How not to be offloaded in NAIA

NAIA terminal 1
Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 Check-in Area

Over the years, I’ve heard horror stories of passengers being offloaded by immigration officers in NAIA. I’ve passed through NAIA’s immigration officers countless times and I have managed to clear immigration each time. I am an ordinary traveler just like you and you should be able to clear immigration as I do.

Play by the rules

According to the rules of bureau of immigration, if a person is leaving the country as a tourist, he must have a passport valid for at least six months, visa (if required at the destination), and a return ticket.

The fact that you are already facing an immigration officer means that you have a valid passport for at least six months. Otherwise, the airline personnel would not have allowed you to check-in. Same is true for the visa and return ticket. In short, the airline personnel will not allow someone to check-in without satisfying the above rules which means that when you are allowed to check-in, you have satisfied the rules. You’re halfway there.

In case you didn’t book a returnt ticket, you can easily do a mock booking of any airline and print it. But do not use a mock booking of the airline you are flying with because the airline personnel can easily spot that it is only a mock booking. Personally, when I fly Cebu Pacific, I present a mock booking from Cathay Pacific for my return. The Cebu Pacific staff has no way to check if your return ticket is real or not. Well, the staff has a way to find out but too busy to do it.

Don’t give elaborate answers

Immigration officers are trained to determine who are legitimate tourists and who are not. If you know for yourself that you are a genuine tourist, you have nothing to be afraid of. When asked, make sure to answer it briefly and direct to the point. This is an example of my real conversation with an IO.

IO: Are you alone?

Me: Yes

IO: Where are you staying?

Me: At a friend’s house

IO: Is your friend a Filipino?

Me: No

As simple as that, I was cleared and on my way to a happy vacation. When you are asked a yes or no question, answer it with either a simple yes or no. Do not elaborate and do not elaborate!

When you are asked a question which requires answer other than a simple yes or no, make it as direct as possible and do not give further explanation. Remember to look straight in the eye of IO when talking. Do not show any fear because that would only give him a reason to suspect.

Know your constitutional right to freedom of travel

Once you feel like you’re being asked beyond of what is required, be firm and assert your constitutional right to travel, but don’t assert it in an aggressive manner. Be polite and courteous as possible. As mentioned, people leaving as tourists must possess valid passport, visa if required, and return ticket. As such, you are not obliged to produce any other document. You have the right to refuse if asked for additional documents because that is your right.

I have the impression that immigration officers bully those people who look like easy targets of bullying. Don’t be that person. Arm yourself with confidence when facing them knowing that you are neither a criminal nor a threat to national security. Because of that, you can enjoy your freedom to travel.

Have a safe trip everyone.


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