How to retrieve your Driver's License from LTO

"Be the change you want to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi

In our country, corruption is everywhere. We always hear about it in the news, whine about it, but never do anything about it. We always expect officials/personnel from higher office to come up with plans to eliminate corruption but we never thought about how we can help in our own little way.

Corruption is not isolated in government offices, we experience and see it in our daily lives -- e.g. not issuing official receipts to avoid the appropriate taxes, cab drivers not giving any change to passengers, paying fixers to illegally expedite processes, etc. But for this particular post, I want to zero in on bribery after committing traffic violations. If each one of us, especially the drivers, steer away from bribing police officers / traffic enforcers to get out of these situations, that "business" will eventually die. As they say, walang magnanakaw kung walang magpapanakaw.

During my first year of driving, I was apprehended a couple of times (Yza has been a witness in all of these violations. hihi). I admit, I bribed my way out more than half the time. However, after a few occurrences, it felt so easy to disobey traffic rules because of how easy I can get away with it (by bribing). So after a year and a half of driving, I promised to myself that: (1) I should obey traffic rules as diligently as I can, and (2) if ever I get apprehended for a traffic violation I did commit, regardless if it's intentional or not, I will NOT resort to bribing and will follow due process.

You know what? It worked, I was able to condition my own mind. It has been a year and a half and I never committed any traffic violation.

Until last week...

On our way to La Union last June 3 to go surfing (blog post here), I got apprehended for over-speeding in SCTEX. Speed limit is at 100 kph. I got caught by the radars at 121kph. As soon as they detect you, they alert the people assigned in the toll gates to look out for your plate number; they apprehend you while paying the toll fee (maybe you can get away if you have the E-pass thing, hmm, but that's not the point of this post. =P).

Although I failed on my first promise (tao lang po), I followed through on my second. I handed over my license, did a bit of negotiation (not on the bribe but just in case Mr. Police Officer was kind enough to forgive me, which didn't happen, unfortunately. hehe), then I just asked where I need to get my DL and how much I should prepare, which Mr. Police Officer politely answered. I got my citation ticket in exchange and moved on.

After ~72 hours, I was in LTO East Avenue, QC, ready to get my license back.

(sorry about the long introduction, got carried away. hehe.)

What do you need to do to get your driver's license back?

All apprehensions in NLEX/SCTEX are directed to LTO East Ave. for claiming. Below guide is specific to the LTO East Ave. process. Other LTO offices / other offices you need to claim your license from (depending on where you got apprehended) might have slightly different processes but I would assume the main steps should be more or less the same.

For duration references, I arrived at 8:30AM.

STEP 1: Submit your citation ticket or Temporary Operator's Permit (TOP), as LTO calls it.

Location: LETAS Bldg.
Duration: It took me 1.5 hours to complete this step. Finished around 10AM.
Requirement/s: Temporary Operator's Permit (TOP)

As soon as you reach the LTO Central Office in East Ave., look for the LETAS (Law Enforcement and Traffic Adjudication System) Bldg. There will be a queue outside so just find the end of the line and queue up. The queue will lead you to the ground floor of the LETAS Bldg.

Once inside, you surrender your TOP and you get a number in exchange. Wait for your name/number to be called.

The building is air-conditioned and there's TV (NBA Western Conference Finals 2012 Game 6 between OKC-SAS was showing) so waiting wasn't as painful for me.

As soon as you are called, you'll get back your TOP plus a resolution document (I forgot the official name) which contains the traffic violation you committed, the breakdown of penalties you need to pay and if you are required to attend a seminar / pass the exam.

STEP 2: Pay the necessary penalties as indicated in the resolution document.

Location: Cashier @ Window 9
Duration: It took me 30 minutes to complete this step. Finished around 10:30AM.
Requirement/s: Temporary Operator's Permit (TOP), Resolution Document (or whatever the official name is)

All payments need to be transacted with the Cashier at Window 9. This is located a couple of buildings away from LETAS Bldg., just ask around.

In my case, over-speeding falls under Reckless Driving. Below was the breakdown of my penalty:

Reckless Driving: Php 1,000.00
Legal Research Fund: Php 10.00
LETAS Training Fee: Php 200.00
LETAS Comp Fee: Php 67.63
Total Amount To Be Paid:
Php 1,277.63

As soon as you arrive at Window 9, physically queue up to pay (no number system). The official receipt will not be given right after though, so you need to wait for your name to be called a few minutes after the actual payment. Do not forget to wait for your official receipt. You don't want to go to the next step and realize you have to go back to get your OR.

STEP 3: Attend the Traffic Safety Management Seminar and pass the exam.

Location: Some building at the back of the LTO compound
Duration: Approximately 2 hours (Pre-Test: 20mins; Film Showing: 30mins; Post-Test: 20mins; Waiting for the test results: 50mins). Finished around 3PM.
Requirement/s: Temporary Operator's Permit (TOP), Resolution Document (or whatever the official name is), Official Receipt and a ballpen

This is where most of my time was wasted. When I arrived at the building where the seminar will be conducted, I was told I didn't reach the cutoff of the current session and would need to come back for the 1PM session. Apparently, there are set sessions for the seminar as follows:

Session #1: 8AM - 10AM
Session #2: 10AM - 12PM
Session #3: 1PM - 3PM
Session #4: 3PM - 5PM

Since I finished Step 2 at 10:30AM, I wasn't allowed to join session #2 anymore. If only I arrived 30 minutes earlier, I could have saved 2.5 hours. But I didn't. So I had to wait. I watched the remainder of the OKC-SAS game (which OKC won -- the game and the series), had lunch outside, then went back at 1PM.

At the seminar hall, we were given 3 pieces of paper: a pre-test answer sheet, an information sheet and a post-test answer sheet.

The information sheet had to be filled-out first with your name, license type, vehicle type, plate number, violation, etc. together with the TOP number, TAS Case # (from the Resolution Document) and OR number. This is why you need all these documents with you coming into the seminar.

The exam booklets were distributed and the attendees were expected to answer the pre-test with whatever stock knowledge we had. We were told this was not recorded.

The seminar started (which was not really a seminar, but a film showing). It started with the history of transportation, traffic rules, LTO, etc followed by requirements in applying for student permit, non-pro and professional driver's licenses, capped off by categories and samples of road signs. Boring stuff.

Before the film showing even finished, the LTO person already interrupted and pressured everyone to start transferring our answers from the pre-test sheet to the post-test sheet so they can start checking.

The film showing was no way helpful to the exam. The exam consisted of 60 multiple choice questions. The film showing probably helped on 5 out of the 60 but the remainder really relied on your stock knowledge and experience. There were questions like the maximum axle load for trucks, maximum speed in school zones, exact number of meters away when you should start signalling left or right, etc, those which require you to know exact numbers/figures. I just considered these questions as part of my margin of error (passing score is 48). The rest are experiential and as long as you have been driving for a while, these should all be familiar.

After the exam, we were asked to go up to the 2nd floor of the seminar building while we wait for the test results. We were given Ang Drayber Na Pinoy, Fourth Edition booklets as a constant reminder of our LTO seminar.

While waiting, Praybeyt Benjamin, starring Vice Ganda, was showing to keep us entertained.

After almost an hour, we were called one by one to receive the Seminar Certificates for those who passed. I got a score of 52/60. I passed! =)

P.S. If you fail the exam, you can retake it on the same day. If you fail the second time, you need to retake both the seminar AND exam.

P.P.S. A violation committed for the 2nd (or nth) time will only be treated as 2nd offense (and the corresponding penalties) if the 1st offense was committed less than a year ago. This means that if you were charged for Reckless Driving on June 2012, your next Reckless Driving violation will not be considered as 2nd offense if it will be after June 2013, else you get charged for 2nd offense penalties including a 2-month suspension of your license.

STEP 4: Claim your license.

Location: 2nd flr. LETAS Bldg. Window 39
Duration: Around 30mins. Finished at 3:30PM.
Requirements: TOP, Resolution Document, Official Receipt and the Seminar Certificate

After you receive your Seminar Certificate, you need to go back to the LETAS Bldg (from Step 1) but this time, you need to proceed to the 2nd flr, Window 39.

Submit all your documents and wait for your name to be called. Once you are called, you get your Driver's License back and your Official Receipt. LTO will retain all other documents (Yes, including your Seminar Certificate saying that you passed the exam. No, you can't brag to your friends anymore unless you took a photo of it before surrendering the certificate).


I spent ~Php1.2k and almost a day (from 8:30AM to 3:30PM) to retrieve my license. However, the whole process should just take less than half a day (half-day max) to complete if you take note of the seminar schedules in advance and plan your time of arrival ahead. This ensures you minimize the idle times and attend the seminar right after the first 2 steps.

I wrote this with the hope that people, especially drivers, would start thinking about doing the right thing. I know claiming your license this way is not the most convenient, the intent of this post is to minimize the inconvenience by being able to prepare well ahead. This guide will always be here whenever you are ready to steer away from your bribing ways. =)

Don't forget to always obey traffic rules. The usual penalty may be monetary and/or waste of time and effort but there will come a time that the penalty will be more than that.




  1. Thank you very much! Hope this will help me for tomorrows adventure at LTO East Ave.

  2. Thank you very much for this!!!

  3. Thanks very much!! Although I feel apprehensive about not passing the exam..

  4. Or you can also approach fixers infront of the office. I got my liscense back for 2000PHP, you don't need to fall in line, you don't need to take the seminar or exam. :-) Welcome to the Philippines

  5. why i didnt found your blog earlier. going through the same exact thing.
    and i am still waiting here. i came around 9am. sad thing is my ticket was not yet encoded, so they wanted me to come back @ week. i said no and they said i go to window 37 to manualy envodmy ticket.
    damn it. i am not gonna make it to the last seminar. whats the use of it systems if they cant improve the process & it's efficiency. god damnit.
    other countries have better government services then us.

  6. thanks! helped a lot, going there tomorrow

  7. Because of this tedious process,drivers are easily tempted by fixers and corrupt law enforcers.

  8. Sir need ba mapuntahan agad ung license sa date na sinabi ng pulis? kasi sabi sakin nung nanghuli eh wednesday ko puntahan sa LTO. kahapon pa yun. pede ko pa ba makuha un next week?
    Thanks po!

  9. MangTomas, sa pagkakaalam ko, nagsasabi ang mga pulis ng date kung kelan pwede ma-pickup yung license para hindi ka pupunta dun agad. Iniipon kasi nila ung mga license muna bago ipadala sa LTO kaya mga 3-4 days pa bago available ung license mo sa LTO. So ung date na sinasabi ng pulis, "on or after" yun. So pwede pa makuha anytime after ng date na sinabi ng pulis.

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  12. What does mean Pts violation in Lto traffic violation, last nigth traffic inforcer sevre me this kind of violation due to my wife drop it to prohibited unloading much will be fee for this voilation?

  13. in ur case po, ilan po kayang tao per batch? ilan po kaya estimate niyo mga makakasama sa seminar? thanks a lot!

  14. Very helpful! Thanks for sharing your experience. Ü

  15. Very helpful! Thanks for sharing your experience. Ü

  16. hello po. Iba na ngayon. kakahuha ko lang kanina sa license ko ngayon, September 22, 2016. Nahuli din ako sa NLEX. Dumating ako ng 7 am, so number 23 ako. Natapos ako within 30 mins. Heto po mga naobserve ko.

    1. WALA ng Seminar at Exams
    2. WALA na din ang seminar Fee
    3. Huwag ng pumunta sa Fixer, sabagay parang wala din akong napansin na ali aligid na mga tao dun. Mabilis lang ang proseso kasi.
    4. May nakatabi akong number 50 something pero halos mga 5 mins lang agwat namin sa pagkuha ng license. At dumating sya ng 7:30 ata.
    5. 4 Steps lang . (1) ibigay ang temporary permit/ticket sa front desk ng LETAS building, (2) antayin yung resolution, (3) magbayad sa cashier sa kabilang building kung saan ang chapel (left side facing the chapel), (4) balik sa LETAS building at akyat sa 2nd floor and claim your license.

    yun po... Strict sila sa panghuhuli ngayon para masanay tyo sa disiplina.

    salamat po..

    1. Yes, wala na pong seminar and seminar fee...naka shorts ako kaya nagpapila na lang ako and authorization letter. Then nag hintay na lang ako sa chapel across LETAS building.

      Reminder: strict sila sa LETAS for dress code. No sando, shorts and slippers.

  17. pwede bang pakuha sa iba ang lisensya?

  18. Puwede. Nahuli ako sa SCTEX over speeding. Pinakuha ko with authorization letter pero di naman hinanap. Ticket lang. Total fine is P2,078.00

  19. Sir, dyan sa Cavitex after Bacoor exit, na miss ko yung turn to Bacoor, at nag shoulder road stop ako at umatras para magtanong sa guard na naka post doon kung meron bang other way going to Bacoor, while asking for info may dumating na patrol ng highway sa kabilang road ng highway(north direction) at nagkakaway at nagmamadaling tumawig, over the bakod ng highway at tawid papunta sa akin (south direction). I ask for assistance or help how can I go to Bacoor/Imus without going to Cavitex pay toll, I know its a long way and it will lead me to Kawit as for my knowledge. The patrol police keep inciting of my violation of backing up. So I explained to him but thought of understand me of my plead, he ask for to see my license, thinking as procedure for checking legitimate licenses that is where it started I fall to trap, started to sense him a clue to bribe him. So directly ask him if you will issue me a ticket, do it. That had changed his mood and started writing for my ticket. I challenge him, what is my violation, he wrote "backing up against the flow of traffic", so I told him why you didn't write "backing........of traffic on shoulder road" for the violation. But he declined and cannot challenge him anymore. Then I ask for my DL bak, I know they cannot get or hold DL unless there is serious/critical violations. First he asked to see only my DL then he kept it already and I demanded to get it back. With no power or authority to contest his actions, as a law abiding citizen together with me my wife and friend I let it go and will collect in LTO with protest. I was not asked to sign the ticket for my acknowledgement as the procedure, and I know I have no violation or offensed such as this in highway like this. Over speeding, yes! May violation pala na backing up sa shoulder, e paano may nilipad gusto mong kunin, syempre aatras ka sa shoulder at hindi sa highway lane mismo. I hope my dash cam recorded this when I backed up on shoulder. Never had any violation before, no Idea of how to bribe, well this will learned me of bribing for a small amount than going thru of retrieving my DL. Is there an adjudication board to contest your offense such as this at the LTO? I thought these patrols will assist and guide who are at lost of directions, pardon me as Senior Citizen.

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  21. Eliel, question lang if why bumaba ung fine na binigay sau? All I know 2000 un? May chance ba na bumaba ung fine from the exact amount dapat ung violation?

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