Monday, April 18, 2011

Identify Yourself

When it comes to identification, if you are a foreigner residing in the Philippines, your passport  and or even your I-card will only get you so far. For many transactions, a local and more widely known form of i.d. is required.  A very common one of course is a Philippine drivers license. But many aliens, myself  and my wife include, don't drive here (as is the case for most Filipinos as well)

An alternative document is the postal identity card.  As the name implies, this document enables the bearer to conduct business at the post office here (also known as Philpost) with a minimum of hassle . But more than that, the postal identity card is accepted throughout the country as valid i.d. for transacting not only  government-related matters but  commercial purposes as well, such as banking and supposedly is even accepted as valid i.d. internationally.

However, whether one is an alien or a Philippines citizen, obtaining  postal identity card involves a great deal of red tape. The following documents are required:
  • A completed application form (original and duplicate)
  • 3 photos (size 2" x 2")
  • barangay clearance
  • cedula (community tax certificate)
  • your passport (or for Philippine citizens a notarized copy of your birth certificate)
  • P350 (for a rush job, it's P550). 
Also, when getting a postal identity card, go to the main post office branch in your town or city as smaller branches may not be equipped for providing this service.

Postal identity cards are valid for three years. Mine expires at the end of this month, so today I trekked to the Quezon City Main Post Office to renew it. There was no else waiting for that service, but nevertheless I was impressed by the efficiency with which the clerk completed the task, especially considering her equipment for filling in the data fields on the card: a typewriter that looks as if it was already old when I was born (Such is the state of the art at many government offices.)

I must say that this experience in dealing with Philpost was quite different from previous encounters. But even if it hadn't been that easy,  at least it's a task  that I will no longer have to think about, especially whether or  not I will be met with a co-operative attitude. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, dealing with officialdom in the Philippines is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.


Alan said...

What a bureaucratic mess! Your identity is none of the government's business. So they can create this Byzantine identity system that accomplishes nothing, but they can't make their streets safe for driving? This is one f/u country.

Philippine Expat said...

Hi, I'm a fellow expat. My name is Rusty.

When have you been required to use one of these? It does seem that I wanted to get a book from our library once. I didn't even try to get it. Was along time ago but it did seem they asked for a postal ID or a barangay ID. I didn't want the book that bad. :)

It is good information though, I didn't even know I could get a postal ID. Thought it would be locals or require a resident ID. Perhaps I should go through the hassle to get one.

So far, I have not needed it but I live in a small city. That might make some difference too?


Philippine Expat said...

Alan, then why do you stay?

Secular Guy said...


Thanks for your response.

I don't think that the postal identity card is very data-base oriented. As mentioned, it's simply a card that is accepted both in public and business dealings as legitimate proof that the holder is who he or she claims to be.

In the Philippines where identity fraud and impersonation are committed on a massive scale, there has to be some means of identity verification. Even in the U.S. (which is not much better) I doubt that even a libertarian retailer would accept a check or a credit card from a customer without the standard "two forms of i.d.".

In dealings with the government I similarly doubt that if the libertarians took over, officials who deal with the public would be any less inclined to accept that someone is who (s)he claims to be based just on that person's verbal assertion.

Secular Guy said...

Correction: the above should read "... I similarly doubt that if the libertarians took over, officials who deal with the public would be any more inclined to accept that someone is who (s)he claims to be based just on that person's verbal assertion.

Secular Guy said...

Philippine Expat,

Thanks for your input.

Aside from Philpost, I can't recall the last time that I was asked to present my postal i.d. per se. But when I'm asked for a valid form of identity such as for banking or other commercial (or government--including barangay hall) dealings, it's nice to know that the postal identity card is considered just as official as a driver's license and accepted accordingly nationwide. Note: By itself, the postal identity card may be necessary but not sufficient for certain situations, e.g. where two forms of local identification are required.

Kano said...

Alan, that's why they do it. They just don't have control over the public anymore. It's already a big crisis here on the streets.

I have seen some videos from the thirties of Manila and it seems that at that time, Manila was in a lot better state with a lot more disciplined people on the streets.

Check Youtube for Manila in the 1930s. That is if these are still there.

Rick, good to know, there's another form of I.D. Many times I notice in the bank that local Filipinos give an I.D. card to the teller for identification, and this must be the postal identity card.


Secular Guy said...


Thanks for your reply. The more I think about it, the postal identity card is one of the least intrusive forms of I.D. that I can think of, considering its wide scope of uses. Contrast that with the I-card which is biometric and has a good deal of the bearer's personal data stored in that little chip embedded in the plastic.

One such video of Manila in its more halcyon days to which you're referring is "Manila, Queen of the Pacific 1938" (

Adobo Republic said...

Holy smoke! I am from the Philippines and I didn't even know about this. I'm having trouble opening a bank account because all my documents are Canadian already and the bank is asking for a government issued photo ID. I think I'd try this when I go back to the Philippines. Thanks for the info, Rick.


Secular Guy said...

Adobo Republic,

You're very welcome. I'm glad to be of service.