Offloading is an occurrence at Philippine airports that cause fear and anger among Filipino travelers going abroad.
Offloading is the process of barring a traveler — tourist, overseas Filipino worker or a person with hold departure order — from leaving the Philippines. The cause of offloading may vary from insufficient documentation to security risk at intended destination. Considering the amount of effort, time and money involved up to that face-to-face encounter with the immigration officer, it is not a surprise how frustrating an offloading incident can be to every traveler.
For every traveler fearful of getting the boot, the question remains: how to avoid getting offloaded at the airport?
1. Provide sufficient documentation.
- If you are traveling as tourists, provide proof that you are financially capable of supporting the trip such as hotel booking, financial statements, employment contract stating your salary or credit cards. You also need a return ticket back to the Philippines, indicating the date not exceeding your allowed period of stay in your intended destination. Define your itinerary clearly.
- For OFWs, you have your work contract handy or proof of attending required seminars such as PDOS or more proof as overseas worker (OEC, work visa, OWWA membership). Not that these documents are asked all the time, but having them ready bolsters the legitimacy of your travel and, hence, your pit stop at the immigration should be a breeze.
- For travelers who depend on another group or individual sponsoring the trip, provide affidavit of support and guarantee (example, for family members in Dubai or Hong Kong), including invitation letters authenticated by the Philippine consulate or embassy in your destination country.
2. Provide consistent answers to Bureau of Immigration officers
Our guess is that more travelers are more likely offloaded with inconsistent statements than lack of proper documentation (e.g., travelers may be asked of these documents before reaching the immigration counter and failure to show them meant no further entry). Answer in a straightforward manner and provide only information that is being asked. For instance, if tourist visa stamped on passport, yet the traveler talks about finding a job to help the family as reason of travel. Or if you are going Dubai or Abu Dhabi with tourist visa without sufficient answer to questions like “why do you have to go this far as first-time tourist when Hong Kong and Singapore are just nearby and offer visa-free access?” or “what attractions are you planning to visit?” If your destination is a place far from the Philippines and well-chronicled as transit point for drug couriers, be prepared to show enough evidence your travel is legitimate. Otherwise, you’ll be shown the exit door instead of the way to your departure gate. The keyword is confidence. If your travel is valid, then you should have no problem answering every question.
3. Dress appropriately.
Dress code may largely be under the discretion of the traveler, but it could also show hints of how valid is your intended travel. Going to a country during winter season, you are expected to bring jacket or wear a sweater. When traveling to a place with strict dress code like many countries in the Middle East, females are expected to dress appropriately. When you’re a tourist, dress and act like a tourist; a camera in tow or traveling with accompanying family members may help support your cause.
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