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Renewing Your ACR card in the Philippines

I wrote this review of the process in renewing your ACR card a few years ago and am posting it here because while something things may have changed the general process has not.

Early in 2011 I was robbed in my second floor apartment while I slept.  The person actually came into my bedroom and took my notebook computer, wallet containing money, license, ACR (Alien Certificate of Registration) card and other stuff while I slept.  I am a light sleeper so it surprised me but I have been told that they can spray something in the air to knock you out.  Scary.

This created a problem for me as I was travelling to Singapore in a few days. Without my ACR card I would have a problem leaving the Philippines as I have permanent residence and had been in the country for an extended period.

I arrived early at immigration and spent the day there.  I became apparent in the afternoon that there were some out standing requirements and it would not be possible to get my ACR card replaced before my flight.  The head of the ACR card department was very helpful as were most of the staff I dealt with at immigration.  She prepared a certified copy of my ACR card, which she personally signed, and this was accepted by airport immigration staff enabling me to leave and later re-enter the country. When I returned to the Philippines in 2011 I got my ACR card replaced and assumed I would be good for a few more years.  Silly of me not to look at it.

I was flying to Kuala Lumpur soon and realized that I had again neglected the annual reporting required by foreign nationals with permanent residence.  I visited an immigration office in the province and reported paying the small fee plus a fine.  It was at this immigration office that they told me my ACR card had already expired in January of 2012 and I needed to go to Cebu or Manila to renew it.

I jumped on a plane and headed back to Manila but arrived late on Saturday the 18th and then realized that both Monday and Tuesday were public holidays one being Ramadan and the other in remembrance of Nino Aquino.  I finally visited immigration on Friday 24th of August and went through the process which commenced with reporting to the Assistance desk where I was given a list of requirements.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN RENEWING YOUR ACR CARD

At reception I was given a list of requirements and from memory they were:

  1. complete the application form
  2. photocopy pages from passport (bio and last entry stamp)
  3. photocopy of current ACR card back and front
  4. Some statement that was not applicable to myself

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Photocopying or Xerox as they call it in the Philippines is located on both sides of the building in a narrow passage way

I got the photocopies including one of the receipt for the annual reporting that was not mentioned but was required and proceeded to Window  37 where a lady inspected the documents and then gave me the required form to complete and requested an photocopy of an additional page in my passport showing my Visa.

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There really is no area of table provided for filing out applications but I managed to find an unused  table near the Photocopy area. The is the line for the photocopy machine on my right

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After completing the form I returned to Window 37 and was sent to the 3rd floor to get a certified copy of my visa records.

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Waiting for the Records department to certify my Visa status

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I then went to Window 35 and was then given printed invoices and told to get a number at the Assistance desk.

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Waiting in line to pay (nice the way they arranged the seating so you could sit down in line) I was told by reception to go to booths 21 to 25 but when I got to the booth I was told I needed to go to booth 20 but after I politely explained I had been waiting a long time the lady kindly allowed me to transfer without going to the end of the line again

When I received the number I was sent to the cashiers window where I paid the three amounts totally 4108 pesos (There was an additional 500 which I later found out was for changing my address) and then told to get photocopies of my receipts made and return to window 35.

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With everything complete I was given a collection tab cut from the bottom of the application and my original receipts and told to return in five days.

2012-08-24-13.06.19Official Receipts are extremely important in the Philippines.  You can’t rely on computer records that something is paid.  This is the proof you will often need so hang on to them even after the transaction is completed.

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The entire process took about 5 hours.  I will be back in a week to collect my new ACR card which incidentally will have the five year old photograph from the previous card.  I had expected that they would take a new one but this is not the case.

About the Author

I have been visiting the Philippines for the past 30 years and lived here full time for the past 10 years. I have travelled extensively around the Philippines and lived in many locations. I was married to a Filipina for over 20 years and been with my current girl friend for 8 years. I have also operated businesses in the Philippines including a Dance and Fitness Studio, Restaurant, Family karaoke and disco. My background is IT and my real interest is in online marketing and outsourcing and these are the areas I currently focus on. I have made heaps of mistakes along the way and I have always enjoyed helping others and passing on my experience so that they might avoid making many of the same mistakes. - Chris Bennetts
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