By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has started issuing new arrival and departure cards for international passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as part of their continuing efforts to improve its services to the traveling public.
BI Deputy Commissioner Marc Red Mariñas, who heads the bureau’s port operations divison (POD), reported to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente that the distribution of the new travel cards to the different airlines commenced last July 1.
He said copies of the newly-printed cards are also available at the immigration arrival and departure areas of all three terminals of the NAIA, Mariñas added.
Marinas disclosed that the old arrival and departure cards were phased out due to observations that it did not provide sufficient information about a traveler who enters or leaves the country.
The use of arrival and departure cards has been a universal practice of immigration departments in many countries as it is considered essential to document passengers for border management and compiling passenger statistics.
They are regarded as a legal document used to obtain information from travelers which are not provided in their passports and provide additional record of a person’s entry and departure to and from a particular country.
Every arrival and departure card is surrendered by a passenger to the primary immigration inspector upon his arrival or before his departure.
With the launching of BI’s new cards, passengers are now asked to write their full name, nationality, passport number, contact number, flight/voyage number, purpose of trip, occupation, port of exit/destination, and their address here and abroad.
Travelers are also required to sign, date and declare that the information written in the card is true, correct and complete.
“These improvements will have a big impact in the border management efforts of the bureau,” said Morente.
“The information that we collect in our arrival and departure cards is vital in improving our alien monitoring and mapping, as well as gathering added information to ensure our departing kababayans’ safety,” he added.
Morente added that the POD aims to finish distributing the new cards to different international airports and seaports throughout the country such as Mactan, Clark, Kalibo, Davao, and Zamboanga immediately.