Category: Travel and Tours


01-12

So you’re traveling to a different country soon?  Here are some tips that you may find useful as you embark on your first journey ever outside the Philippines.

  1. Make sure your Passport is updated and not expiring within the next six months.

If you haven’t renewed your passport yet, read our previous article on the new requirements when renewing passports here.

2. The Departure Card

Secure a copy of the Immigration Form (or Departure Card) at the check-in counter and fill it out.  Be ready with the address of the place where you will be staying abroad; if you are staying in a hotel, indicate the complete hotel name and its address.

3. The Travel Tax

Yes, be prepared with cash while you’re at the airport because you will be paying additional fees before you board your plane.  Check to make sure that the travel tax has been included in your ticket price already; if this is the case, you no longer need to pay the tax at the airport.  If not, check-in first and have the check-in agent verify that the travel tax is not covered by your ticket price.  You may then proceed at the travel tax counters and pay a fee of Php1,620 (per traveler).  Hold on to your receipt.

4. Checking in.

Simply present the filled out Departure Card and Travel Tax receipt at the check-in counter and wait for the agent to hand you your boarding pass.

5. Immigration

You will then be directed to the Immigration Booths where the officers will be asking you about your trip.  You may refer to this previous blog for tips on how to breeze your Immigration interview and avoid getting offloaded from your flight.

6. Final security check

 You will be asked to remove all metallic items attached to your clothing (including belt buckles, coins, gadgets, and in some cases, even your jewelry and accessories).  Word of the wise: avoid wearing too much bling-bling when traveling to save time at security counters.

A friend of mine was wearing a pair of gladiator-type sandals when he went through security check.  He was confident that his sandals would pass as it was basically open except for the elaborate strings tied around his legs.  Unfortunately, the guards asked him to untie his sandals and walk barefoot through the scanners.  He spent about 5 minutes lacing the sandals after security let him through.  Again, wear shoes that can be taken on and off without too much hassle.

Also, avoid carrying liquids in your bag like colognes in big bottles, bottled water, alcohol, etc.  You might be asked to leave these behind anyway for security reasons.

7. Be early.

Give yourself at least two hours to go through all the verification, interviews, and security checks because it really does take at least two hours to finish all those, sometimes even longer.

8. Keep a checklist of the following and keep these within reach (a messenger bag, one with an easy to open flap, will do the trick):

  • Your updated passport
  • Travel Itinerary and plane tickets
  • Your company ID
  • DSWD clearance if you are traveling with a minor who is not your child.
  • Cash
  • Hotel addresses, contact numbers, email addresses. If you are staying at a friend’s house, keep a copy of her name, address, and contact numbers too.
  • A pen (Don’t use red-inked pens.  An immigration officer nearly denied me my boarding pass because I filled out his logbook with a red pen).

9. Exchanging Currencies

You may have your Pesos exchanged right at the NAIA or wait until you land at your destination.  It helps that you know how much the exchange rates are before leaving so that you would know where it would be wiser to “buy” money.  The safest place to do this though is within airport premises.

10. Ditch the book and enjoy the scene!

Only frequent travelers take reading materials when traveling.  If this is your first time out, indulge yourself in the atmosphere of the airport, walk around the lobby while waiting for your flight.  Once you have boarded, take as much photos as you can until they ask you to switch off your phone.  Don’t waste the moment buried in some magazine.

Enjoy your trip!

Reference: http://www.thepoortraveler.net/2013/03/philippines-first-timer-international-flight-travel-guide-abroad/

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Visa.jpg

Whether it’s for pleasure or business, traveling is most often part of a young urban professional’s annual itinerary. The experiences and opportunities gathered from these trips are otherwise not offered if you remain confined in the four corners of your home or office. It could be disappointing to miss an opportunity to travel, especially if the hindrances are as petty as:

  1. You still don’t have a passport.
  2. You do have one but you’ve let it expire.
  3. You don’t have a visa.

You can easily take care of the first two reasons by simply setting an appointment at www.passport.com.ph. Prepare the necessary documents such as your PSA certified Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate (if needed), and other supporting papers.  Appear before the DFA branch you set an appointment with and then wait for your passport to be delivered to you.

Getting over the third obstacle though could be quite intimidating.  Preparing the necessary documents and appearing before the interviewer are nerve-racking thoughts but are necessary if you are serious about obtaining a visa for a particular country.

Every Pinoy will have to go through this process; and the earlier you are able to complete the requirements and conquer the dreaded interview, the better!  So to help you prepare for your visa application process, here are five tips from Rappler (http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/travel/53687-visa-application-tips-travel).

1.File all frequently requested documents in one bag/envelope and label accordingly.

A clear book with sturdy covers can help you organize your documents. Make at least five copies of these documents and make sure that the photocopies are clear so you would not need to photocopy the original while you are at the embassy.

Documents to include in your file are:

  • PSA Certified Birth Certificate
  • PSA Certified Marriage Certificate (if annulled, you will probably need a copy of your Marriage Certificate annotated by the NSO certifying that the marriage was declared null and void).
  • Latest Income Tax Return
  • For business owners, include business permits, business license and (audited) financial statements.
  • Photocopies of previous visas you have been issued (if there are any).
  • ID pictures: Different embassies will have different size requirements, so when you have your picture taken, have the picture reproduced in different size dimensions. You can get one picture taken in the standard 2×2 white background and one in the US visa size and Schengen size. (Note that for all visa requirements, both ears must be shown and women should not be wearing earrings.)
  • Proof of income and ownership such as land titles and or car registration documents.

Your old passports with other visa stamps must also be readily available so keep these in your visa application file folder too.

2. Keep a list of the countries you have visited.

Since most embassies require for a list of the countries you have visited, it is best that you keep track of your travels, including the dates. Do not rely on your memory or pictures in your Facebook timeline! Keep a soft copy of your travel journal and update this each time you travel. Print out your most updated list and bring this with you when you go to the embassy.

3. Make a checklist of the visa application requirements.

Every country has a different set of requirements to be presented to the visa processing center. Visit the embassy’s website and collect the list of requirements for the type of visa that you are applying for in that country. Invest time and effort in making sure that you have the correct list and then, that you have the complete set of requirements on hand.

Other things that you need to pay attention to are fees you need to pay, acceptable denominations (US dollars, Euros, Pesos, etc.), and payment modes (cash, manager’s check, etc.). It is wise to bring the exact change as well since some embassies will not offer change.

Lastly, make sure that you have the correct location of the visa processing center as these change from time to time.

4. Have a standard template for letters of introduction to consuls.

Some embassies require applicants to present a letter of introduction, including therein the purpose of your travel. Create a standard template that you can update whenever you need to apply for a visa.

The letter must have the following information:

  • Header with your name, contact details and if available, your visa application reference number.
  • Reason for travel
  • Duration of stay
  • Mention of other countries you have visited
  • How you will fund your trip
  • Day by day travel itinerary as an attachment

5. Befriend your Travel Agent.

 If you are a frequent traveler, it is best that you find a travel agent that you can trust. He or she can help you save time and effort in booking tickets and hotels, finding the best plane fare deals, and other travel details you may miss.

Your journey towards acquiring a visa can be less stressful with these tips. These do not guarantee that you will be granted a visa.

Non Visa Countries.jpg

What keeps you from grabbing that airfare promo? You know you want it, why don’t you get it? The most common answer one would get is: Hassle kumuha ng visa!

The Pinoy passport ranks 69th in the world for free entries. This can greatly discourage a first-time traveler from making an effort to apply for a visa in countries that require one. Only the promise of an employment or a family member pledging to pay for your tour can encourage you to step out and apply for that elusive permit to travel.

Oh but it doesn’t have to be that way. If we are to take things from a wider perspective, our Philippine passports give us free access to postcard-worthy islands and beaches, provinces rich in history and culture, centuries-old temples, flea markets and endless food trips in Southeast Asian countries. Places, sites, and experiences that other passport holders may need to pay dearly for to visit. Isn’t that good news? Sure it’s always exciting to travel to a different continent (like the US and Europe) but if you can’t summon the courage, time, and effort to work on your visa just yet, you can always visit our neighboring Asian countries.

To help you decide on which country to visit first, here is a list of visa-free countries for Pinoys I sourced from www.travelbook.ph.

Visa-free (no limits)

  • Colombia (Hello, Ariadna Gutierrez!)
  • Morocco
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (a southern Caribbean nation)
  • Suriname (a quaint country in South America)

Visa-free (limited number of days)

  • Bolivia – Visa-free for 60 days
  • Brunei – Visa-free for 14 days
  • Cambodia – Visa-free for 21 days
  • Costa Rica – Visa-free for 30 days
  • Ecuador – Visa-free for 90 days
  • Hong Kong – Visa-free for 14 days
  • Indonesia – Visa-free for 30 days
  • Laos – Visa-free for 30 days
  • Malaysia – Visa-free for 30 days
  • Peru – Visa-free for 60 days
  • Singapore – Visa-free for 30 days
  • Thailand – Visa-free for 30 days
  • Vietnam – Visa-free for 21 days

Visa-free (limited number of days plus special conditions)

  • Brazil – Visa-free for 90 days
    • for holders of diplomatic, official, and service passports, visa-free for:
      • Duration of tour of duty or
      • 180 days for official business or tourism
  • India – Visa upon arrival valid for 30 days (limited only to New Delhi and Mumbai airports)
  • Israel –
    • Visa-free for tourists (number of days of stay will depend on Immigration)
    • Visa-free for holders of diplomatic and official passports; visa is required for business.
  • Mozambique – Visa upon arrival valid for 30 days.
  • Palau – Visa-free for 30 days, visa upon arrival (provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
  • Sri Lanka – Visa-free for 30 days, upon arrival (provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
  • Tuvalu – Visa-free for 30 days, visa upon arrival (provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
  • Vanuatu – Visa-free for 30 days, visa upon arrival (provided that the Filipino national has a return/onward plane ticket)
  • Zambia – Visa upon arrival:
    • Three months for tourism
    • One month for business

So, who says you can’t travel? All you need is a valid passport (not expiring within the next six months), your suitcase, some cash, and an unquenchable thirst to soak up a foreign, sometimes strange, culture!

Bon voyage!

Korea.jpg

Philippine passport holders are required to secure a visa in order to tour the beautiful and fascinating country of South Korea.  To some, this may sound daunting because of all the documents and IDs that you need to prepare.  But to those who have paid the country a visit at least once, they agree that South Korea is worth all the preparations.

Why don’t you find out for yourself?  You might be surprised to know that securing a visa to South Korea is not as discouraging as you might think.

PREPARING AND COMPLETING YOUR DOCUMENTS:

The rule of thumb is to apply for your visa as early as you can; at the very least, one to two months before your planned trip.  This should give you enough elbow room to prepare all the documents you may need minus the stress.  A common feedback from tourists is that you have very little to worry about for as long as your documents are complete so it is best to invest time and effort in this department.

Here is the list of documents that Employed, Self-Employed, and Student/Minor applicants need to prepare

  • Duly accomplished copy of the Visa Application Form.  Make sure that all fields are filled out legibly and accurately.  If some fields are not applicable, write N/A.
  • 3.5cm x 4.5cm colored passport photo taken against plain white background.  Paste this on your Visa Application Form.
  • Your Philippine Passport with at least six months remaining validity.  Remove the passport from its jacket or holder before submission.
  • Photocopy of passport bio page (page where your photo and personal information can be found).
  • Original and photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past five years (only if applicable; Korean visas will not be counted).  Not sure if the country is a member of OECD?  Check here!

Additional Requirements

These requirements depend on your employment status.

For Employed Applicants

  • Original Certificate of Employment printed on your company’s letterhead.  The letter must bear the following details:
    • Applicant’s designation/position
    • Date hired
    • Compensation
    • Office address
    • HR landline number (mobile phone numbers are not allowed)
    • HR Email Address
  • Original Personal Bank Certificate.  The following details must be included:
    • Account type
    • Current balance
    • Account opening date
    • ADB
  • Bank Statement
    • Original or Certified True Copy of bank statements/passbook for the last three months.
  • ITR or Form 2316 copy
  • Copy of PRC or IBP card (if applicable)

For Self-Employed Applicants

  • Photocopy of Business Registration from SEC or DTI.
  • Photocopy of Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit.
  • Original Personal Bank Certificate.  The following details must be included:
    • Account type
    • Current balance
    • Account opening date
    • ADB
  • Bank Statement
    • Original or Certified True Copy of bank statements/passbook for the last three months.
  • Photocopy of ITR or Form 2316

For Students and Minors

  • Original School Certificate
  • Photocopy of School ID
  • Photocopy of PSA Birth Certificate of applicant
  • Parents’ Documents:
    • If parents are employed:
      • Original Certificate of Employment printed on your company’s letterhead.  The letter must bear the following details:
        • Parents’ designation/position
        • Date hired
        • Compensation
        • Office address
        • HR landline number (mobile phone numbers are not allowed)
        • HR Email Address
      • If parents are self-employed:
        • Photocopy of Business Registration from SEC or DTI.
        • Photocopy of Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit.
        • Original Personal Bank Certificate.  The following details must be included:
          • Account type
          • Current balance
          • Account opening date
          • ADB
      • Bank Statement
        • Original or Certified True Copy of bank statements/passbook for the last three months.
      • Copy of ITR
      • Copy of PSA Marriage Certificate

Important reminders for the above cases (Employed, Self-employed, Students/Minors):

  1. Frequent travelers or those that have travelled as tourists to OECD member countries within five years are exempted from submitting the ITR.
  2. If invited by a Korean national, provide an invitation letter and a copy of your invitor’s passport or identification card (authentication is not required).
  3. If invited by a company in Korea, provide an invitation letter from the company and a photocopy of Korean Company Business Permit (authentication not required).
  4. Processing Time:
    • 3 Working Days (for applicants that have traveled to OECD member countries within 5 years as tourists).
    • 5 Working days (for applicants that have not been to OECD member countries within 5 years).
  5. Visa Fee:
    • 59 days or less stay in Korea – Free
    • 60 to 90 days stay in Korea – PHP 1,800.00

SUBMITTING YOUR REQUIREMENTS

When you are absolutely sure that you have completed all requirements, proceed to the Republic of Korea Embassy at the following address:

122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

Tel No.: +632 856-9210

Fax No.: +632 856-9008

No need to make an appointment; just visit the embassy between 9am to 11am, Mondays to Fridays.

IF YOUR VISA GETS APPROVED

Visas are released between 2PMto 4PM, Mondays to Fridays.

Make sure to write your name and contact number at the back of your claim stub.  Some applicants are required to submit additional documents or undergo an interview, so be prepared.  Dress appropriately and make sure you have the original copies of submitted documents.

And off you go!  Annyeong!

Sources:

http://embassy_philippines.mofa.go.kr/english/as/embassy_philippines/visa/requirement/index.jsp

How to Apply for a South Korea Tourist Visa (for Filipinos)

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