Philippines travel advice
Latest updates: Editorial change.
Last updated: ET
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- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
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PHILIPPINES - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest and kidnapping.
Sulu archipelago - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the following provinces of the Sulu archipelago due to the presence of extremist groups, serious threat of attacks, kidnapping, piracy and violent clashes between the security forces and rebel groups:
Western and central Mindanao - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the following provinces of Mindanao island, due to the serious threat of terrorism, kidnapping, high levels of crime, and violent clashes between the security forces and rebel groups:
- Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
- Lanao del Sur
- Northern Mindanao
- Lanao del Norte
- Misamis Occidental
- Misamis Oriental
- South Cotabato
- Sultan Kudarat
- Zamboanga Peninsula
- Zamboanga del Norte
- Zamboanga del Sur
- Zamboanga Sibugay
Eastern Mindanao - Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to the following provinces of Mindanao island due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping, high levels of crime, and violent clashes between the security forces and rebel groups:
- Agusan del Norte
- Agusan del Sur
- Dinagat Islands
- Surigao del Norte
- Surigao del Sur
- Davao de Oro
- Davao del Norte
- Davao del Sur
- Davao Occidental
- Davao Oriental
Safety and security
COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions
COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations.
These could include:
- curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns
- mandatory mask use
- required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces
Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are still in effect.
Extremists have been active in the southern Philippines for several years.
There is a serious threat of terrorism, kidnapping, and piracy in the Sulu archipelago, including in the waters south of the island of Palawan.
In recent years, bombing incidents have caused several casualties and property destruction in Jolo.
There’s a risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in all Mindanao. The situation is more critical in the following regions of western and central Mindanao:
- Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
- Northern Mindanao
- Zamboanga Peninsula
Bombs causing deaths, injuries, and property destruction have exploded in public areas of major centres, including the cities of:
- General Santos
Clashes occur between insurgent groups and security forces. Insurgents have also kidnapped several foreigners in this region. Innocent bystanders have occasionally been taken hostage.
Local authorities have declared an indefinite “state of emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao.” As a result, security forces have increased rights to conduct searches, seizures, and detain persons of interest. Some civil rights may be suspended and curfew may also be imposed without notice.
There’s a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Government of Canada's ability to provide consular assistance is limited if you get stranded in this area.
If you chose to travel in the southern Philippines despite this advisory:
- remain indoors as much as possible
- be aware of your surroundings at all times
- avoid crowded places
- always travel with identification
- expect an increased security presence in public areas, especially around malls and transportation hubs
- stop at security checkpoints
- monitor local media
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
War on drugs
The current Filipino government has conducted a robust nationwide campaign against illegal drugs since June 2016. This has resulted in armed confrontations between authorities and suspected drug dealers and users.
A state of emergency remains in effect nationwide. Security forces could increase patrols and security checkpoints throughout the country. They may also impose curfews on short notice.
Numerous extrajudicial killings have taken place. Several thousand people believed to be associated with the drug trade have been killed.
There’s a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting caught in the crossfire.
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Expect an increased security presence in public areas, especially around malls and transportation hubs
- Follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
There is a threat of terrorism. Several terrorist groups are active in the Philippines. They have carried out several attacks throughout the country, including in major cities and places visited by foreigners. They have used occasions such as religious holidays and sporting events, and public celebrations to mount attacks.
Terrorist attacks are far more frequent in Western Mindanao, where government forces and rebel groups frequently clash.
Further attacks are likely. Targets could include:
- government buildings, including military and police installations
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist destinations, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
There is a threat of kidnapping across the country, especially in the southern islands. Kidnappings are conducted by both terrorist and rebel groups. They may also be opportunistic. Kidnappers have targeted foreigners, including Canadians. Some abductions have ended in execution after a long period of harsh treatment.
The threat of kidnapping varies according to the location, but it’s particularly high in:
- the Sulu archipelago
- the nearby waters of Palawan island in the Sulu Sea
- the nearby waters of the Celebes Sea
Kidnappers are most active in coastal areas where they target individuals on private boats, in marinas and resorts. They have also kidnapped cargo vessels’ crew.
While in the Philippines:
- maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times
- stay in reputable accommodation with adequate security measures
- report any suspicious behaviour to security forces
- if kidnapped, comply with the kidnappers’ requests and don’t attempt to resist
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
Although local authorities have reported a decrease in crime rates for a few consecutive years, criminality remains a serious concern throughout the country.
The security situation in the Philippines has suffered from the war on drugs initiated by the local government in 2016. Gunfights between security forces and criminals are frequent, and bystanders are often caught in such incidents.
Militant and rebel groups are active, in particular in northern and central Luzon, as well as in the islands of:
Gangs are also active in Manila, including in the central business district of Makati and the Tondo port area.
- Stay away from slum areas in Manila
- Be aware of your surroundings if you travel on rural roads
Violent crime, such as armed robbery, sexual assault, and murder, occur regularly. The possession of guns and other weapons is common and poorly regulated. Criminals have attacked foreigners.
Violent incidents may increase around elections.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, swarming and bag snatching, occurs, especially in urban areas.
- Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Be careful in crowded shopping malls and other public places
- Avoid showing signs of affluence
- Avoid carrying large sums of money
- Keep valuables in safe place
- Keep backpacks and bags away from traffic, as motorcyclists may grab them from pedestrians, sometimes causing injury
- Beware of friendly strangers offering to take you around town or on an excursion
Spiked food and drinks
Some criminals have drugged and robbed tourists travelling alone after an invitation to visit a tourist attraction.
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. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs frequently. Illegal electronic devices are sometimes attached to ATM card readers, enabling them to record information such as the user’s PIN.
Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Online financial scams
Internet is frequently used to initiate financial scams. Scammers often use fake profiles to target Westerners and steal from them. Once they succeed in building a virtual relationship, they ask for money for various purposes. This could include business or financial opportunities such as:
- money transfers
- lucrative sales
- gold purchase
- inheritance notices
- job offers
- bank overpayments
If you intend to do business in the Philippines:
- ensure that any business opportunity is legitimate before leaving
- don’t travel to the Philippines with the intention to obtain restitution after losing money to a fraud
Internet romance is also common. Victims of this type of scams have lost thousands of dollars. Before travelling to the Philippines to visit someone you met online:
- keep in mind that you may be the victim of a scam
- inform yourself about the country’s customs and laws on conjugal relations and marriage
- be sure to retain possession of your return plane ticket, money, and passport
Locals with children may befriend single male tourists and then accuse them of child abuse to extort money from them.
Report any incident of crime or scams to local police before you leave the country.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
Demonstrations take place regularly, including in Manila. Clashes often occur between security forces and demonstrators, especially in Mindanao and remote areas of northern Luzon.
Filipino law prohibits political activities by foreigners. Participating in demonstrations may result in being detained or deported.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Riptides are common. Several drownings occur each year.
Most of the time, lifeguards are not present to supervise swimmers. Many beaches don’t offer warnings of dangerous conditions.
Water pollution is also a concern.
- Seek local advice before swimming
- Avoid swimming if red flags are flown
Diving schools and rescue services may not adhere to Canadian standards.
- Use only reputable dive companies
- Make sure the company offers proper safety equipment
- Verify the location of the closest decompression chamber with your dive company
Road conditions are poor throughout the country. Most roads, including major highways, are poorly maintained, and traffic is congested.
Many drivers don’t respect traffic laws. They are extremely reckless. They often drive at excessive speeds or way below the speed limit on highways. Accidents causing fatalities are common.
Driving conditions are hazardous at all times. During the rainy season, metro centres may become impassable due to flash floods.
Even minor road incidents can escalate quickly and lead to violent assaults.
If driving in the Philippines:
- avoid travel outside urban areas or tourist centres after dark
- stay on national highways and paved roads
- avoid any confrontation
Most people travel using mopeds. Fatal scooter accidents involving tourists are common.
If renting a scooter or moped:
- be vigilant while driving
- avoid renting from operators who don’t provide a helmet with the rental
- avoid driving on roads in disrepair
The safety and reliability of public transportation are poor.
Minibuses, known as jeepneys, and large buses are often old, poorly maintained, and overcrowded. Pickpocketing and armed robberies are frequent, especially in large cities such as Manila and Cebu.
Some interurban buses have also been involved in fatal accidents.
Motorcycle transportation is prevalent throughout the country, whether by habal-habal or tricycle.
Habal-habal are motorcycles with extensions, which can carry several passengers at a time. They are illegal and dangerous.
Tricycles are rather a safe option as they don’t drive very fast. However, vehicles may be in poor condition. They aren’t metered and can be hailed anywhere.
- Don’t use habal-habal
- Avoid using tricycles at night on country roads
- Agree on a fare with the tricycle driver before departing to avoid scams
Although most taxi services are safe and reliable, there have been extortion incidents from taxi drivers.
To minimize your risks:
- avoid hailing a taxi on the street
- only enter metered taxis from a reliable company and insist the meter be turned on
- prefer hotel transportation, official airport taxis, or a ridesharing app
- never share taxis with strangers
- ask for the windows being rolled up and doors locked at all times
- record the taxi’s licence plate and provide the information to a relative/friend
Ferry accidents occur. Some vessels are poorly maintained and overcrowded. Accidents are more prevalent during the rainy season as storms can develop quickly. As a result, local authorities may suspend ferry services on short notice when a storm signal is raised, even if the weather is clear. You could get stranded at ports for several days.
If travelling by sea:
- use only a reliable company
- don’t board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy
- make sure you have access to a life jacket
- plan for extra time, especially during the rainy season
Pirate attacks and armed robbery targeting ships occur in coastal waters. You may face an elevated threat of kidnapping in waters:
- around Mindanao
- in the Sulu Sea
- in the Celebes Sea
- south of Palawan Island
- south of Negros Island
- around Siquijor Island
Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements
Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19. These measures can be imposed suddenly and may include:
- entry or exit bans
- mandatory proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing
- suspensions or reductions of international transportation options
Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document.
- verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any restrictions or requirements related to this situation
- consider even your transit points, as there are transit rules in place in many destinations
- monitor the media for the latest information
- reconfirm the requirements with your airline or tour operator
The situation could disrupt your travel plans. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance to change your travel plans.
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 the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
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
If you need to extend your stay above the 30-day visa-free period, you must require the proper authorization from local authorities before this period ends.
The visa that immigration officials issue upon your arrival in the Philippines takes precedence over any visa you may have obtained from a Philippine embassy or consulate abroad.
If you’re leaving the Philippines using a temporary passport issued inside the country, consult the Philippine Bureau of Immigration to obtain the required exit stamps.
Bureau of Immigration – Republic of the Philippines
Foreign nationals staying in the Philippines for longer than 59 days must register with the local authorities.
You must present yourself to a Bureau of Immigration office to register your biometrics, such as fingerprinting, and obtain a special security registration number.
Bureau of Immigration offices– Republic of the Philippines
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket.
Local authorities are restricting visitors to Boracay Island.
You may need proof of accommodation in an accredited hotel to be allowed entry.
Foreign nationals travelling on a visa issued by one of the following authorities must present a travel pass to leave the country:
- the Department of Justice
- the Board of Investments
- the Philippine Retirement Authority
- the Philippine Economic Zone Authority
- the economic zones
Travel pass – Bureau of Immigration, Republic of the Philippines
Emigration clearance certificate
If you’ve been in the country for 6 months or more, you must obtain an emigration clearance certificate (ECC), also known as an exit clearance, 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.
Emigration clearance certificate – Bureau of Immigration, Republic of the Philippines
You may be subject to a body temperature check when entering the Philippines. This may result in isolation and treatment.
Children and travel
Children under 15 years travelling alone need a Waiver for Exclusion Ground to enter the Philippines.
- Waiver for Exclusion Ground– Bureau of Immigration, Republic of the Philippines
- More about traveling with children
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
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.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.
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 not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is very low for most travellers. Travellers at relatively higher risk may want to consider vaccination for JE prior to travelling.
Travellers are at higher risk if they will be:
- travelling long term (e.g. more than 30 days)
- making multiple trips to endemic areas
- staying for extended periods in rural areas
- visiting an area suffering a JE outbreak
- engaging in activities involving high contact with mosquitos (e.g., entomologists)
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.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
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.
To protect against cholera, all travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk of getting cholera include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring
Vaccination may be recommended for high-risk travellers, and should be discussed with a health care professional.
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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
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.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
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 professional.
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
COVID-19 - Testing facilities
Consult the following links to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test:
Local COVID-19 testing facilities - Government of the Philippines
Good medical services and facilities are limited in availability, especially outside major urban areas. Public medical clinics often lack basic resources and equipment.
Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees at the time of admission. They may also require additional payments during hospitalization.
Some hospitals require patients to have a full-time caregiver. You may have to hire one if you’re travelling alone.
Emergency services are not widely available. Time response can be slow.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may require evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Some medication that can be purchased over-the-counter in Canada is illegal in the Philippines. If you bring some medicines with you, you’re responsible for determining their legality before departing. If you enter the country with drugs locally considered illegal, including prescription drugs, you may be fined or detained.
- Make sure your medicines are legal in the Philippines before departure
- Bring your own medicines, but only in quantities sufficient for the duration of your stay
- Seal and declare a separate quantity of prescription drugs before departing the Philippines if you’re travelling onward to another country
- Always keep your medication in the original container
- Carry a copy of your prescriptions as well as a letter from your physician stating the dosage and your relevant medical condition
- Pack your medicines in your carry-on luggage
Air pollution can be severe in several major cities. It may affect people suffering from respiratory ailments.
During periods of high pollution:
- consult your doctor before traveling to see if the situation could affect you
- limit your activities outdoors
- monitor local media
- follow the instructions of local authorities
Laws and 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.
Judicial processes may last several years. Foreign nationals are often held in harsh conditions without the possibility of bail.
Some crimes carry penalties harsher than those in Canada. For examples, a conviction for:
- sexual assault can result in life imprisonment
- “swindling” or “bad debts” can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years
- bomb threat can result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years, a fine, or both
Penalties for possession, use, trafficking or importation, including through e-commerce, of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect life imprisonment and heavy fines.
Many drugs considered as legal in Canada are illegal in the Philippines. This includes cannabis, regardless of quantity and purpose of use, as well as some over-the-counter medicine and prescription drugs.
Child sex tourism
Penalties for pedophilia are severe. Under Philippine law, a child is defined as a person under 18.
Police may investigate any adult who is with:
- an unrelated child 12 years of age or younger, or 10 years or more his/her junior
- an unrelated child under age 18 inside the room of a house, hotel, or other similar establishments, vehicle, or other secluded location, and is suspected of having the intention to exploit the child sexually
The government prohibits any photography of official buildings or military installations that is intended for publication.
If you wish to marry in the Philippines, ensure that you’re well informed regarding legal requirements. Visit the Embassy of Canada to the Philippines website for information on documents and procedures.
To protect the environment, local authorities restrict access to Boracay Island. As a result, some activities are prohibited, including:
- the consumption of alcohol and tobacco in public places, including White Beach
- Water sports, including diving
If you plan to visit Boracay, make sure you know about its rules and regulations before leaving.
Filipino law prohibits political activities by foreigners.
Attending any protest, demonstration, or political rally as a foreign national may lead to detention and deportation.
Foreigners must carry identification at all times.
A photocopy of the identification page of your passport is acceptable.
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 while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Dual citizens must obtain a certificate of recognition from Philippine authorities to ensure the legal recognition of both citizenships.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and the Philippines.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in the Philippines by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in the Philippines to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
You can drive in the Philippines with a valid Canadian driver’s licence for up to 90 days. After that period, you must apply for a local driving permit.
You should carry an international driving permit.
The currency in the Philippines is the peso (PHP).
ATMs are available in larger cities but may be scarce in rural areas. Make sure to have access to cash in local currency if you’re travelling outside larger urban areas.
You may enter the Philippines with:
- up to PHP 50,000;
- up to US$10,000 or other currency equivalent
You need a written authorization from local authorities for greater amounts.
Natural disasters and climate
Typhoons and monsoons
The rainy or monsoon season extends from May to December, but storms can occur throughout the year. The Philippines experiences around 20 typhoons per year, mostly between June and November.
Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged. Flooding and mudslides are frequent following heavy rains, even in Manila.
If you decide to travel to the Philippines during the rainy season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, and monsoons
- Philippine Weather Services & Warnings – Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration
- Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards – University of the Philippines
The Philippines is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences regular seismic activity.
There are several active and potentially active volcanoes in the Philippines, mainly on Luzon island.
Taal is one of the main active volcanoes in Batangas on Luzon Island. It continuously shows signs of a possible eruption. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology is constantly monitoring the Taal Volcano. Local authorities may raise alert levels and issue evacuation orders on short notice.
Volcanic activity may escalate suddenly. Volcanic ash clouds may cause disruptions to domestic and international flights.
If you are near active volcanoes:
- monitor levels of volcanic activity through the local media
- pay careful attention to all warnings issued
- follow the advice of local authorities, including evacuation orders
- be prepared to modify your travel arrangements or even evacuate the area on short notice
- Taal Volcano Bulletin - Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology
- Volcano Bulletin - Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology
The Philippines is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes occur regularly and strong aftershocks may occur after the initial quake.
Familiarize yourself with earthquake security measures in public and private buildings, including airports.
The Philippines is prone to tsunamis.
A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of a tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor.
If you’re staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.
- Earthquakes – What to Do?
- Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology – Department of Science and Technology
- Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards – University of the Philippines
In case of emergency, dial 911.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines is limiting in-person services. If you need consular assistance, contact the Embassy by email or telephone.
Manila - Embassy of Canada
Cebu - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to the Philippines, 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.
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