The new renewal process for driver’s licenses has been a major cause of concern for a lot of people. I have friends who feared passing the dreaded Land Transportation Management System online test that they opted to renew in offices where the process wasn’t live yet.
While I would’ve wanted to do the same thing, I just decided to find out if the Land Transportation Office’s new procedure is unfairly getting negatively hyped. I thought that it was probably not so bad. And because I absolutely hate lining up at LTO offices, I wanted to see if I could do a lot of the things in the comfort and safety of my home computer.
However, I set my expectations very low by preparing myself to be out of the office for a few hours. I also heeded a colleague’s advice to get my medical test first. As it turns out, it was the longest part of the renewal process.
It took me 30 minutes to line up and get everything done at the LTO-accredited clinic near my home. These clinics are usually located near LTO offices. But since I wanted to do almost everything online, I had to find one which was LTMS-ready because you’re going to need the certificate number that’s printed on the document.
As for the LTMS, you’ll need to sign up for an account to access your personal data. If you’re not comfortable using your personal e-mail, just create one for use with the portal. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be able to see various bits of information that are important for the renewal process.
I decided to check out my violations first to see if I’d be eligible for the 10-year license. Unfortunately, while I had no demerits and unsettled tickets, the fact that I was caught speeding two years ago meant that I would just have the regular five-year license. No biggie though, and I was pleasantly surprised that the portal has this functionality.
Before you even think about scheduling yourself for a renewal, you have to take the online test. The LTMS has the materials for the Comprehensive Driver’s Education course. It consists of slide shows and videos that will take around five hours to complete. Even though the site will not track the completion of the CDE, you might want to take it seriously for the exam.
Ah, the exam. It has 25 questions, and you need to get at least 50% to pass it. Obviously, doing it online somehow reduces the chances of cheating (unless you have a passer that can coach you). A lot of the questions are answerable by common sense, but there are some which require a little bit of thinking. You’ll need to brush up your memory on certain national ordinances to get those right.
Interestingly, LTMS timed out during my first attempt. On my second try, some of the questions I encountered before were still there. I’m led to believe that the portal has a limited question bank that just gets randomized with each exam. And since the site informs you of your mistakes right away and there are unlimited attempts, you’ll likely get a passing grade after three or four tries.
Once you pass, you’ll be sent a certificate to your e-mail which you’ll need to print.
Now, it’s time to set a schedule for your renewal. This is where your medical certificate number will come in handy as you’ll need to input it. After that, it’s just a case of selecting your time slot at your preferred LTO office and paying for the service. For the latter, you can settle the fee using your credit card or e-wallet. The appointment slip and the official receipt will be sent to your e-mail.
Before you head to the LTO office, make sure to bring the following:
- Original copy of the medical certificate
- Printed test completion certificate
- Printed appointment slip
- Printed official receipt
- Old license
- Valid government ID
I showed up at the office and surrendered my documents. After five minutes, I got my new license. The speed will all depend on how many people are queued at a particular LTO branch, but it is best to arrive 30 minutes prior to your appointment schedule.
Overall, I thought the entire experience was excellent. I did almost everything at home, and I didn’t need to spend too much time outdoors. However, I found the exam a little too easy to pass. If the LTO really wants drivers to be properly educated, it should track the completion of the CDE course and limit the number of exam attempts.
Before I end, here’s a friendly tip. Keep at least two photocopies of your license and official receipt in your vehicle. When you get into an accident, you’ll at least have something to give to the authorities other than your actual license. If you forget your actual license, the photocopy will at least prove to the authorities that you are a valid driver.