Airport Immigration Requirements for Filipinos: A Checklist and the One Rule You Have to Remember
Since starting this blog, I’ve written a whole bunch of articles about the documents required by airport Immigration authorities for Filipinos who want to travel abroad. In those articles, I’ve tried to explain as clearly as possible what the basic requirements are and the situations where other documents might be needed. Nevertheless, I still get a lot of comments where people tell me about their situation and then ask me what documents they should bring.
As much as I would like to make everyone happy, it’s just come to a point where I really can’t give everyone personalized advice anymore. Like, right now, I have over 70 pending comments, majority of which are by people asking me what documents to bring or if I think they will be offloaded. Sumasakit na ang ulo ko ka-po-problema sa mga problema nyo! 😀 Seriously, even if I actually had the desire to spend the rest of my life answering multiple variations of the same question, I just don’t have the time.
And you know what? It really doesn’t have to be ME who has to analyze your situation and figure out what documents you might need. You can do it yourself. Once you understand the reasoning behind these travel requirements, it’s all really just common sense.
So, in this article, I’m going to explain (again!) what the requirements are, what other documents might be required, and the basic reasoning behind all of them. I’m also going to answer the most common questions I receive regarding offloading. Unless something changes drastically, this will be my last word on the topic and I will direct all future comments to this post.
Here we go. 🙂
What are the basic requirements for Filipinos traveling internationally?
There are only three:
- Round-trip ticket
- Visa – only if required at your destination
Those are the only documents that are required from ALL Filipino travelers.
However, there are times when the Immigration officer might ask to see some other documents based on the information that you give them.
At this point, I strongly encourage you to read the other articles I’ve written about this because I explain these things in greater detail there:
The explanations are in those articles and I’m not going to repeat them here. But, basically, the rule of thumb is this:
Whatever you tell the Immigration officer, have the documents to prove it.
Your purpose for going abroad is tourism?
- Why? What sights/experiences are you interested in? (Bring a copy of your itinerary, bookings, etc.)
- How do we know you will return and that you’re not actually trying to find a job in your destination?
- Because you are already earning a decent income here in the Philippines. (Bring your certificate of employment and your recent bank statements.)
- Because your family is here. (Bring your marriage certificate and the birth certificates of your children, if any.)
Your aunt is paying for your trip?
- How do we know she’s really your aunt? (Bring birth certificates and/or marriage certificates that the IO can use to trace your relationship.)
- How do we know she’s really willing to pay for your trip? (Bring an affidavit of support.)
- How do we know she can really afford to pay for your trip? (Bring a copy of her financial documents.)
And so on.
Immigration officers cannot read minds BUT they need to know if you’re telling the truth because it is their job to make sure that you’re not actually a victim of illegal recruitment or human trafficking. It’s also their job to find out if you’re just saying you’re a tourist but you’re actually going overseas to look for work — because if you work abroad without going through the proper processes, you will be more vulnerable to abusive employers and then who knows what could happen to you. The best way you can help yourself is to help them do their jobs by bringing documents that prove that everything you’re saying is true.
Why are Immigration officers so strict about these things?
Because people keep lying to them! 🙂
Eh baka ikaw nga, nag-sinungaling na noon. 😉 Which we all understand naman, tayo namang lahat gustong umasenso at mapabuti ang pamilya. Kaya lang, hindi rin natin mapigilang magkaroon ng kumbaga “trust issues” ang mga IO. Ikaw ba naman ang niloloko araw-araw, di ba? 🙂
“Do you think I will be offloaded?”
Let’s put it this way.
If I say “yes, I think there’s a good chance you might be offloaded” — are you just gonna give up? Are you gonna cancel your trip?
If I say “no, I don’t think you’ll be offloaded” — are you gonna relax and be complacent about what documents you will bring?
Does it really matter what my answer is? Aren’t you supposed to do your best anyway to make sure you’re not offloaded?
You know what, every time I travel, I think I could be offloaded. Even if I’ve traveled internationally before. Because…who knows? I could end up in the booth of an Immigration officer who’s having a really sh*tty day or who thinks that my lack of eye shadow is somehow a sign of poverty. I always bring with me documents that prove I can afford my trip and that I have someone and something to come back to in the Philippines.
IT. DOESN’T. MATTER. if I think you will be offloaded or not. Do your best to bring all the documents you might need.
“Do I really have to bring X and Y?”
This is another one of those questions where it really doesn’t matter what I think.
If I say you don’t have to bring your bank statement, and then, at the airport, the Immigration officer decides to ask for it, what are you going to do? Tell the IO, “Eh, sabi nung isang blogger, hindi na raw kailangan“?
The answer is: you don’t actually have to do anything you don’t want to do. But whatever you do decide to do, make sure you can live with the consequences.
If you think a certain document is too much of a hassle to secure, then if you want, you can take the risk and decide not to bring it. If the Immigration officer doesn’t ask for it, great — none of your time and effort wasted. But if the IO does ask for it, well…
Personally, I would rather bring a document that ends up being useless because the IO doesn’t ask for it, than end up regretting not bringing a document that I could have brought if only I’d made just a little more effort.
Comprehensive List of Requirements and Possible Required Documents
Some people, when I direct them to my previous articles that explain all of this in detail, will just reply, “So…what should I bring?” Okay. If you want a list, here’s a list.
- DFA-issued passport — with at least six months’ validity
- Unexpired visa — if required at final destination
- Return ticket
Other documents that MAY be required:
- Old passports
- Proof of intent to travel as a tourist
- Receipt or other proof that round-trip ticket has been fully paid
- Hotel reservations, preferably with receipt or other proof that the entire stay has been fully paid
- Tour itinerary, preferably with tickets/confirmations/reservations for the attractions listed in your itinerary
- Proof of ability to fund trip
- Bank certification
- Bank statements
- Proof of ownership of real estate or other assets (also helps to prove ties to the Philippines)
- Credit card statements
- Proof of ties to the Philippines (and thus intent to come back after trip)
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate(s) of child(ren), if any
- Proof of source of income (relates to both financial capacity and intent to come back to the Philippines)
- Company ID
- Certificate of employment
- Approved leave of absence, preferably with a photocopy of the company ID of the person authorizing your LOA
- Business permit and other business-related papers
- Project contract
- PayPal transactions
- Income tax return (ITR)
- For sponsored trips:
- Affidavit of Support and Undertaking
- Proof of relationship to sponsor
- Proof of sponsor’s financial capacity and legal status
- Sponsor’s contact details
- Sponsor’s corporate registration papers, if applicable
- CFO certificate, if traveling to meet with a foreign spouse or boyfriend
- DSWD travel clearance for minors
- Travel Authority for government employees
Obviously, if you don’t have one or more of these documents, there’s nothing you can do about that. Instead, try to bring another document that will roughly have the same function. For example, if you’re a freelancer and you can’t provide a Certificate of Employment, try to bring papers that will show how you earn your income — for example, your contract with your client(s), the PayPal payments you’ve received, etc.
If you have questions about some of these documents, there’s a good chance I’ve already discussed it in my previous posts, so let me give you a link to them again:
As I’ve said, the rule of thumb is: whatever you tell the Immigration officer, have the documents to prove it.
Good luck! 🙂