Traveling Internationally? Here’s How to Avoid Getting Offloaded
Better be prepared than sorry.
by Ina Louise Manto | November 11, 2022
Picture this: you spend months planning for a much-awaited international trip. You book flights and hotels and build an itinerary only to be denied boarding your plane at the last minute. Now that international travel is open again, more Pinoys are spending vacations abroad. This also comes with horror stories shared in travel groups – excited travelers are getting “offloaded”, making others nervous for their upcoming trips.
What is offloading?
Offloading is the colloquial term for being allowed or denied boarding by an immigration officer.
As shared in a 2014 press release, the Bureau of Immigration has clarified that there is no such thing as an “offloading policy”. According to former BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison, offloading is not a policy but a consequence of the implementation of the Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International Bound Passengers.
Filipinos posing as tourists to seek employment in other countries is already a common practice and this is what immigration officers are wary about. Undocumented Filipinos are more prone to abuse in other countries. The officers are there to protect their citizens against possible illegal recruitment and human trafficking.
Who is likely to get offloaded?
The former BI Commissioner shared some possible tourist profiles that are likely to be questioned:
- First-time travelers who are going to destinations that aren’t popular among tourists
- Tourists with no steady source of income in the Philippines and no benefactors
An immigration officer also shared that “inconsistencies” in travel plans may also result in offloading.
Immigration Officer Dennis Opiña shared that offloading usually occurs for passengers bound for destinations where there are high incidents of human trafficking, such as Dubai, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore.
What documents should tourists prepare?
Under the Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International Bound Passengers, all travelers with a tourist or temporary visitor’s visa shall be subject to a primary inspection where they will be asked to provide the following:
- Visa when required
- Roundtrip ticket
These documents are usually enough, but if deemed necessary, the immigration officer may subject travelers to a secondary inspection. This is why it’s a good idea to also bring additional documents proving that you have no intention to work at your destination.
Netizens have also shared in online groups that some officers also ask for hotel booking confirmation, travel history, proof of employment such as a company ID, and proof that you’re able to fund your travel such as bank statements or credit cards.
A member from DIY Travel Philippines also shared this list of requirements for tourists that was given to a traveler after getting offloaded:
Who is likely to get a secondary inspection?
To protect its citizens against human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and other related offenses, travelers may be subject to a secondary inspection based on:
- Educational attainment
- Financial capability to travel
If you don’t have the financial capability to travel, you would need to present an affidavit of support, together with documents showing a relationship within the 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity. You could also present an affidavit of undertaking.
Who will automatically get a secondary inspection?
Meanwhile, some travelers will be automatically be subjected for a secondary inspection. These include:
- Travelers without the financial capacity to travel who are escorted/accompanied by an unrelated foreigner;
- Minors traveling alone or unaccompanied by either parent or legal guardian without the required travel clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD);
- Repatriated irregular workers, in which case, travel may not be allowed without clearance from the IACAT;
- Partners and spouses of foreign nationals intending to depart to meet and/or marry his/her fiancé without the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate;
- Passengers traveling to counties with existing deployment bans, alert levels, and travel advisories
- Passengers who stayed abroad for more than one (1) year during a previous departure from the country as a tourist/temporary visitor, intending to depart for the second and/or subsequent time.
How do you avoid getting offloaded?
At the end of the day, getting through immigration boils down to these things:
- Prepare necessary documents
- Be honest and consistent with your answers
- Show that your purpose for travel is leisure
- Provide proof that you’re able to fund your travel and will return to the country
Remember that these are just tips; be confident, honest, and respectful when talking to your immigration officer. Enjoy your well-deserved holiday!
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