Travel Tips : Philippine NAIA, Immigration and First-timers

Preparation Leads to Success concept on a notice boardI still recall my first experience traveling outside the country. The preparation is tedious, mentally, more than the actual check in process. This post is created to help you combat all the conscious fears and hesitations when traveling abroad, and of course, to release the anxiety when you go to NAIA, because you should be enjoying that first-time moment right?

If you’re living in the Philippines, I’m pretty sure you heard about the horror “offload” stories in NAIA. I can’t blame you to be scared, even those with good documents have been offloaded and we’ll tackle that in a bit. Just to be clear, this is only about traveling as tourists, not for working abroad or OFWs. (I have zero knowledge on that) Now, let’s begin.

I really think that there are 3 important keys to making your first trip a successful one.

  1. Travel Documentation = The documents you need to present to show that you’re a tourist.
  2. Airline Policy = Depending on your airline, you may want to check the baggage inclusion, the capacity, and other rules.
  3. Confidence = There’s no better way other than being prepared to be confident.

Travel Documentation

Depending on the destination country and your length of stay, you may want to check if it would require you a tourist visa. If it will only be for a few days like less than one week, then most likely visa isn’t going to be required. You must have the printed copy of the booking flights, hotel booking, and itineraries. Don’t expect that the check-in officers have that on their computers, so be responsible, have it all printed. Also, bring extra government or company IDs or other sources of income. For employees, bring a copy of ITR or company ID. Bank statements or business permit were not asked from us when we flew the first time, but it’s important to be ready when it was asked by the immigration officer.

Airline Policy

Always make it a habit to visit your airline website, with Cebu Pacific, visit their site at http://www.cebupacificair.com. You can check the baggage restrictions, travel guidelines, requirements and even booking fare. Typically, vacations are planned ahead of time, better to read as many information as you can that links to the travel airline policies, their dos and don’ts. It pays a lot of benefits when you read more travel information. Most importantly, stop reasoning out that you’re a first timer so it’s ok to commit mistakes. (you’ll regret that small mistake can lead to offloading) Start researching, educate yourself and get information from those who have experienced it.

Confidence

The lack or confidence comes from the lack of preparation. Ensure you properly prepare yourself for your travel challenges. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. If you didn’t book the trip, is it your responsibility to know the booking info?
  2. Should you book your return flight?
  3. Should you book a hotel?
  4. Should you dress up decently well in NAIA?
  5. Should I answer the immigration officer in a concise manner?

All the answers to these questions should be a resounding Yes. Even if it’s your sister, your husband, your friend who do the actual flight and hotel booking, at least know the details, of the country you’re gonna go to, the name of the hotel and the places you wish to visit. For 2-3 days visit, yes it’s important you book a return flight, why? So the officers won’t think you have other intentions other than a tourist visit, and that you’d go back to the Philippines. Forgetting to book the return flight is too lame of a reason. Same reason with booking for a place to stay, that’s so important so you won’t be asked for an obvious question as to where to sleep. (kase-ang-tunay-na-tourist-mapapagod-kakapasyal logic) The keyword for dressing up is the word “decently,” with the emergence of human trafficking, dressing up like a tourist, will save you. Last but not the least, answer in a concise manner when being interviewed by an immigration officer. If you aren’t hiding anything, why would you be nervous if you’ll only give them the facts, right? No flowery answers, mostly you’ll be asked about the info you have at the booking documentations, and if you can afford your trip. The lesser and direct your answers are, the better. Don’t give the immigration officer a reason to doubt your answers.

In my case, I was asked by an immigration officer who seems to master “frowning.” Maybe they’re well trained with Intimidation 101 crash course. I simply give direct answers, no essay type on questions answerable by Yes or No. I look at her face every answer I give. This gesture shows that I’m confident and got nothing to hide. In effect, I was only interviewed for less than 2 minutes. It also helps that we went as a group, and we have all the printed documentations above. I wasn’t asked for any bank info or asked for pocket money since we have a family business. (family trip) Make sure to have a valid passport over 6 months, from the time of your flight. It would also be nice that you go in a group because typically vacation or tourist visit is more credible if you’re with family or with friends. (fun times) In case you’ll go on solo, better to have sufficient documentations for your trip. Even if you think you have all the documents you need for your trip if you lack confidence in answering the officer’s inquiries, that could spike some suspicions. Stick to your guns.

If it’s your first time and you don’t know the step-by-step points when you get to NAIA, check the steps below:

1. Pay the travel tax (P1,620) and proceed to the Check-in row. NAIA is not that huge so you won’t get lost to find your airline check-in row. If I recall it right, the check- in row of Cebu Pacific is near the B or C bay. Your bags/luggage will be weighed there as well.

2. Fill up the departure form and proceed to the Immigration section. The form looks like this:

Take note, when you get passed the Immigration, there’s no way you can go back, so I suggest you take your bio break before entering that section. This also applies to Singapore’s immigration procedure. (you can’t go back to their public hall when you get inside the Immigration area)

3. Go to the Immigration counter, the questions will be asked from you are based on the form you just filled up.

4. Once you get passed the immigration counter, you can proceed with the last scanning machine. Make sure that you remove your belts, coins in your pockets, even jackets. You’ll put your bags and luggage at the scanning area. (I noticed that the security are no longer opening the bags) The only time they will scan you is if something gets beeped at the machine.

5. Proceed to the gate as indicated on your boarding pass.

Following all the travel guidelines above made our first time flying experience like a breeze.  That should be it! Care to share your tips and first-time travel experiences? I’d like to know. 🙂

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2 comments

  1. most questions for visit visa? first timer here. btw im visiting my boyfriend and he is my sponsor and i dont have work incase ill be suspected what should be the documents they will need?

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    1. As I heard from others that kind of situation is a red flag there, but for as long as you can provide financial documentation that you can sustain your visit like hotel/house to stay, pocket money or savings info, and a reason to come back (for tourist) then there shouldn’t be any problem. For sponsorship better to check resources from the internet, it sounds like you’re more than just visiting. Check the destination country allowed free visa /stay of visit.

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