Use the International Driving Permit
Definitive update: I have inquired at the PNP's Highway Patrol Group, which informed me that the IDP is indeed only valid for 90 days after the last arrival. They simply follow the Republic Act 4136 (Land Transportation Code of the Philippines), and to them an international convention does - naturally - not matter.
As JonathanReez accurately commented on the question, an international driving permit (IDP) does indeed grant at least a one year valid license to drive in the Philippines according to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic in which the Philippines is a contracting party . The Commissioner of Land Transportation was given order to implement the convention into the regulations in 1973 .
The convention states that contracting parties shall recognize any international permit conforming to the provisions of Annex 7 to the convention as valid for driving in their territories a vehicle coming within the categories covered by the permit, provided that the permit is still valid, and if it was issued by another contracting party . Furthermore, the 2011 amendment of this convention states that the validity of an international driving permit may be limited by the date of expiry of the domestic driving permit .
However, the 2011 amendment also says that "Domestic legislation may limit the period of validity of a domestic driving permit" . This introduces a certain kind of ambiguity.
The Philippine law says tourists may use their domestic driving license (implicit) to drive for the first 90 days, but not after. This is not mutually exclusive with the 1968 convention. But what about the 2011 amendment?
One possible interpretation is that the domestic legislation may limit the period of validity of a domestic driving permit - referring to the "domestic driving permit" from Annex 6. The validity of the domestic driving permit that can determine the validity of the duration of the international driving permit, is determined by the expiration date of the domestic driving permit.
Following this interpretation, we could rewrite the paragraph to make a proper distinction between which contracting party "domestic" refers to: Philippine legislation may limit the period of validity of an Annex 6 driving permit. The period of validity of an Annex 7 permit shall be either no more than three years after the date of issue or until the date of expiry of the national driver's license, whichever is earlier.
The other interpretation is that the domestic legislation of the Philippines may limit the period of the validity of a domestic driving permit, and therefore may potentially also limit the date of expiry of the international permit. This interpretation is followed by the FIA Foundation (an independent UK registered charity):
If you ask for a 1949 convention IDP, it is valid for a maximum of one year from the date of issue. 1968 model IDPs are valid for up to 3 years. However, validity of IDPs cannot exceed the validity of your domestic drive license. Plus, some countries recognize IDPs from foreign visitors only for a few weeks – usually, only for as long as their tourist visas are valid.
This last quote seems to admit that the validity of the IDP may be limited by the original driver's license, but that some countries simply do not recognize the IDP as per convention. Which would mean that the country is in violation of the convention.
The way I understand it, the convention is not law. It is up to each contracting party to implement the law with the convention in mind. If the law is in conflict with the convention, that is a matter to be resolved between countries, rather than one an individual level. Police officers simply follow the local laws, and as such, do not care if some convention is violated. And whether the law in the Philippines is violating the convention, is questionable due to the unfortunate ambiguity in the convention.
Therefore, it is not possible for foreigners to legally drive in the Philippines after 90 days without utilizing a certain workaround/loophole such as a visa run, or flexible interpretation of the rules by local branches. Granted that they cannot acquire a visa of longer than one year.
The LTO did not respond to my inquiry. The Dutch ANWB which is the official supplier of the IDP in the Netherlands does not know the answer. And the Dutch government service for online help in foreign countries refers to this government website, which recognizes the fact that:
In the case that you have stayed in the Philippines for more than 1 month and you are in the possession of a visa for at least 1 year, then you should apply for a Filipino driving license.
Which implicitly admits that the IDP cannot be used in the Philippines. They consequently advised to consult the Philippine authorities or alternatively a local lawyer.
All emphasis mine. These are quotes only relevant to the question, all other information has been left out.
Republic Act No. 4136 of the Philippines
SECTION 21. Operation of Motor Vehicles by Tourists - Bona fide tourist and similar transients who are duly licensed to operate motor vehicles in their respective countries may be allowed to operate motor vehicles during but not after ninety days of their sojourn in the Philippines.
After ninety days, any tourist or transient desiring to operate motor vehicles shall pay fees and obtain and carry a license as hereinafter provided.
the FAQ on the LTO
- I have a valid foreign driver’s license. Can I use it in the Philippines?
Yes, 90 days from date of arrival.
Presidential Decree No. 207, s. 1973:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081, dated September 21, 1972, and General Order No. 1 dated September 22, 1972, as amended, do hereby adopt and make as part of the law of the land the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic and Road Signs and Signals, respectively.
The Commissioner of Land Transportation shall draw, enact and promulgate the necessary regulatory measures to implement this Decree.
Summary of United Nations Depositary Chapter XI B 19. Convention on Road Traffic (Vienna, 8 November 1968) (read in this certified true copy PDF).
Chapter I: GENERAL PROVISIONS (pp. 67)
- Article 2: Annexes to the Convention (pp. 72)
The Annexes to this Convention, namely,
Annex 7: "International driving permit";
are integral parts of this Convention.
- Article 3: Obligations of the Contracting Parties (pp. 72)
- (...), Contracting Parties shall be bound to admit to their territories in international traffic (...) and whose drivers fulfil the conditions laid down in Chapter IV; (...)
- Measures which the Contracting Parties have taken or may take either unilaterally or under bilateral or multilateral agreements to admit to their territories in international traffic (...) and to recognize, in cases other than those specified in Chapter IV, the validity in their territories of driving permits issued in the territory of another Contracting Party shall be deemed to be in conformity with the object of this Convention.
Chapter IV: DRIVERS OF MOTOR VEHICLES (pp. 109)
- Article 41: Validity of driving permits (pp. 109)
- Contracting Parties shall recognize:
(a) any domestic permit drawn up in their national language or in one of their national languages or, if not drawn up in such a language, accompanied by a certified translation;
(b) any domestic permit conforming to the provisions of Annex 6 to this Convention; and
(c) any international permit conforming to the provisions of Annex 7 to this Convention
as valid for driving in their territories a vehicle coming within the categories covered by the permit, provided that the permit is still valid and that it was issued by another Contracting Party or sub-division thereof or by an association duly empowered thereto by such other Contracting Party.
The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to learner-driver permits.
- Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding paragraph;
(a) where the validity of the driving permit is made subject by special endorsement to the condition that the holder shall wear certain devices or that the vehicle shall be equipped in a certain way to take account of the driver's disability, he permit shall not be recognized as valid unless those conditions are observed;
(b) Contracting Parties may refuse to recognize the validity in their territories of driving permits held by persons under eighteen years of age;
(c) Contracting Parties may refuse to recognize the validity in their territories, for the driving of motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles in categories C, D and E referred to in Annexes 6 and 7 to this Convention, of driving permits held by persons under twenty-one years of age.
- Contracting Parties undertake to adopt such measures as may be necessary to ensure that the domestic and international driving permits referred to in sub-paragraphs 1 (a), (b) and (c) of this Article are not issued in their territories without a reasonable guarantee of the driver's aptitude and physical fitness.
- For the purpose of the application of paragraph 1 and sub-paragraph 2 (c) of this Article;
(a) a motor vehicle of the category B referred to in Annexes 6 and 7 to this Convention may be coupled to a light trailer; it may also be coupled to a trailer whose permissible maximum weight exceeds 750 kg (1,650 lb) but does not exceed the unladen weight of the motor vehicle if the combined permissible maximum weights of the vehicles so coupled does not exceed 3,500 kg (7,700 lb);
(b) a motor vehicle of the category C or of the category D referred to in Annexes 6 and 7 to this Convention may be coupled to a light trailer without the resultant combination ceasing to belong to category C or category D.
- An international permit shall be issued only to the holder of a domestic permit for the issue of which the minimum conditions laid down in this Convention have been fulfilled. It shall not be valid after the expiry of the corresponding domestic permit, the number of which shall be entered in the international permit.
- The provisions of this Article shall not require Contracting Parties:
(a) to recognize the validity of domestic or international permits issued in the territory of another Contracting Party to persons who had their normal residence in their territories at the time of such issue or whose normal residence has been transferred to their territories since such issue; or
(b) to recognize the validity of permits as aforesaid issued to drivers whose normal residence at the time of such issue was not in the territory in which the permit was issued or who since such issue have transferred their residence to another territory.
- Article 42: Suspension of the validity of driving permits (pp. 111)
- Contracting Parties or sub-divisions thereof may withdraw from a driver the right to use his domestic or international driving permit in their territories if he commits in their territories a breach of their regulations rendering him liable under their legislations to the forfeiture of his permit. In such a case the competent authority of the Contracting Party or sub-division thereof withdrawing the right to use the permit may:
(a) withdraw and retain the permit until the period of the withdrawal of use expires or until the holder leaves its territory, whichever is the earlier;
(b) notify the withdrawal of the right to use the permit to the authority by or on behalf of which the permit was issued;
(c) in the case of an international permit, enter in the space provided for the purpose an endorsement to the effect that the permit is no longer valid in its territory;
(d) where it has not applied the procedure for which provision is made in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, supplement the communication referred to in sub-paragraph (b) by requesting the authority which issued the permit or on behalf of which the permit was issued to notify the person concerned of the decision taken with regard to him.
- Contracting Parties shall endeavour to notify the persons concerned of the decisions communicated to them in accordance with the procedure laid down in paragraph 1 (d) of this Article.
- Nothing in this Convention shall be construed as prohibiting Contracting Parties or sub-divisions thereof from preventing a driver holding a domestic or international driving permit from driving if it is evident or proved that his condition is such that he is unable to drive safely or if the right to drive has been withdrawn from him in the State in which he has his normal residence.
- Article 43: Transitional provisions (pp. 112)
International driving permits conforming to the provisions of the Convention on Road Traffic done at Geneva on 19 September 1949 and issued within a period of five years from the date of entry into force of this Convention in accordance with Article 47, paragraph 1 thereof shall be accorded, for the purposes of Articles 41 and 42 of this Convention, the same treatment as the international driving permits provided for in this Convention.
ANNEX 7: INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT (pp. 153)
Annex 7 describes a model and the formatting of the International Driving Permit:
- The permit shall be a booklet in a format A 6 (148 x 105 mm, 5.82 x 4.13 inches). The cover shall be grey and the inside pages white.
In the 2011 amendment of the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic, there have been a few changes to the relevant articles. But the most relevant is the following addition:
Domestic legislation may limit the period of validity of a domestic driving permit. The period of validity of an international permit shall be either no more than three years after the date of issue or until the date of expiry of the domestic driving permit, whichever is earlier.