Revised departure rules for Filipinos: What you need to know

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Revised departure rules for Filipinos: What you need to know
File photo shows passengers waiting in line at the immigration area as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 services more international flight departures and arrivals.
The STAR / Rudy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking issued this week revised guidelines for Filipinos traveling abroad in a bid to protect citizens from human trafficking and illegal recruitment. 

The updated departure rules, which will take effect on September 3, have raised concerns among Filipinos, with some saying the requirements are overly demanding and that the government might be infringing on people’s right to travel. 

In a press briefing Thursday, officials clarified that the updated protocols “did not impose any additional burden” on departing travelers.

“Given the nation’s history of migration as well as the vulnerabilities of many of our countrymen, it becomes essential to have well-defined and easily-understandable departure protocols that deter potential traffickers from exploiting vulnerable individuals,” Department of Justice spokesperson Mico Clavano said. 

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco also said that the new guidelines merely list down requirements for other categories of departing Filipinos.

“The guidelines have been here since 2012—which is more than a decade ago, and have been refined by IACAT to address concerns raised by the public. Departing tourists need not worry,” he said.

The move to revise the guidelines comes after a series of complaints from travelers who have reported missing their flights or being offloaded due to questioning by BI officers.

What are the basic travel requirements?

The department pointed out that over 95% of travelers are required to present only the basic documents:

  • Passport valid at least six months from the date of departure
  • Boarding pass
  • Appropriate visa, whenever required
  • Confirmed return or roundtrip ticket, when necessary

According to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, the additional requirements will mostly apply to first-time travelers, who may pose as tourists but are identified as having intentions to find employment abroad.

Do I need to show proof of financial capacity?

“That will only come in if the Filipino traveler is not able to adequately present and prove his purpose of travel, or in more regular parlance, when there are indications of red flags,” said Undersecretary Nicholas Felix Ty, who is in charge of IACAT. 

Is it still necessary for me to provide proof of financial capacity and employment even if I already have a visa?

Ty stressed that immigration officers do not ask for proof of financial capacity and employment in most cases. 

“If the Filipino traveler is going to a country that requires a visa, for example Europe, I would think the immigration officer would know that proof of financial capacity has been somewhat established at the level of the embassy,” Ty said. 

The official added that people who have traveled before without any issues will likely be able to get past immigration smoothly. 

Should I prepare all supporting documents? 

Preparing documents such as proof of financial capacity or certificate of employment “would be a very good way to go” for first-time travelers, Ty said. 

“If you’re already a seasoned traveler, the immigration officer can see it in their record that you often go out of the country and come home, and you’re not looking for a job… the basic documents would be sufficient for you to be able to depart,” he said.

What supporting documents may be requested from different categories of travelers?

In addition to basic travel documents, an immigration officer may require a passenger to present supporting documents when applicable. 

Self-funded travelers may be asked to provide proof of accommodation, financial capacity or source of income and proof of employment

Travelers whose trips are sponsored by a relative within the first civil degree may need to present an original birth or marriage certificate or report of marriage, copies of the sponsor’s passport and valid work visa or residence permit, Overseas Employment Certificate (for OFW sponsors).

The immigration officer may ask for a notarized original affidavit of support and guarantee and original birth or marriage certificate or report of marriage if the sponsor falls within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to show the relationship between the traveler and sponsor. 

In cases where the travel is sponsored by a non-relative or a legal or juridical entity, an outbound traveler may be asked to present a notarized original affidavit of support and guarantee as well as a document establishing the relationship between the passenger and the sponsor.

Meanwhile, OFWs departing for the first time may be asked to show OEC or OFW clearance issued by the Department of Migrant Workers along with valid employment visa or work permit and employment contract.

For more information on supporting documents for other categories, you may access the revised departure formalities here

How long should inspections take? 

Primary inspections should last for 45 seconds and secondary inspections for 15 minutes, unless extraordinary circumstances require a longer period of inspection. 

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