How to obtain an NBI clearance in 30 minutes (or less!)
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Transacting with government offices rates highly on my list of unpleasant experiences, particularly if the government agency happens to be the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). I shudder to remember the quaint early days of applying for an NBI clearance at the bureau’s main office along Taft Avenue. Getting an NBI clearance then was a whole-day affair that tried my patience, crushed my spirit, and tested my faith in all of humanity. When the dreaded time came for me to renew my passport, I realized I’d have to go through the ordeal once again. Though I had all my pertinent identification documents in order and probably wouldn’t need an NBI clearance, I’m sure you’d agree if I said that you can never be too sure with government employees, especially the kind who sit behind a glass window and have the power to make your life miserable.
Fortuitously the NBI launched what it was calling a new and improved online clearance application system in January 2015, coinciding with my need to get a new NBI clearance. I was skeptical at first, having read accounts of applicants still enduring serpentine queues at NBI clearance centers, despite an online initiative introduced the year before. Well it looks like the NBI has finally gotten its act together because when I applied for my NBI clearance at the bureau’s Manila headquarters on January 14th, it took all of 30 minutes to get my hands on the precious piece of paper that vouches for my non-criminal character. You, too, can get an NBI clearance without losing your sanity by doing as I did.
1. Register online at the NBI Clearance website
New users will need to register by filling out the form on the home page. Fill out the form as completely as you can. Provide all pertinent details. Enter the e-mail address you would like to use as login name. Type in your desired password. When you are sure about the information you have entered, tick the box next to the “I ACCEPT TERMS OF SERVICE.’ Click the Sign Up button to submit this form.
2. Once you have signed up, you can now fill out your NBI clearance application form. Make sure you fill out the form completely and correctly. When you are done, click the SAVE INFORMATION button.
3. Next, you will be taken to a page that shows your application details. Verify that all information you have entered is correct. If you wish to make any changes, simply click the EDIT INFORMATION button. When you are sure about your application details, click on the APPLY FOR CLEARANCE button to continue.
4. A pop-up window will appear asking for your application type. Choose NEW if you are applying for the first time or RENEW if you have secured a 2014 NBI clearance certificate (if the last/latest certificate you obtained is older than 2014, you must choose NEW application. Click the I Agree button to continue.
5. You can now set an appointment for personal appearance at any NBI clearance center. Select your preferred NBI branch. Choose a date and time slot (either AM or PM) from the blue shaded boxes. Notice that there is an Expiration Date for your appointment, which is 15 days from your chosen date. I’m not sure if this means you can just turn up at the NBI clearance center within those 15 days if you missed your original appointment. For your peace of mind, I suggest you honor your original appointment.
6. On the Payment Information panel, choose the Purpose of your application and the corresponding Purpose Detail.
7. You are now ready to choose your payment option. Hover your mouse pointer over each payment option to find out more details. Once you have selected your payment option, a DragonPay Online Payment window will appear. You will see the following message: “The National Bureau of Investigation is requesting for 140.00 (NBI Clearance 115.00 + Service Fee 25.00).” Click from the options that appear on the drop-down menu and then click SELECT to proceed.
(DragonPay is an online payment gateway that allows consumers to pay for online purchases or services without using a credit card. Actual payment is made through banks (online or over-the-counter), mobile wallet services, or Bayad Center outlets.)
Here’s where it got a little confusing for me: I initially chose BANKS ONLINE as I wanted to pay online through my BDO account. When I clicked on this option, a host of choices appeared in the drop-down menu, including RCBC AccessOne, UnionBank EON, UnionBank Internet Banking, and BDO Internet Banking (Funds Transfer). I don’t remember ever using the Funds Transfer option on BDO Online to pay my bills. Consequently I closed the DragonPay Online Payment window. I had to choose another payment option, so I clicked on BANKS OVER-THE-COUNTER and voila! The BDO Internet Banking (Bills Payment) option appeared, among others.
8. Next, a window indicating your reference number will appear. If you wish to, you may take note of your reference number; otherwise, it is automatically saved in your Transactions folder. An email from DragonPay detailing payment instructions will also be sent to your registered email address. (Since I had chosen to pay through BDO, my window had the BDO logo on top.) Click on the “view and save the instruction online.”
11. Pay for the clearance fee using your selected payment option. After depositing your payment, allow a reasonable amount of time for payment to be processed and confirmed. It generally takes less than 24 hours for your payment to be confirmed by the Dragonpay system.
One important tip: When paying through Bayad Center or Globe Gcash outlet, you will need to fill out a payment slip. On the space provided for biller name, write down DragonPay, not NBI. This is because the transaction reference number corresponds to a unique transaction ID on the DragonPay network. It’s up to the system to sort it out and remit your payment to the NBI. 🙂
12. Once your payment is confirmed, your application will be marked PAID and you may now print your application form.
14. Bring the printed form with you on the day of your appointment. When I went to the NBI Main clearance center on Taft Avenue, I was instructed to proceed directly to Encoding on the building’s second floor. There was a separate queue for those who had applied online. At the Encoding step, your details will NOT need to be re-encoded. It just happens that photo and fingerprint capture is done at Encoding. The NBI clerk will pull out your file from their database using your transaction reference number and verify that all information are correct. If your name doesn’t get a hit, you may proceed to the final step, which is Clearance Printing.
Note: My brother, who had applied a week earlier than I did, was told to proceed to the third floor of NBI Main. Could there be two floors for Encoding and Printing? I don’t know. My advice: Don’t be embarrassed to approach any NBI personnel for help. I kept asking “Is this the queue for online applicants?” and not once was I called “makulit” (annoying nag).
15. With trembling hands, you receive the precious NBI clearance from the clerk behind the printer. Congratulations, you can now brandish your new NBI clearance to show everyone that you are not a menace to society. 🙂
Total time I spent inside the NBI Main clearance center: 32 minutes. Total impact on my well-being for being spared the stressful Anaconda-like queue: Priceless.