As we are all aware today, quarantine guidelines for returning OFWs and seafarers are lighter compared to a few months ago. Here is my previous post about crew change in the middle of the pandemic last year.
The emergence of “Red, Yellow and Green Countries” added a ray of hope to our overseas workers. And with the vaccinations rolling out worldwide, we are definitely going back to normal soon.
However, the details about the new quarantine guidelines are quite confusing. I heard OFWs had a five-day quarantine in Manila while others had ten.
I’m here to share my first-hand experience and the things I discovered upon arrival.
First off are the requirements needed for returning OFWs and seafarers. For seamen, your ship’s agent will handle much of these documents.
OFWs on the other hand may need to acquire them by themselves.
There aren’t many documents needed and the necessary ones are the flight itinerary, OHP QR Code, and RT-PCR Test.
Here are the requirements. I am not vaccinated by the way but everything went perfectly smoothly.
Must be taken within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.
Of course. This is the most convenient way to enter our country.
Letter of Guarantee
For seafarers, this document is necessary and is checked in every port prior to disembarkation. The ship’s agent or the company normally prepares this.
Essential Workers’ Certificate for Free Passage
This is a letter addressed to the government or port where you’re signing off.
It asks permission for unimpeded passage between your home country and your vessel as long as the required medical screening and protocols are followed.
Crew Member’s Declaration
Since we were signing off in the US, Customs and Border Protection requires a Crew Member’s Declaration Form.
Your agent will send the document and you will only have to fill it up.
One Health Pass Registration
The Philippine government requires all arriving passengers whether OFWs, non-OFWs, or foreign nationals to register on the health declaration platform.
This is done online using their website at One Health Pass.
Once finished, you must screenshot the QR Code and show it to the boarding gate of your airline.
The OHP website will also send you an email that consists of your QR Code.
From Ship to Plane to Manila
After clearing all the checks and documentation in Port Neches, Texas, we were actually late for our flight.
Thus, we needed to spend a night at the hotel.
From what I noticed, most people in Texas don’t wear masks anymore.
The agent-driver told us that they were no longer required since the majority of their population was fully vaccinated.
But for us seafarers, we were required to wear them.
Masks are still a must inside airports and throughout the flight. However, face shields are no longer mandatory in Manila.
We were flying with KLM and there were only very few passengers. Few passengers equal more legroom.
If you are traveling with a group, they will arrange your seats so that all of you will stay close together taking into account the weight distribution inside the aircraft.
But after the plane takes off, you will be allowed to move into vacant seats.
Since the pandemic began, airports have become a lot less crowded and more quiet than usual. The lines aren’t very long which resulted in a faster lets-get-outta-here time.
Your One Health Pass QR Code will be the first thing that airport security and personnel will be looking for.
If you still haven’t got one, you must accomplish this, or else they won’t let you out.
Quarantine personnel will only scan your QR Code and ask you some questions about your travel history. But that’s rarely a problem unless you come from Red List Countries.
Immigration was swift, too.
Now we are almost done inside the airport.
After clearing the immigration, your final step is to proceed to your designated desks for your quarantine hotel assignments.
Proceed to the OWWA Desk and present your OHP QR Code including the OWWA Project Care Slip.
Proceed to MARINA Desk. Present your OWWA Project Care Slip and OHP QR Code. They will also ask for the name of your agency.
If your shuttle (airport to quarantine hotel) is already there, you will go off smoothly. If not, then you may have to wait for your agency’s shuttle service to pick you up.
Meanwhile, you can have a nice free meal while waiting.
Clear to Go
MARINA Desk is the last stop. They will give you a small clearance slip to show to the guard.
After that, you can get your baggage and proceed to the exit to meet with your shuttle service.
And that’s basically it.
Now the one million dollar question that everyone on board is talking about is,
“How many days is the quarantine period?”
Let’s take a look at what the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) implemented.
Here are the countries considered Green, Yellow, and Red as of November 1 to 15 according to IATF Resolution 146-B.
This list is updated every 15 days or as frequently as necessary depending on the condition of COVID-19 cases in a particular country.
There you have it. Hope this helps you with your future plans of returning to the Philippines.
May the winds be in your favor.