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How to Get An NBI Clearance in the Philippines: Expat Visa Background Check

QUICK SUMMARY- Getting an NBI Clearance Certificate In The PhilippinesRequirement for a long-term visa or permanent resident cardEasy to register and apply online. Processing Fee is only 130 PHP / ~$2.50 An NBI Clearance quick renewal can be processed and delivered to your door entirely onlineIf you have a common name, it is not uncommon minutes

04/10/24

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About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller- Abroad: Expats That Thrive.

QUICK SUMMARY- Getting an NBI Clearance Certificate In The Philippines

  • Requirement for a long-term visa or permanent resident card
  • Easy to register and apply online. Processing Fee is only 130 PHP / ~$2.50
  • An NBI Clearance quick renewal can be processed and delivered to your door entirely online
  • If you have a common name, it is not uncommon to get a false criminal hit
  • 1st-time applicants must make a personal appearance at the NBI office
  • Avoiding the hassle of an in-person application requires an authorized representative 

What is an NBI clearance?

An NBI clearance certificate is an essential government document in the Philippines. Issued by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the NBI clearance is an official police background check certifying you do not have a criminal record in the Philippines.

The certificate is commonly used for visa applications, job applications, and other official purposes. As an expat living in the Philippines, you may be asked to provide one if you apply for a long-term visa, extend your tourist visa over 60 days, convert to a 13a permanent visa, or apply for permanent residency. 

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

QUICK TIPS- PHILIPPINES

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Get help with your visa. The Philippines visa process can get complicated. The rules and regulations change frequently. Avoid the hassle of dealing with the immigration bureaucracy by speaking with a Philippines Visa Specialist. 

Learn some basic Tagalog phrases. While nearly everyone speaks some English, learning some basic Tagalog is always appreciated by Filipinos. Get a FREE Language Lesson using the same learning technique used by the US State Department, FBI, and overseas military.

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Like most government processes, getting an NBI clearance can be bureaucratic and time-consuming. You must first complete the NBI clearance application form online, go to an authorized NBI clearance center, deal with the crowds, stand in line, get your fingerprints impressed, and biometrics taken. The process takes about one to three weeks.

Additionally, the NBI clearance requirements for foreigners differs from Philippine citizens. Don't get confused by other articles and resources you might find on the internet. The guide below gives you all the detail you need if you follow all the steps carefully.

Or, if you prefer to "just get it done." fill out the form below, and discover the convenience of hassle-free NBI clearance as my partners handle clearance process for you.

Philippines NBI Clearance

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As an expat, you have better things to do than wait in traffic, deal with bureaucracy, and fight through crowds.

That's why we're here to help! Our team of certified visa and immigration experts are knowledgeable in all aspects of obtaining a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance Certificate in the Philippines and will assist you every step of the way.

Don't wait any longer, take advantage of our expertise and contact us today to get a stress-free NBI clearance process.

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Directions FOr Expats Getting Their NBI Clearance 

Reasons to get an NBI clearance

1

 It provides proof of a criminal history check

Having an NBI clearance provides proof of a criminal history check by verifying that you have no criminal record. Proof of no criminal history is required for expats when applying for a permanent residency or long-term visa. Additionally, you may be required to prove a clean criminal history if you decide to work legally or open a business in the Philippines.

2

Required document when applying for long-term visas or permanent residency in the Philippines

Nearly all non-tourist visas in the Philippines require a certification of no criminal liability by the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), your home country, or INTERPOL. If you are already in the Philippines or have stayed in the Philippines longer than 30 days, getting an NBI is usually easier than trying to get an authenticated, apostilled, and translated police clearance from your home country.

You will also need a clearance certificate when converting your 13a Probationary to a 13a Permanent marriage visa.

3

Legal compliance when foreigners overstay their Philippines visa by over 12 months

If you overstay a visa by 12 months or more, you need an NBI clearance before applying for a visa extension.

4

Applying for an overseas visa after living in the Philippines for more than six months

Many countries like the United States, Spain, and Canada require a background check from any jurisdiction you lived for more than 6 months when applying for a permanent resident card, immigration visa, or citizenship. Notably, countries like Mexico, Chile, Peru, Italy, and Colombia are countries where you can apply for a residency visa without police clearance

5

It can be used to apply for a security clearance in some jobs

While expats move to the Philippines for retirement, some foreigners still pick up jobs to stay busy or supplement their pension income. An NBI clearance is often a requirement for employability in any jobs that typically require a security clearance, handling large amounts of cash, accessing confidential information, or being around children or minors. Think:

  • NGO workers
  • Government contractors
  • Bank or Financial Services employees
  • School Teachers
  • Healthcare professionals

6

It can be used to prove that you have no criminal history when applying for a rental apartment

Foreigners get a bit more leeway with this requirement than local Filipinos. Still, it is not unheard of for a landlord or property manager to request an NBI clearance from potential tenants when applying to rent an apartment or house. The background check confirms you do not have a criminal record, indirectly characterizing you as a trustworthy, law-abiding, and reliable tenant.

7

Peace of mind and Legal Protection

An NBI clearance protects with legal protection expats from being wrongly accused of a crime in the Philippines. You may be thinking, "I don't commit any crimes. I don't have anything to worry about." This isn't always true. There have been many cases of a "hit" on a background check simply because someone with the same first and last name as you committed a crime in the Philippines.

My mom had to deal with this exact issue when applying for her SRRV application. Someone with her first name (slightly misspelled) and maiden name was passing forged checks and showed up on her NBI police clearance. She spent months getting the hit cleared off her record.

It's better to know that you have a clean criminal record and that there are no potential legal issues or mistaken identities than stressing if you are on some Philippines Most Wanted Blacklist for breaking immigration laws.

Who doesn't need to get an NBI Clearance?

If you are applying for an SRRV retirement visa, you can submit a Police clearance from your home country ( such as an FBI or State Police background check if you are an American). A PRA-certified clearance from Interpol is another alternative.

Additionally, you can receive a waiver for the background check if you are:

  • over 70 years old; or
  • have five years of Philippine residency; or
  • Exemptions are also extended to retired Officers of Asian Development Bank (ADB) or other DFA-recognized international organizations.

Expats over 70 applying for a Philippine Retirement Visa do not require an NBI check

What is a "hit" on my NBI Clearance?

A "HIT" on your NBI clearance means that your name shows as having a criminal record. Additionally, hits happen if someone using the same name as you has an ongoing or pending administrative or criminal case (see insider tip below) or a government agency requests the NBI to hold the clearance.

 INSIDER TIP : Pending or Unclosed Administrative or Criminal Cases- In the Philippines, this includes municipal or regional trial courts, city or provincial prosecution services, Sandigan Bay, Armed Forces military discipline, or Ombudsman cases. You will not get a hit for any civil suits or claims.

What happens if my police check shows a "hit"?

The NBI holds your clearance for further verification if you get tagged for a hit. You may be asked to meet at the NBI main office for an NBI Clearance Quality Control Interview. If the NBI determines the hit is not yours, you must take a sworn oath and sign a notarized Affidavit of Denial.

Suppose the NBI determines the hit is correctly attributed to you. In that case, you will need an Affidavit of Admission and an official court document showing the charges have been dismissed.

Without an Affidavit of Admission or a Certification from the Court showing a dismissed case, your NBI Clearance will be issued with a "With Derogatory Records" comment showing you have a criminal case or record against you.

Any hit on your record, regardless of reason, can add 10 or more days to the process.

Legal Documents Required For NBI Clearance in the Philippines

  • Original and photocopy of a valid Government identification card (foreign passport or ACR I-Card/Alien Certificate of Registration are considered valid identification documents)
  • If you have a passport, you'll need the bio page and a copy of your latest entry visa or visa stamp.
  • If using your ACR identification card, you'll want copies of the front and back of the card.
  • Reference number of your official receipt.
  • There's no need to bring passport-sized pictures since your image will be captured during encoding.

 INSIDER TIP NBI will not accept non-government- issued IDs or Barangay Clearance certificates as valid proof of identification to process your NBI Clearance.

Can I apply for an NBI clearance from outside the Philippines?

Yes. To apply for an NBI clearance outside the Philippines, you must first visit a Philippine Embassy or Consulate General to have a consular officer imprint a fingerprint card and notarize the clearance form. Then mail your application card to the NBI in Manila for processing. 

The NBI office will mail your clearance certificate. Processing takes roughly three days, excluding days of transit from the Philippines.

I have accredited representatives that can apply on your behalf. Fill out the form below, and we can get started on your NBI certificate.

NBI Clearance For Applicants Abroad- Document Requirements

  • Filled-in and notarized NBI Fingerprint Card Form No. 5- Note: Married women must include their maiden surname, husband's surname, and maternal surname
  • Original and photocopy of Valid Passport with bio page and date stamped proving presence abroad
  • 2" x 2" Colored Photograph with white background – recently taken, no more than 3 months before the date of application
  • Valid ID – other than the passport
  • Direct payment of 200.00 PHP by money order or bank draft payable to the Director, National Bureau of Investigation, Taft Avenue, Ermita 1000 Manila, Philippines.
  • A self-addressed return envelope from your preferred international courier service to mail your clearance certificate back to you.

 INSIDER TIP NBI Clearance Fees - Bank drafts or money orders used for NBI processing fees must be negotiable in the Philippines. Philippine National Bank (PNB), Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Co. (HSBC), ANZ – A New Zealand Bank, METROBANK, and Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) are NBI-accredited banks.

Optional Required Documents

  • Original NBI Clearance (if you already have an NBI clearance and need to renew)
  • Photocopy or original birth certificate and/or marriage certificate (only required if you need changes to your name, civil status, date of birth, or country of birth)
  • Special Power of Attorney (SPA)– An authorization Letter is only required if you allow a representative to apply for an NBI Clearance on your behalf (Download a sample SPA from my Visa Application Form Resource Library

Even if you apply abroad, the processing is still done in the Philippines, so after gathering the additional required documents above, send your application package to:

Clearance Section National Bureau of Investigation
Identification and Records Division
3rd Floor NBI Clearance Building
UN Avenue, Ermita 1000 Manila
Philippines

Screenshot of a Special Power of Attorney letter that is a required Authorization Letter for expats who need to get a NBI Clearance in the Philippines

Your SPA may need a signature and the official designation of an authorized authentication officer 

Step By Step Process To Apply For An NBI Clearance Online

Step 1: Register on the NBI Clearance Online Registration and Application Services website

Go to the NBI Clearance Online Services website, click on the "I Agree" button in the Data Privacy Statement. Once the "Advisory" window pops up, read through it and click on the "Close" button. After this, use the form on the right-hand side to complete your account registration.

If you have a previous NBI clearance (since 2014), click the yes check box. Otherwise, click no on the question DO YOU HAVE AN NBI CLEARANCE ISSUED FROM 2014 TO PRESENT to register a new account.

Apply NBI Clearance Online - First time applicants should click NO

 INSIDER TIP : Official Middle Names- As mentioned above, the NBI is a stickler for correctly filled-out forms. While most Filipinos have a middle name, many foreigners do not. If you do not have a middle name, type Not Applicable or use MNU (Middle Name Unknown) and verify with the clerk during your appointment.

Step 2: Log in to your account

After registering your account, a valid Philippines phone number is required to get a One Time Password (OTP). Next, sign in to your new account using the email address and password you provided when creating your account.

Step 3: Fill out the NBI clearance online application form

Once logged in, begin filling out the Applicant Information form. Any fields with a red asterisk are mandatory. Double-check the family background, education, employment, and complete contact details before clicking the "SAVE INFORMATION" button.

Screenshot of the Philippines NBI Clearance Online Application Form

Step 4: Set your NBI clearance appointment

You need to book an appointment online to get an NBI clearance in the Philippines. NBI offices no longer take walk-in appointments to process a clearance.

After creating your account and filling in your NBI clearance application form online, click on "Apply For Clearance" to make an appointment. First, choose the type of government-issued ID you will present during your appointment and click "I Agree."

Acceptable IDs for foreigners are valid passports or non-expired Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR I-Card).

Step 5: Choose your Preferred NBI clearance center

Once you have chosen your preferred branch and appointment date and time (AM/PM preferences), select the blue boxes on the appointment calendar, which are the number of vacant slots at your center. It is vital to decide on an appointment date carefully, as you will not be able to reschedule the appointment once you have paid the NBI clearance fee.

However, if you miss your appointment but have already paid the fee, there is a 15-day grace period after the appointment date. You can still go to the NBI branch with your referral number during the grace period without restarting the process.

 INSIDER TIP : Official Middle Names-  Foreigners living in the National Capital Region (NCR- basically Metro Manila) can ONLY apply at the NBI Main Clearance Processing Center located at UN (United Nations) Avenue in Ermita, Manila.

For those outside NCR, you can apply at the NBI branch in your respective provinces but expect a longer waiting time (10-15 days) because of the need to mail your application to the Manila office.

Step 6: Select Your NBI Payment Method

The total cost, including the multi-purpose NBI clearance fee (130 PHP) and the e-payment service fee (25 PHP) for a total of 155 Philippine Pesos (less than $3 USD). 

When this article was written, the US Dollar to Philippine Pesos exchange rate was 1 USD to ~55 PHP. 

You have six payment options to choose from.

  1. Bank Over the Counter- You can pay over the counter at banks such as Metrobank, Chinabank, LANDBANK, Unionbank, Security Bank, and RCBC.
  2. Online Bank- Pay online through banks such as Unionbank and BPI.
  3. Bayad Center Outlets- Other payment options include in-person at Bayad Center outlets like LBC Express, Cebuana Lhuillier, Waltermart, and Robinsons
  4. Bayad Center mobile app
  5. ECPay
  6. 7-Eleven branches with cash payment facilities.

Follow the instructions given after clicking your preferred payment method. All these payment options allow you to quickly and securely complete your NBI clearance transactions. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these payment options.

Over-the-counter bank payment is the most secure but time-consuming since you need to deal with traffic and lines to show up at a physical bank branch.

Online banking is more convenient but may require you to enter sensitive credit card and financial information.

Bayad Center Outlets and Mobile Apps are faster but often charge additional payment fees.

ECPay, 7-Eleven, Visa/MasterCard, and GCash are popular options. Still, they have the additional steps of signing up for an account, registering, and providing additional personal information.

 INSIDER TIP : Take a screenshot or write down the reference number shown after you complete payment. You'll be asked for this number when you visit the NBI Clearance center for your appointment.

Step 7- Confirming Payment And Status of Application

Check the "Transactions" page on the NBI website to confirm your application status. If the status shows "Pending" instead of "Paid," click on the details to review the NBI form for errors or omissions.

Step 8: Go to the NBI branch on Your Appointment Date

On the day of your appointment, head to your chosen NBI branch with the completed documents and additional requirements. You don't need a printed hard copy of the NBI form as long as you have the reference number.

Crowds nearly always form at the entrance. Don't arrive at your exact time. Arrive early to avoid delays.

 INSIDER TIP : AVOID "FIXERS"- As you approach the NBI Clearance building, you will inevitably be approached by a "Fixer." Fixers are random Filipinos stationed outside NBI branches looking to scam people by offering to process your application faster for an additional fee. Only use Accredited and Certified Visa Specialists.

warning for expats going to get an NBI Clearance certificate from the NBI offices to not use fixers

Step 9: Submit NBI Clearance Requirements And Get Fingerprints Impressed

Present your valid IDs for scanning when entering one of the NBI clearance branches. Here is where you need to show your reference number or NBI clearance online application form.

First, head to the Encoding station for fingerprinting service, biometrics, digitized signature, and photographs.

Next, you will need to verify your data. Double-check your details carefully and ask the officer to make any corrections.

 INSIDER TIP : Proper Attire- I highly recommend business casual attire. You don't need a collared shirt per se, but there are better times to wear shorts and flip-flops.

STEP 10: Expats Claiming NBI Clearance

Unlike Philippine citizens, foreign nationals and expats cannot pick up a printed NBI Certificate on the same day as their appointment. Foreigners must wait roughly one to three weeks to get their NBI Clearance.

During your appointment, the NBI staff will provide you with a date to claim your printed clearance certificate. Return to the same NBI Clearance building on that date, head to the printing section, and wait for your NBI Clearance to be printed.

That's it. Your Clearance Certificate is complete, and you can leave the NBI branch.

 INSIDER TIP : Double Check The Issued NBI Clearance Certificate- Any errors, corrections, or changes to any information on the clearance, even adding an accent mark or correcting a capitalized letter, requires restarting the processing.

Additionally, check the embossed NBI DRY SEAL at its lower left portion, as the clearance is invalid without it. In many instances, the seal is very faint. 

How much does it cost for foreigners to get an NBI Clearance?

The NBI Clearance Fee is currently 130 PHP. If you want to pay online or use an e-payment service, you'll need to pay an additional 25 PHP for a total online NBI fee of 155 PHP.

Who can request an NBI clearance?

Expats, foreigners, and tourists over 18 years old who have stayed in the Philippines for at least six months may request an NBI clearance. Additionally, with your prior approval and a letter of authorization, representatives can request an NBI clearance on your behalf.

What are the additional requirements if you use an Authorized Representative for an NBI Clearance?

You can use an authorized representative to obtain an NBI clearance on your behalf from abroad and in the Philippines. Your NBI application form must include a notarized Special Power of Attorney (SPA) that authorizes the representative to apply for clearance on your behalf.

If you apply for an NBI clearance from outside the Philippines, the Special Power of Attorney must be authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General.

How do I renew my NBI Clearance?

Renewing your NBI Clearance is now easier and faster—you can do it online! You are eligible for NBI Clearance Quick Renewal if you were issued a clearance certificate after October 16, 2016. You can complete the entire process, including door-to-door delivery, from the NBI Application Services Website.

To renew your NBI Clearance online, go to https://clearance.nbi.gov.ph and click the NBI Clearance Online Renewal button. Fill in the necessary details, pay online, and your clearance certificate will be ready to pick up at your preferred NBI office or delivered to your home.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to renew your NBI Clearance online:

  1. Go to clearance.nbi.gov.ph and click the NBI Clearance Online Renewal button.
  2. Provide the necessary information and details in the pop-up window, including your old NBI ID number
  3. To be eligible for NBI Clearance Quick Renewal, your NBI Clearance must have expired after October 16, 2016.
  4. To submit your NBI Clearance, click "Verify"
  5. Fill out the delivery form.
  6. Select a payment method and write down the associated reference number. The expedited renewal of your NBI clearance costs 330 plus a service fee of 25. Quick renewal fees are higher due to the addition of delivery fees.
  7. Your clearance certificate will be delivered in 3-7 working days if your delivery address is in Metro Manila. Delivery time to outside areas of Luzon is roughly 7 days. Visayas and Mindanao may take up to 10 business days for delivery.
Screenshot where foreigners can get a Philippines NBI Clearance Quick Renewal Online Application Form

If you have a previous background check from after October 2016, you can do a quick renewal online

The NBI's Quick Clearance Renewal saves you from an in-person visit to an NBI office. If your personal data has stayed the same and your previous NBI clearance certificates expire after October 16, 2016, you are eligible for Quick renewal. However, if your NBI Clearance was issued before October 2016 but after 2014, you can still renew online using the standard renewal process.

To renew online using the standard process, click "Yes" on the NBI website when asked, "Do you have an NBI Clearance issued from 2014 to present?

FAQs: NBI Police Background Checks In The Philippines

Does the NBI accept walk-in appointments for clearance applications?

No, clearance applicants must make an appointment. Walk-ins are no longer allowed. You must show a reference number generated from your online application before entering the NBI clearance branch. However, the entire application can now be made online, making an NBI Clearance quick and easy.  

You can schedule your appointment date and approximate starting time online. However, you will still need to personally appear at your NBI branch to complete the process.

How long does the NBI Clearance application process take for an expat in the Philippines?

Processing time to get a Philippines NBI police clearance can take anywhere from one to three weeks, depending on your application. If your background check shows any potential criminal activity "hits," it will take additional time (up to 2 weeks or 10 working days) to get your record cleared.

Additionally, the main NBI office in Manila can get crowded, and getting an appointment that fits your schedule can take several days or more.

Can I apply for an NBI clearance online?

Yes, you can apply for an NBI clearance online, choose your preferred NBI center, schedule your appointment, process payments, verify clearance, and even renew your clearance. However, 1st-time applicants must still complete the process in person at an NBI center. 

The application process is straightforward, as long as you have a valid Philippine phone number that can accept SMS messages, as registering an account requires a One Time Passport (OTP) for verification purposes.

How long is an NBI Clearance valid?

NBI Clearance Certificates are valid for one year from the date of issue. After expiration, you can apply for an NBI Clearance renewal entirely online without needing to travel to an NBI office, provided no changes are made to the personal data. A renewal is valid for another 12 months.

Can I rush my NBI clearance application?

No. There is no workaround, express, expedited, or rush process for an NBI clearance. No fixers can make the process go faster. However, you can save precious time and complete most of the NBI process online. Now you can skip the queues and avoid the long and tedious lines at the NBI office.

Additionally, you can always choose your preferred NBI clearance center and select the appointment date and time that suits your schedule.

Use the official NBI clearance website to book online appointments, process payments, verify clearance, do a quick renewal, and schedule door-to-door delivery of a renewal.


We moved the comments to the New Expat Forums

    • Hi Amy, is it for your first NBI clearance or for an NBI renewal? Are you currently in the Philippines or apply from outside the country?

  • Hi Marco just wondering if we csn chat about moving it Philippines and how to start can you email me when you have a moment. Thank you

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    About the author

    Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last eight years to over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller, Abroad: Expats That Thrive. [view press...]