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PHILIPPINES - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the Philippines. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests.
Regional Advisory for the Mindanao Region and vicinity
See Security for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Mindanao Region and vicinity (see Advisory)
There is a serious risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in this region. Bombs causing deaths and injuries have exploded in public areas of major centres, including the cities of Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Kidapawan, Zamboanga, General Santos, Jolo and Isabela.
Clashes occur between insurgent groups, and between armed groups and security forces. These incidents often result in deaths and property destruction, and innocent bystanders have occasionally been taken hostage.
Several foreigners have been kidnapped in this region. Threats of abduction of, or violence toward, foreigners continue to occur. On September 21, 2015, four people, including two Canadians, were kidnapped on Samal Island, Davao del Norte.
If you are visiting or living in this region despite this Advisory, review your security situation regularly and take appropriate precautions, particularly when visiting places frequented by foreigners.
The threat of terrorist activities exists throughout the country, including in major cities. Bombings, shootings and kidnappings have occurred on public transportation, at airports, in shopping malls and in other public areas. Foreigners and places frequented by foreigners have been targeted. Explosive devices continue to be discovered by security authorities. Expect to be subject to frequent security checks at public and private facilities, including shopping malls and public transportation stations. Be vigilant and comply with all security procedures.
Be alert to the danger of kidnap-for-ransom, which can occur throughout the country, including in areas frequented by tourists. The threat is particularly high in the Mindanao Region and surrounding areas (see Advisory). Victims have been held for lengthy periods and some have been killed.
The possession of guns or other weapons is common. Violent crime such as armed robbery, sexual assault and murder occur, and foreigners are occasionally targeted. Generally, targeted violent incidents increase around election periods.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching also occurs, especially in urban areas. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of money, and keep valuables in safekeeping facilities. Beware of friendly strangers offering to take you around town or on an excursion. Never leave your food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Be wary of a variety of scams involving, for example, money counting (exchange), taxi meters, online romances and email requests for funds. Credit card and bank card fraud is common; pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others during payment processing. Locals with children may befriend single male tourists and then accuse them of child abuse in order to extort money from them.
Before travelling to the Philippines to visit someone with whom you have developed a romantic relationship, especially on the Internet, find out about the country’s customs and laws on conjugal relations and marriage. Once in the country, ensure that you hold onto your return plane ticket, money and passport.
Report any incident of crime or scams to local police in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred, before you leave the country. See Overseas fraud for more information on scams abroad.
Avoid protests, demonstrations, political rallies and large gatherings, as they may turn violent without notice. See Laws & culture for more information.
Avoid travel outside urban areas and tourist centres after dark.
Driving conditions are poor: roads are crowded and many drivers do not follow safe driving practices. Stay on national highways and paved roads.
Commercial taxis are the most-used form of public transportation by foreigners within cities. Never share taxis with strangers. Incidents of taxi drivers using threats to extort money from passengers have been reported. Arrange to be met at airports, use hotel transportation or use official metered airport taxis.
Exercise caution if using public transportation, including jeepneys, buses and the light rail system, as pick pocketing and armed robberies are frequent. Provincial buses are often overcrowded and poorly maintained, and have been involved in a number of fatal accidents.
Several passenger boats, including ferries, have sunk due to overloading and poor maintenance. Often, there are more passengers than life jackets. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
The Government of Canada does not provide information on the safety of foreign domestic airlines. Research foreign domestic airlines, aircraft and government safety supervision if you have concerns about aviation safety standards abroad.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
Diving schools and rescue services may not adhere to Canadian standards. Use only reputable dive companies. Verify with your dive company where the closest decompression chamber is located.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Philippine authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport, as well as an onward or return ticket, to visit the Philippines. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Canadians do not require a tourist or business visa for stays of up to 30 days. Apply for a visa at an embassy or consulate of the Philippines if you intend to stay for more than 30 days. Another visa, which takes precedence over the visa issued by the Philippine embassy or consulate abroad, will be issued upon your arrival by immigration officials. Alternatively, while in the country you may apply for an extension before the 30-day period expires at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.
If you plan to enter the Philippines using a temporary passport, you may need to secure an appropriate entry visa at a Philippine embassy or consulate prior to your departure. If you are leaving the Philippines using a temporary passport that was issued inside the country, consult the Philippine Bureau of Immigration to obtain the required exit stamps.
As visa rules may change during your stay in the country, consult the Philippine Bureau of Immigration to keep up to date with the latest requirements.
Tourist visa: Not required (for stays of up to 30 days)
Business visa: Not required (for stays of up to 30 days)
Student visa: Required
Foreign nationals staying in the Philippines for longer than 59 days must register with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration’s Alien Registration Program. This process involves presenting oneself to a Bureau of Immigration office for biometrics capturing and the issuance of a Special Security Registration Number. Consult Bureau of Immigration website for further information.
If you have been in the country for more than six months, obtain an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and pay applicable fees at least 72 hours before your expected departure. This also applies to children born in the Philippines who are leaving the country for the first time on a foreign passport. Consult the Bureau of Immigration for more information on ECCs.
Upon departure from the Mactan International Airport in Cebu, international travellers are required to pay an airport user fee (either in local currency or the equivalent in U.S. dollars, in cash only) of 750 Philippine pesos. As of February 1, 2015, there is no longer a departure tax when leaving from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Airport user fees for domestic travellers vary.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
Special entry requirements are in place for unaccompanied children under the age of 15 who are seeking entry for a purpose other than meeting a parent. For more information, contact the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines.
Travellers entering the Philippines may be subject to a body temperature check. In some cases, travellers may be isolated and treated.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
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Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is caused by filariae (tiny worms) spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause a range of illnesses. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for lymphatic filariasis although drug treatments exist.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Adequate medical care is available in major cities, although it may not meet Canadians standards. Care is limited in rural and more remote areas and islands. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees at the time of admission and may require that progress payments be made during hospitalization. Some hospitals require patients have a full-time caregiver; you may be required to hire one if you are travelling alone.
Decompression chambers are located in Manila, Cebu, Batangas, Subic and Palawan.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Attending any protest, demonstration or political rally may lead to detention and deportation.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can face life imprisonment for certain drug-related crimes.
A lifetime sentence is also often imposed for rape.
Conviction for “swindling” or “bad debts” can result in sentences of up to 20 years.
Penalties for pedophile activity are strict. Under Philippine law, a child is defined as a person under the age of 18. An adult may be reported to the police if he or she is a) seen with an unrelated child of 12 years or younger, or who is 10 years or more his junior, or b) seen alone with an unrelated child inside the room of a house, hotel or other similar establishment, vehicle or other secluded location, and is believed to have the intention to sexually exploit said child.
The import or export of more than 10,000 Philippine pesos (bills and coins only) must be authorized by the Central Bank of the Philippines.
Photography of official buildings intended for publication is prohibited.
Foreigners are required to carry identification. A photocopy of the identification page of your passport is acceptable.
An International Driving Permit is recommended. However, you should apply for a local driving permit if you wish to drive in the Philippines for more than 90 days from the date of your arrival in the country.
You may bring your own medicines, but only in quantities sufficient for the duration of your stay. Bring a letter from your physician if you are carrying prescription drugs, stating the dosage and the condition for which you are receiving treatment. If you are travelling onward to another country, a separate quantity of prescription drugs should be sealed and declared again before departing the Philippines.
If you plan to get married in the Philippines, ensure that you are well informed regarding Philippine requirements. Consult the Embassy of Canada to the Philippines for more information.
The currency is the Philippine peso (PHP). Credit cards are accepted in major establishments. U.S. dollar traveller’s cheques can sometimes be exchanged in certain banks and hotels; verify with the issuing authority in Canada before purchasing them for use in the Philippines. Automated banking machines are available in larger cities.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
You can obtain situational reports and other useful information from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Typhoon and monsoon season
The typhoon and monsoon season extends from May to December, but storms can occur throughout the year. The Philippines experiences around 20 typhoons per year, usually between June and November.
Severe storms can result in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and can hamper the provision of essential services. Heavy winds and rains make flash floods and landslides a significant threat. Telecommunications and transportation (air, sea and land) can also be affected. Avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
Flooding is frequent following heavy rains, even in central Manila. Be careful when moving around cities during extreme weather conditions, as roads can quickly become flooded and impassable.
Keep informed of local weather forecasts by consulting the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH). See Typhoons and monsoons for more information.
Seismic and volcanic activity
The Philippines is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to volcanic activity and earthquakes.
Familiarize yourself with earthquake security measures in public and private buildings, and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of an earthquake. The Government of Canada provides helpful tips on what to do during an earthquake.
There are a number of active and potentially active volcanoes in the Philippines. On September 15, 2014, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level for Mayon Volcano to 3 (critical), indicating that an eruption is possible within the coming weeks. Pay careful attention to all warnings issued, avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of an eruption. Consult the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology for current information on earthquakes and volcanoes.
Manila - Embassy of Canada
Cebu - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Manila and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613 996 8885 or dial +1 800 1 110 0226 from a landline.
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