I have been blogging about my observations and impressions when getting my National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance since 2007, and since I had to get another one recently, I felt it was time to do another blog. However, I am going to change the format of my blog for NBI Clearances, before I just put a “Negatives” section followed by a “Positives” section and then my final thoughts, but this time I am going to adopt a more “Free-Flowing” format mainly because there have been major changes in the way the NBI Clearance is obtained recently and I wanted to describe those changes also.
The first main change that the NBI made is that it is now MANDATORY for you to register your information ONLINE first. If I remember it right, as early as the mid-2000s there already was an online registration option for getting NBI Clearances, but it was not mandatory, you could still opt to go and get your clearance the old way, which was to go to an NBI Office and then stand in line. This time however, as far as I know, you need to FIRST REGISTER AN ACCOUNT at the NBI Website, which is here: http://clearance.nbi.gov.ph/
Now, I am not going to do a walkthrough of how to make the online registration, I am just going to offer my opinions about it. There are a couple of good sites out there that provide walkthroughs of the new NBI Clearance system, like the following sites:
* Your Online Guide in Applying Your NBI Clearance, http://www.nbiclearance.com/how-to-apply-nbi-clearance-online/
* How to Get an NBI Clearance in the Philippines (Online Application), http://faq.ph/how-to-get-an-nbi-clearance-in-the-philippines-online-application/
The second main change is that there are a LOT more places where you can get your NBI Clearance from, 63 all over the country as per the NBI Facts website (Complete List Of NBI Clearance Outlets In The Philippines, http://www.nbiclearance.com/where-to-apply-nbi-clearance-location-complete-list-of-nbi-clearance-outlets-in-the-philippines/), with 25 of those in malls. With so many outlets to get the NBI Clearance, I expected there will be less long lines and I was right, at least as per my experience. As to where you can get yours, there is an option during the online application process for you choose where you want to get it. So now on to the review …
* More Convenience. Since the first third of the application process is done online, then you can do it from the comfort of your own home, like I did. You just mainly had to input your main information, and then that’s it. Also, since you get to choose where to get your clearance, then you can choose to have one nearest to your home, or one where it is along the way where you are going, etc.
* More Manual Payment Options. There are also more options to make the payment, you can do it thru banks like Banco De Oro (BDO) or Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), two of the biggest banks (and thus the most branches also) in the Philippines right now. You can also pay thru “Bayad Centers”. However, this does mean you will have to detour to a BDO/BPI/Bayad Center/etc. and THEN go to claim your NBI Clearance, which is a bit of a hassle for me. In my case, I opted to pay thru a BDO branch instead.
* Online Payment Option Needs Improvement. You can also pay online, but right now this is not so ideal because in the case of BPI, for example, I couldn’t just pay it right away, I needed to Download a Form, Fill it up in Handwriting, then Go to my Branch to Apply to allow me to pay thru it, which is a hassle. It would’ve been better if they just allowed payment thru Credit Cards, or even Direct Online Transactions since online Bank Account Transactions are Password Protected anyway. This will eliminate one manual step and allow for an even more convenient NBI Clearance processing.
* User Friendliness of Website Could be Improved. Overall I found the User Interface of the website to be not so User Friendly, it contained too much information while not highlighting the most important ones. For example, I got confused as to what I needed to bring when I go to the NBI Clearance Outlet, I thought all that I needed was a valid Government Identification document, but it turned out I needed to know my REFERENCE NUMBER also. Good thing I was able to access and get that information thru my Smartphone. Another issue was that I got confused on what to put on the BDO Deposit Form, I put my Reference Number there instead of the Account Number, good thing the Bank Teller noticed and made the correction.
* Unclear Instructions at the NBI Clearance Outlet. When I got to the NBI Clearance outlet, there were no instructions on where to start or what I should do first, so I ended up asking the people behind the desk about it. I think they could’ve done a better job of highlighting the steps so people won’t have to ask each and every time.
* Faster Processing Time and Less Lines. Once the process started, it was very quick. They took my Picture and my Fingerprints thru a Digital Camera and an Electronic Finger Print Reader, and then I gave them my Reference Number, after which they asked me to verify the information I inputted online at home earlier. When all information was verified, they printed the NBI Clearance and gave it to me and that was that. The entire processing time at the outlet was LESS THAN TEN MINUTES. I also noticed that the lines were short (see picture below). A word of caution, though: My brother told me it took him an hour to do the same because of the long lines, but I guess this was because he got his on a weekend while I got mine on a weekday. But this was still an improvement compared to before, because then even if it was a weekday it still took me around 30-40 minutes of standing in line at an NBI office.
Just to summarize the Pros and Cons of the new NBI Clearance System:
– A lot more convenient as a third of the process can be done at home.
– More options for payment and where to get the Clearance.
– Shorter lines on Outlets on weekdays.
– Online payment system needs to be improved to make it easier to avail of.
– Manual payment means detour to another location, an additional step.
– Lack of clear instruction at outlets.
– Online Registration system not so user friendly.
– Long lines on weekends.
The online registration system could use an improvement, I am a fairly advanced computer and internet user and I still got some things wrong, so how much more for the ordinary Juan or Juana on the street who isn’t as computer/internet-savvy as I am? I suggest the NBI hire a good Consulting Firm on how to improve the user-friendliness of the entire online Registration and Payment system.
Overall though I have to rate the new system as GENERALLY BETTER than the previous manual system. It is not perfect, far from it, but I like the CONVENIENCE and the faster TRANSACTION TIME on WEEKDAYS. It needs to keep improving, though, and if they do then they will reach a threshold where getting an NBI Clearance will truly be a breeze.
My tip is that for you to take a PICTURE of your Payment Information Screen with your Smartphone as it contains all the information that you need (i.e., Reference Number, Amount to Pay, Account Number, etc.) when you get to the Clearance and Payment outlet. That way you can quickly and easily refer to it if needed.