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Philippines Traveler Information - Travel Advice

Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our Philippines Traveler Information guide.

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Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.

Philippines Map

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY: Must be valid at time of entry.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: Sufficient space for an entry visa stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Required. Must be obtained prior to departure from the U.S.

VACCINATIONS: Required for travelers from countries with yellow fever.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: 50,000 pesos/$10,000.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: 50,000 pesos/$10,000.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Manila

1201 Roxas Boulevard
Manila, Philippines 1000
Telephone:
 + (63) (2) 5301-2000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (63) (2) 5301-2000 
Fax: + (63) (2) 5301-2017
Email: ACSInfoManila@state.gov

Consulates

U.S. Consular Agency - Cebu City
Ground Level, Waterfront Hotel
Salinas Drive
Lahug, Cebu City
Philippines 6000
Telephone:
+ (63) (32) 231-1261
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila: + (63) (2) 301-2000
Fax: +(63) (32) 231-0174
Email: ACSInfoCebu@state.gov

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Philippines for information on U.S.-Philippine relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in the Philippines.

U.S. citizens must have a visa to enter the Philippines for all travel purposes, including tourism. Travelers must receive a visa from a Philippine embassy or consulate prior to traveling to the Philippines. If you remain in the Philippines beyond the “admit until” date stamped in your passport by immigration authorities, you may be subject to fines and detention by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.

  • Travelers to the Philippines will be subject to COVID testing and quarantine for at least 14 days. More information on this requirement may be found here.
  • Visit the website of the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Washington, D.C., for information on other types of visas and the most current visa information.
  • Certain foreigners must apply for an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) from BI before they may depart the Philippines.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the Philippines. 

You can find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction, and customs regulations on our website.

Safety and Security

Terrorism: Terrorist groups, and those inspired by such organizations, are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less-sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to target crowds more effectively. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists
  • Places of worship
  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Shopping malls and markets
  • Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights)

U.S. citizens should remain alert to the potential for explosions and bombings as part of pre-planned attacks, as well as the threat of kidnapping.

  • On August 24, 2020, dual suicide bombings in Jolo, Sulu, Mindanao, killed 15 people and injured 77 others.
  • On September 7, 2019, a bomb blast in a public market in Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, injured seven. 
  • On June 28, 2019, two suicide bombers detonated explosives in two areas of a military camp in Indanan, Sulu, Mindanao, killing three soldiers and three civilians and injuring 22. 
  • On January 30, 2019, police reported an unidentified suspect threw a grenade inside a mosque at Logoy Diutay, Barangay Talon-Talon, in Zamboanga, Mindanao, where Muslim religious leaders were resting, killing two and injuring at least four. 
  • On January 28, 2019, two explosions hit the two-vehicle convoy of Cotabato Police in Barangay Poblacion, Cotabato, Mindanao, killing one and injuring three. 
  • On January 27, 2019, two bombs exploded in a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, Mindanao, killing more than 20 and injuring approximately 100.
  • On December 31, 2018, a bomb exploded in South Seas Mall in Cotabato, Mindanao, killing two and injuring 28. Authorities found another bomb in the same shopping mall and carried out a controlled explosion. 
  • On September 2, 2018, an explosion in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, killed two people and injured at least 14. 
  • On July 31, 2018, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated on the island of Basilan, Mindanao, killing 10 and injuring seven.

For more information, please visit our website here.

Crime: Confidence games (con games), pickpocketing, Internet scams, and credit/ATM card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after your arrival in country. Do not accept food, drinks, or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear to be legitimate. Solo travelers have been drugged and robbed by strangers after accepting an invitation to visit a tourist destination.

Kidnappings, physical assaults, murder-for-hire, and other violent crimes occur in the Philippines. Philippine government law enforcement agencies are engaged in a nationwide counter-narcotics campaign that has resulted in a sharp increase in violence between police and individuals suspected of involvement in the drug trade. As part of this campaign, law enforcement is engaged in aggressive search and buy-bust operations that could affect foreigners.

Taxis or ride-sharing applications are the recommended form of public transportation. However, taxi drivers and/or individuals using stolen taxi cabs have committed robberies. Ask the hotel, restaurant, and/or business establishment to call a reliable taxi service for you.

  • Do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger.
  • Request that the taxi driver use the meter to record your fare.
  • Wait for another cab if the driver is unwilling to comply with these requests.
  • Make a mental note of the license plate number of your taxi, or text it to someone, should there be a problem.

When driving in the city, make certain that vehicle doors are locked and windows are rolled up.

Travelers have been stopped and robbed shortly after leaving Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport in a taxi or private vehicle. 

One common form of credit/ATM card fraud involves an illicit electronic device attached to ATM card readers that retrieves and records information, including the PIN, from a card's magnetic strip. Refer to the Overseas Security Advisory Council website for more information.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in the Philippines. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:

  • Romance/online dating
  • Money transfers
  • Lucrative sales
  • Gold purchase
  • Contracts with promises of large commissions
  • Grandparent/relative targeting
  • Free trip/luggage
  • Lotteries
  • Inheritance notices
  • Work permits/job offers
  • Bank overpayments

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

Report crimes to the local police at the 911 hotline and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(63)(2) 5301-2000. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care.
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police.
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion.
  • Provide a list of local attorneys.
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution.
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home.
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism: Most tourism activities in the Philippines have been suspended due to the COVID crisis. Please check with the Philippine Department of Tourism before traveling. Moreover, the safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as diving, aren't always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided, and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. If you are planning to dive, the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) provides information on diving accident management. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

The judicial process in the Philippines can be lengthy, and persons charged with a crime can be held in indefinite pre-trial detention as their case makes its way through the judicial system. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Philippines are severe;

Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

If a traveler is found to have any amount of drugs on his or her person, or nearby, when arriving or departing from the Philippines, he or she will be charged with trafficking. Trafficking is a non-bailable charge, and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. If you intend to enter the Philippines with a prescribed controlled substance (e.g., medical marijuana), obtain clearance from the Philippine government first. 

Since June 2016, Philippine authorities have conducted a public campaign against illegal drugs. This has resulted in armed confrontations between authorities and suspected drug dealers and users.

Always carry a copy of your passport in the event that you are asked about your citizenship. You may be questioned by authorities if you take pictures of certain buildings, especially government buildings or military installations. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail.

The Philippine Bureau of Immigration may consider the participation of foreigners in demonstrations or political rallies in the Philippines to be a violation of the terms of admission. Foreign nationals who participate in demonstrations, political rallies, or other activity deemed anti-government in nature may be detained and deported for violating Philippine immigration laws.

In the Philippines, any adult in the company of a minor under 12 years old who is not related within the “fourth degree” may be subject to a severe penalty. U.S. citizens should be aware of this law both to avoid unlawful behavior and to protect themselves against potentially frivolous accusations.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There is no prohibition on entry into the Philippines by LGBTI individuals. Transgender travelers should be aware that immigration officials may require supporting documents if the gender in the traveler’s passport does not reflect the gender expression of a transgender person. According to Philippine law, an individual’s sex must match that assigned at birth as reflected on the official birth certificate, even in cases of post-operative sex reassignment.

Same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Philippines, but they lack legal recognition. No federal law prohibits discrimination against LGBTI individuals. Several cities, however, have passed local ordinances protecting LGBTI rights. Despite these legislative efforts, LGBTI individuals continue to face discrimination and harassment.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights Report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Streets, buildings, and public transportation may lack facilities for persons with disabilities. Government efforts to improve access to transportation for persons with disabilities are limited due to weak implementing regulations.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in the Philippines.

For emergency services in the Philippines, dial 911.

Ambulance services are not widely available, and training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards. Not all ambulances are equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Philippine Bureau of Customs to ensure the medication is legal in the Philippines.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals in the Philippines. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Health Facilities – General Information:

  • Adequate health facilities are available throughout the country but health care in rural areas may be below U.S. standards.
  • Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Hospitals and doctors often require payment “up front” prior to service or admission.
  • Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.
  • Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions.

Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery:

  • U.S. citizens have suffered serious complications or died during or after having cosmetic or other elective surgery.
  • Medical tourism is a rapidly growing industry. People seeking health care overseas should understand that medical systems operate differently from those in the United States and are not subject to the same rules and regulations. Anyone interested in traveling for medical purposes should consult with their local physician before traveling and visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventionwebsite for more information on medical tourism.
  • We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation in the event of unforeseen medical complications.
  • Your legal options in case of malpractice are very limited in the Philippines.

Pharmaceuticals:

  • Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.

Water Quality: In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.

Adventure Travel: Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in the Philippines.

Air Quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in the Philippines. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Vehicle traffic is dense and unpredictable. The road system is frequently congested, and drivers are often undisciplined. Consider the risks of driving your own vehicle if you are not used to Philippine road conditions. Avoid driving off the national highways and other paved roads, especially at night. Be extra vigilant when crossing the street. Do not expect vehicles to stop.

Traffic Laws: If you are involved in an accident, contact the local police, and attempt to stay inside your car until the police arrive before engaging with the other driver. Do not attempt to negotiate with drivers until police arrive. Drivers often ignore or do not yield to emergency vehicles, which may delay their arrival to the scene of an accident.

Always have a valid driver’s license and relevant documents with you when driving. Please review the following notices circulated by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to avoid scams and requests for bribes from apprehending officers: List of Traffic Violations and Penalties, No Contact Traffic Apprehension Policy,  Procedure in Settling Traffic Violations, and Tips for Drivers. The MMDA also publishes guidelines on what to do during vehicular accidents.

Public Transportation: Exercise caution while traveling by inter-island ferryboats or other public transportation. Avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport. There have been 19 major inter-island ferryboat accidents since 2012, two with significant loss of life. U.S. government employees are advised not to use inter-island ferry boat services unless they are the only means of transportation available. There have also been a series of bus accidents due to poor bus maintenance or driver error. While taxis are the recommended form of public transportation, there have been safety issues using taxis. Please refer to our Safety and Security section for more information.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the Philippine Department of Tourism website, the national authority responsible for road safety.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of the Philippine’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Philippine air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the Philippines should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings.

Fact Sheet

Please see Fact Sheet for this country/area. 

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction 

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Philippines. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

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