Unlike the Philippines, driver's licenses in these countries are valid for 10 or more years
As Pinoy drivers, we are already aware that our current 5-year driver’s license (DL) could be extended up to 10 years validity if we continue to follow the traffic laws of the land like a saint. When renewal time comes and if you have ZERO traffic violations under your name, the LTO could grant you the privilege of a 10-year driver’s license.
However, with the fast-approaching October 2021 rollout of the 10-year license, not too many people are in favor of the new program.
On one hand, the doctors that the LTO consulted during a recent public consultation have reservations against the 10-year DL validity, saying that a lot can happen in a decade especially if we talk about the physical and mental state of a driver.
This sentiment was also echoed by a group that is composed of Driver’s License Renewal Office (DLRO) operators.
On the other hand, most drivers think that granting an individual the privilege of a 10-year driver’s license is a good move by the government, not only because it means less time spent inside LTO offices (which could take the whole day), it also means less money is spent on renewing the DL (medical, transportation, food, etc).
Some drivers even argue that just the thought of having a 10-year DL might inspire a lot of drivers to drive accordingly, and therefore follow all the traffic laws of the land because they see the decade license as a reward.
Why is the 10-year DL so controversial? Are we the only country in the world that has this policy? Apparently not, and a little Google search returned information that there are indeed a lot of countries that already have this policy, some even give their citizens a DL for life!
We list down a few of them below:
United States of America
Having a federal form of government, the United States of America has perhaps one of the most complex driver’s license policies in the world because each state is different, and they have different laws.
To be more specific, the state of Arizona grants its drivers an almost perpetual driver’s license, which only expires when the driver reaches the age of 65. From then on, if you still wish to continue driving or riding, you will need to renew your license every 5 years.
To stay up-to-date, however, the State of Arizona only requires drivers to update their license with a new photo every 12 years, before the 65th birthday expiration. In the State of Montana, a driver's license can be valid for up to 12 years.
Our ASEAN neighbor Singapore gives their citizens the privilege of having a driver’s license that's valid until the holder’s 65th birthday, almost similar to the State of Arizona in the US.
The only difference though is that after the license holder’s 65th birthday, he or she needs to renew every 3 years. For foreigners, Singapore only issues a 5-year valid DL.
France and Germany
France and Germany both give their citizens the privilege of a 15-year DL, which is also valid in European Union member states.
Italy is perhaps known to Filipino drivers as the home country of Ferrari. Italian drivers are given the privilege of a 10-year license if they are under 50-years old. For those between 50 to 70 years of age, they must renew their license every 5 years while those who are 70 to 80 must renew their license every 2 years.
There are actually states that allow for a lifetime validity of a driver’s license, one of them is Belgium. Here, the government may or may not grant you a lifetime DL, depending on what you are allowed to drive. For example, some drivers qualify to drive or ride a small scooter (AM), as well as light vehicles (B) and light trucks (C1) – which is in a way similar to our license restrictions.
Now, their government can allow you to ride your scooter (AM) and light vehicle (B) without any expiration, but you’ll be required to renew your light truck restriction (C1) every 5 years.
See the example below:
An example of a Belgian driver's license (rear) showing valid from (10) and valid to (11)
Also, according to Belgium’s Ministry of Transportation, “a driving license should be renewed when the original is lost or stolen, when it is damaged and becomes illegible, when the photograph no longer resembles the holder, and when the original has been seized by an authority in another country.”
This country has one of the longest driver's license validity in the world. The license itself is valid up to the holder’s 70 years of age. The photo on the license card needs to be updated every 10 years or drivers will face a whopping GBP 1,000 fine (about Ph₱ 70,000).
Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which are made up of Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, give their citizens the privilege of a 10-year valid driver’s license.
Common around the world
It seems that the policy of granting drivers (and riders) the privilege of a 10-year or more valid DL is pretty common around the world. Also, another common denominator among these policies is the renewal of the photo ID (for obvious reasons), as well as the reduced validity for drivers who had reached their senior years.
It is also worth noting that all of the countries that were mentioned above require would-be drivers (and motorcycle riders) to first undergo stringent theoretical and practical driving tests before being granted a driving privilege. And taking these tests is not cheap, usually costing hundreds of euros or dollars.
We just hope that government regulators could look at these best practices of other nations, and maybe find a compromise that’s beneficial to both the government and the motoring public.
Also, let’s just hope that when our own is rolled out in October, the guidelines that will govern it will not be prone to abuse by enterprising individuals.