Conversion of Foreign License to Philippine Driver’s License: My Asawa’s Experience

Conversion of a foreign license to a Philippine Driver’s License. Something I don’t plan to do. My Illinois Driver’s License expired last year. My wife, who at the age of 40, obtained her first driver’s license while living in the States,  decided to have her Illinois license converted to a Philippines license before it expired next month on her birthday. The advantage of converting a foreign driver’s license before expiration? Don’t have to take any written or driving exams in the Philippines. That’s a huge plus in my books. 

Our Chevy Truck(Our Chevy truck in Illinois not long after my wife got her first driver’s license. OK, OK, I was driving and a deer hit our Colorado on the way to work about 5:30 in the morning. Just a little “husband humor” for you guys out there.)

We don’t even have a vehicle yet. Haven’t owned one in over four years. Don’t need one in Iloilo City where we reside.  For us, it’s a luxury. Not a necessity. But my spouse wants to be prepared for the day we move to Guimaras, where the traffic is far less.  In the rural mango province, a carabao is the main source of  traffic jams, must like bison at Yellowstone during the height of the tourist season. Bison crossing at Yellowstone

(Photo Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

I didn’t go with my wife to the nearest LTO, Land Transportation Office. She’s smart enough to handle such a mission on her own. In fact, having me along might prove to more hindrance than help. Patience isn’t my strong suit though I’ve lived in the Philippines over four years now.  That doesn’t mean I enjoy waiting in line but I can tolerate it better. 

At the beginning of this year, my asawa first informed me she wanted to have her foreign  driver’s license converted to a Philippine driver’s license before her birthday in September.

So if my wife wanted to have a Philippine Driver’s License, vehicle or not, that was fine with me. Over 13 years of marriage has trained me to automatically agree with my spouse the majority of the time. “Yes, dear,” rolls off my tongue very easily and automatically.

Occasionally during the year, we would pass the local LTO at Robinson’s and my wife would mention her desire to take care of the license, but many months passed before she took any definitive action.

My asawa had almost three weeks before her current Illinois license would expire, a huge amount of time for her. In her mind, she was getting the chore done very early. Me? If I wanted it done, I would have cared for it the first month we arrived in the Philippines.  

So while my wife was in the Robinson’s area the other, she checked by the local office to see if they could handle the license conversion. Said they couldn’t. Advised my wife she would have to go to the LTO in Jaro, Iloilo.  A jeepney ride away from us. So she went to the main office but not before asking me first what the requirements are. Here’s what I discovered.

Requirements for the conversion of Foreign License to Philippine Driver’s License per the Land Transportation Offices official website:

A. 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.
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.
4. Original copy of Medical Certificate with Official Receipt issued by an LTO accredited or government Physician. (Editor’s Note: What did this medical certificate entail? Where could one find an LTO doctor? That info will be revealed later in this post.)
5. Negative drug test result issued by DOH accredited Drug Testing Center or Government Hospitals  

(Editor’s note: Outdated. A recent law finally made it crime to drive drunk or under the influence of drugs in the Philippines. A Filipino Senator ruled that the new law nullified the requirement for a drug test. The LTO said it didn’t. The President sided with the Senator. The LTO Chief relented. My asawa did not have to take a drug test.)Drug Testing Facility at Robinsons in Iloilo

(Drug testing lab next to LTO at Robinson’s in Iloilo BEFORE the drug test was eliminated. No crowds outside anymore.)

6. Duly accomplished Application for Driver’s License (ADL).
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.

As my asawa approached the main LTO office in Jaro she asked the security guard where she could get the necessary medical certificate. The guard politely called over an LTO employee who informed my wife that the doctor’s office was located right across the street.

My wife walked into the office. She wondered what kind of medical examination would be required. A physical? The older physician that issued the required medical certificate merely took my asawa’s blood pressure. Asked if she wore glasses when she would drive. “No,” was her answer. “Take any medications? the doctor inquired. “No, only B-12 vitamins,” was her reply.

Charge for the certificate? 100 pesos, 2.25 US Dollars. My wife also informed me that the physician asked if I, her husband, had a pension, as he knew my wife was there to convert her license in the States to a Philippine Driver’s license. I asked my wife what that had to do with the issuance of the certificate?

My wife filled out the necessary application for the license conversion and submitted a copy of her passport and Illinois Driver’s License. An LTO employee called her over. Looked at her passport. Looked at her application. There was a problem. 

(To be continued)

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