Pinoy Abroad: List of Documents Required by Immigration for International Travel

SGMT | List of Documents Required by Immigration — 
In 2014, I wrote a post titled “What Filipinos Need to Know About Traveling Abroad: Guidelines from the Bureau of Immigration” and since then, I’ve had a lot of people writing to me and asking for advice on how to “pass” the Immigration screening. Two years have gone by since that article first came out so I thought I’d create this updated list of documents that travelers may be required to show at the Immigration counter.
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What documents are required for ALL Filipinos who are traveling abroad as tourists?
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  1. Passport issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – must be unexpired with at least 6 months remaining validity*
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  2. Visa – if required at the final destination
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  3. Return ticket

*I emailed Immigration some time ago and they verified that the passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of departure.

The visa must be unexpired.

You must have a ticket for your flight back to the Philippines. A few people have asked if return tickets are still needed if, for example, they plan to go backpacking around Southeast Asia and don’t want to set their schedule in stone. I asked an Immigration officer about this and, yes, you still need a return ticket. This is because the country you are heading to — and most other countries — will almost certainly require tourists to present a return/onward ticket upon arrival, as proof that you don’t intend to stay in their country illegally or for longer than you’re permitted. Without a return/onward ticket, you could be sent back to the Philippines.

  • If you really intend to go on a trip without making specific plans for return, I suggest you set an estimated date of return and: (a) buy a ticket back to the Philippines from a budget airline, so it won’t hurt your pocket too much if you decide not to use it, OR (b) buy a ticket from an airline that will let you change travel dates. This strategy might cost you a bit more but that’s better than being sent back — prudence is cheaper than regret.
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When may additional documents be required?

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Aside from the basic requirements, some travelers may be asked to submit additional documents. This may happen when:

  1. The passenger discloses a doubtful, false or suspect travel intent. Example: A person who says she is going to, say, Singapore for tourism purposes but can’t even say what attractions she will visit. (Singapore is a frequent jump-off point for people planning to work in the Middle East without proper papers and, sorry, the Immigration guys know it.)
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  2. Passports and travel documents/visas are counterfeit, fraudulent, falsified, simulated or tampered. Well, obviously this is suspicious, not to mention quite illegal!
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  3. Passenger’s totality of circumstances manifests a well-founded certainty of human trafficking, smuggling or illegal recruitment. For this, the Immigration officer will consider the traveler’s:
    • Age/health
    • Educational attainment
    • Financial capability for travel
    • Travel history, if any
    • Final destination

Based on previous data and on the experience of Immigration officers, they know that certain people are more likely to become victims of human/drug trafficking or are more likely to say they are going abroad as tourists but are actually going there to work or to look for work. And look — most of us, even the Immigration people, understand that people want to escape poverty and need to provide for their families, but if you don’t go through the proper channels and you don’t have the proper papers, you will be in much greater danger of being abused by your employer. People in the country you’re going to will be able to blackmail you (or worse) and get you to do things you wouldn’t normally consent to doing. Even if the person who recruited you is your “friend” — do you really want to be the next Mary Jane Veloso? So please, if you want to work abroad, please, please try as much as possible to do it the proper way.

For tourists, you can find a list of documents that you can bring in this article: Offloading, required documents, and other Immigration FAQs.
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What documents do you need to present to the Immigration officer if someone else is sponsoring your trip?

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First of all, your sponsor must either be:

  • Living in your country of destination, OR
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  • Traveling with you

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I asked if the sponsor can be someone who is staying behind in the Philippines and the Immigration officer said no, they don’t really consider an affidavit from someone staying behind as enough assurance that he/she will be paying your travel expenses.

I do know that, for example, when you apply for a visa, the foreign embassy will accept it if your sponsor is someone like your parent, who’s not going with you on the trip but is simply giving you money for it. (See: Sample Affidavit of Support for Visa Application.) In that case, I think what you can do — for Immigration purposes — is you can ask your parents to transfer the money to your bank account, have a copy of your bank statement AND your parents’ bank statement on hand, and explain the whole thing to the IO if he/she asks. At least that’s what I would do if I were in that situation — probably overkill, but again, prudence is cheaper than regret.

So anyway, if someone in your destination is sponsoring your trip, you need to prepare:

  1. An Affidavit of Support and Undertaking that is duly authenticated by the Philippine embassy or consulate
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  2. Proof that you are related to your sponsor up to the 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, such as NSO birth certificates (it is the IO’s duty to trace the relationship, so don’t hate them for suddenly wanting to know each leaf of your family tree)
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  3. Proof of your sponsor’s financial capacity and legal status
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  4. Your sponsor’s contact details
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  5. Your sponsor’s corporate registration papers, if applicable

If your sponsor is traveling with you, you need to submit a duly notarized Affidavit of Support and Undertaking which indicates:

  1. Your sponsor’s financial capacity
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  2. His/her reason for sponsoring your trip
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  3. The complete residential address and contact details of your sponsor
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  4. Undertaking by your sponsor that the travel is solely for tourism purposes and that you will return upon completion of the tour (Source)

Note the difference: if your sponsor is already in the country you’re going to, the affidavit needs to be authenticated by the Philippine embassy or consulate there, but if your sponsor is traveling with you, the affidavit just needs to be notarized.
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Travel clearance for Filipino minors

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A travel clearance issued by the DSWD will be needed if the traveler is a minor (below 18 years old) and is:

  • Traveling alone to a foreign country, OR
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  • Traveling to a foreign country with a person other than his/her parents


Read more about it here: Must-Knows for Filipinos Traveling with Children

Travel authority for government employees

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These are the people who need to present a Travel Authority when going abroad — and their respective proper Issuing Authority:

  1. Cabinet members and equal-ranked officials — Office of the President
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  2. Heads of government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) attached to the Office of the President (OP) — Office of the President
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  3. All OP-attached agency heads — Office of the President
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  4. Officials and employees of GOCCs and GFIs (whether or not attached to the OP) — respective GOCC or GFI head
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  5. Officials and employees of agency heads — department head
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  6. Provincial governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities or independent component cities — DILG Secretary
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  7. State university and college (SUC) heads — CHED Chairman
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  8. Officials and employees of SUCs — respective SUC heads
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  9. Technical and vocational school (TVS) heads — TESDA Chairman
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  10. TVS officials and employees — respective TVS heads
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  11. Government officials and employees traveling abroad while on leave of absence — respective department heads
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  12. Government officials and employees with the rank of Assistant Secretary and above who will travel abroad while on leave of absence — Office of the President
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For more tips on how to avoid getting offloaded, check out the following articles:
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Offloading, required documents, and other Immigration FAQs
Offloading, required documents, and other Immigration FAQs

Filipina offloaded from flight at NAIA
Filipina offloaded from flight at NAIA

Anti-offloading tips from an Immigration officer
Anti-offloading tips from an Immigration officer

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And coming up: a list of common questions asked by Immigration officers based on our travel experiences. Subscribe to SmallTown Girls, Midnight Trains to get the latest travel tips and updates.


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41 thoughts on “Pinoy Abroad: List of Documents Required by Immigration for International Travel

  1. Hi. I’m a freelancer and plans to backpack in Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam route. This will be my first time to travel. Will my status as a freelancer will subject me to BI doubts as illegal? As we know it doesn’t mean since we’re freelancer we don’t have a steady flow of income. We’re just our own boss, but sadly some “employed” people have prejudices against the informal sector.
    Secondly, the tickets I purchased through a promo was Mla-Thai and homebound would be Saigon-Manila since my last stop is Vietnam. Is this wise? I mean, we’ll start at Bangkok, then Cambodia, and Vietnam so naturally I don’t need an airline ticket to Cambodia because I’ll be taking the bus and going back to Bangkok to Manila would be longer and more expensive route than flying from Saigon back to Manila. Is this going to cause me trouble? I’d like to hear what you think of this plan. Thank you very much. I really enjoy your blog.

    • Hi Ann!

      Don’t worry, I think the Immigration guys are already quite familiar with people who do freelance work. As you said, being a freelancer doesn’t mean that you don’t have a steady flow of income, so you just really need to come prepared with documents related to your income, such as ITR, invoices, bank statements, contracts with your clients, etc. As for your planned Bangkok-Cambodia-Saigon itinerary, that should be fine. Just make sure you have your itinerary planned out (it’s best if you print it out) and you can answer questions like where you’re going to take the bus, how much it’s going to cost, etc. You should also print out your hotel/guesthouse vouchers or confirmation emails — those will help you prove your proposed itinerary.

      Even if it’s your first time to travel abroad, try not to be nervous. Answer questions calmly and confidently, and never lie to the IO.

      Good luck and enjoy your trip! 🙂

      • Hi good day po ask ko lng regarding to immigration requirements sa naia ah pupunta po kase ako ng qatar by sponsor ng pinsan ko iam just wondering if pwede po gawing proof na first degree na pinsan ko siya gamit yung nso ng mother niya which is my aunt and my fathers true copy of birth certificate from the civil registry of the cityhall kase wala po siyang record sa nso do you think po pwede ko po yun gamitin thanks for the reply

      • Hi Junghee. Kasi dapat ma-show mo yung relationship nyo, so kung hanggang NSO lang ng nanay nya, you’ll have to find a way to show na nanay nya yun.

    • How was your IO experience Ann? I am bound to do the same thing this October. And would really appreciate your insight. Thanks 🙂

  2. hi i just wanted to know if i still need a affidavit of support after we just passed one last june when we traveled together going to singapore? and im planning to fly back to singapore to see him but im confused if i still need a affidavit even im going to see the same guy? he lives there, i have the copy of his passport and visa…

    i wanted to know what else should i need to bring?

    • Hi Kathy! I’m not sure but I think you would need another one because affidavits are fairly specific. For example, if someone pledges to pay for your travel expenses on your previous trip, that won’t necessarily mean that he promises to do the same for your next trip. Did your previous affidavit mention the travel dates of your previous trip?

  3. Hi im a fillipina …. recently my ipa has expire n was extend for 7days more . Thinking of exit to batam for a week n return to singapore as a visitor . What r the things i av to take note when going thru the custom . Much appreciated for your advice .

    • Hi Anna. I’m afraid I don’t really know much about situations like that. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  4. Hi, I’m crez. Can I ask you something, last march 2016 I was offloaded bound for Thailand due to lack of documents to show up. So I decided not to go back anymore since they gave me a slip to complete all the said requirements like OEC, and etc., they knew that I want to go there for work purposes..
    My boyfriend work in Thailand and he have a working permit now, he told me to visit him this September, but I I’m in doubt this time because of that incident, can I still travel to Thailand again? How about my pending name in BI? Do you think this will affect me if I want to travel to Thailand for vacation purposes only? , As of now, I have no work, I read your blog and one of the requirements is a company id if you have work. What would be the documents I should present for IO,? This time my intention is pure, I just want to visit my boyfriend. What would be the best thing I should do? Is it possible to have an invitation letter from my boyfriend to proof that I just want to go there for vacation and not for work.

    Please help! I need your advice…highly appreciated. Thank you so much…

    • Hi Crez! You can try to ask your boyfriend to give you an invitation letter as well as an affidavit that he will pay for your expenses there and that you will come back to the Philippines as scheduled. If you have a bank account, bring a bank certificate/statement too. However, I can’t guarantee that this will be enough — it would really be best if you had documents that will indicate that you have roots here in the Philippines and that you are most likely to come back. Best advice ko na lang siguro is to just try, you’ll never know unless you try, but buy yung promo na plane ticket para if ever ma-offload ka ulit — sana talaga hindi, but if ever lang — at least hindi masyadong masakit sa bulsa compared to yung regular fare na ticket. Good luck, I hope makalusot!

  5. Hi i just want to ask regarding the case of my brother he is minor(17 yrs old) and we are both travelling going to georgia, but the situation is i will meet him here in qatar airport, while he will be coming from philippines alone. Since i was working here in qatar so i just planned to meet him here then we are both going to georgia. Can you please help me regarding the documents he will need to have except the dswd permit. Thank you so much

  6. Hi! This post is really helpful.
    I just have a question about proof of 4th degree of consanguinity or affinity like NSO/marriage certificate. Does this need authentication? If yes, how? It’s issued here in Philippines. And aside from this document, what else do I need as proof? My American husband will sponsor my whole trip. He’s working in Malaysia. Has house and car there too. Please help.

    • Hi Queenie. If your husband is sponsoring the trip, you would need the marriage certificate issued by NSO — that doesn’t need further authentication.

  7. Hi! Regarding departure card. We have family business naka corporation and treasurer ang position ko. Ano tapad ilalagay ko self employed or businesswoman? Plesse help po first time to travel with my 1 year old daughter.

    • Hi Anne. I think businesswoman would be a nice general term, and you can elaborate on it if the immigration officer asks. And try to bring documents that will prove your position in the company. Good luck!

  8. Hi i came across ur blog and its very helpful, i just want to ask you few question here, ok, i’m currently working here now in cavite, and me and my daughter are planing to fly to my husband country in Vanuatu, we living together almost 8 years now and we just got married last year June 26. since my husband is a student here in the Philippines, his brother back in Vanuatu are the 1 who will be sponsoring us paying our return ticket. i will leave for 3 weeks and come back here to start work again, since i dont have much money in my bank account, do still need to present my bank statement to IO, i have all proves that i’m currently working here now and we will just staying there for 3 weeks, the only problms here is that my husband will not the 1 who will sponsor us since he just graduates and he dont have job yet now. i already secure my CFO certificate, i’m just being nervous on how to make my clearance in immigraion. thnk u

    • Hi Evelyn! If you can get your brother-in-law to make an affidavit of support stating that he will be sponsoring your trip, that will help very much. If you can, just bring along your bank statement, but the affidavit of support from your brother-in-law would be more important since he is the one paying for the trip. Be sure to bring a copy of your marriage certificate as well. Good luck!

    • Hi Jen/Vanessa! I’m not sure but I think it’s okay, kasi sa pagkakaalam ko, for employees of state universities and colleges and technical and vocational schools, yung head ng school dapat mag-sign ng travel authority. So in your case, ang principal siguro, kasi sya yung head ng school nyo.

  9. As dep ed kasi po Ako,my dala po aqng itr,Payslip,Coe,leave of absence,debit card,passbook na dlwa,prc I’d,company I’d,return ticket,booking hotel,travel iterinary,tas ung paper ng grab a car q po,3rd time q na po itong mgttravel sa Taiwan..thanks

  10. Hi. Me, my mom and my son will travel to Japan in January 2016 as a Tourist (Visa granted). My Sister lives there but i choose not to ask for sponsorship kse ayoko maabala sister ko and bayaw ko dun. its a 2weeks vacation, we are booked for 3 hotels pero tig 1-2days lang kse we intend to really stay at my sisters house.

    pwede ko ba sabihin sa immigration na dun kme magstay sa house ng sister ko? I know they will be asking san kme magstay and ung mga hotels na nkabook kse is yung mga papasyalan lang namin na lugar na malayo tlaga from her place which is 1-2days lang kme nakabook. Do you think maqquestion kme dun kse may sister pala ko dun tapos d ako nagpa invite? Thank you! hope to hear from you!

      • BTW, i have complete documents coz i have work nga. ITR, COE, Bank Cert (my mom also has her own bank statement), i have debit and creditcard etc maybe that’s why i was approved for a visa. I’m just worried lang tlaga if I need to tell them na my sister lives there. Sabi nya kse mdami kme pwede pasyalan kung san kme abutan ng gabi mdaming hotels na pwedeng tuluyan if d na kayang umuwi sa yamagata.

      • Hi Ganda! If you tell Immigration you’ll be staying with your sister, there’s a good chance they might ask for an invitation from your sister, as well as proof that you guys are related (like birth certs). BUT if you tell them that you’ll be staying in hotels, and you only have bookings for certain dates, they will also question that. I think the best thing for you to do would be to ask your sister for an invitation and, ideally, have it authenticated by the embassy/consulate there. Another option would be to just book hotels for those days that you’re staying with your sister. (At Booking.com, you can search for hotels that have free cancellation.)

  11. Hae po, nag pa plano po sana ako na pumunta ng thailand para magtrabaho bilang guro. First time ko po mag travel pag nagkataon. Bawal po bang mag apply doon ng trabaho? Kung pwede naman po, ano po ang dapat kung e prepare o dalhin? Wala po akong alam na agency na pwedeng lapitan.

    • Hi Jerusalem! Sorry sa late reply, busy lang talaga. Um…sa pagkakaalam ko…kapag magtatrabaho ka sa ibang bansa, dapat dumaan sa tamang proseso for OFWs, hindi ko lang alam masyado kung anong mga procedures yon, basta pag-alis mo sa bansa, dapat meron ka nang papers like OEC. I think merong iba na pinapayagang umalis ng bansa kung meron na talaga silang interview with their prospective employer, pero kung wala ka pang prospects, mag-a-apply ka pa lang, parang hindi yata pwede….

      Sorry I can’t give you more definite answers kasi hindi ko pa na-try. Ang best thing talaga na gawin mo is go to POEA and ask for guidance there. You can read more about it sa website nila: http://peos.poea.gov.ph/professionals/

  12. Mam ano po kaya ang kelangan ko i present sa IO kasi i am currently working in a government. Pero job order lang po ako. Kung makikita nila na id ko is sa government ako work hahanapan nila ako ng leave form. Pag job order po kasi wala naman ganun na i issue samin po. Thanks po

    • And sa dubai po pla ang punta ko my first cousin po kasi ako dun. Sponsor nia ako. Pero mejo na ba bother ako sa IO baka kasi i offload nila ako pag nla mkita financial capability ko.

      • Oo, you would have to prove that you can afford the trip OR that sponsored ang expenses mo by your cousin. You can ask him/her to make an Affidavit of Support tapos ipa-authenticate sa Philippine embassy dun sa Dubai. Then you would have to prove na tourism lang talaga ang pakay mo dun, at hindi ka maghahanap ng trabaho. Good luck!

    • Hi Tere! Do you have a contract ba or any kind of paper that you sign kapag job order? Perhaps you can present that instead.

  13. Good day,

    Your blog is very informative. I have been reading the comments also.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t find the answer of my question. So now, I am going to ask and much appreciated if you will be able to respond.

    I am 22 years old from Cebu City. A French friend(male) of mine is inviting me to go to his country to visit as a tourist but then it’ll be difficult for me as I don’t have any proof that I can afford going abroad.

    He will be my sponsor.

    What best to do ? Please advice me some.

    • Hi Linda!

      The best thing you can probably do would be to get him to execute an Affidavit of Support. Also, prepare proof of your relationship, such as pictures and emails/messages, that would help provide the background for why he’s sponsoring your trip. Actually, you will need to prepare several documents in order to get a Schengen visa to visit France, and those documents are pretty much what you might also have to present when it’s time for you to go through Immigration.

      You can read more about getting a visa here: http://smalltowngirlsmidnighttrains.com/2016/02/27/schengen-visa-french-embassy-new/

      Good luck!

  14. Hi! I think your blog would really help me.
    I’m worried kasi sa second vacation namin ng anak ko next month. Last December 2016 kasi nag asked ng ECC yung Immigration sa Airport dahil first time mag exit anak ko at korean passport gamit nya. At they considered as foreigner na nga anak ko dahil wala pa Philippine passport. 3mos baby ko nung umalis kami for vacation sa Malaysia dahil dun naka-based asawa ko. Then babalik sana ulit kami dun next month para magbakasyon. Need ko pa ba ulit ng ECC? Or anything na hahanapin sakin sa immigration ng airport..
    Thank you for reply.

  15. Hi Good day ,
    Me and my bf are planning to go on vacay in Malaysia for a week. He will be the one who will pay all the expenses ,what papers do i need to give them so that i can avoid the offloading thing .Thanks in advance.

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