PHILIPPINE IMMIGRATION: How to Avoid Getting Offloaded
I remember being excited and a little anxious on my first time traveling outside the country. It worries me a lot. What if we were offloaded and denied to go out of the country on the day of our flight? Isn’t that upsetting knowing all the preparations we went through?
I know for a fact that Philippine immigration has tightened security protocols to prevent individuals with dubious plans abroad from leaving the country. As a result, it’s not uncommon to hear of Filipino travelers being “offloaded” for not passing the immigration inspection.
To avoid being offloaded and enjoy a stress-free inspection at Philippine immigration, here are things you need to do and remember when traveling abroad. All of this is based on experience. I hope this helps.😎
PHILIPPINE IMMIGRATION: What is offloading?
“Offloading” means getting a boarded passenger out of the plane.
Offloading is the process of barring a traveler — a tourist, an overseas Filipino worker, or a person withholding a departure order — from leaving the Philippines. The cause of offloading may vary from insufficient documentation to security risk at the intended destination.
What are the processes at the airport?
I always go to the airport 3-4 hours before my departure time to finish all of this procedure.
- Pay the Travel Tax. Travel tax counters are located on the far right when you’re facing the check-in counters. It’s P1,620 per person.
- Check-in Present your Travel Tax receipt, printed ticket, and passport to the check-in agent. The Agent will give you your boarding pass.
- Fill out a copy of the Immigration Form (aka Departure Card). You will get it before you get in line at the immigration booth. If you can’t see it, ask the security guard for assistance. Note that you will need to indicate your address abroad (the address of the hotel or the friend you’re visiting).
- Proceed to the Immigration Booths. At this point, the officer will ask you questions and ask for documentation of your travel. When they’re satisfied, they will put a stamp on your passport.
- Final security check.
Then that’s it. You just need to wait for your boarding time. 👍
TIP: Bring with you a pen to avoid inconvenience. Passenger details must be penned legibly on the card using black ink.
What are the things that I should bring to the airport?
Most of the time, the Officer will only ask for the following:
- Passport (with visa, if applicable)
- Accomplished departure card
- Round-trip ticket
- Company ID
Don’t present other documents when they don’t ask for them. All the other documents are more like safety nets IN CASE you need to prove you’re employed.
Here are the secondary documents they might ask for.
- Travel Itinerary – Make a list of the tourist spots you will visit during your stay. In case the Immigration Officers pick you up for a random check, a printed itinerary will help convince them that you will really go to your destination to tour and nothing else. If you have receipts of the tours( like KLOOK ) you paid online, print them as well.
- Hotel reservation – If you’re traveling as a tourist, get the hotel’s exact address and contact number. If you’re visiting a friend or relative and you’re staying with them, get their exact address and contact number. You will need it when filling out immigration forms.
- Invitation letter – If you’re visiting a friend or relative and staying with them.
- If you’re an employee, Certificate of Employment (best if it indicates your salary and how long you have been with the company)
- If you’re self-employed, a copy of your Business Registration Certificate
- If you’re a freelancer, you should still have an ITR. If your clients pay it for you, you may ask for a copy from the client. You may also ask your client to produce a document that would certify that they have hired you and the details of the project/contract.
- If you’re tax-exempt, you should still have an ITR. Since 2018, workers earning below P250,000 a year (P21,000 a month) are exempted from paying income taxes. But that doesn’t mean it exempts you from having an ITR. If you’re an employee, you can still get a copy of your ITR from your employer even if you’re tax-exempt.
PHILIPPINE IMMIGRATION: COMMON QUESTIONS BY IMMIGRATION OFFICERS
The questions vary from officer to officer. If you’re lucky, the officer will just throw a couple of questions at you and you’re through. Immigration Officers know how to spot liars. They have interviewed thousands of passengers and are trained to detect if you’re trying to hide something. The key is to answer confidently, consistently, and truthfully. But often, here are the questions:
- Where are you going?
- When will you return to the Philippines?
- What will you do there? or What is the purpose of your travel?
- Whom are you traveling with?
Sometimes, you will be subjected to a secondary inspection and will be asked follow-up questions.
- May I see your return ticket?
- Do you have travel insurance?
- If traveling alone… Why are you traveling alone?
- If you have a renewed passport… May I see your old passport?
- In extreme cases, they can ask for your proof of subsistence or how you can afford traveling. You can show your debit card or credit card in this case.
- Where will you stay? The place of your residence in your destination country is a concern for immigration officials. They may always ask you to present your letter of invitation or proof of your hotel reservation vouchers.
- In cases where you would say you have relatives abroad, they may ask you to present your proof of relationship to ensure they’re your relatives. And moreover, you would be required to let the officials know if your relative is employed in the country of your destination.
- Is this your first time traveling overseas?
- How many days will you spend on your vacation? (For instance, if you travel abroad for vacation)
- What’s your job here in the Philippines? You can present your Company ID, Certificate of Employment, or Payslip.
Please note that:
Solo traveling especially as a female is a red flag due to cases of human trafficking. So make sure you are clear with your itinerary and purpose. Most importantly, when they interrogate you, answer honestly and show that you are confident to travel alone abroad.
If you’re a first-time tourist to a not-so-popular destination, then you may be questioned by the officials.
Travelers or tourists with no steady incomes in the Philippines are also under their radar.
If possible, state everything will all honesty. If you are not doing anything illegal then I don’t see why you have to lie. And people who lie tend to be inconsistent as well and that’s a red flag for the officers. Answer directly, ‘wag paligoy ligoy. It’s better to keep your answer short because they might ask more follow-up questions about unnecessary details you provide.
The bottom line is to PROVIDE SUFFICIENT DOCUMENTATION and BE OVERPREPARED
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