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PHILIPPINES - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines due to the threat of terrorism and the high level of crime.
Mindanao Region and vicinity - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the Mindanao Region (excluding urban areas of Davao City, see advisory below) due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping. The Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular assistance in this region is limited.
Learn more about the safety and security situation.
Sulu Archipelago and the southern Sulu Sea - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the Sulu Archipelago and through the southern Sulu Sea, including the waters off southern Palawan Island, due to the threat of piracy and kidnappings in this area.
Learn more about the safety and security situation.
Davao City - Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to the urban areas of Davao City, due to security concerns and the implementation of martial law in the Mindanao Region.
Learn more about the safety and security situation.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to the Philippines. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
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 Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, General Santos, Isabela, Jolo, Kidapawan and Zamboanga.
Clashes occur between insurgent groups and security forces. These incidents often result in deaths and property destruction, and innocent bystanders have occasionally been taken hostage. Armed conflict between government forces and militant groups took place in Marawi City, Mindanao from May to October 2017 and resulted in many deaths and injuries. On May 23, 2017, President Duterte declared martial law in the region for 60 days. On July 22, 2017, Philippine authorities extended martial law in Mindanao to the end of 2017. Curfews could be imposed and checkpoints established with little notice.
Several foreigners have been kidnapped in this region. See Kidnapping, below, for more information.
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.
Davao City (see Advisory)
Davao City authorities have released guidelines discouraging non-essential travel to and from the city while the city remains in a state of martial law. Avoid crowded places and remain indoors as much as possible. If you are in the region despite this advisory, follow the instructions of local authorities, stop at checkpoints, monitor local media and always travel with identification.
State of emergency
A state of emergency is in effect in the Philippines following the September 2, 2016, explosion in Davao that left 14 people dead. The state of emergency allows the military and police to increase patrols and security checkpoints throughout the country. Expect an increased security presence in public areas, especially around malls and airports.
There is a threat of terrorism. Several terrorist groups are currently active in the Philippines, and have carried out attacks throughout the country, including in major cities. Terrorist attacks are far more frequent in the Mindanao Region, where government forces and militant groups are currently in open conflict.
The government of the Philippines maintains a public terrorism alert system and currently assesses the threat level for the country at 3 (high), on a scale from 1 to 3. On June 17, 2017, the Mayor of Iloilo City declared a red alert following an attack by at least 50 armed insurgents on a police station. On December 28, 2016, explosions at a sporting event in Leyte injured over 30 people. An improvised explosive device was discovered near the US Embassy in Manila on November 28, 2016.
Further attacks are likely across the Philippines, including in urban centres of Manila, Cebu and in popular tourist destinations. Targets could include government buildings, including schools, places of worship, shopping centres, restaurants, bars and public transportation hubs such as bus terminals, airports and piers. Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be extremely vigilant if attending public celebrations such as festivals and parades, sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks. Comply with all security procedures and remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
Be alert to the danger of kidnap-for-ransom. Since late 2015, cases of kidnapping involving foreigners have become more frequent. Victims have been subjected to extremely harsh treatment for prolonged periods, and there has been an increase in the number of foreigners executed by their captors. The threat is particularly high in the Mindanao Region and surrounding areas (see Advisory), but could also occur in locations outside the region, especially in coastal areas. Boaters in waters around Mindanao and in the Sulu Sea, as well as visitors to southern Palawan Island, southern Negros Island or Siquijor Island, may also face an elevated threat of kidnapping.
On May 9, 2017, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines sent a Security Message to U.S. citizens, advising them that it “has received credible information that terrorist groups may be planning to conduct kidnapping operations targeting foreign nationals in the areas of Palawan Province, Philippines, to include Puerto Princesa City, and the areas surrounding Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.”
On April 9, 2017, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines sent a Security message to U.S. citizens, indicating that it has received “unsubstantiated yet credible information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings in Central Visayas, which includes both Bohol and Cebu provinces.” On April 11, 2017, clashes between heavily armed gunmen and security forces in Inabanga, Bohol, resulted in several deaths.
If you are travelling to these areas, maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times, report any suspicious behaviour to security forces, follow the instructions of local authorities and ensure that your hotel or resort has adequate security measures in place.
The possession of guns or other weapons is common and poorly regulated. 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 occurs, especially in urban areas. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of money, and keep valuables in safekeeping facilities. Keep backpacks and bags away from traffic, as there have been instances of motorcyclists grabbing bags from pedestrians, sometimes causing injury. 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 the items 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, inform yourself about the country’s customs and laws on conjugal relations and marriage. Once in the country, ensure that you retain possession of 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. Monitor local media for the latest updates and follow the advice of local authorities.
Attending any protest, demonstration or political rally may lead to detention and deportation.
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. Taxi drivers may use threats to extort money from passengers. 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 pickpocketing and armed robberies are frequent. Provincial buses are often overcrowded and poorly maintained and have been involved in fatal accidents.
Ferry accidents occur due to the overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Learn more about foreign domestic airlines.
Strong currents and undertow are common. Take posted warnings about swimming conditions seriously and familiarize yourself with the beach flagging system. Many beaches do not offer warnings of dangerous conditions or are not sufficiently supervised by lifeguards.
Diving schools and rescue services may not adhere to Canadian standards. Use only reputable dive companies. Verify with your dive company the location of the closest decompression chamber.
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.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Philippine authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Canadians must present a passport, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of arrival in the Philippines. They must also present an onward or return ticket. 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.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives 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 do not require a tourist or business visa for stays of up to 30 days. To extend your stay, apply at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration before the 30-day period expires.
The visa issued by immigration officials upon your arrival in the Philippines takes precedence over any visa that you may have obtained from a Philippine embassy or consulate abroad.
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.
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 the Bureau of Immigration for further information.
Emigration Clearance Certificate
If you have been in the country for six months or more, you must obtain an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC), also known as Exit Clearance, 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.
Upon departure from Mactan-Cebu 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. Airport user fees for domestic travellers vary.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
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.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
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Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
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 - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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 risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
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 for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers 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.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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
Good medical services and facilities are limited in availability. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country. 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.
There are decompression chambers in Batangas, Cebu, Manila, Palawan and Subic.
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 and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Foreigners are required to carry identification at all times. A photocopy of the identification page of your passport is acceptable.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect life imprisonment. Since June 2016, Philippine authorities have been conducting a public campaign against illegal drugs. This has resulted in armed confrontations between authorities and suspected drug dealers and users, as well as numerous extrajudicial killings. There is a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting caught in the crossfire. Be aware of your surroundings and follow the advice of local authorities.
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. If you are carrying prescription drugs, bring a letter from your physician 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.
Other illegal or regulated activities
Attending any protest, demonstration or political rally may lead to detention and deportation.
A conviction for rape can often result in a life imprisonment sentence.
Conviction for “swindling” or “bad debts” can result in prison 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:
- seen with an unrelated child of 12 years or younger, or who is 10 years or more his junior, or
- 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.
Consult our booklet entitled Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime for more information.
Photography of official buildings intended for publication is prohibited.
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.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in the Philippines.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of the Philippines, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited in the Philippines. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Learn more about travelling as a dual citizen.
Dual citizens must obtain a certificate of recognition from Philippine authorities, to ensure both citizenships are recognized.
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.
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.
Natural disasters and 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.
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. 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. Pay careful attention to all warnings issued by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of an eruption.
Emergency services exist but may be subject to certain limitations. In case of emergency, dial 911.
Manila - Embassy of Canada
Cebu - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Manila and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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