PhilippinesOfficial Name: Republic of the Philippines
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Not required for stays under 30 days
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
Local currency or financial instruments in excess of 10,000 Philippine pesos and/or foreign currency or financial instruments in excess of $10,000 must be declared.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Local currency or financial instruments in excess of 10,000 Philippine pesos and/or foreign currency or financial instruments in excess of $10,000 must be declared.
Embassies and Consulates
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Manila, Philippines 1000
Telephone: +(63)(2) 301-2000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(63)(2) 301-2000 x0
Fax: (63) (2) 301-2017
U.S. Consular Agent - Cebu City
Ground Level, Waterfront Hotel
Lahug, Cebu City
Telephone: (63)(32) 231-1261
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila: +(63)(2) 301-2000 x0
Fax: +(63) (32) 231-0174
The Philippines is an emerging economy with a democratic system of government. Located in Southeast Asia, the country is an archipelago consisting of more than 7,100 islands, of which more than 800 are inhabited. The major island groupings are Luzon in the north, where the capital, Manila, is located; the Visayas in the center; and Mindanao in the south. Tourist facilities are available within population centers and the main tourist areas. English is widely spoken in the Philippines, although less so outside metropolitan areas, and most signs are in English. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Philippines for additional information on U.S.-Philippines relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
U.S. citizens may enter the Philippines for purposes of tourism without a visa if they present their U.S. passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of their entry into the Philippines, and a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country. Upon your arrival, immigration authorities will annotate your passport with an entry visa valid for 30 days. If you plan to stay longer than 30 days, you must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation's (BI) main office at Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila, or at any of its provincial offices. If you know you will stay in the Philippines for more than 30 days, you can obtain a fifty-nine (59) day visa at the Philippine embassy or consulate closest to you before traveling to the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, you can apply for a twenty-nine day extension. If you are coming to the Philippines for purposes other than tourism, please check the Embassy of the Philippines website for visa requirements. You may be denied entry or be given a fine if your purpose for entry is other than tourism and you do not possess the correct visa.
U.S. citizens may obtain a multiple-entry transit 9(b) visa to permit travel from one country to another via the Philippines. Travelers must obtain a transit visa from a Philippine embassy or consulate prior to traveling to the Philippines—transit visas are not issued upon arrival in the Philippines. The transit visa generally is valid for one month and allows the traveler to remain in the Philippines for up to three days. The transit visa is not convertible to any other type of Philippine visa and cannot be extended. U.S. citizens holding an approved transit 9(b) visa should possess the following to qualify for entry to the Philippines: a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry into the Philippines, a confirmed onward ticket to another destination, and a valid visa for the country of final destination, if a visa is required.
Persons who overstay their visas are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities. Please remain aware of your visa status while in the Philippines and strictly follow immigration laws and regulations. Travelers departing the country from international airports must pay a Passenger Service Charge in Philippine pesos. Visit the Embassy of the Philippines website for the most current visa information.
Certain foreigners must apply for an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) from the Bureau of Immigration before they may depart the Philippines. For more detailed information on how this applies to many temporary visitors and to certain immigrants, please visit the Bureau of Immigration’s website.
Special requirements exist for the entry of minors who are not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and who do not possess a valid visa. The Bureau of Immigration recently strengthened its enforcement of penalties for these requirements. Children under 15 years of age unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian must obtain a “waiver of exclusion" before entering the Philippines. These waivers are available from Philippine embassies and consulates or from the Bureau of Immigration and Detention in Manila. Please check with these entities for further details. At this writing, children attempting to enter the Philippines without a waiver of exclusion will be assessed a fee of 3,120 pesos upon arrival (payable only in pesos). The Bureau of Immigration will retain a photocopy of the child’s passport.
HIV/AIDS RESTRICTIONS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors. Philippine law prohibits discrimination in travel and residency matters based simply on an individual’s actual or perceived HIV status. For more information contact the Embassy of the Philippines at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone 202-467-9300 before you travel.
Safety and Security
U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should carefully consider the risks to their safety and security while there, including the risk of terrorism. The southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular security concern. Travelers should defer all non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago and should exercise extreme caution on the island of Mindanao. For further information regarding the continuing threats due to terrorist and insurgent activities in the Philippines, see the Travel Warning for the Philippines.
Terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jema’ah Islamiyah, as well as groups that have broken away from the mainstream Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which reached a peace agreement with the government in March 2014, have carried out bombings resulting in deaths, injuries, and property damage; they have also conducted kidnappings for ransom. In October 2014, police arrested three men known to have links to terrorist organizations on suspicion of plotting to bomb targets in metro Manila. The city of Zamboanga suffered widespread devastation in September 2013 during a deadly confrontation between Philippine security forces and rogue fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front. Separately, bombings in the central and western areas of Mindanao have targeted bus terminals, public buildings, public markets, and local festivals. While those responsible do not appear to have targeted foreigners, travelers should remain vigilant and avoid congregating in public areas. Official U.S. government visitors and Embassy employees must seek special permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. When traveling in Mindanao, U.S. official travelers maintain a low profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution. Some foreigners who reside in or visit western and central Mindanao hire their own private security personnel.
Kidnap-for-ransom gangs operate in the Philippines and have targeted foreigners, including Filipino-Americans. Such gangs are especially active in the Sulu Archipelago, and a number of foreigners have been kidnapped there in recent years. Due to recent kidnappings of foreigners by the Abu Sayyaf Group in the region, U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution if considering travel in the southern Sulu Sea region between Balabac Island and Palawan, in the Philippines; Sabah, Malaysia; and east to Zamboanga City, Mindanao, in the Philippines.
Occasionally, the U.S. Embassy is the target of planned and/or spontaneous demonstrations. While Philippine security forces generally prevent such demonstrators from reaching the Embassy, in rare instances protestors have made their way successfully to the Embassy perimeter. In such instances, Embassy security authorities may take appropriate measures to safeguard personnel and visitors, including restricting access to the compound. U.S. citizens or other individuals having business at the Embassy should keep this in mind and be prepared to defer their business until any such situation is resolved.
U.S. citizens in the Philippines are advised to monitor local news broadcasts and consider the level of preventive security when visiting public places, especially when choosing hotels, restaurants, beaches, entertainment venues, and recreation sites.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines on Twitter and by visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Crime is a concern in the Philippines. As a rule of thumb, U.S. citizens should exercise good judgment and remain aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games (con games), pick pocketing, Internet scams, and credit/ATM card fraud are common. U.S. citizens should be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend them, especially just after their arrival in the country. It is best not to accept food, drink, or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear to be legitimate. There have been several cases of solo travelers meeting people on Roxas Boulevard in downtown Manila, striking up a conversation, developing a relationship, and then being invited to a tourist destination outside of Manila under the guise of meeting their Philippine family. The travelers are taken to the area and, typically, during a meal are given a substance that knocks them unconscious. They are then robbed of valuables, including their ATM cards, which are then used to drain their bank accounts. While U.S. citizens are not typically targeted, kidnappings, violent assaults, murder-for-hire and other violent crimes do occur in the Philippines.
Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation. The following safeguards are important: Do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger and always request that the driver use the meter to record your fare. If the driver is unwilling to comply with these requests, wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number of the cab, or text it to someone, should there be a problem. There have been several instances of travelers arriving at the Manila international airport and, shortly after they leave the airport area in a taxi or private vehicle, their vehicle is stopped, typically by an intentional rear-end collision, and the travelers are robbed. When driving in the city, make certain that vehicle doors are locked and the windows are rolled up. For both safety and security reasons, avoid all other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and “jeepneys.”
You should also be vigilant when using credit and debit cards. 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. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight. Avoid ATMs with unusual coverings attached to the card receiver. When using an ATM, be aware of your surroundings. Avoid ATM locations in dimly lit areas. Be careful to prevent observation by others when entering your PIN code. A continuing problem is the commercial scam or sting that attempts to sell or to seek negotiation of fraudulent U.S. securities. Visitors and residents should be wary when presented with supposed Federal Reserve Notes or U.S. securities for sale or negotiation.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in the Philippines is 117. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The prosecution and sentencing of individuals accused of crimes, including crimes against Americans and other foreigners, are not always consistent with legal guidelines and judicial decisions may not be transparent to victims or their families. The Philippines has a victim compensation program to provide financial compensation to victims of violent or personal crime and of unjust imprisonment. Information may be obtained from the Philippine Department of Justice at 011-632-523-8481 through 89, local 344. Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in the Philippines, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Persons violating Philippine laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 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, and 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 at or departing from the Philippines, he or she will be charged with trafficking. This offense is non-bailable, and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. There have been instances where persons carrying controlled substances (e.g., medical marijuana or morphine) as well as a doctor’s prescription for the substance were charged with drug possession because they did not possess the proper prior clearance from the Philippine government before entry. You should carry a copy of your passport in the event that you are asked about your citizenship. In the Philippines, you may be questioned by authorities if you take pictures of certain buildings, especially government buildings or military installations. In the Philippines, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If you break local laws in the Philippines, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country, regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are they illegal in the United States, but if you purchase them, you are breaking Philippine law as well.
U.S. citizens should also be aware that the Bureau of Immigration discourages the participation of foreigners in demonstrations or political rallies in the Philippines. The Bureau of Immigration has cautioned that this activity may be considered a violation of the terms of admission to the Philippines. Foreign nationals who participate in demonstrations or political rallies may be detained and deported for violating Philippine immigration laws.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Marriage in the philippines: For information about the documentation required for a U.S. citizen to marry in the Philippines, the marriage application process, and travel to the United States with a foreign spouse, please visits the U.S. Embassy webpage.
Disaster preparedness: The Philippines is prone to typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. From May to December, as many as 20-25 typhoons may affect the Philippines, and heavy rains and flash floods often occur. Flooding can cause landslides and road delays and cut off bridges and roadways. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links within the country and region. Updated information on typhoons is available at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services website. Volcanic activity is frequent, and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) are currently monitoring three active volcanos for signs of an eruption. The most active is the Mayon Volcano located in Albay province, but the Taal volcano in Batangas province and the Kanlaon Volcano in Negros Occidental province are also active. Visitors to the volcanos must exercise extreme caution as eruptions may occur without warning. Additionally, earthquakes occur regularly throughout the country. Please see the most recent information at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology website.
General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. In the event of an emergency, if it is impossible to communicate with the Embassy by telephone, please check the local news and the Embassy's Facebook page for U.S. citizen information and Embassy opening/closing information.
Customs: Philippine customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the Philippines of items such as currency and firearms. The transport of ammunition is illegal, and Philippine officials have arrested U.S. citizens for having even a small number of bullets or ammunition casings or shells in their luggage. Even items that look like bullets or weapons may cause delays. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C., or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco) for specific information regarding customs requirements, including importation of agricultural and pharmaceutical items. Counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available in the Philippines; transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.
For further information about customs regulations, including information on U.S.US Customs restrictions, please read our Customs Information page. You can also review a summary of customs regulations and practices on the website of the International Air Transport Association.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: There is no prohibition on entry into the Philippines by lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. While there are no prohibitions against entry into the Philippine by transgender individuals, travelers should be aware that immigration officials may require supporting documents if the gender in the traveler’s passport doesn’t reflect the gender expressions 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.
Homosexuality is not illegal in the Philippines. However, there is currently no legal recognition for same-sex relationships. No federal law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, though there is pending legislation in Congress that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Despite these legislative efforts, LGBT individuals continue to face implicit discrimination, harassment, and other human rights violations. A robust movement of NGOs, international organizations, and individual activists across the Philippines continues to advocate for strengthened legal protections, consistent enforcement of existing laws, and increased awareness of issues facing the LGBT community.
For more detailed information about LGBT rights in the Philippines, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: When traveling to or in the Philippines, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from that which is available in the United States. Government efforts to improve access to transportation for persons with disabilities are limited due to weak implementing regulations. The streets, roads, and most other public places in the Philippines lack facilities for persons with disabilities. Many public buildings, particularly older ones, lack functioning elevators. Two of Manila's three light-rail lines are wheelchair accessible; however, many stops have out-of-service elevators. Buses lack wheelchair lifts, and only a small number of sidewalks have wheelchair ramps. Commercial establishments such as malls also have few accessibility-related facilities, such as wheelchair ramps and restrooms designated for persons with disabilities.
Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport provides some accommodations such as ramps, lifts, and accessible toilets. Passengers requiring any special assistance should inform their airline prior to travel. Travelers to regional airports and provincial areas should not expect similar accommodations, as facilities for persons with disabilities are extremely limited outside of metropolitan areas. Travelers with disabilities should review the Department of State’s information sheet "Traveling with Disabilities."
Adequate medical care is available in major cities in the Philippines, but even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and facilities provided by hospitals and doctors in the United States. Medical care is limited in rural and more remote areas. In addition, traffic patterns in Manila often prevent ambulances and other first responders from reaching persons in need in a timely manner.
Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees in cash at the time of admission. In some cases, public and private hospitals have withheld lifesaving medicines and treatments for non-payment of bills. Hospitals also frequently refuse to discharge patients or release important medical documents until a bill has been paid in full. A list of doctors and medical facilities in the Philippines is available from the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
Chikungunya, dengue and malaria are all mosquito borne illnesses that are present in the Philippines. Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in large cities and luxury accommodations. Rabies immunization is recommended for all travelers staying for more than four weeks or who will have remote, rural travel or expect animal exposure. The CDC website has additional information about these and other diseases prevalent in the Philippines.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in the Philippines. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Authorities may request arriving passengers to list which countries they have visited and screen arriving passengers using heat detection devices to identify passengers who exhibit symptoms related to contagious diseases and viruses. Authorities may also implement more thorough screening procedures in the future. Please visit the CDC website for the most up to date information.
Passengers arriving from countries with reported Yellow fever cases are required to submit a certificate of vaccination upon arrival. Please see the Philippine Department of Health website for more information.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in the Philippines, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Philippines is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Travel within the Philippine archipelago is possible by car, boat, plane, bus, and other public transportation. However, the roads are more crowded and the drivers are less disciplined than those in the United States. Visitors may wish to carefully consider the advisability of driving themselves. If you are involved in an accident, contact the local police and notify them of the accident and attempt to stay inside your car before dealing with the other drivers. Do not attempt to negotiate with drivers until police arrive. Additionally, it is particularly dangerous to drive off the national highways and paved roads, especially at night, and you should avoid doing so. There have been six major inter-island ferryboat accidents in the last two years, one with significant loss of life. The safety record of ferry boats is such that U.S. government employees are advised not to take inter-island ferry boat services unless they are the only means of transportation available. There have also been a series of bus accidents, in part attributed to poor bus maintenance or driver error. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport and to exercise caution in planning travel by inter-island ferryboats or other public conveyances.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning Philippine driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please contact the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. at (202) 467-9300 or one of the Philippine consulates in the United States (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco). Please also see related information from the Philippine Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines.
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 Philippines’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.