The government recently updated its travel guidelines for Filipinos traveling internationally. While these guidelines are part of efforts to combat human trafficking, they’ve stirred up debates over their necessity and constitutionality. Here’s what you need to know about them:

Why the Change?

The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) unveiled the new guidelines with the intent of putting up a more stringent measure against human trafficking. However, these changes have been met with some criticism. Concerns have been raised that they might be too cumbersome, with the potential for harassment and corruption.

What are the Basics?

Before leaving the country, Filipino travelers need:

  • A valid passport (at least six months from departure)
  • An appropriate visa (when required)
  • A boarding pass
  • A confirmed return or round-trip ticket (if necessary)

Travelers should also expect an interview by an immigration officer (IO) to determine the purpose of their journey. The IO may ask for additional documents and, in certain cases, secondary inspections might be necessary.

Digging Deeper: Additional Documents

There’s a comprehensive list of additional documents required, depending on your reason for travel:

  1. Tourists: Requirements vary depending on who’s funding the trip. Expect to provide proofs like hotel bookings, financial capacity, employment proofs, and documents from your sponsor if you have one.
  2. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs): For those leaving for the first time or returning workers, documents include the OEC, employment visas, contracts, and other related documents.
  3. Minors: If traveling with parents, birth certificates or reports of birth might be required. In some cases, minors may need travel clearance certificates or exemptions from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
  4. Students: They might need acceptance letters, affidavits detailing the program of study, return tickets, proof of financial capacity or scholarships, and more.
  5. Others: The list is extensive, covering scenarios from compassionate visits to intra-company transfers, volunteer work, Hajj pilgrims, and organ donors.

Here are more concise bullet points organized under each category:

FOR TOURISTS

  • Self-Funded Travels:
  • Confirmed return/roundtrip ticket.
  • Proof of hotel booking.
  • Proof of financial capacity.
  • Employment evidence.
  • Sponsored Travels (based on sponsor relationship):
  • Close Relatives (1st Civil Degree):
    • PSA-issued birth/marriage certificate.
    • Confirmed ticket.
    • Sponsor’s documents (passport, work visa, OFW clearance).
  • Distant Relatives (up to 4th Civil Degree):
    • Affidavit of Support and Guarantee (AOSG).
    • Confirmed ticket.
    • PSA-issued certificate showing relationship.
  • Non-Relatives/Legal Entities:
    • AOSG.
    • Proof of relationship.
    • Confirmed ticket.
    • Sponsor’s registration papers (if a legal entity).
  • Local Sponsor:
  • Notarized affidavit from the sponsor.
  • Proof of relationship.
  • Sponsor’s return ticket.

FOR OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS (OFWs)

  • First Time OFWs:
  • OEC, E-receipt, or OFW clearance.
  • Valid employment visa/work permit.
  • Employment contract.
  • Visa Usage Undertaking or Manpower Request.
  • Returning OFWs (Balik-Manggagawa):
  • Valid employment visa/work permit.
  • OFW clearance.
  • OEC.
  • Employment proof.
  • Direct Hires:
  • OEC, E-receipt, or OFW clearance.
  • Work visa/work permit.
  • Vacationing OFWs:
  • Follow tourist travel inspections or present valid OEC depending on itinerary.

FOR MINORS

  • Traveling with Parents:
  • PSA-issued birth certificate.
  • (If traveling without mother) PSA-issued parents’ marriage certificate.
  • Additional DSWD Requirements:
  • Travel Clearance Certificate (TCC) or Certificate of Exemption based on specific circumstances.

FOR STUDENTS

  • Acceptance letter from abroad school.
  • Notarized affidavit about study details.
  • Confirmed return ticket.
  • Proof of financial capacity/scholarship.
  • Specific endorsements for Arabic scholars or international programs.

OTHER PASSENGERS

  • OFW Families:
  • Dependent visa.
  • OFW visa and clearance copies.
  • Prospective Job Seekers:
  • Confirmed ticket.
  • Purpose-related documents.
  • Notarized affidavit of travel purpose/duration.
  • Special Causes/Training:
  • Various certifications or endorsements based on the purpose (e.g., organ donation, intra-company training, Hajj pilgrimage).

The Debate

While the government emphasizes that these guidelines are to ensure the safety of travelers, some individuals, like former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, have raised concerns. They caution about the potential misuse of these rules, possibly leading to extended airport lines, harassment of migrant workers, and misuse against government critics.

Conclusion

If you’re planning to travel soon, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these new guidelines to ensure a smooth journey. Though they come with a promise of increased safety, it’s clear they also bring along a set of challenges and controversies. Safe travels to all our kababayans!