Departing the Philippines – Exit Clearance’s

As we prepare to depart the Philippines for a short trip to Guam, I felt the need to review the Bureau of Immigration’s policy on Emigration Clearance Certificates (ECC). There seems to always be some confusion on the Bureau’s latest rules on ECC’s.

NOTICE! Since posting this article, I have posted new and updated information here. The information below may not be entirely accurate and out of date (except for my last paragraph!) Anyone needing an ECC should always refer to the latest information about ECC requirements as published by the Bureau of Immigration.

  1. Who should apply for an Emigration Clearance Certificate?

The following are required to apply for an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) prior to departure from the Philippines:

  1. ACR I-Card holders;

  2. Temporary visitors who have stayed for more than six (6) in the Philippines;

  3. Foreigners born in the Philippines who will be traveling out of the country for the first time;

  4. ACR I-Card holders leaving the country for good.

  • When should I apply for an ECC? A foreign national may apply for an ECC at least 72 hours prior to his/her departure from the Philippines.

  • Does the ECC have validity? Will I be able to use this multiple times?

The ECC is valid for one (1) month from the date of issue, however, you may only use this once regardless of its validity.

Paragraph 1 (one), sub paragraph 1 (one) clearly states that “ACR-I Card holders” need to have clearance. That’s pretty specific with no grey areas. Additionally, the BI sitemap lists the following types of ECC’s:

ECC – Native Born
ECC – Native Born (US Passport Holder)
ECC – Tourist

ECC – With Downgraded Visa
ECC – With Student Visa
ECC – With Lost ACR I-Card

Because my category is not listed here, I’m a little confused as to how I interpret this as compared to the information that was disseminated in the BI circular just last January that reads:

The Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) is an important pre-departure document issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to foreign nationals who are holders of Immigrant or Non-Immigrant visas leaving the Philippines. It has two types, ECC-A (referred to as Regular ECC) and ECC-B.

ECC-A is issued to departing foreign nationals to prove that they have no derogatory records in the country and have no pending obligations with the government at the time of issuance. It may be secured at the BI Main Office or in selected District Offices, Satellite Offices, Field Offices, One-Stop-Shop and Extension Offices. In particular, foreign nationals falling into the following categories should secure an ECC-A prior to their departure:

  1. Holders of Temporary Visitor Visa (also referred to as tourist visa) who have stayed in the Philippines for six (6) months or more;
  2. Holders of expired or downgraded Immigrant or Non-Immigrant Visas;
  3. Holders of valid Immigrant or Non-Immigrant Visas but are leaving for good;
  4. Philippine-born foreign nationals who will depart from the Philippines for the first time;
  5. Holders of Temporary Visitors Visa with Orders to Leave;
  6. Bona fide seafarers who have stayed in the Philippines for 30 days or more and has a duly approved discharge from the BI.

Meanwhile, ECC-B is issued to departing holders Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visas with valid ACR-I Cards and leaving the country temporarily. It is a single-use receipt issued to evidence their Special Return Certificate (SRC) (for Non-Immigrants) or Reentry Permit (RP) (for Immigrants) which is valid for one (1) year. It may be secured at the BI Main Office or in the airport upon departure.

Since this circular was disseminated in January of 2014 and I can no longer find it, I guess the website is germane as the go to place for information…however incorrect it may be. 

So as I clearly fall into the ECC-B category, my big question is this: Do I need an ECC? … and if so, where do I get it?

Here is my official take on all this. Blogger information is not always accurate. BI website information is not always updated. BI officials may have different interpretations of their own law. You should probably try to contact the BI directly which is probably the safest thing to do. I will definitely know the answer to this question by the end of the week, but for how long it will be valid? …your guess will be as good as mine.