International Driving Permit Philippines
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driver’s License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
In comparison, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in the Philippines?
An IDP is required in the Philippines if you do not have a foreign driver’s license in English. You may drive with a foreign driver’s license in the Philippines for 90 days and use your IDP as an identification document.
How do you apply for an IDP in the Philippines?
You can apply for your IDP on our website.
How long does it take to get an IDP?
The time required to deliver the official printed version of your international driver’s permit will depend on the delivery method chosen and your current location. The time taken can be from 2 to 30 working days. You will get your digital IDP within 2 hours of application on our website. If you choose the Express Option, you will receive the digital IDP in your email box within 20 minutes.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
The United Nations has organized three international Motor Traffic Conventions. Many countries were contracted to honor international driver’s permits as legal documents during each convention. Countries contracted to either of the first two conventions in Paris (1926) and Geneva (1949) to recognize IDPs for one year. Countries contracted to the Vienna (1968) convention recognize IDPs for three years. The United Nations authorizes institutions in each contracting country to issue official IDPs.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in the Philippines
Functionality as an ID
If you are reticent to take important documents such as your passport and national ID everywhere when you vacation, an international driver’s permit can help. As an IDP is a legal document, it can serve as an ID anywhere IDPs are recognized. An IDP is necessary when your identifications are in a language that is not internationally recognized.
Quicker traffic authority stops.
Some countries do not legally require you to have an international driver’s permit to drive on their roads, even if your driver’s license is not in an internationally recognized language. However, having an IDP can be helpful when dealing with foreign law enforcement. While the more cosmopolitan areas of a country may have police officers that will be able to process foreign licenses, the more rural areas won’t.
Car rental companies
Most car rental companies will require an international driver’s permit to rent you a vehicle. Some countries don’t have a legal requirement for drivers to have IDPs even if their foreign driver’s licenses are not in an internationally recognized language. Car rental companies are not capable enough to process foreign licenses and will be assured of your legal driving status when holding an IDP. You can save precious vacation time if you carry an IDP while renting a vehicle.
Laws requiring an IDP
The Philippines is contracted to the Geneva (1949) and Vienna (1968) Conventions on Motor Traffic. It allows you to drive on its roads with just your foreign driver’s license if it was issued in English. You should have an international driver’s permit if issued in any other language. Your international driver’s permit can have been issued for 1 or 3 years, depending on which motor traffic convention it adheres to.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in the Philippines
Short-term visitors vs. residents
You can only get permanent residency in the Philippines if you fulfill the following requirements:
- There is no record of the person breaking the law in the Philippines.
- The applicant has no transmissible disease that is serious or critical.
- The applicant has enough wealth to support himself.
- The applicant entered the Philippines legally.
You can get permanent residency if you have married a Filipino. You may also apply for the special resident retiree’s visa (SRRV) if you have $20,000 to deposit in a Filipino bank. A Treaty Trader’s visa is also considered a resident visa. You can also get sponsored by a company for employment and get a work visa.
However, you do not need a resident visa to get a Filipino driving license. All you need is to prove that you have resided in the Philippines for one month and that you will remain there for another year.
How long can I drive with a foreign driving license?
You can only drive in the Philippines for 90 days with a foreign license after entry, irrespective of country. After this period, you are expected to exchange your driving license for a Filipino one.
When should I get a Filipino Driver’s License?
Getting a Filipino driving license is painless and can be recommended for anyone expecting to stay above a month there. If you plan on having a romantic interest in the Philippines or if you are investing in a business, the hassle of renewing your foreign license and IDP can be cumbersome. However, if you are just a tourist that won’t stay for more than a couple of months, you should hold onto your driver’s license.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in the Philippines
Renewing your International Driver’s Permit
You can renew your IDP on our website.
Renewing your original driver’s license
You may need to renew your foreign driver’s license while staying in the Philippines. If the country that issued your license has an internet portal, you must submit your information to renew it. Some countries do not allow you to renew your license when abroad. You may need to take a vision or medical test before renewing your license. In this case, you will have to return to the country that issued your driving license. Ensure you leave ample time for the renewal process as there may be a few unforeseen hiccups.
Car Rental in the Philippines
Requirements for car rental
Though some car rental companies are willing to rent to clients above 18, most will require you to be 21. To do so, you will need a valid, internationally recognized credit card. You should also bring along your passport. Suppose your valid foreign driver’s license is not in English. In that case, you will need an international driver’s permit or an official translation from the country that issued your driving license. Due to government regulations, some rental car companies will ask for further information such as proof of accommodation and billing abroad and your flight ticket.
Deposit and costs for car rental
Vehicles with automatic transmission have significantly higher rental costs in the Philippines than ones with manual transmission. The daily rental price of a car with automatic transmission will range from $25 to $50. On average, you can expect to pay $250 for a week’s rental. Luxury vehicles will cost considerably more, and extras such as GPS will have an additional daily charge. The rental deposits charged in the Philippines are pretty low, ranging from $100 to $400 depending on the type of vehicle. Remember that this amount will be blocked off on your credit card when planning payment methods.
Like in most countries, the Philippines has a mandatory requirement of 3rd party insurance for vehicles. This insurance covers damage to people, animals, and property, but not yourself or your vehicle. You may find some rental car agencies will include Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) in the rental price. This is recommended as Filipino roads are hectic, and a foreigner will likely get into a fender bender there. You may also choose to get theft insurance, though it is unlikely your vehicle will be stolen during your vacation.
The Filipino people are super friendly and kind, but the Filipino economy isn’t that great, and there is a lot of poverty. Therefore the crime rate is comparatively high for a developing country: We recommend that you get travel insurance before making a trip there. The following are a few pointers to consider before purchasing an insurance package:
- Hospital stays should be covered.
- Losses due to cancellations or lost deposits should be covered
- Losses due to lost or damaged baggage should be covered
- Excess charges not covered by your rental car insurance should be covered.
- Emergency dental work should be covered.
- Funeral costs should be covered in an extreme eventuality.
Driving and Safety in the Philippines
Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?
You may download a copy of the latest Filipino highway code (driver’s handbook) at https://lto.gov.ph/images/Transparency/FDM%20Vol.%201%20(2nd%20Edition).pdf. The manual is published by the Filipino government and should be perused before embarking on a road trip in the country. You can also get a printed version at any metropolitan book store in the country. You will be given a free copy if you enroll in a driving course in the Philippines.
Overtaking on Filipino roads
As drivers in the Philippines drive on the right side of the road, you are expected to overtake on the left side. When traffic congestion occurs in highly urban areas, the traffic police will turn a blind eye to this rule. Make sure you look in all four directions before overtaking a vehicle and ensure there is enough space in front when on the open road, however.
Turning and right of way on Filipino roads
When you are on a major road, you prioritize the traffic coming to you from lesser roads. When two equal roads are crossing, the traffic going forward and turning right has priority, and the traffic turning right must wait for an opening in the oncoming traffic.
You should slow down enough to come to a complete stop when there are road intersections without signage. When entering a roundabout, you should adjust to the traffic speed already in the roundabout, and vehicles already in the roundabout have priority.
Speed limits on Filipino roads
High pedestrian traffic areas and school zones have a speed limit of 20 km/h (13 mph). Municipal streets that are not marked ‘through’ have a speed limit of 30 km/h (19 mph). Through streets (also called boulevards) with no blind corners have a speed limit of 40 km/h (25 mph). Open country roads have a speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph). The speed limit on expressways is 100 km/h (63 mph). The above speed limits will not apply if you bring a wounded person to a hospital or if you or your passengers are pursuing a criminal.
Tips for driving in the Philippines
- People drive on the right-hand side of the road.
- You should be 18 to drive in the Philippines.
- The driver and passengers should wear seat belts.
- You are not allowed to use a mobile phone without a hands-free device.
- The authorities regularly impound illegally parked vehicles.
- Your vehicle is banned from parking in metropolitan areas like Manila on certain days based on the last digit of your license plate.
- You may only take one passenger when riding a motorcycle or a scooter.
- Riders of motorcycles and scooters should wear DTI-approved helmets at all times.
Drinking and driving
Filipino law punishes the drunk driver and the owner of the car. Police officers are authorized to pull over drivers that are driving erratically. While law enforcement authorities often use the breathalyzer test, the most commonly used method is the field sobriety test. You will be asked to keep certain positions with your body and make specific movements. If you are deemed to be impaired, you are considered to have driven under the influence of alcohol. If nobody were injured, you would be fined between $385 to $1,432 and jailed for up to 3 months. If bodily harm were done due to the violation, the fine would be between $1,790 to $3,581. If there were a homicide, the penalty would range from $5,371 to $8,951.
Top 3 Places to Visit in the Philippines
Boracay Island has 12 gorgeous beaches for you to choose from and is considered the beach capital of the Philippines. This small island in the west Visayas region is ideal if you want to relax and engage in sun and water activities. Many consider White Beach, situated west of the island, the best beach. If you have a couple of kids in tow, you might want to visit Puka Shell Beach on the island’s tip. Cagban Beach has a history of maritime mishaps and lots of places for maritime travelers to have hidden their gold. If you want the thrill of adventure, this is the best beach for you. Make sure you go to Mount Luho to get a panoramic view of the island. This is the best place for selfies and family pics.
If you want unique and idyllic nature, you should head over to the island of Hohol in the central Visayas region of the Philippines. It is home to a UNESCO-protected site that turns brown in the dry season, resembling a landscape of chocolate candy kisses. The Chocolate Hills in Carmen is a collection of over 1,200 geological formations unique to the region. The island also has an endemic animal that is a lesser-known Tarsier primate that many tourists come to see. They are well-known for their large eyes and attractive features. You may book a tour to see these animals in their natural sanctuary. You can also enjoy Bohol’s beautiful beaches and island atmosphere during your visit.
While Manila is the undisputed political capital, Davao City is a close runner-up to be the commercial capital. There is a large metropolitan area in Davao City that is significantly better organized than the metro area of Manila, and both cities have comparable populations. You can explore some of Davao City’s environmental highlights by going to Eden Nature Park, the Philippine Eagle Center, and the Davao Baywalk near the sea. The highest point in the Philippines is also at Davao City, Mount Apo. From a vantage point, you can get a bird’s eye view of the city and its surrounding lands. Enjoy looking at some relics from the culturally rich Filipino civilization in this city by going to the Museum of History and Ethnography on your visit. Davao City also has an abundance of shopping malls and restaurants for you to choose from.
Am I required to have an IDP in the Philippines?
While some countries will accept a foreign license for a while, many will require you to have an IDP.
Can I drive a vehicle with a foreign license in the Philippines?
You may drive in the Philippines with a foreign driver’s license for up to 90 days. You must have an official driving license translation if it is not in English.
Can I use my EU driver’s license in the Philippines?
Yes, you may use it for 90 days. You will need to have an official translation of your driver’s license if it is not in English.
How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in the Philippines?
The Philippines was contracted to the Geneva and Vienna Motor Traffic Conventions in 1949 and 1968, so you may use your IDP for one or three years.
How long will transferring my license to a Filipino one take?
The Filipino license conversion procedure is highly streamlined and can be done within a day.
On which side of the road do you drive in the Philippines?
In the Philippines, vehicles drive on the right side of the road.
Do you need a foreign license printed in English to drive in the Philippines?
Yes. You require an official translation if your driving license is not in English.