Most foreign visitors to the Philippines can use their own country driving licence for three months after that they have to get a local driving licence. However, every time you leave the country and come back the clock starts again.
Most of the time, you can buy your insurance at the Land Transportation Office (LTO)office in cash.
It costs about 2,000 pesos per year (around €115). You pay in advance for the whole year and no cancellation or refunds are allowed. Having a basic third-party insurance is the cheapest Philippines auto insurance plan. You can always extend your insurance, think about collision cover, uninsured motorists insurance etc. Driving without an insurance is considered a serious crime, resulting in severe penalties.
The term “comprehensive” is used for covering almost everything. This includes “collision and upset”, physical damage other than collision, loss by theft, fire, flood and in most cases, extended liability.This insurance is bought separately, from any agent you choose, and it costs more.
The following are six major car insurance providers:
- Prudential Guarantee, offering auto, car and medical insurances.
- BPI MS Insurance, offering auto, car and travel insurances.
- Mapfre Insular, offering car and business insurances.
- Malayan Insurance, offering car, fire and marine insurances.
- UCPB GEN , offering fire, engineering, marine, motor, cars, accident, liability and casualty insurances.
- Standard Insurance offering car, auto, motorcycle, breakdown, marine and liability insurances.
You have to decide which one suits your needs the best. We suggest that you take a look at their websites or contact them directly to fully explore your options.
Compulsory Third party Liability (CTPL) insurance is required of all vehicles at annual registration time. In order to get your first set of license plates or to start your annual registration renewal process (get new stickers for your plates and windshield), you have to produce an Official Receipt (OR) for a new, fully paid for CTPL policy at the renewal window.
Typically you buy the insurance right there at the LTO complex, in cash.
If you have a collision with another vehicle, your insurance covers the cost of injuries you and your passengers suffer, while the other driver’s insurance covers his losses … it doesn’t matter who is at fault … hence the typical “No Fault” terminology.
If you run over a pedestrian, or knock down a bicyclist, or knock down someone’s fence, they then can also recover damages from your policy.
All registered vehicles should have this mandatory insurance, and it is your “first line of defense”. Limits however are low, and this insurance doesn’t cover damage to your own vehicle.
Here in the Philippines the term “comprehensive” is used in its proper dictionary meaning … comprehensive meaning covering everything .. or almost everything.
This includes “collision and upset”, physical damage other than collision, loss by theft, fire, flood (check your policy before you buy) and in most cases, extended liability.
This insurance is bought separately, from any agent you choose, and it costs more.
If in the Philippines, you want a drivers license you have to apply to the LTO. LTO is the LAND TRANSPORT OFFICE
As a foreigner you’re probably wondering what an LTO certificate is for and why would you need one? Well, if you’re planning on obtaining a driver’s license in other countries, this is your proof of how long you’ve been driving.
In other developed countries, before you can get a full driver’s license and you need to be driving for a certain amount of time to gain experience. Which is just appropriate since you will be driving in high speeds along with other vehicles. Because driving in the Philippines is so different from driving in disciplined countries, they don’t allow foreigners to convert the license to their own just like that, so they need to take tests again and give them proof that they are already an experienced driver, hence the LTO certificate.
It’s not a good indicator for driving experience though since you can easily get a driver’s license without actually doing any driving..
How you can get a DFA-authenticated LTO Certificate and it’s surprisingly easy.
There’s the LTO part (15 minutes) and the DFA part (30 minutes) and it costs Php200 for each certificate.
- Go to an LTO Office and
- Present a photocopy of your driver’s license and OR, along with the filled-up form so they can verify it.
- After a few minutes, they will call your name to hand you back your form and license.
- After a few minutes, you will be handed a stub you need to bring to DFA after 1 week.
After one week…
- Go to DFA – Bring a valid ID. If you will be getting somebody else’s certificate, you need a letter of authorization and a copy of their valid ID.
- Find the correct person to speak to
- Pay Php100 at the cashier and bring back the OR to the previous window. After a few minutes, your name will be called again and you will be handed your DFA-authenticated LTO certificate.
That’s it. I normally despise dealing with government offices but in this case, everything went fast and smooth unlike other inefficient agencies.
Regarding the driving test well that is another story.
A few years ago I my friend from the UK has been staying with me in Davao City. Its true to say that when he purchased a motorbike from a friend and owner of a motorbike shop here in Davao City, I was suspicious of the anomalies in the paperwork, as the six month old second hand bike with one previous owner seemed to have had a two year “missing history” when you tried to match the LTO paperwork.
LTO said the bike would have to “pass” a physical check to sell, this was done at another location in Davao
Anyway being the legal owner, it was not long before this bike became homesick, it always wanted to go back to the garage every two or three weeks for “small” repairs, this went on and on, no sooner was the bike roadworthy then it would just stop, each problem would be slightly different than the other, and over the years of course was a good way to throw away cash.
On my friends last visit after two or three breakdowns he just had enough, and wanted to get rid of the bike, as now it was not even able to start at all, he decided just to scrap it. So with a friend he went to LTO (Land Transportation Office – the Philippine regulatory office with regard to motorbikes and cars), and with all the correct paperwork wanted to just scrap the bike, so he had no more legal responsibility for it, just in case it turned up in a years time in accident. LTO had no idea how to do that, none, so in desperation his friend agreed to buy it off him for parts, but LTO said the bike would have to “pass” a physical check to sell, this was done at another location in Davao.
Trying to explain that his friend wanted to buy the bike for parts, and besides the bike was not able to move, LTO said that was the rules and they had no idea to scrap a vehicle,we were not going to leave it to rust on a roadside, as if it was used and in an accident, it could be tracked back to my friend, who we would be sure would be blamed in some way.
We found out that the new battery installed a few weeks before was an old one, the motorbike shop insisted that a battery only lasts that long. It was beyond arguing, and realizing it was just a rip off, we managed to get an attorney to do all the correct documentation, and “sell” it on without having to worry about it showing up under a jeepney in a months time.
The funny thing was I asked all my friends, some with bike and some without, how they would scrap a bike, like LTO they had no idea, they insisted it was just left, and the problem would go away. Maybe I should have just done that?