Obtaining a travel clearance for minors is definitely an easy, breezy task—no formal interviews, scheduled appointments, or daunting questions necessary.
If you’re under 18 years old by the time of your travel departure and not traveling with either of your parents, then you would need to secure one at a DSWD regional office. Their offices are scattered all over the different regions of the Philippines, and all you need to do is go to one within the proximity of your place.
Personally, I obtained mine at the DSWD Regional Office IV-A, located on Alabang-Zapote Road, which was literally an overpass away from Alabang Town Center. The office was modern and newly renovated. It was airconditioned as well, so it was pretty much a comfortable wait, having seated on the maroon benches for a couple of hours (fret not, it doesn’t need to take that long!), but more on that in a few.
The following is the list of requirements needed for minors traveling with a person other than their parents or legal guardian, as stated on the DSWD’s FAQ page (link):
- Accomplished application form (downloadable from DSWD’s website – link)
- Birth Certificate (PHOTOCOPY)
- Written parental consent
- Parents’ Marriage Certificate (PHOTOCOPY) or Certificate of Legal Guardianship of the minor for solo parents
- Two colored passport size photos (taken in the last six months)
- Passport of traveling companion (PHOTOCOPY)
For other requirements of specific cases, here is the link.
According to DSWD’s official website, those required to secure a travel clearance are:
- A minor traveling alone to another country
- A minor traveling to a another country accompanied by a person other than his/her parents
If you need concrete situations whether or not a minor traveling is eligible for such, let me share mine. I had to get a travel clearance for minors during a trip to Korea way back summer 2013. Neither of my parents accompanied me during the trip, and I traveled with my older brother who turned legal that same year. But since I was 16 years old back then, I was clearly still a minor, so I needed one.
In two months, I’ll be turning 18 years old, and will be a legal citizen of the country. This August, I obtained a travel clearance for a trip to Singapore in the same month (it’s an all-girls trip, with my grandmother, aunts, and gal cousins joining—my mom not included). As of the date of my trip, I would still be 17 years old; therefore a minor. Even if no longer being a minor is barely a few months away from my scheduled trip, I still needed to obtain one. Maybe that’s quite unlucky and a waste of funds and time on my part, considering I’m turning 18 soon, but that’s how it goes.
The bottom line is: whether a baby is nine months old or a highschooler is 15 years old, and is traveling abroad without any of his/her parents, then a travel clearance for minors is needed. Simple as that. Regardless if your travel companion is an immediate relative other than your parents (say your grandma or sibling) or someone who is above 18 years old, and you’re still under 18, then you’d need to obtain one.
As mentioned earlier, no appointments are needed. DSWD offices are open on weekdays during office hours. The travel clearance is ₱300 for a validity of one year; ₱600, two years.
Procedure, in a nutshell:
- Sign the logbook at the entrance.
- Get the queued number and wait to be called.
- Submit all requirements to the officer in the assessment area. With the given form and the requirements, pay at the cashier’s office.
- Give the requirements back to the officer. Get the travel clearance at the releasing area.
Speaking from experience, obtaining one is not as ‘uncertain’ or risky as applying for a travel visa for a certain country, so there really is nothing much to worry about. I believe that it is unlikely for one to be denied of a travel clearance for minors (extreme cases can be doubtful, but with that, I’m not very sure).
Honestly, I also think it’s funny that actual documents related to the minor’s trip are not needed. What’s your proof that you’re leaving the country if you aren’t required to present a copy of your plane ticket or passport in the first place? Right? Haha. Anyhow, some tips:
The travel clearance is not given immediately, so you’d have to wait for the releasing time. The office opens in the morning, but the releasing time for travel clearances is still at a later hour, during noontime or early afternoon. If you plan to obtain it on the same day, then going around early morning would be a good idea; otherwise, if you go around late afternoon, it will be given the next day. Do give allowance for long lines and the like!
Bring a photocopied valid ID of your parent/s. This wasn’t stated on the website, but I was asked for one as I handed my papers and forms. An SSS ID, TIN or passport copy would do. It was a good thing I had one with me!
It’s a no-show procedure, so the minor involved doesn’t need to be present. Quite an opposite situation for me though. I originally intended to do it alone, but was accompanied in the end (which was good, because if not then I wouldn’t know where to get a copy of my parent’s ID!). The social worker will ask super simple, yes-no questions just to see if you’re aware. Questions like how is the kid related to the traveling companion (when it’s clearly stated on the application form) and have you obtained a travel clearance in the past aren’t anything intimidating, so you know it’s an easy, no-brainer procedure—guaranteed!
(written in August 2014)