Last Friday, I woke up early to obtain an NBI clearance from the Robinsons mall nearest me. As Filipino residents know, NBI clearances for generic purposes (employment, travel) can be obtained from NBI satellite branches located at Robinsons malls. At Robinsons Novaliches, staff start giving out queue numbers at 8AM. It was annoying because I hate waking up early, but I consoled myself with the thought that at least I didn’t have to wait in line at 4AM; I heard that so many people go to Robinsons Galleria for their NBI clearance that you’d have to fall in line at the break of dawn. I arrived at 8:30AM and got my number at 10AM, as the queue was about a kilometer long. As a matter of fact, despite my early arrival, I was already the 391st person in the queue (and that’s not counting those who were too impatient to wait).
Before being given your queue number, your documents will be inspected. You are required to present either two valid IDs or one valid ID and your birth certificate. The name on the ID/s you presented will then be written on the back of the slip of paper on which your number is printed just to make sure nobody else can use it. These documents won’t be inspected again when you get to the encoding process, although you will be asked to indicate the kind of ID you presented and its ID number on the NBI clearance application form.
As far as I know, they only process persons #1 to #200 in the morning, so I had to come back in the afternoon. I returned to Robinsons at around 2:30PM, filled out my form, and waited for my turn. It was an organized affair; people were called in batches of 10 while the others sat quietly.
The Big Three
- Payment. Hand over your application form, queue number, and 115 pesos to the cashier. The application form and the number will be returned to you along with a receipt.
- Encoding. Hand over your application form and queue number to the encoder. The form will be returned while the number won’t be. Look at the monitor and check for errors as your data is encoded.
- Biometrics and photo. Hand over your form and receipt to the data capturer. Look into the webcam and be prepared; with the number of people in line, the data capturer won’t indulge you with a “1, 2, 3…say cheese!” Wipe your fingers on a rag and have your fingerprints scanned.
Take note that you will have to sit back and wait about 15 minutes between steps. After the data capturing stage, you’re basically done; you just have to wait for your NBI clearance or your receipt. If you have an unusual name like mine (both my first and last names are uncommon) and no criminal record of course, you’ll get your clearance immediately. If you have a hit (i.e., your name is the same as that of a wanted criminal’s), you’ll get your receipt and will have to wait 12 working days to get your clearance.
I was done by 5PM, by which time I discovered an easier way to get your clearance. I think Robinsons Novaliches processes 600 applicants daily from 10AM to 6PM. The number of applicants that day was around 410, so there was room for a lot more. It turns out that if you arrive at 5PM, you’ll get your clearance in 20 minutes. No queuing, no hassle. I’ll remember that the next time I have to get an NBI clearance, which looks like it might happen sooner than I wanted. I got a clearance for travel purposes, but the Department of Foreign Affairs requires a clearance that’s at least two years old. If any future employer require an NBI clearance, I’ll present my green one and explain that the purpose of the clearance is to show that I have no criminal record, so I don’t need to get another one for employment purposes. P115 is no joke, after all.
Heard through the grapevine
It would seem that it’s better to get your NBI clearance at a Robinsons mall instead of government offices because the process is more organized, the environment is more conducive to waiting (airconditioned, easy access to food establishments), and there are no “extra charges”. You just have to pay P115 and that’s it.