Renewing your license is not like how it used to be


I would like to share with you, dear readers, an experience my daughter-in-law Margaret had when renewing her driver’s license. This should inspire more people who have a fear or dislike of dealing with government agencies because of some of its residual reputation for being slow and difficult.

Here is her own account, in her own words.

For the past seven years, I have been happily ignoring traffic as I sat comfily in the back seat of our car as someone else drove for us. That’s seven years of my entire married life. But let me share my backstory. I have always been an independent driver. My dad made sure I took lessons and even drilled me in parallel parking on our street. I got my student license at age 16. I never got into an accident and I drove myself to school and to work with no problems. Then I got married. For the first time in my life, I found myself being spoiled by having a driver.


A year later, I got pregnant. I had to go on bed rest. That meant no driving. Then came the breastfeeding months where I had nowhere to go. I was no other than a food machine to my baby. When my breastfeeding journey was done, the pandemic came. That’s more than two years of not leaving the house. 

It’s now time for my son to go to school and we no longer have a driver. We ‘borrow’ my sister in law’s driver on the rare occasions we leave the house. Now I’m wondering how we’re going to go about things when school starts in August. I had to face it… I needed to renew my license that’s been dormant for years. 

Here’s how we went about it. First, we went online to take an online exam that, we found out later on, was useless for my case). But it got me a portal ID number. 

Next we went to the LTO at the JT Mall Centrale. Here, we walked up to the help desk, spoke to a nice man Jayson, who kindly directed me to where I could get my medical checkup at a clinic just conveniently across the street. I cost me ₱650. I went back to the LTO to submit the papers and waited for my information to be verified. It took a couple of hours.

Thankfully, there was Jollibee in the same building, which kept me going with cold drinks (and bathroom breaks). When my name got called, it was time to get my biometrics and pay a fee of ₱100. After they took my picture and fingerprints, it was time to pay ₱100 for the written exam. This was the moment I was scared of. I was playing it cool but I was shaking in my boots. I avoided renewing my license because I hate exams! Did I review for this? Not at all. But I was determined to try my luck and if I didn’t pass, I would try again the following. What scared me more were the dejected looks of people coming out of the exam room and hearing them say they didn’t do well and had to retake the exam.

The test consisted of 60 questions, 48 of which you should get correct. I passed. The mistakes. Phew!! I was then asked to go take a practical driving test. That another potential stumbling block… I hadn’t driven a manual since before Ondoy and my old license meant I had to take the practical test with a manual car. That made me nervous. Thankfully, driving is like riding a bike. You don’t really forget how. I drove, then I waited again in the main area for my name to be called. Less than 20 minutes later, I was asked to pay ₱810 for my ID… and then I gleefully received my brand new white license! 

My new license is only valid for five years, but that’s understandable as I was delinquent and let it go dormant. But yay! I can finally drive again! It took us a total of three to four hours and a total of ₱1,660, but it was worth it. 

Here’s a piece of advice on the exam. It’s more practical than anything else. The questions would have situations in which you will be asked what to do. Also, learn the meaning of the shapes of the traffic signs and what certain hand signals mean.

I do want to mention how clean the place was. How organized. No fixers or ‘psst - psst people’ anywhere. How helpful everyone was when I asked questions. And how nobody acted like the stereotypical government employee that’s ‘mataray’ or ‘deadma.’ I made it a point to thank everyone. They even gave me high fives to congratulate me! So LTO JT Mall Centrale—you guys rock.”