AMERICAN citizens who are currently in the country and whose US passports have expired on or after January 1, 2020 can now use said passports to depart the Philippines.
This is contained in a memorandum order issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), with a directive to all BI personnel assigned in the different ports to allow the departure of passengers whose US passports are already expired from January 1 last year and those whose passports are also expiring up to December 31 of this year.
The BI said use of said expired passports by departing US-bound passengers will only be allowed until December 31, 2021.
The bureau’s tourist visa section and alien registration division was also directed to process all applications for updating of stay and emigration clearance certificates (ECC) of holders of expired US passports upon presentation of a confirmed ticket bound for the USA.
The memorandum came in response to a letter the BI received from the US embassy in Manila which informed the bureau about the plight of US citizens who were stranded in the Philippines due to the pandemic and who are unable to leave because their passports have expired.
It was learned that a similar communication was sent by the US embassy to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
In the said letter, the embassy said the US State Department recently issued guidance that would allow Americans to return to the USA using an expired passport, in limited circumstance, through the end of the year.
The Embassy said that the State Department worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security and different commercial airlines to implement the measure to assist Americans whose passports expired during the pandemic in countries where passport renewal options at the nearest US embassy or consulate are limited.
Due to the request from the US Embassy, passports that expired from January 1, 2020 up to the end of 2021 are considered valid and extended, hence they may be allowed to depart.
However, the rule applies only to departing passengers and those who are planning to remain here or convert their visas still need to present a valid passport.
The letter, nonetheless, said that passport services at the US embassy are available and that it encourages US citizens here to renew their passports prior to leaving whenever feasible.