Philippines Register Travel insurance Destinations
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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.
Western and Central Mindanao and southern Sulu Sea - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to Western and Central Mindanao, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks, kidnapping, high levels of criminality, and violent clashes between the military/police and terrorist or rebel groups. This includes the provinces of:
- Lanao del Norte
- Lanao del Sur
- Misamis Occidental
- North Cotabato
- South Cotabato
- Sultan Kudarat
- Zamboanga del Norte
- Zamboanga del Sur
- Zamboanga Sibugay
Avoid all travel to the southern Sulu Sea, including the waters south of the island of Palawan, due to a threat of piracy and kidnappings.
Eastern Mindanao - Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to Eastern Mindanao due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping, high levels of criminality, and violent clashes between the military/police and terrorist or rebel groups. The situation in Eastern Mindanao is relatively more stable than in Western Mindanao. This includes the provinces of:
- Agusan del Norte
- Agusan del Sur
- Compostela Valley
- Davao del Norte
- Davao del Sur
- Davao Occidental
- Davao Oriental
- Dinagat Islands
- Misamis Oriental
- Surigao del Norte
- Surigao del Sur
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
Martial law has been in effect in the Mindanao region since May 2017, and will remain until the end of 2019. Curfews could be imposed and checkpoints established with little notice.
The Government of Canada has a limited ability to provide consular assistance in this region.
There’s a serious risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in the Mindanao region. Bombs causing deaths and injuries have exploded in public areas of major centres, including the cities of Cotabato, General Santos, Isabela, Jolo, Kidapawan and Zamboanga.
If you’re in the region despite this advisory:
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- stop at checkpoints
- monitor local media
- avoid crowded places
- always travel with identification
- remain indoors as much as possible
Western and Central Mindanao
Clashes occur between insurgent groups and security forces. These incidents often result in deaths and property destruction. Innocent bystanders have occasionally been taken hostage. Armed conflict between government forces and militant groups has occurred. Insurgents have kidnapped several foreigners in this region.
State of emergency
A state of emergency is in effect in the Philippines. It 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 transportation hubs.
War on drugs
Since June 2016, Philippine authorities have conducted a public campaign against illegal drugs. This has resulted in armed confrontations between authorities and suspected drug dealers and users.
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
- 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 attacks throughout the country, including in major cities. Terrorist attacks are far more frequent in Western Mindanao , where government forces and militant groups frequently clash.
The Government of the Philippines maintains a public terrorism alert system. It currently assesses the threat level for the country at 3 (high), on a scale from 1 to 3.
Further attacks are likely across the Philippines, including in the urban centres of Manila and Cebu. 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
Be particularly vigilant during religious holidays and if attending sporting events and public celebrations. Terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places
- Comply with all security procedures and remain aware of your surroundings at all times
Be alert to the danger of kidnapping. Kidnapping of foreigners does happen. Victims have suffered extremely harsh treatment for prolonged periods, and several foreigners have been executed by their captors, including 2 Canadians.
The threat of kidnapping is particularly high in Western Mindanao and surrounding areas, 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 face an elevated threat of kidnapping.
If you’re travelling to any of these areas:
- maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times
- report any suspicious behaviour to security forces
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- ensure that your hotel or resort has adequate security measures in place
The possession of guns and other weapons is common and poorly regulated. Violent crime such as armed robbery, sexual assault and murder occur regularly. Foreigners have been targeted in some attacks.
Targeted violent incidents may increase around elections.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching occurs, especially in urban areas.
- Avoid showing signs of affluence
- Avoid carrying large sums of money
- Keep valuables in safekeeping facilities
- Keep backpacks and bags away from traffic, as motorcyclists may grab bags from pedestrians, sometimes causing injury
- Beware of friendly strangers offering to take you around town or on an excursion
Spiked food and drinks
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.
Be wary of a variety of scams involving, for example, money counting (exchange), fake taxi meters and email requests for funds.
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. 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
Locals with children may befriend single male tourists and then accuse them of child abuse to extort money from them.
Before travelling to the Philippines to visit someone with whom you’ve developed a romantic relationship, especially on the Internet:
- inform yourself about the country’s customs and laws on conjugal relations and marriage
- be certain to 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.
Demonstrations may occur. 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
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. Drivers are extremely aggressive and/or reckless, and often drive at excessive speeds. Accidents causing deaths are common. Driving conditions may be hazardous during the rainy season.
Even minor road incidents can escalate quickly and lead to violent assaults. Be extremely cautious if involved in a dispute with a motorist.
- Whenever possible, stay on national highways and paved roads
- Avoid travel outside urban areas and tourist centres after dark
Taxi drivers may use threats to extort money from passengers. To minimize your risks:
- only use hotel transportation, official metered airport taxis or a reliable taxi service
- never share taxis with strangers
- only enter metered taxis and insist the meter be turned on
- ask that windows be rolled up and doors locked
- record the taxi’s licence plate
- report incidents to the local police
- be aware of taxi drivers who may be under the influence of drugs and alcohol
Jeepney, bus, and rail systems
Exercise extreme caution if using public transportation, including jeepneys (type of small bus), buses and the light rail system. The safety and reliability of public transportation is often poor, and pickpocketing and armed robberies are frequent.
Provincial buses are often overcrowded and poorly maintained. They have been involved in fatal accidents.
Ferry accidents occur due to the overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Don’t board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Strong currents and undertow are common. Take posted warnings about swimming conditions seriously. Familiarize yourself with the beach flagging system. Many beaches don’t offer warnings of dangerous conditions. Lifeguards may not be present to supervise swimmers. Follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities.
Diving schools and rescue services may not adhere to Canadian standards.
- Use only reputable dive companies
- Verify the location of the closest decompression chamber with your dive company
Pirate attacks and armed robbery targeting ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
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.
A valid return ticket is generally required, except in the case of permanent residents and specific visa holders.
- Travel Requirements- Philippine Bureau of Immigration
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.
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 diplomatic mission 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
Canadians don’t need 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 that immigration officials issue 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’re leaving the Philippines using a temporary passport issued inside the country, consult the Philippine Bureau of Immigration to obtain the required exit stamps.
- Philippine Bureau of Immigration
Foreign nationals staying in the Philippines for longer than 59 days must register with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration’s Alien Registration Program. You must present yourself to a Bureau of Immigration office to register your biometrics (such as fingerprinting) and to obtain a special security registration number.
- Philippine Bureau of Immigration
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, 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.
- Philippine Bureau of Immigration
Upon departure from Mactan Cebu International Airport in Cebu, international travellers must pay an airport user fee (either in local currency or the equivalent in US dollars, in cash only) of 850 Philippine pesos.
Airport user fees vary for domestic travellers.
You may be subject to a body temperature check when entering the Philippines. This may result in isolation and treatment.
Yellow fever - Yellow fever
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
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 professional 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.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
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).
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 professional.
- 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 professional 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 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 typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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.
- 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 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 correctly 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 or after onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer) before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 3 months after returning from this country or after onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer) 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 professional 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 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
Good medical services and facilities are limited in availability, especially outside major urban areas.
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 be required to hire one if you’re travelling alone.
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.
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.
Upon the reopening of the island of Boracay in October 2018, the Government of the Philippines put in place new rules and regulations for residents and tourists. Familiarize yourself with these new rules before you visit.
Foreigners must 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.
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 establishment, vehicle or other secluded location, and is suspected of having the intention to sexually exploit the child
Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime - Government of Canada
Other severe penalties
Some crimes carry penalties that are harsher than in Canada. For examples:
- a conviction for sexual assault can result in life imprisonment
- a conviction for “swindling” or “bad debts” can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years
- mentioning a bomb in public areas is punishable with imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine, or both
Other illegal or restricted activities
Attending any protest, demonstration or political rally may lead to detention and deportation.
The government prohibits any photography of official buildings or military installations that is intended for publication.
You may bring your own medicines, but only in quantities sufficient for the duration of your stay. If you’re carrying prescription drugs, bring a letter from your physician stating the dosage and your relevant medical condition. If you’re travelling onward to another country, you should seal and declare a separate quantity of prescription drugs before departing the Philippines.
If you plan to get married in the Philippines, ensure that you’re well informed regarding Philippine legal 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 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.
You should carry an international driving permit. You should apply for a local driving permit if you wish to drive in the Philippines for more than 90 days following your arrival.
The currency in the Philippines is the peso (PHP). ATMs are available in larger cities.
Upon arrival and departure at the airport, declare to Bureau of Customs officers any local cash greater than PHP 50,000, and any foreign currency amount greater than US$10,000 (or other currency equivalent).
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & 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. Be careful when moving around cities during extreme weather conditions.
If you decide to travel to the Philippines during the typhoon/monsoon 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 - Government of Canada
- Philippine Weather Services & Warnings - Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)
- Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards - University of the Philippines
Seismic and volcanic activity
The Philippines is located in an active seismic zone and is at risk of volcanic activity and earthquakes.
Familiarize yourself with earthquake security measures in public and private buildings.
There are a number of active and potentially active volcanoes in the Philippines. Volcanic activity may escalate with little or no notice. Flight disruptions are possible.
Avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of an eruption.
- Earthquakes - What to Do? - Government of Canada
- Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology - Department of Science and Technology
- Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards - University of the Philippines
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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