Clearing Philippine immigration is probably the most nerve-racking part of an international trip, especially for first timers. You can’t consider your trip a go-go if you haven’t passed through immigration. Why? It’s because anything can happen in the immigration counter. Even though the ratio of people being offloaded compared to those allowed to pass is very small, it still happens. It can happen to anyone, even to frequent flyers.
These immigration officers only want to assure a few things. First, you can afford to travel to your destination of choice. Second, your documents are valid & are correct (also to save you from all the hassle in immigration of your destination). Last & probably the most important reason is that you will come back to the Philippines after your trip. There are a number of Filipinos who go to a certain places like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong & the likes to look for a job & apply their working visa there. This is primarily the reason why immigration officers are a bit strict in screening people going out of the country.
Here’s the thing – you can’t choose the immigration officer where you’ll line up. You also won’t have an idea on how lenient or how strict will he / she be during your turn. Worry not, I am here to help you. No matter how strict the immigration officer is, there will always be means on how to get away with it.
Let me give you 5 tips on how you can easily pass through Philippine immigration.
Disclaimer: These tips are only for solo travelers or those travelling with friends for leisure / tourism. There might be other requirements for people travelling under a sponsored scheme, those travelling with minors & those travelling abroad for work.
Have your passport, immigration form & boarding pass ready
Your passport, boarding pass & accomplished immigration form are the 3 main requirements for you to pass immigration. Your passport should not expire in the next 6 months (people from the check-in counters also check this) & should contain a valid visa if your destination requires one. Make sure all information written in the immigration form are all correct & valid.
Present additional travel documents
If the mentioned 3 things are not enough, the immigration officer will now ask for additional travel documents to ensure your return. These documents include round-trip air tickets & hotel accommodation bookings. You don’t need to know all the details of your flights & hotel / hostel but make sure to have an idea about your return flight date & at the very least the name of your hotel / hostel.
Bring IDs & additional documents
The immigration officer needs to know that you are financially capable of travelling. Normally they ask where you work, what your position is in your company & how long have you been working for the company. Do not forget your company ID. Immigration officers ask for this after your plane ticket & hotel bookings. Additional documents that can help are income tax return form, HMO ID, certificate of employment or student ID, credit cards & original / photocopy of bank passbook or bank certificate.
Answer questions politely & direct to the point
Rule: One question, one answer. Don’t elaborate. Immigration officers are trained to screen people. They also know when people are telling the truth or are lying. If the officer asks you where you’re going & for how long, just answer with your destination & number of days. They don’t need to know what you’ll do there, where you’ll go per day & what you’ll buy, unless they ask for those details. It will also help if you have an idea on the major tourist landmarks of your destination.
Relax, smile & be confident
As mentioned earlier, immigration officers are taught to profile travellers. Any sign of nervousness in your body language would lead them to asking more questions. The more you get nervous means the more it shows you are hiding something. Further questions are asked to let you slip up your true intention of travelling. If there is nothing to hide, just relax, sport your best smile & be confident.
The ultimate goal is to give an impression to the immigration officer that you will come back to the Philippines after your trip. Note that all immigration officers are different – sometimes you easily pass through because of pure luck, but most of the time, it’s how you project yourself in front of Mr. or Ms. Immigration officer.
Do you have any good or bad experiences with the immigration officers here in the Philippines or abroad? How did you handle these situations or perhaps how did you deal with all the questions & interrogations (sorry for the word) asked? Do you want to ask something before you jet off for your international trip?
Feel free to post the questions & stories in the comments below. You can also send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.
Thank you for reading. Have a great day! 😊