Philippines Bureau of Immigration – Dress Code Requirements

Should You Dress Up For Your Bureau of Immigration (BI) Visit?

Everybody has probably heard the horror stories of folks traveling all the way into Manila to the BI in Intramuros only to be sent home because of what they were wearing as inappropriate attire. Even recently, I have heard discussions about and read comments about the unfamiliarity with the current BI dress code. Many may not realize that the “Dress Code Requirements” for visits to the Bureau of Immigration were revised in 2013. The BI website Circular displays a clothing chart that prescribes appropriate and inappropriate attire, but it is a bugged-up photo and cannot clearly be viewed on most devices. The text in that Administrative Circular reads as follows:

Administrative Circular No. SBM-2013-007 was issued on 01 October 2013 revising the policy on dress code imposed on clients transacting or with official business in the Bureau of Immigration (BI). Policy amendments were made to maximize and accommodate visitors and foreign nationals with legitimate dealings with the BI as well as the consideration of the tropical weather in the Philippines and the usual tourist attire.

The new policy requires strict adherence to decent attire and prescribed the minimum dress code requirements both for men and women. Meanwhile, business/office attire is required for those attending hearings or official meetings.

Relaxed Dress!

The way the text “…maximize and accommodate visitors….as well as the consideration of tropical weather… “ reads, it likely should be interpreted that BI has relaxed its dress code standards which is further affirmed in the picture below (taken from the BI site). Acceptable “Tropical Attire” now includes long shorts, T-shirts and sandals or flip-flops apparently, but one should further assume that the clothing worn should be totally presentable (tourist like?) in appearance. Given that my last sentence is purely subjective in nature, maybe it is still a good idea to wear shoes or sneakers, at least while visiting the major BI offices, or risk being turned away at the door. Outlying branches might be a little more real (relaxed) towards the interpretation of this circular than say, the folks in Intramuros.

This chart’s clarity is poor and is just as unreadable on the BI website.

Last month, I completed My Annual Report and went to our local branch office here in Calbayog City in shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops. I’ll have you know though, I  had donned my “Sunday-go-to-meeting” shorts, shirt, and new “Islander” flip-flops, for the occasion and never got glanced at twice. I was also the only foreigner in the office at the time though, so who knows?

Tropical dress code

Now if you are a female foreigner, I’m guessing no filipino security guard in his right mind would turn you away for wearing hot pants, chart or no chart!