(Note: this is my article for thelobbyist.biz last weekend)
Renewing a driver's license is faster these days than say, a decade ago. But there are several fees outside the official payment in getting a license that jack up the cost to the public – and this money does not go to the National Treasury.
I renewed my driver’s license today (October 21) which expires this Sunday. I went to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) Ayala MRT terminal station at 9 am and I was done by 10:20 am, or a total waiting and procedural period of 1 hour and 20 minutes – which is not so bad.
The fees to renew a driver’s license are as follows:
License fee P350.00
Computer fee P 67.63
Drug test fee P300.00
Medical fee P100.00
Fees (a) and (b) go to the LTO and the National Treasury while fees (c) and (d) go to LTO-accredited private clinics. There are different private testing clinics at different LTO stations. At the Ayala MRT station LTO office, it is the JnW Drug Testing Center, Inc.
The drug test is very simple. Applicants submit a urine sample – taken right there at the clinic, and that’s the only basis if the applicant fails or passes the test for usage of any illegal drugs or substances. No one seems to fail the test too. This simple test, therefore, does not appear to cost P300 considering the huge volume of applicants that go in everyday. That fee, therefore, is high.
The medical test is also very simple. The staff in a small room simply gets the body weight of the applicant, asks him/her to read the 8th line – smaller letters – of the eye test, and it’s over. No check for blood pressure, no hearing test, etc. Thus, the P100 medical test fee for some two minutes of procedure would also appear high.
Of course people do not want to endure long procedures like their blood pressure actually being checked, undergoing some hearing test, go through chest X-ray, etc. because that would mean longer queuing time at the LTO and probably a higher medical test fee.
The P400 additional fee to the public, when multiplied by about 5 million licensed drivers (cars, trucks, buses, jeepneys, tricycles, etc.) who get their licenses every three years, should be equivalent to about P2 billion every three years or some P667 million every year. This does not go to the National Treasury but the public are required to pay if they wish to get a new driver’s license.
The above rates are all monopoly prices. Whether the driver’s license fee is P350 or P5,000, the drug test fee is P300 or P3,000, the public has no option but to pay. Otherwise, they cannot drive, or they can but without a license and risk harassment on the roads from the police and LTO personnel.
One option for reform in this area is to deregulate the submission of drug test result. People can go to other clinics that are DoH-certified and go to the LTO with their drug test and medical test results already. Most likely, they can get the certificate for such tests at a much price. So they will just pay the driver’s license fee and whatever new fee the LTO will impose. This will reduce the queuing time (30 minutes or less) and the cost of getting a license.
Renewing a driver's license, 2007
(I wrote this last Oct. 22, 2007. Compare the procedures and fees here with above fees)
This afternoon, I renewed my driver's license (non-professional) which will expire 2 days from now. I went to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) at the MRT Ayala station. The place is convenient to visit, its clean and air-conditioned. The procedures are also clear. From the time I stepped inside, it took me only 55 minutes until I got out, with my new driver's license that will expire in 3 years time.
Below are the steps, and expenses, in renewing a driver's license.
1. At LTO office, go to Window 1, get the application form, fill it up.
2. Go to the adjacent room, secure a certificate that you have passed the drug test (DT) and medical test (MT). This entails:
a) Get application form from the accredited drug testing center, fill it up. Here, the clinic is "JNW drug testing center, Inc."
b) Submit a urine test, you pee on a plastic bottle in the toilet inside that room. At least the toilet does not stink.
c) Go to a small room with a male staff (I doubt if he's a physician) for the medical test. The guy just asks you to cover your right eye, then you read the letters from biggest to smallest fonts. The do the same, covering your left eye.
d) Go for a picture-taking, digital.
e) Get the test results, pay P350 (= P250 DT + P100 MT).
3. Go back to adjacent LTO office, Window 1, present the results of the DT and MT, along with the filled-up application form and your old driver's license.
4. Picture-taking, digital, as well as e-signature, for the driver's license.
5. Payment: license fee P180 + computerization fee P67.63 + revision of records (if you change your address) P30 = P277.63
6. Wait for your new driver's license to be released, done.
Total time spent: 55 minutes
Total fees paid: P350 + P277.63 = P627.63
Compared to renewing one's passport at the DFA,the LTO process is definitely faster, but more expensive. New passport cost is P500 only, but should take an ordinary applicant at least 5 or 6 working days to get the new passport.
See also: LTO Bureaucracy 1: Hidden Costs in Vehicle Registration, May 04, 2010