OFW Guide: What You Need To Remember Before You Board The Plane

Finally, after months of trying and waiting, you are on your way to another country to work. From the moment you stepped on the entrance gate of NAIA up until the plane landed to your destination, there will always be mixed emotions. This will remain true, especially for first-time OFWs.

Unfortunately, this mixture of emotions could backfire against you.

This is why preparation is important to make sure that you won’t forget anything come departure. Don’t worry because we listed the documents you need to bring plus other preparations and tips you need to remember to ensure that your trip will be smooth and hassle-free.

Documents To Prepare

Before you go to the airport and face the Immigration Officer, make sure you have the original as well as photocopies of the following documents:

  • Pre-Departure Overseas Seminar or PDOS Certificate
  • Valid passport
  • Working visa
  • Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC
  • Flight ticket and Boarding pass
  • Employment Contract
  • NBI Clearance
  • Valid government-issued ID with your photo
  • Letter of Guarantee or Letter of Endrosement, if applicable
  • Seaman’s Book, for seafarers

These documents will be presented to the Immigration Officer or IO. These signifies that you are a documented Overseas Filipino Worker and may leave the country legally. Have these documents stacked in an organized manner to make it easier for you to look for what you need.

What happens when you face the Immigration Officer?

Aside from ensuring your documents are ready, you need to fill out a Departure Card, which is readily available in the airport.

Once you’re done, line up and present the following documents to the officer in charge:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • OEC
  • Plane ticket
  • Seaman’s Book, for seafarers
  • Departure card

This is tricky. IOs need to ensure that no Filipino will be a victim of human trafficking, which is why they pay extra attention to OFWs. Remember to:

  • Be calm and composed.
  • Answer the IO’s questions honestly and truthfully.
  • Answer the question directly and avoid giving too much information.
  • Dress appropriately.

IOs may intimidate you to ensure that you are telling them the truth. Just relax because sweating profusely and distorted stories might cause you to be offloaded.

Things To Bring Aside From The Documents Listed Above

Your documentation requirements are crucial. Still, you need to remember to bring these things to avoid hassle:

  • Black pen, for filling out other documentation requirements in the airport
  • Small notebook with your employer and/or agency’s contact details like contact person, mobile number, and address
  • Cash. Despite the exemption from airport terminal fees and taxes, you’ll never know when you’ll need another bottle of water. It’s better to be prepared.
  • Water tumbler. Drinking fountains are available in the airport, so make sure you keep those filled. This will prevent you from spending too much money on something you can get for free, right?
  • Extra clothes. Who knows, you might be stuck in the airport or there is a sudden change of weather in your destination. It’s better to be prepared.

That being said, here is a step-by-step process of what you need to follow once you’re in the airport:

  • Go to the OFW Lounge. This is where your OEC and Employment Contract will be validated.
  • Go through the airport security and scanning.
  • Proceed to your designated airline for check-in and dropping of bags. A boarding pass and baggage claim tag will be given to you after.
  • Go to the Departure Lobby for another scan. Make sure you present your passport and boarding pass.
  • Get a Departure Card and fill it out.
  • Head to the Immigration counter – OFW Express Lane. Make sure that all your documents are ready.
  • Once approved by the IO, pass through Customs for another scan. At this point, body search is legal and you will also be asked to remove your shoes.
  • After passing through Customs, go to your designated pre-departure gate for boarding.

Going through Immigration will take time, so make sure you arrive at least three hours before your designated departure. This way, you still have enough time to relax and enjoy the airport facilities.

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