Your Family Files (2): Passports and travel documents

Your passport is your international ID document issued by your government. It is a record of your name, birthday, birthplace,  and nationality.

By law, you do not own your passport. Your government does.  If you are an American, US law states that a US passport  “at all times remains the property of the United States and must be returned to the US Government upon demand.”

If you are a Filipino, the Philippine government owns your passport. You merely possess it,  and you cannot surrender it to anyone besides authorized government offices.

The Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (Republic Act No. 8239) allows you to voluntarily surrender it to a Philippine Service Post for storage and safekeeping. The Post will give you a receipt that you will use when claiming back your passport.

Requirements for a Philippine passport

Generally, anyone can get a passport as long as he meets the requirements of his government.

The Department of Foreign Affairs issues it in the Philippines. Abroad,  Philippine consulates or embassies issue these.

When you apply, present your birth certificate proving your Filipino citizenship and birth details.

A married woman should submit a copy of her marriage certificate. A legally separated woman or one whose marriage was annulled has to submit a copy of the court decree. A divorced woman must submit the divorce decree. This is okay as long as the divorce is recognized in the Philippines.

A  widow must submit an authenticated copy of her husband’s death certificate. The Philippine Statistics Authority is the government office that can issue authenticated copies.

A  naturalized Filipino should submit a certified copy of his naturalization certificate.

A minor must  submit his  parent’s affidavit of consent. If traveling with someone else besides his parents, he has to submit a clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

An adopted person should present the court decree of adoption, together with his original and amended birth certificates.

Who are not entitled to a passport

The government can reject the application of someone who has a hold departure order (HDO). Courts issue HDOs against accused persons in criminal cases that are on-going.

A guardian may also request the DFA to deny the passport application of a minor.

Those who have violated the passport law, and those disqualified by existing laws, are not entitled to a passport.

Cancellation of passports

The DFA may cancel the passport of a fugitive from justice.

It can also cancel the passport of one who has been convicted of a crime, when the holder acquired it with fraud, or when he tampered with it.

Restriction of passports

The government may restrict the use of passports when the country of destination is in a state of political instability, which could endanger the Filipino traveler.

Also, this can happen when the Philippines has cut off ties with the country of destination. Travel can also be restricted based on government policy, enforcement action by the United Nations, or  a state of war.

Travel documents

There are instances when the government will issue travel documents instead of passports.

First is when a Filipino in a foreign country has lost his passport, or cannot be issued a regular one

Second is when a Filipino in a foreign country has no valid passport and is being sent back to the Philippines. His passport may have been stolen, lost, destroyed or has expired, and he is not entitled to a replacement.

Third is when a foreign spouse of a Filipino, and their dependents, have not yet been naturalized. A travel document will be issued to them so they can travel to the Philippines. They will also be given travel documents if they are permanent residents of the Philippines.

Fourth is when a foreigner is a permanent Philippine resident who can’t obtain a foreign passport or travel document.

Fifth is a travel document can be issued to a stateless person who is a permanent resident, or a person who has been given refugee or asylum status in the Philippines.

Reporting a lost or destroyed passport

If you lose your passport, or if it is destroyed, report it immediately to the DFA, the Philippine Embassy or Consulate. Submit an affidavit showing how it was lost or destroyed.

If you are in the Philippines, give copies of your affidavit to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or Bureau of Immigration (BI).

If you are abroad, the Embassy or Consulate will send copies of your affidavit to the Office of Legal and Intelligence Services. The latter will submit a copy to the NBI and BI.

The DFA will take additional steps to prevent other people from using your passport and stealing your identity. The Embassy or Consulate will request its confiscation, if found, and investigate anyone who used or tried to use it.


Replacement of lost or destroyed passport

The DFA or Consulate should be convinced that the passport was really lost. It will wait for 15 days before issuing a replacement passport.

A Filipino who loses his passport while traveling abroad may secure a replacement from the Consulate even before 15 days. The Filipino traveler must prove that the passport was indeed lost.

Instead of a replacement passport, the Consulate may issue a travel document if the Filipino traveler is returning directly  to the Philippines.

In case the lost passport is found, it should be destroyed if a replacement passport has been issued already. This is what the law requires. If the holder was given a Travel Document instead, the recovered passport should be mailed to him.


Children who travel abroad with both parents must have their own passports. When they travel with one parent only, or when they travel with adults who are not their parents, they need additional documents to prove that their parent/s authorized their travel.

In the United States, this is known as the Minor Travel Consent Form. You can see a sample on the website of the US Passport Service Guide. In addition, there is a Child Medical Consent Form allowing the child’s companion to make medical decision if necessary when the child is on travel. More information and a sample can be found at

In the Philippines, this is known as Travel Clearance. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) issues this clearance. You can find all the requirements for securing it in the DSWD website.

Permanent Residency Card

Besides passports and travel documents, this category of family files should also include other international identification documents. These are  Permanent Residency Card also known as Green Card in the United States, Hong Kong Identification Card for HK residents or other similar documents.

Other travel-related papers

You can also include travel-related papers like mileage rewards cards, frequent flyer cards, special travel privilege cards, travel vouchers, vacation certificates, cruise certificates, promotional vacation giveaways, airline tickets and others.

Your checklist

  1. Passports
  2. Travel documents
  3. Minor travel consent form / travel clearance
  4. Permanenrt or temproary residency cards
  5. Special travel privilege cards
  6. Travel vouchers
  7. Vacation certificates
  8. Cruise certificates
  9. Promotional give-aways
  10. Airline tickets
  11. Others

In the next post, I will write about land titles and other real estate documents.

Until next time!

* This post is based on my free ebook, YOUR FAMILY FILES. This free ebook shows you how you can keep your most important personal and legal documents safe yet easy to find. It’s a good step for your peace of mind. Click here to get it now.


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