NAIA Survival Guide

How to avoid being offloaded: A Guide for Filipino Tourists

In this article, we'll give you tips on how to avoid being offloaded.

Updated July 10, 2024

You may have heard stories about people being "offloaded" from their flights, a term referring to being denied permission to leave the country. Whether you're a first-time traveler or a nervous flyer, here are some tips to avoid being offloaded and ensure a smooth journey.

Why are Philippine immigration officers strict?

Before we start, it is important to understand why Philippine immigration officers are strict in the first place.

Philippine immigration officers are particularly strict due to concerns about human trafficking. Some individuals are lured by the promise of jobs abroad and asked to pose as tourists.

For example, there have been cases where people were promised work in a call center but were instead sent to scam hubs. In these scam hubs, workers are tortured if they do not meet their quotas.

Other horror stories of human trafficking victims include being forced into labor or prostitution under inhumane conditions.

Are you at risk of being a victim of human trafficking?

To protect yourself, be aware of the signs that you might be at risk of human trafficking. One red flag is being offered a job abroad but being instructed to pose as a tourist. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Always verify the legitimacy of job offers and be cautious of any unusual requests or requirements. If you have any doubts, seek advice of the Department of Migrant Workers.

Honesty is the best policy

If you are a genuine tourist, you should have no problem proving your intention to return to the Philippines. If you are asked about your travel plans, be truthful. Once you start lying, it can be difficult to keep track of your story. If you are caught in a lie, you may be offloaded.

If you are visiting a friend or family member abroad, be honest about it. There is nothing wrong with visiting loved ones, but you need to be transparent about your plans.

It also helps to be polite and respectful when dealing with immigration officers. Remember that they are just doing their job to protect you and other travelers.

What documents should you prepare as a Filipino tourist?

Certain documents are almost always required when traveling. Here’s a list to ensure you’re well-prepared:

Passport. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from your date of departure. This is a standard requirement for most countries.

If a visa is needed for your destination, make sure you have it before your trip. Check the visa requirements of your destination country well in advance.

Return Ticket. Have a confirmed return ticket to the Philippines. Immigration officers need to see that you have plans to come back home.

For civil servants holding a regular job, a Travel Authority is required. Traveling without this document can lead to administrative cases.

In addition to these essential documents, you might also need to provide optional documents. Only show them when asked by immigration officers; do not volunteer them unless specifically requested.

Hotel Bookings. If you have hotel bookings, keep copies of your reservations. This helps show that you have arranged accommodation for your trip.

If you are staying with a friend, prepare a letter from your friend addressed to both Philippine Immigration and the immigration authorities of your destination country. This letter should state that they have invited you to stay at their home, and include their resident ID. Additionally, you may also prepare photos proving your relationship with your friend and screenshots of your conversations.

What other documents should you prepare to avoid being offloaded?

In case the immigration official is still not convinced about your intention to return, you may also present or you might be asked to present the following:

Proof of Employment. You can present your company ID, certificate of employment, or a letter or email stating that your leave has been approved. This shows that you have a job to return to, strengthening your case that you will come back to the Philippines.

Proof of Financial Capacity. You might be asked to show proof of your financial capacity. An income tax return (ITR) is a good starting point. If you don't have it, you can volunteer to show your bank statement - show the part where your salary is deposited. This is to prove that you have the means to support yourself during your trip.

Immigration officers can't force you to show your bank statement. If you're uncomfortable showing it, you can politely decline. Republic Act 1405 or the Bank Secrecy Law protects your right to keep your bank transactions confidential unless there is a court order.

If you are visiting family members abroad, you can also provide Proof of Relationship. This can be in the form of birth certificate, marriage certificate, or any document that shows your relationship.

If your travel is sponsored by someone else who is not traveling with you, you can provide an Affidavit of Support. If your sponsor is in the Philippines, you can have it notarized by a notary public. If your sponsor is abroad, you can have it notarized by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate where your sponsor is located.

If you are traveling as a fiancee of a foreign national, obtain a certificate from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). You are required to attend a guidance and counseling session to protect you from being a victim of human trafficking. You can check the process here.

Mikko Gozalo
About the author

Mikko Gozalo

Creator of MNLAirport.ph

Mikko is a data scientist based in Hong Kong. He flies the Manila to Hong Kong route regularly. Having flown a lot from NAIA, he decided to create MNLAirport.ph to help fellow travelers.