment. Great to read that the process went smoothly for you.