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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 the threat of terrorism and the high level of crime.
Mindanao Region and vicinity - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the Mindanao Region, excluding urban areas of Davao City, 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.
See Safety and security for more information.
Sulu Archipelago and the southern Sulu Sea - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against 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.
See Safety and security for more information.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a Travel Health Notice for the Global Update: Zika virus infection 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 Cotabato, Davao, General Santos, Isabela, Jolo, Kidapawan and Zamboanga. On September 2, 2016, an explosion at a street market outside the Marco Polo hotel in Davao left 14 people dead and dozens injured.
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. 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.
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 in the Philippines. Attacks have occurred throughout the country, including in major cities, though they are largely confined to the Mindanao Region. Further terrorist attacks could occur at any time and could target areas frequented by foreigners, such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels, schools, places of worship and airports and other transportation hubs. Explosive devices continue to be discovered by security authorities, including in Manilla. On December 27, 2016, two explosive devices blew up at a sporting event on Leyte, injuring numerous people. Exercise caution if attending sporting events, religious holiday celebrations and other public festivities. Expect to be subject to frequent security checks at public and private facilities, including shopping malls and public transportation stations. Remain vigilant at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.
The government of the Philippines maintains a public terrorism alert system. On December 1, 2016, the government raised the threat level for the country to 3 (high), on a scale from 1 to 3. Expect to be subject to frequent security checks at public and private facilities, including shopping malls and public transportation stations. Comply with all security procedures. 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 November 3, 2016, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines sent a Security message to U.S. citizens, indicating that “terrorist groups are planning to conduct kidnappings in areas frequented by foreigners on the southern portion of Cebu Island, specifically the areas around Dalaguete and Santander (to include Sumilon Island).” Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness in these areas.
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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
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.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Philippine authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. 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, 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.
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
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.
- Zika virus infection: Global Update - January 23, 2017 00:00 EST
- Measles: Global Update - July 28, 2016 00:00 EDT
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - July 12, 2016 00:00 EDT
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 - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow Fever Vaccination
|* 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 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.
Locally acquired mosquito-associated Zika virus is currently being reported in this country. Zika virus infection is primarily spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can cause fever, rash, and joint pain. It can also be transmitted through blood, semen and from an infected pregnant woman to her developing baby. Most people do not develop symptoms and recover fully without severe complications. There is scientific consensus that Zika virus infection is a cause of both microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Other neurological disorders have also been associated with Zika virus infection. Protect yourself from mosquito bites in daylight and evening hours. There is no vaccine for Zika virus infection.
- 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 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 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.
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.
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 at all times. 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. 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.
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. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Philippine citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Philippine passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
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.
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.
On December 25, 2016, Typhoon NOCK-TEN made landfall in the Bicol and southern Luzon regions as a category 3 cyclone, and swept through the central Philippines. Transportation routes, power and telecommunications systems are affected in some areas as a result of heavy rains and winds, landslides and flooding. Other services impacted by the typhoon include emergency and medical care, as well as water and food supplies. If travelling to affected areas, you should contact your airline or tour operator to determine whether the situation will disrupt travel arrangements. Exercise caution, monitor local news, 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. 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. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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