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I am going to Sweden to spend the Christmas and New Year with my Swedish boyfriend, for 16 days. I am employed and have traveled to other countries before (although always with my family; this is the first time I'm traveling alone). To make sure, I've also prepared my bank certificate, bank statements, passbooks, certificate of employment/salary/and leave. I'm also scheduled to attend CFO seminar to get my certificate. In addition, I also have his personal documents such as photocopies of passport, national ID, and certificate of civic registration.

My significant other is also in the process of authenticating an affidavit of support and guarantee, and invitation letter in the Honorary Consulate in Sweden. I also have his bank certificate and statements with me, plus his university registration (he is finishing his degree and not yet employed -- I'm sure this will raise red flags though :/ ). In case, you're wondering how he can afford to sponsor me, he inherited his money (and several stocks) upon his father's death. I have the inheritance document and proof of stocks. He also fully owns a house (also inherited from his father).

  • When I fill out the departure form, should I tick the "Tourism/pleasure"' box or "visiting family/friends"?

  • Should I divulge that I'm visiting my boyfriend, if asked the purpose of my trip, or should I just say I'm traveling for pleasure?

  • I'm 21. Legal age. However, I read in an article that a girl was not allowed to board her flight because she failed to present an affidavit of consent from her parents.

Do you think I should get one even though I'm technically an adult now and allowed to travel as I wish?

  • Have I overlooked other documents I might need to bring with me?

  • How can I be more assertive?

I've been practicing this lately because I tend to stutter (it's a problem) sometimes and I'm just generally awkward.


Update: I got through Immigration without trouble. I was only asked three questions about my employment situation and that was it. Thank you for everyone who answered this question and helped me out.

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    What visa you have? From which airport are you going to which via which? – DavChana Dec 11 '16 at 7:01
  • Hello, thanks for your response! I have a Schengen visa (Type C). I'm leaving from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Manila, Philippines) to Stockholm Arlanda Airport. I have a 2-hour stopover at Istanbul, Turkey. :) – Drew Barie Cajandab Dec 11 '16 at 10:26
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    I vote for reopening this question. @DrewBarieCajandab, you probably need to be more specific that you're asking about PH immigration and not the airline (since you used the term "offloaded", this must be the case). For the fellow commenters, this seem to be a specific question related to PH immigration control for Filipino citizens on departure. It is quite strict, and doesn't have an equivalent anywhere in the world I've been to. They do have authority to prevent a citizen from leaving if they suspect she's likely a victim of human trafficking. Happens daily. – George Y. Dec 13 '16 at 4:31
  • And please also hint how old are you - this is very important, you'll need much more paperwork if you're under 25, and you have very little chance if you're under 20. OTOH, if you're 40+, you should be completely fine. – George Y. Dec 13 '16 at 4:38
  • @George Y: Thanks for reopening the question! Sorry for my mistake with phrasing the question. And I'm 21 years old. – Drew Barie Cajandab Dec 13 '16 at 7:12
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Assuming you are Philippine citizen (because you said fellow Philippines citizens), having Schengen visa (if fresh and unused then preferably from Sweden), traveling from Philippines to Sweden with/without transfers.

Assuming by offloading you mean airline not allowing you to board flight at your departure airport.

Airline wants to make sure that once they bring you to Sweden (or any other Schengen airport, if transfer), Schengen/Sweden authorities will allow you to enter. Prerequisites for this will be a Schengen tourist visa C type (to get which you must had to submit hotel stay, bank statements, employment proofs, fingerprints, insurance and some others along with the motive of journey).

Airline most certainly will want a valid passport, valid visa, outward-ticket, visa/entry for outward destination, and most probably hotel/stay-arrangements, and any exit-requirements for Filipino if any. If you tick all boxes, they will allow you to board.

Once you reach the Schengen Border, (might be Sweden, but for sure will be the first airport in the area, for KLM many times it is Amsterdam), you will need to present your passport with visa. Many times the border guard will ask you for fingerprints, your hotel booking, return/outward ticket, credit cards, cash, insurance, how-many-days, where, why, or any combination of these all. Once satisfied, he will stamp you in and any journey from there to Sweden will be domestic travel.

You should write the purpose on Philippines departure form the same as you mentioned in your visa form.

Carry proof of you seeing your boyfriend, your relationship details, communications, and most important, don't ever lie. Give exact and correct answers, appear confident, give no extra information, but don't lie if asked.

Check with airline for parent consent issue, tell them your exact age, x years y months z days. If 21 is completed or not can make difference.

Edit: Addendum after OP's comments:

(A) Yes, I do have a Schengen visa. (B) Yes, by offloading, I mean PH immigration not allowing me to leave the country.

PH Immigration and Airline will have totally different motivations/reasons to stop somebody from boarding a flight.

Airline is more worried about the hefty fines it will incur if Schengen does not allow you in. Immigration is more likely concerned if you are eligible to go out of country. To them it doesn't matter where, could be US, Dubai, Schengen. They might consider any travel policies like you mentioned parents consent. Better to check with them.

(C) I do have a valid passport, visa, and return tickets. However, I do not have any hotel bookings since I am being sponsored by my boyfriend, and I will be staying at his home. Will this be a problem?

Each Schengen country have their own version of this document, but basically it is that host gets a letter/certificate from city council/police that he has capacity to accommodate you, and is allowed. But before anything, what did you submit as proof-of-stay in your visa application? Use the same if it is real/genuine.

(D) Since my boyfriend will shoulder my expenses, is it still necessary to have cash on hand, as you said?

Expect to get asked about the relationship proofs, chats, photos, finances. Hard cash is not required if you have working credit and debit cards, and bank statements showing the limits, funds. Some Schengen countries expect access to EUR 120 per day if no place to stay has been arranged. Last time for 10 days stay I had credit-card-paid hotel, weekly metro ticket, and 150 EUR in cash, with Credit/Debit cards.

Note that these all are assuming that you are at Schengen border asking for entry. Philippines authorities should not be bothered with any of this, all they are supposed to care about is if you can exit Philippines or not.

Also note that at Schengen border none of these might be asked, and it could be a 10 second interaction, but at the same time, they could ask any and everything to make sure your intents align with visa issued and that you can support yourself while in the area.

  • Thanks for your input! Just to address some points in your reply. (A) Yes, I do have a Schengen visa. (B) Yes, by offloading, I mean PH immigration not allowing me to leave the country. (C) I do have a valid passport, visa, and return tickets. However, I do not have any hotel bookings since I am being sponsored by my boyfriend, and I will be staying at his home. Will this be a problem? (D) Since my boyfriend will shoulder my expenses, is it still necessary to have cash on hand, as you said? Thanks once again! – Drew Barie Cajandab Dec 11 '16 at 10:26
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    Hi, I share your confusion as to why immigration officials are trying to prevent its people from leaving the country. But I think it has something to do with many Filipinos (especially women) are being human trafficked in other countries. That's why they have been tighter than usual with security. Apparently, they are especially suspicious of single, female Filipinos who are traveling alone. I know, it's a bit messed up. Anyway, I have also asked other forums about this, and the general opinion is that (like you said) is to have all documents ready and don't lie. – Drew Barie Cajandab Dec 11 '16 at 12:11
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    @DrewBarieCajandab is correct, and I heard several stories of people with valid travel documents being successfully checked in, but prevented from leaving by PH immigration. The situation she described (a single woman leaving the country on all expenses prepaid by a someone who is not present with her and not a spouse) is very typical for human trafficking, and thus attracts authorities. – George Y. Dec 13 '16 at 4:22
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    For them you need to have more information about your BF (where you met, how long you knew each other, a copy of his passport, a copy of emails/chat between you etc), and have an answer what you'd do if he gets in car accident on his way to airport. Will you have a place to stay? Will you be able to get there from airport? Will you have means to survive for the duration of the trip, or means to return earlier? Do you have an itinerary planned? You should be ready to answer all this; PH immigration will be more strict than the Embassy with interview (if you had any). – George Y. Dec 13 '16 at 4:25
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    And if you can leave using any other airport (Cebu, Kalibo, Davao), by all means do this. MNL has the crappiest immigration ever, according to my fellow pinoy who been through experience. – George Y. Dec 13 '16 at 4:27
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A bit of introduction so people who're not familiar with situation could understand it better.

In Philippines the Bureau of Immigration does more than just checking that you have the proper paperwork to leave the country. By law they are required to make sure the Filipino citizens leaving the country are not potential victims of human trafficking. Those who are suspected to be victims of human trafficking are refused immigration clearance, and cannot leave the country. This is called "offloading", and happens quite often to Filipinos (foreign citizens are not affected).

The typical profile of Filipinos affected by this is:

  • A female of relatively young age (the younger, the more likely it to happen, but I know someone who was 31 when she was offloaded). Very rarely males are being offloaded too. Discrimination, I know;
  • This is her first trip overseas alone;
  • The stated goal is either "visiting a boyfriend" or "tourism" without strict itinerary, hotel reservations, etc. A two-day "shopping" trip to Thailand attracts much less attention;
  • The relationship was relatively brief (or even was purely online);

All this makes the Immigration suspicious of trafficking, because this is how a lot of Filipinos end up there (yes, this really happens). And once they are suspicious, they start questioning. As you see, their interest is very different from the airline, which only cares about you being admitted and doesn't care what you'd do after that. The Immigration is also trained well in detecting inconsistencies and uncover lies - they heard plenty. This is another reason why it is better to stick to the facts, tell the truth, do not change your story and do not try to make it look better.

Since you're going to visit your boyfriend, he becomes a critical person here, and they need to have information about your boyfriend - the more, the better. They need to see he is a real, genuine person (and not a pimp). So the more information you have, the better - it also makes it look more credible, as large volume is much harder to fake consistently. At minimum, the information you bring should:

  • Prove that you knew each other long enough (the longer, the better) - photos together, your communications (chats, emails, etc).
  • Prove he is a "normal" person (copies of his passport, other ID, job references, affidavits etc);
  • Prove he is indeed inviting you (i.e. he is not some random guy you chatted for two years on Internet).

Also if he can be online/on call while you're clearing immigration, this may also help. It is unlikely they'd talk to him (they might, to check that your stories match), but the fact that he's online and ready to answer their questions weights in your favor.

Also the Immigration wants to make sure you have means to survive and return in case something goes wrong (for example, your boyfriend doesn't show up at all). Make sure you have enough money to cover your basic needs and flight change, so you can return. You may be asked about this; the Immigration wants to make sure you wouldn't end up on a street.

A couple more things to advise:

  • Arrive at the airport early, and go to immigration as early as you can. You WILL take some time there - make sure you have this time.

  • Fly out of Cebu or Kalibo if you can. MNL airport has the crappiest immigration ever, according to my fellow pinoy who been through experience.

  • This is one-time hurdle. Your second time the Immigration would be much easier.

Finally, the answers to specific questions:

  • When you fill out the departure form, tick the "visiting family/friends".

  • If you say you're traveling for pleasure, you would be asked your full itinerary (are you gonna sit in Stockholm for 16 days? what you gonna do there? where you gonna stay), and unless you prepare it very well, they will suspect you're making it up and thus hiding something real bad. An easy way to get offloaded. Another easy way is to change your story during questioning. Don't.

  • I don't think you need affidavit from your parents, but if they met your BF before and can affirm to that in writing. Even more useful would be if they go to airport with you, and wait outside in case Immigration wants to talk to them to confirm this.

  • Anything else you can do? Yes, assuming you have time. You can fly to Thailand or Vietnam for a day (same day or next day return) for shopping. Flights are cheap, hotels are cheap too, and you can buy some useful stuff. Do this a couple times. Many Filipinos do this, Immigration is more favorable toward this, and they treat differently people who have been abroad already.

  • Hi, thanks for the tips. I've already prepared logs of our communication and he will be available online during the day of my departure, just in case I do get held up. If this helps, I've already been out of the country three times and hold a Japanese visa (I hope this will be an advantage on my side and not get held up for a long time). I also have a full itinerary of my trip, including transportation details plus the cost of the admission fees of the museums I want to go to. I will be bringing along extra cash with me, just in case they do ask for physical money. – Drew Barie Cajandab Dec 15 '16 at 7:41
  • I do plan on arriving 4 to 5 hours earlier than my flight. Also, I don't think it will be possible to fly out of Kalibo or Cebu. I'm just going to take my chances in NAIA and hope for the best. I've been really anxious the past few days but I'm just trying to be calm now. Again, thanks for your tips. You've been very generous and helpful! – Drew Barie Cajandab Dec 15 '16 at 7:44
  • Yes, this indeed helps that you've been out of the country. In this case you'd attract a bit of less scrutiny. Now you can relax and wait - and good luck! – George Y. Dec 16 '16 at 2:45
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  • Answer questions truthfully
  • Do NOT volunteer information: just answer the question directly
  • Be prepared with documentation
  • Smile: be pleasant \ nice \ respectful
  • RELAX: authorities can sense when you are tense and signals to them to scrutinize you

The last two are particularly important and determine how you will be treated. When answering questions: keep it short, simple and honest.

  • Thanks for your tips. Yes, I've heard that it is important to be as calm as possible. I'll do my best to be confident once I get there. Thanks again. – Drew Barie Cajandab Dec 15 '16 at 7:45
  • Be careful... women are abused by people they trust. If someone is promising you something overseas... – gatorback Dec 15 '16 at 14:10
  • Yes, I'll be careful as much as possible. I trust my boyfriend and I'm smart enough to know if I'm deceived, I think. Thanks for your tip. :) – Drew Barie Cajandab Dec 15 '16 at 14:25

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