Boarding and Offloading Policies of the Philippine Immigration Bureau: What They Do and Don’t Tell You

Tip #1: The Proper Documents

What they tell you:
An Immigration Officer shall require you to secure the following documents before you are allowed to board your scheduled flight:

1. A valid passport
2. A round-trip ticket
3. Visa, if applicable

What they don’t tell you:
With the collective experiences of several travelers, these specific questions are also being asked:

1. What is the nature of your work?
This is synonymous to being asked of the status of your employment (if you either do or do not have a current job). Additionally, you may also be asked to support your claims, e.g. with a company identification card or a certificate of employment.

In the case of freelancers (like virtual assistants and the like), you should procure the following:
a. A copy of your certificate of Income Tax Return (ITR) of the previous fiscal year.
This document, which you may procure from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), is proof that you are remitting your taxes.
b. A duly signed certificate of employment

For business owners, a Business Registration Certificate will be crucial to prove that you are an authorized proprietor.

2. Do you have a place to stay there?
A copy of proof of your hotel reservation may additionally be required. They may otherwise ask further if you reply that you are merely staying with an acquaintance or with a friend, so it is ideal to procure the former.

(See common reasons why there is an offloading policy.)

Tip #2: A Supplemented Inspection

This procedure is done basically when the Immigration Officer doubts of you returning from the trip.

What they tell you:
The Philippine Bureau’s Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International Bound Passengers itemizes the criteria of assessing those who fall into this category based on the following:

1. Age. You should be of the legal age of 18 years old to travel for a work-related matter.
2. Educational attainment. The nature of your work should, more or less, encompass that of the level or the degree that you are holding.
3. Financial capability to travel

(See common reasons why you will get offloaded.)

What they don’t tell you:
The last criterion above usually is the center for argument.

For travelers with no financial capability (although it is not a guarantee) these documents might help:
1. For travelers with a benefactor who is of blood or civil relation:
An authenticated affidavit of support which reflects the relationship between you and your benefactor is within the 4th civil degree of consanguinity.
2. For travelers with a benefactor who is NOT of blood or civil relation:
An affidavit of undertaking or guaranty from your benefactor

Consequently, you are more likely to be held up for further probing if you are:
1. A newbie tourist-traveller whose destination is that of a not-so-popular spot (as in the case of backpackers)
2. A tourist-traveller with no stable job from the place you are coming from, or if you have no benefactor (a person or entity who supports your finances)

Nevertheless, statistics shows that almost 5% of people with legitimate reasons are often offloaded and are not allowed to leave the country, and they happen as a case-to-case basis of eventuality in the Immigration standards that are imposed by the Philippine Bureau.

Fast Facts about the “Offloading Policy” in the Philippines

The Philippine Bureau of Immigration has collected an array of inquiries and criticism regarding their supposed “offloading policy” March of last year. This issue made headline especially when a rumor spread about several bureau officers asking for financial documents from the travelers. The Philippine Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison promptly clarified the matter in a press release on their website, stating that “Offloading is not a policy but a consequence of the implementation of the Guidelines (of the Bureau).” These aptly called Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International Bound Passengers were approved by the country’s Department of Justice, with pursuant to the state’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208).

The Philippine economy was estimated to have garnered a $289.686 billion nominal revenue last 2014, with the service sector accounting for 30% of the weight. Although the current trend is leading the archipelagic state into an industrial era and the emergence of technology and outsourcing jobs, the greater fiscal returns are still referenced to the exported manpower sector, the overseas Filipino workers. With the demand of Filipino international workers for its economy, comes the deleterious aspect of its procurement and processing. The recent Mary Jane Veloso drug trafficking case is one of the many scenarios on why the Bureau of Immigration sustains their mandate sternly.

(see article on offloading Policies and common questions asked by the immigration officer.)

In our part here at JuanMacau, we believe in the rightful due process of transacting with government documents and bureaucratic practices (in this case, with that of the Philippine Bureau of Immigration). The following are merely supplementary cues of the otherwise reiterated guidelines:

1. Be sure to provide the essential documents. These are obligated, first and foremost, to secure your own safety. These legal papers are required to ensure the validity of your travel and to fittingly document your status as an overseas worker.


2. Be coherent and consistent with all your interviews. Be honest and consistent with the dialogues that you make and bear a calm tone. One reason why several travelers are not permitted to leave the country is because of how disjointed and unfounded their responses are to several immigration officers.


3. For tourists, bring documents proving of your trip as a tourist per se. The common documents would be in the form of a hotel reservation, a round trip ticket, a booking detail, and the like. This is to check if you are financially capable for the trip and consequently serves as a fail-safe for the Bureau to ascertain that you will not be looking for a job when you are there.

(See sample situations that causes an immigration officer will reject your travel abroad.)

Travel Abroad: Cases You Should Read To Avoid “Offloading”

Are you ready to travel abroad? Have you secured all the requirement? Have you checked all the guidelines? Confident enough to dwell with the immigration officer?

All of this and still got rejected. Sometimes, completing all the necessary documents needed is not enough to ensure approval to travel abroad (see “Fast Facts about the “Offloading Policy” in the Philippines“). You also need to anticipate possible situations where officers will disapprove your exit the country. Know it. Avoid it.

Here are some of the scenarios that will designate you in a less ideal spot of the probing eyes of the Immigration Officers – and mostly leads to being “offloaded” from your departure abroad.

Ready to travel abroad?

If you belong to the following below, you will be more likely subjected to a secondary inspection:

  1. A financially incapable traveler who is travelling or is escorted by a foreigner with no civil relations
  2. An unaccompanied minor without due travel documents or clearance from the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD)minor
  3. Repatriated workers which does not carry a designated clearance from the International Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT)
  4. Unmarried partners and spouses of foreign nationals due for a marital bond but have not secured the Guidance and Counseling Certificate from the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO)
  5. The point of destination have existing deployment bans, are on high alert or on a derogatory travel advisory, or those in possessions of visas from those locations
  6. Previous tourist travelers who stayed more than a year in their destination as a tourist and are subsequently travelling again



If you ever find yourself in the situations above, you may very well take all the necessary measure to affirm the validity of your travel (see “Boarding and Offloading Policies of the Philippine Immigration Bureau – What They Do and Don’t Tell You”).