Yes. Even if you work and live in another country, you can renew your LTO driver’s license through an absentee renewal. According to the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Administrative Order No. RIB-2008-011, s. 2007, Filipinos living abroad with valid Philippine driver’s licenses can now renew them through a representative. This representative will be the one who submits the documents on your behalf. However, the LTO will withhold the license card until you return to the Philippines and show yourself at the LTO.
If you intend to return to the Philippines within two years of your driver’s license’s expiration date, you can opt not to renew your license and instead renew it upon your return. Yes, you will get penalized, but they are minor compared to the hassles of renewing it through a representative. However, if you want to stay in another country for more than two years after your driver’s license expires, you must renew it or risk severe consequences. Driver’s licenses that have expired for more than two years (but less than ten) are still qualified for renewal, but you must retake and pass the theoretical and practical driving exams. Those whose licenses have expired for ten years or more are no longer eligible for renewal and must start anew and reapply for a student permit.
What are the Requirements?
The following documents must be presented in person at the LTO office when renewing a driver’s license by an authorized representative:
- Photocopies of Passport (first page, visa page, and pages indicating the date of the last departure from the Philippines and date of last arrival overseas)
- Special Power of Attorney (SPA) from the licensee to the LTO requesting the renewal and authorizing a representative to renew the license on his / her behalf. The SPA must be legalized/notarized by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate General.
- The applicant’s Photocopy of driver’s license and driver’s license receipt (DLR), (if applicable)
Applicants within the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila may apply for renewal at the License Section of the Central Office of the LTO in Quezon City. Representatives who are outside of NCR may apply at the field office of their choice.
Driver’s License Renewal Procedure
Here is the step-by-step procedure on how to renew a driver’s license of OFWs or Filipino nationals who are working or living abroad:
- Your authorized representative shall go to the LTO License Section/District Office/Licensing Center to submit all the aforementioned documentary requirements.
- The evaluator will check the documents for completeness and authenticity. After checking the documents, he/she will submit them to Window 1.
- The representative will now have to pay for the renewal and wait for the release of the Driver’s License Official Receipt.
- The releasing Clerk shall stamp the words “LICENSEE ABROAD. FOR THE PHOTO-TAKE WITHIN 30 DAYS UPON ARRIVAL” on the right side portion of the receipt.
Upon arrival in the Philippines, the license holder must present himself/herself within thirty (30) days to the same office where the renewal was made. He/she must present the following documents to facilitate the release of the driver’s license.
- Original copy of the driver’s license due for renewal
- Original passport -Present your passport along with one (1) photocopy of the passport (first and arrival pages);
- Medical Certificate– This is an electronically transmitted medical certificate in an LTO prescribed form (present original). Medical certificates must be issued by a facility or physician that is LTO-accredited. You can obtain a medical certificate a few days prior to your application date to save time and avoid excessive waits. The medical certificate costs between Php 400 and Php 450 and is valid for two (2) months as of this writing. No urine or stool samples are required because the medical exam will just check/measure your vision, blood pressure, and overall medical health.
- Original Driver’s License Official Receipt – Get it from your authorized representative who submitted the renewal documents.
- CDE Certificate – The exam can be taken online through the Land Transportation Management System (LTMS) portal or at Driver’s Education Centers located at select LTO offices. You can also take the course and exam at any approved driving school for a charge. If a candidate fails the exam the first time, he or she may retake it as many times as necessary.
1. Obtain a CDE certificate
You must pass the CDE Validating Exam to obtain a Comprehensive Driver’s Education (CDE) certificate. The CDE validating exam is available in person at select LTO Driver’s Education Centers or online via the LTMS. Go to the LTO’s LTMS Portal to take the exam online.
Note: You have to create an account in the LTO’s LTMS Portal to access the online examination. To create an account, follow this guide: How to Register to LTO Online System (LTMS Portal)
To pass the exam, you must have at least 13 correct answers out of 25 questions (50 percent rating) whether you are renewing a professional or non-professional driver’s license. The exam consists primarily of multiple-choice questions. Furthermore, the exam has no time limit and can be retaken immediately if you fail it.
If you pass the exam, you will be able to print your CDE Validating Exam Certificate, which you will need to present when renewing your driver’s license.
2. Secure a Medical Certificate
Obtain a medical evaluation form from window 1 (Approving/Cashier) and complete it. On this form, you will submit the required information and then leave the rest to the medical examiner. Proceed to a facility accredited by the LTO for a medical checkup. Here, your physical characteristics, including weight, height, and vision, will be recorded. The medical officer will document these details on the driver’s medical evaluation form.
3. Submit the Documents
Once you’ve completed the driver’s medical evaluation form, submit all the above-mentioned documents to Window 1. Your license information will be retrieved from the system by the personnel. The license details will be displayed to you so that you can confirm whether all of the information is still correct or if any changes should be made. If no changes are required, move on to the next step.
4. Biometrics and Photo
You will be directed to Window 3, where your fingerprints will be registered and your photograph will be taken. You’ll also be asked if you want to update your signature. You will then be asked to wait in the waiting area.
Wait for window 4 (Releasing) to call your name and hand you your renewed driver’s license. Once your license has been printed and is ready for release, you will be called to window 4 to sign the driver’s license release log. If you have no recorded violations from the start, you will be issued a license with a 10-year validity period.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about the process of renewing a driver’s license while being abroad as an OFW.
I have a valid international driver’s license. Is it legal to use in the Philippines?
Yes, you can use it for 90 days from the date of your arrival in the country.
Can I get my foreign driver’s license converted into a Philippine driver’s license?
Yes. No exams if valid. If expired, written and practical tests will be required.
Before I traveled abroad, I had a Philippine driver’s license. Could I use it once I arrived in the Philippines? Which license will I be using? My international driver’s license, or any Philippine driver’s license?
If both are valid, you can use any of the two driver’s licenses.