Different Driver’s Licenses: How does one differ from the other?

Different Driver’s Licenses; how does one differ from the other?

You know full well what is of utmost importance before you get at the back of a steering wheel – an excellent understanding of theories on road safety, practical skills, and of course, a driver’s license. 

In your quest to get a license, you will be met with actually different types of driver’s licenses where one may differ from the other depending on restrictions, requirements, and purpose. 

It is then important to understand which type of license will suit you best. This article will help you figure it out by identifying the types of driver’s licenses, and let you know how to apply and qualify for each. 

1. Student Driver Permit 

See the source image
Photo credit: philhyundai.com

Every student needs a teacher to accompany them to make sure they are on the track, it is in the same light that an individual who has a student driver’s permit is only allowed to drive a vehicle as long as they are accompanied by a professional or non-professionally licensed driver. 

How to qualify

If you are 17 years old or above, literate in both English and Filipino, and physically and mentally fit to drive a motor vehicle, you are qualified to acquire a student permit. 

The requirements needed to apply are the following:

  1. A completed student permit application form
  2. Certificate as proof that you have completed the mandatory 15-hour Theoretical Driving Course (TDC) seminar.
  3. Proof of identity:
    • Birth Certificate and Marriage Contract (for married women) 
    • Any government-issued ID with the photo and signature of the applicant (original and a photocopy)
  4. Medical certificate from an accredited LTO clinic (Original and one photocopy)
  5. Electronically transmitted Certificate of Completion for 15-hour Theoretical Driving Course (TDC) issued by LTO Driver’s Education Centers (DECs) or any LTO accredited driving schools
  6. A Tax Identification Number (TIN)

A student’s permit is valid for a year and cannot be modified, revised, or renewed. After a year, you may now apply for a professional or a non-professional driver’s license. 

2. Non-professional license

See the source image
Photo credit: philkotse.com

If you will be driving a vehicle for personal purposes only, then this type of license is suitable for you.

A Non-Professional Driver’s License allows you to drive/operate motor vehicles with up to 4,500 GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight), may it be on manual and/or automatic transmission, as long as it is for private use. 

Some of the vehicle types that fit a 4500 GVW limit are sedans, minivans, pickups, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles.

How to Qualify:

When applying for a non-professional driver’s license, you need to be at least aged 18 years or above, physically and mentally fit, literate both in English and Filipino, and hold a valid student permit for at least 30 days prior to application

The requirements needed to apply are the following:

  1. A valid student permit
  2. A completed driver’s license application form
  3. A medical certificate from an accredited LTO clinic
  4. Electronically transmitted Practical Driving Course (PDC) certificate 
  5. A certificate of completion for the 15-hour seminar

3. Professional license

See the source image
Photo credit: ltoexamreviewer.com

This type of license is for individuals who have to drive commercial vehicles for a living, and those who have to drive large vehicles exceeding 4500 GVW, whether it is for private or public use. Heavy construction types of equipment are an example of motor vehicles that exceed 4,500 GVW.

How to qualify:

To obtain a professional driver’s license you will need to be aged 18 or older in order to apply, physically and mentally fit to operate a motor vehicle, and literate in both English and Filipino.

Another important consideration must be not being charged with 2 or more counts of reckless driving during the current validity of your existing license

Application may also vary depending on the Restriction Code that you need. 

  • If you wish to obtain a Driver’s License with Restriction Codes 1,2,4, and 6 – You must be a holder of a valid student permit issued at least 6 months prior to your professional license application. 
  • If you are already a holder of a Restriction Code 1,2,4, and 6 professional driver’s license this must be valid for a period of at least 6 months prior to application. 
  • For those applying for Restriction Codes 3, 5, 7, and 8 – You must be a holder of a valid non-professional driver’s license for at least one year prior to your application. 

DriveSafe PH has listed down and explained in detail the different Driver’s License Restriction Codes in this article: Understanding Your Driver’s License Codes and Condition Codes

The requirements needed to apply are the following:

  1. Driver’s license application form
  2. Medical certificate from any LTO accredited clinics.
  3. Valid student permit
  4. Electronically transmitted Practical Driving Course (PDC) certificate 
  5. Clearance from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the applicant has not been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude or reckless imprudence resulting from reckless driving.

4. Special Licenses

Philippine International Driving Permit (PDIP) 

See the source image
Photo credit: michiphotostory.com

Commonly referred to as an international driver’s license, this license is for individuals who would want to be able to operate a motor vehicle in another country.

A licensed driver from the Philippines may acquire this license at the Automotive Association of the Philippines (AAP) since they are the only agency authorized to issue such a document.  Application for a PDIP and renewal requires a valid Philippine driver’s license issued by the LTO, two pieces of a 2-inch by 2-inch ID picture with a white background, and a processing fee of P3,920. 

A Foreign Driver’s License to be converted to a Philippine Driver’s License

Foreigners who hold a driver’s license from their country of origin are allowed to drive in the Philippines for 90 days after their arrival. If they want to continue driving in the Philippines after that, then they need to convert their foreign driver’s license to a Philippine Driver’s License.

How to qualify:

An interested applicant must be at least eighteen (18) years old, physically and mentally fit to operate a motor vehicle, and literate in English or Filipino.

Applicants, foreign or local, must have been residing in the Philippines for at least a month and are planning to will stay in the country for at least a year from the date of application.

 The requirements needed to apply are the following:

  • Fully accomplished Driver’s License Application Form
  • Medical examination certificate 
  • Passport (original and photocopy – to prove the length of stay in the country, the applicant’s passport must indicate the entry date of at least one (1) month, and the visa duration should be at least one (1) year from the date of application
  • If holder of a valid Foreign Driver’s License:
    • Valid Foreign Driver’s License (original and photocopy)
    • Official English translation of Foreign Driver’s License from Embassy of the issuing country, if not in English. (original and photocopy)

Note that all drivers in the Philippines applying for a license are now required to take either theoretical (for student permit applicants) or practical (for non-professional and professional driver’s license applicants) driving courses.

Knowledge of theory and practical skills are vital to ensure the safety of everyone who shares the road because these serve as guides in decision-making. Drivesafe PH provides a theoretical driving course that helps you get acquainted with the rules of the road in the Philippines. Drivesafe PH is the 1st LTO Accredited Online Theoretical Driving Course Provider, a social learning platform that provides accessibility to Defensive Driving Education to future Filipino drivers who would like to take the first step on the Road.

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published.