19 August 2010

Renewing my driver's licence

O'Connell Street, Dublin

The other day I renewed my driver's licence. It had expired in May. I went to the office, took a number, filled up the form and had to wait only one or two minutes before my application was processed. I had to deal with only one clerk and the transaction, including payment, took less than a minute. There was no fine for having let my licence expire. I had spent only about ten minutes in the office. I left with my recepit, knowing that I'll receive my new license by mail within a day or two.

This was Dublin, Ireland, not the Philippines.

In the Philippines you have to renew your licence every three years during your birth month. In Ireland your licence is valid for ten years but only up to the age of 70. After that you get a yearly one, having produced a medical certificate from your doctor. The process in the Philippines has been simplified and you can get it now in about two hours. When I renewed my licence in Bacolod City in 2003 it took more than a day going from one office to another, and going through a farcical drugs test and an even more farcical 'medical' test. Because of a mistake in a computer in Manila the Bacolod office was unable to issue my licence, though the receipt served as a temporary one.

Three years later I went to another city in Negros Occidental to renew my licence. I discovered that they had introduced a new 'hoop' - you had to give a tax number. When I came to the last part the machine that produced the ID-type licence wasn't functioning.

Bureaucracy in the Philippines seems, for the most part, to be designed to make life difficult for people, especially the poor, who are often taken advantage of. A taxi-driver or jeepney-driver, in addition to paying the fee for his licence, loses time for working, which before could be more than a day. One of the very few good things done under the Marcos regime was the simplification of the process of renewing your driver's licence but under one of his successors the whole thing was fouled up again.


Crux Fidelis said...

Father, sorry to be such a pedant (I can't help it) but 'driver's lcence' is an Americanism. In anglophone Europe it's a driving licence.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thanks, Crux. I had never averted to that before. I've just checked my licence, which came by post this morning, and it does indeed say 'driving licence'.

However, in the Philippines, where I've lived most of my life and where American English is the standard, it is referred to as a 'driver's license', though I can't find this term on the ID-type card itself or on the receipt.

I thought at first you were 'ticketing' me for 'license', the American spelling, instead of 'licence'. I had the same post on the online magazine I edit in the Philippines but used 'license' there.

Last year the Irish police (Gardai) got some egg on their faces when they noticed that a particular Pole had been given an usually high number of tickets for parking and driving offences. Then someone discovered that what the Gardai had thought was the name of this particular citizen of Poland was the Polish for 'driving licence'!