A Guide to an Exit Clearance Certificate
Most people seem to think that flying into and out of the Philippines is as simple as planning your trip, buying your ticket, flying to your destination, having a good time, and leaving the country.
ONE THING BEFORE YOU LEAVE. Get an ECC, lest you get denied departure.
Seasoned travelers, especially those who travel internationally, would and should know differently. Getting in is one thing, but leaving the Philippines could prove just as hard if you miss one detail: getting your Exit Clearance Certificate.
Here’s a quick guide to what it is, what it’s for, and on how and when you should get one:
What is it?
An Exit Clearance Certificate, or ECC, is proof that a foreign national who is about to leave the Philippines has no pending obligations or derogatory records. It doesn’t matter if you are leaving for the meantime or for good; you have to get an ECC or else you don’t get to leave the country.
IT TAKES MORE THAN A PASSPORT. ECCs are a part of the check-and-balance system that the Bureau of Immigration employs. It makes sure you’re not leaving the country with any unattended obligations.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is the government agency tasked with issuing these clearances. In a 2015 press release, they said 33% of people who were not allowed to leave the country was because they failed to present an exit clearance.
Who should get it?
There are two types of ECCs issued, each given to a particular set of foreign nationals:
ECC-A. This ECC is required for the following prior to their departure:
- Holders of Temporary Visitor Visa (also referred to as tourist visa) who have stayed in the Philippines for six (6) months or more;
- Holders of expired or downgraded Immigrant or Non-Immigrant Visas;
- Holders of valid Immigrant or Non-Immigrant Visas but are leaving for good;
- Philippine-born foreign nationals who will depart from the Philippines for the first time;
- Holders of Temporary Visitor Visa with Orders to Leave;
- Bona fide seafarers who have stayed in the Philippines for 30 days or more and has a duly approved discharge from BI.
ECC-B. This ECC is issued to departing Immigrant and Non-Immigrant visa holders with a valid ACR I-Card and are leaving the country but are planning to return.
When should you apply for it?
CAN’T DO THIS WITHOUT getting your ECC.
You should get an ECC (regardless if it’s an ECC-A or ECC-B) before you leave the country. If you fall under those who need to get an ECC-B, you have the option of getting your ECC right at the airport. The amount varies, but we suggest having at least Php 3,000 on hand if you’re positive you don’t have any unpaid dues with the government.
If you require an ECC-A, however, we suggest you apply for one at least three (3) days before you leave the country at the BI Main Office in Intramuros or the following offices:
- District Offices in Batangas, Cagayan De Oro, Cebu, Clark, Legazpi, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, and Davao
- Field Offices in Baguio, Bataan, Boracay, Butuan, Isabela, General Santos, Glan, Kalibo, Lucena, Naga, Olongapo, Zamboanga, and Dagupan
- Satellite Offices in SM North EDSA; Sta. Rosa, Laguna; and Taytay, Rizal
- The One-Stop-Shop office in Clark, Pampanga
- Extension offices at PEZA in BGC and Makati
ECCs are valid for one (1) month from when you get them, so you can apply for one as early as a month prior to your departure. You have to submit the following to secure your ECC along with paying the required fees:
- Application form
- Photocopy of passport (bio page, visa pages, latest arrival)
- Original and photocopy of ACR I-Card
- Photocopy of receipt of latest visa extension
- Photocopy of Order of Downgrading (if applicable)
- Five pieces of 2×2 photos
Simply put, if you have an ACR I-Card and aren’t leaving for good, just go to the airport and pay the ECC/RP (Exit Clearance Certificate and Re-entry permit) fee on the day of your departure.
If you don’t have an ACR I-Card, or have one yet are leaving the country for good, go to the nearest BI Office and apply for an ECC at least three days before. Doing either of these will let you leave the country without any hiccups… unless you actually have one.