Let’s recall how the COVID-19 pandemic led to the imposition of travel restrictions in almost all countries in the world. In the Philippines, this also led to changes to the airport screening process which is commonly the first line of defense to reduce disease transmission.
On 01 May 2023, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) discontinued the requirement of paper-based arrival and departure cards to fully implement the eTravel System. The eTravel system is a digital platform, free of charge, for all arriving and departing passengers that will enable the establishment of integrated border control, health surveillance and economic data analysis.
Registration on the eTravel platform can be done within 72 hours prior to the arrival or departure from the Philippines. Upon registration, a QR Code will be generated and shall be presented and scanned at the airport counters.
A green QR Code signifies that the information required, and attachments are complete and compliant with the latest IATF entry protocols. The green-colored QR Code allows the individual to enter the country without additional screening.
A red QR Code indicates that there are missing requirements and further interviews may be required by a Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) personnel upon arrival at the airport.
This streamlined process indeed gives convenience to travelers. The BI said that these recent developments will allow faster and more efficient immigration processing. As part of the collaborative government effort to digitalize the processes, a “save” feature is also available to enable users to retrieve details previously entered data for new trips - making the eTravel System advantageous. Visitors, business travelers and international assignees who frequently travel in and out of the Philippines can experience the ease of travel with the new system in place due to its accessibility from either a smartphone or a laptop and without having to download a software application.
These efforts which would have taken years to implement were accelerated due to the pandemic. The eTravel System not only expedites and modernizes the arrival and departure procedures in the Philippines, but also positively impacts the environment with the use of fewer paper resources.
Jolin Bianca C. Borromeo
KPMG in the Philippines