Few weeks prior to our flight last April 2016, we realized that my passport only have less than six months validity. My passport expiration will be on September 25, 2016 and (that’s barely 5 months and a week before expiration).
This almost caused us to panic since the vacation plan had been sorted out long time back. So we asked around and even went to the Philippine Embassy office in Qatar for information and assistance. Some advised us to apply for an extension and others suggested to apply for a new one since it is still exactly 3 weeks before our flight and if we are lucky, it will be released in 2 weeks-time.
The embassy personnel told us that we might as well apply for a renewal since an extension is only granted for medical and legal emergencies. They even said that the 6-months validity is an international aviation rule and it is strictly followed by Doha Immigration. So, afraid that I might not be allowed to board in time for our flight, I proceeded with the renewal application and chose delivery rather than pick up for convenience. At the back of my mind, I was also considering that in case it will be released while we are on vacation, we can just authorize someone to receive it for us in our office.
And that was what happened, the passport came out while we were in Manila. Good thing that I knew the QPOST personnel who usually delivers passports to our office, and he already told me to do the needful: an authorization letter, a copy of my ID and the standard QAR25 for the delivery charge. Fortunately i have a colleague who was kind enough to assist me throughout all these procedures and successfully ensured delivery of my new passport back to Manila. Lucky for this passport to have traveled back and forth (Manila-Doha-Manila).
But prior to all these, I was travelling using my old passport going back to Manila. We were pleasantly surprised that no question was asked from Doha immigration up to Manila immigration. Out of curiosity, i inquired to the NAIA immigration personnel about the passport validity rule.
We were told that so long as the OFW has a valid work visa and the vacation is for a fixed period (say 1 month), they can be allowed to use the passport even with less than 6 months validity since they can renew it once they come back to Qatar, for example.
We also have an international flight in between that vacation and our worry was that we might encounter a problem because of this same issue. But the travel agent assured us that since we were already issued a visa, there will be no problem about it.
Sometimes, we are looking for answers to our questions and we depend so much on authorities to provide us the right response. It’s not that we are trying to get away from the procedures but at least to offer us a sound advise. We understand the pressure of attending to so many inquiries everyday but their answers could mean “life or death” to some people too.
I searched from the internet and found this which may be helpful also:
The second requirement specifically mentioned that “if visa-required at final destination”, meaning so long as your passport is still valid (even less than 6 months) and you have a visa and a return ticket then you can travel internationally. In the case of Filipinos working abroad, so long as your work visa is valid and you have a return ticket, then, your passport may be renewed in the country where you are working at.
But still, this doesn’t excuse us, including me, from the fact that it is our obligation to always check our documents especially if we have vacations plans. Even upon filing/approval of our leave, let’s check the passport validities and visa expirations, to avoid any problems.
And while vacations are meant to be exciting and stress-free, an oversight like this can eat up much energy than you can imagine… and eventually ruin what could have been an enjoyable moment with your family.