Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Philippines International Travel Information
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Manila, Philippines 1000
Telephone: + (63) (2) 5301-2000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (63) (2) 5301-2000
Fax: + (63) (2) 5301-2017
U.S. Consular Agency - Cebu City
Ground Level, Waterfront Hotel
Lahug, Cebu City
Telephone: + (63) (32) 231-1261
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila: + (63) (2) 301-2000
Fax: +(63) (32) 231-0174
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in the Philippines.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the Philippines.
We advise all U.S. citizens against traveling with potentially prohibited items, such as firearms, on their person or in their checked baggage. While at the airport or traveling in country, possession of prohibited items such as live or spent ammunition or firearms, or anything resembling such items -- whether it be a souvenir, gift, or artefact – may subject the traveler to prosecution and stringent penalties by local authorities. Learn more about how to avoid problems when traveling abroad with firearms.
Check with your airline to determine whether a particular item is allowed for transport, as well as with the appropriate authorities in the Philippines – such as the Philippine National Police and Bureau of Immigration – as well as the appropriate authorities in any transit countries.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups, and those inspired by such organizations, are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less-sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to target crowds more effectively. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
U.S. citizens should remain alert to the potential for explosions and bombings as part of pre-planned attacks, as well as the threat of kidnapping.
Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting possible kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in the Philippines. Terrorist and armed groups may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. The Philippine government has declared a “State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao.”
On August 24, 2020, dual suicide bombings in Jolo, Sulu, Mindanao, killed 15 people and injured 77 others.
For more information, please visit our website here.
Crime: Confidence games (con games), pickpocketing, Internet scams, and credit/ATM card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you arrive in country. Do not accept food, drinks, or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear to be legitimate. Solo travelers have been drugged and robbed by strangers after accepting an invitation to visit a tourist destination.
Kidnappings, physical assaults, murder-for-hire, and other violent crimes occur in the Philippines. Philippine government law enforcement agencies are engaged in a nationwide counter-narcotics campaign that has resulted in a sharp increase in violence between police and individuals suspected of involvement in the drug trade. As part of this campaign, law enforcement is engaged in aggressive search and buy-bust operations that could affect foreigners.
Taxis or ride-sharing applications are the recommended form of public transportation. However, taxi drivers and/or individuals using stolen taxi cabs have committed robberies. Ask the hotel, restaurant, and/or business establishment to call a reliable taxi service for you.
When driving in the city, make certain that vehicle doors are locked and windows are rolled up.
Travelers have been stopped and robbed shortly after leaving Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport in a taxi or private vehicle.
One common form of credit/ATM card fraud involves an illicit electronic device attached to ATM card readers that retrieves and records information, including the PIN, from a card's magnetic strip. Refer to the Overseas Security Advisory Council website for more information.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in the Philippines. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Report crimes to the local police at the 911 hotline and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(63)(2) 5301-2000. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: Tourism is re-opening throughout the country, depending on local COVID-19 pandemic conditions. Please check with the Philippine Department of Tourism before traveling. The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as diving, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided, and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others do not. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. If you are planning to dive, the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) provides information on diving accident management. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
The judicial process in the Philippines typically is lengthy, extending for years rather than weeks or months, and individuals charged with a crime can be held in indefinite pre-trial detention as their case makes its way through the judicial system. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Philippines are severe.
Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
If a traveler is found to have any amount of drugs on his or her person, or nearby, when arriving or departing from the Philippines, he or she will be charged with trafficking. Trafficking is a non-bailable charge, and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. If you intend to enter the Philippines with a prescribed controlled substance (e.g., medical marijuana), obtain clearance from the Philippine government first.
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.
Always carry a copy of your passport in the event that you are asked about your citizenship. You may be questioned by authorities if you take pictures of certain buildings, especially government buildings or military installations. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail.
The Philippine Bureau of Immigration may consider the participation of foreigners in demonstrations or political rallies in the Philippines to be a violation of the terms of admission. Foreign nationals who participate in demonstrations, political rallies, or other activity deemed anti-government in nature may be detained and deported for violating Philippine immigration laws.
In the Philippines, any adult in the company of a minor under 12 years old who is not related within the “fourth degree” may be subject to a severe penalty. U.S. citizens should be aware of this law both to avoid unlawful behavior and to protect themselves against potentially frivolous accusations.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There is no prohibition on entry into the Philippines by LGBTI individuals. Transgender travelers should be aware that immigration officials may require supporting documents if the gender in the traveler’s passport does not reflect the gender expression of a transgender person. According to Philippine law, an individual’s sex must match that assigned at birth as reflected on the official birth certificate, even in cases of post-operative sex reassignment.
Same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Philippines, but they lack legal recognition. No federal law prohibits discrimination against LGBTI individuals. Several cities, however, have passed local ordinances protecting LGBTI rights. Despite these legislative efforts, LGBTI individuals continue to face discrimination and harassment.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Streets, buildings, and public transportation may lack facilities for persons with disabilities. Government efforts to improve access to transportation for persons with disabilities are limited due to weak implementing regulations.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in the Philippines.
For emergency services in the Philippines, dial 911.
Ambulance services are not widely available, and training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards. Not all ambulances are equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance. For more information about TRICARE medical services overseas (a health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families), including possible vaccinations, please visit their Tricare-overseas website: https://www.tricare-overseas.com/.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Philippine Bureau of Customs to ensure the medication is legal in the Philippines.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals in the Philippines. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Health Facilities – General Information:
Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery:
Water Quality: In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.
Adventure Travel: Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in the Philippines.
Air Quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in the Philippines. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary.
Road Conditions and Safety: Vehicle traffic is dense and unpredictable. The road system is frequently congested, and drivers are often undisciplined. Consider the risks of driving your own vehicle if you are not used to Philippine road conditions. Avoid driving off the national highways and other paved roads, especially at night. Be extra vigilant when crossing the street. Do not expect vehicles to stop.
Traffic Laws: If you are involved in an accident, contact the local police, and attempt to stay inside your car until the police arrive before engaging with the other driver. Do not attempt to negotiate with drivers until police arrive. Drivers often ignore or do not yield to emergency vehicles, which may delay their arrival to the scene of an accident.
Always have a valid driver’s license and relevant documents with you when driving. Please review the following notices circulated by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to avoid scams and requests for bribes from apprehending officers: List of Traffic Violations and Penalties, No Contact Traffic Apprehension Policy, Procedure in Settling Traffic Violations, and Tips for Drivers. The MMDA also publishes guidelines on what to do during vehicular accidents.
Public Transportation: Exercise caution while traveling by inter-island ferryboats or other public transportation. Avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport. There have been 19 major inter-island ferryboat accidents since 2012, two with significant loss of life. U.S. government employees are advised not to use inter-island ferry boat services unless they are the only means of transportation available. There have also been a series of bus accidents due to poor bus maintenance or driver error. While taxis are the recommended form of public transportation, there have been safety issues using taxis. Please refer to our Safety and Security section for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of the Philippine’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Philippine air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the Philippines should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings.