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Travel Advisories

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Alerts and Warnings

Philippines Travel Warning

Travel Warning
July 17, 2017
Philippines Travel Warning
O E N H U T C

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the city of Marawi, Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago including the southern Sulu Sea, and to exercise extreme caution when traveling to other regions of Mindanao, due to terrorist threats, insurgent activities, and kidnappings. Similar threats also occurred throughout the Philippines in 2017. This replaces the Travel Warning dated December 20, 2016. 

There is a threat of kidnappings-for-ransom of foreigners, including U.S. citizens, from terrorist and insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago and in the southern Sulu Sea area. This area stretches from the southern tip of Palawan, along the coast of eastern Sabah, Malaysia and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago, up to Zamboanga City, Mindanao. The U.S. Embassy requires U.S. government personnel to obtain special authorization before traveling to Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

Separatist and terrorist groups continue to attack and kidnap civilians, foreigners, political leaders, and Philippine security forces in Mindanao. On May 23, 2017, the Philippine government declared martial law throughout the Mindanao region.  Review the following information: 

  • In September 2016, a terrorist group detonated a bomb in Davao City, killing 14 and wounding at least 70 people. Following the attack, the Philippine government declared a "State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao." 
  • In May 2017, an ongoing conflict erupted between terrorist groups and Philippine security forces in Marawi City, Mindanao, resulting in multiple dead and injured.
  • In central Mindanao, extremist groups aligned with the Islamic State, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other armed groups have carried out attacks on local government institutions, civilians, and security forces in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, where the government maintains a state of emergency and a greater police presence. 
  • In Mindanao, terrorists, insurgents, and criminal gangs regularly conduct kidnappings for ransom. Since January 2017, at least six separate kidnappings have been reported.
  • In western Mindanao, terrorists, insurgents, and criminal gangs regularly conduct kidnappings for ransom. 
  • The U.S. Embassy has restricted U.S. government personnel travel to Mindanao. 
  • There have been no reports of U.S. citizens in Mindanao targeted specifically for their nationality; however, general threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners throughout Mindanao remain a concern.

Recent terrorist threats, kidnappings, and bombings have occurred throughout the Philippines. U.S. Embassy Manila received credible information that terrorists planned to conduct kidnappings in Palawan, Cebu, and Bohol provinces in 2017. In November 2016, a terrorist group planted an Improvised Explosive Device near the U.S. Embassy in Metro Manila. In April and May 2017, bombings in Quiapo, Manila killed two and injured twenty.

For further information:

Country Information

Philippines
Republic of the Philippines
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Embassy Messages

Manila


 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

None

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Not required for stays under 30 days

VACCINATIONS:

Required for travelers from countries with yellow fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

50,000 pesos/$10,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

50,000 pesos/$10,000

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Manila

1201 Roxas Boulevard
Manila, Philippines 1000
Telephone: +(63)(2) 301-2000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(63)(2) 301-2000 x0
Fax: (63) (2) 301-2017

Consulates

U.S. Consular Agency - Cebu City
Ground Level, Waterfront Hotel
Salinas Drive
Lahug, Cebu City
Philippines 6000
Telephone: (63)(32) 231-1261
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila: +(63)(2) 301-2000 x0
Fax: +(63) (32) 231-0174
ACSInfoCebu@state.gov

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Philippines for information on U.S.-Philippine relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

U.S. citizens may enter the Philippines for purposes of tourism without a visa if they present:

  • a valid U.S. passport  and
  • a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country.

Upon your arrival, immigration authorities will stamp an entry visa valid for 30 days on your passport. If you plan to stay longer than 30 days, you must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI).

If you overstay your visa, you are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities.

You may obtain a multiple-entry transit 9(b) visa to permit travel from one country to another via the Philippines. Travelers must receive a transit visa from a Philippine embassy or consulate prior to traveling to the Philippines.

Visit the Embassy of the Philippines website for information on other types of visas and the most current visa information.

Special requirements exist for the entry of minors who are not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and who do not possess a valid visa.

Certain foreigners must apply for an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) from BI before they may depart 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. 

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should review the Travel Warning and carefully consider the risks to their safety and security while there, including the risk of kidnappings and bombings.

  • In September 2016, a bombing at a Davao, Mindanao night market killed 15 and injured at least 70. 
  • In May 2017, conflict between terrorist groups and Philippines security forces in Marawi City, Mindanao resulted in multiple dead and injured. 
  • On May 23, 2017, the Philippine government declared martial law throughout the Mindanao region. 
  • In November 2016, a terrorist group planted an Improvised Explosive Device near the U.S. Embassy in Metro Manila. 
  • In April and May 2017, bombings in Quiapo, Manila killed two and injured twenty. 
  • Criminal, terrorist, and insurgent groups target foreigners including U.S. citizens to kidnap for ransom. 
  • Kidnapping threats have occurred in 2017 in Palawan, Cebu, and Bohol provinces. 
  • Separatist and terrorist groups continue to carry out attacks and kidnappings in the areas of the Sulu Archipelago, the southern Sulu Sea, and the region of Mindanao.
  • For further information, see the U.S. Department of State's Worldwide Caution

Occasionally, planned and/or spontaneous demonstrations target the U.S. Embassy or take place in the parks and streets surrounding the Embassy, causing traffic and crowds around the Embassy to increase significantly. Embassy security authorities may take appropriate measures to safeguard personnel and visitors, including restricting access to the compound. This may affect consular services.   

Monitor local news broadcasts and consider your security when visiting public places, especially hotels, restaurants, beaches, entertainment venues, and recreation sites.

Crime: Confidence games (con games), pick pocketing, Internet scams, and credit/ATM card fraud are common. U.S. citizens should be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend them, especially just after their arrival in the country. Do not accept food, drink, 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 a tourist destination outside of Manila. While U.S. citizens are not typically targeted, kidnappings, violent assaults, murder-for-hire, and other violent crimes do occur in the Philippines.  Philippine government law enforcement agencies are currently 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. Avoid all other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and “jeepneys.” 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 cab service for you.

  • Do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger.
  • Request that the taxi driver use the meter to record your fare.
  • Wait for another cab if the driver is unwilling to comply with these requests.
  • Make a mental note of the license plate number of the cab, or text it to someone, should there be a problem.
  • 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. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam:

  • Never let your card out of your sight.
  • Avoid ATMs with unusual coverings attached to the card receiver or in locations in dimly lit areas.
  • Prevent observation by others when entering your PIN code.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should contact the U.S. Embassy. 

Report crimes to the local police at the 911 hotline and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(63)(2) 301-2000.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care.
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police.
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
  • Explain the local criminal justice process in general terms.
  • Provide a list of local attorneys.
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • Provide information on victim’s compensation program in the Philippines.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution.
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home.
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence:U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

Disaster Preparedness: The Philippines is prone to typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. For more information, consult the following resources:

For Further Information:

 

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

The judicial process in the Philippines can be lengthy, and persons 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 at or departing from the Philippines, he or she will be charged with trafficking.
  • Trafficking is non-bailable, 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.

You should carry a copy of your passport at all times 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 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 or political rallies may be detained and deported for violating Philippine immigration laws.

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.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our 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 expressions 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 implicit discrimination, harassment, and other human rights violations. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

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. For more information, review the Department of State’s information sheet "Traveling with Disabilities."

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

Adequate medical care is available in major cities in the Philippines, but even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and facilities provided in the United States. Medical care is limited in rural and remote areas. In addition, traffic patterns in Manila may delay ambulances and other first responders from reaching persons in need.

Hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees in cash at the time of admission. In some cases, public and private hospitals have withheld lifesaving medicines and treatments for non-payment of bills. Hospitals also frequently refuse to discharge patients or release important medical documents until a bill has been paid in full. A list of doctors and medical facilities in the Philippines is available from the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

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

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of the Philippines to ensure the medication is legal in the Philippines and to obtain clearance to enter the country with it. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

The following diseases are prevelant:

  • Chikungunya
  • Dengue
  • Zika
  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Diarrheal illness

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

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.

If you are involved in an accident, contact the local police and attempt to stay inside your car before dealing 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.

Avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport and exercise caution while traveling by inter-island ferryboats or other public transportation. There have been eight 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 has also been a series of bus accidents due to poor bus maintenance or driver error.

Please refer to our Road Safety page and the websites of Philippine Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines 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 Philippines’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Manila

1201 Roxas Boulevard
Manila, Philippines 1000
Telephone: +(63)(2) 301-2000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(63)(2) 301-2000 x0
Fax: (63) (2) 301-2017

Consulates

U.S. Consular Agency - Cebu City
Ground Level, Waterfront Hotel
Salinas Drive
Lahug, Cebu City
Philippines 6000
Telephone: (63)(32) 231-1261
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila: +(63)(2) 301-2000 x0
Fax: +(63) (32) 231-0174
ACSInfoCebu@state.gov

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General Information

For information concerning travel to the Philippines, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information on the Philippines.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The Philippines acceded to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) on March 16, 2016; however, the United States and the Philippines are not yet treaty partners. Until the Philippines and the United States establish a treaty relationship per Article 38 of the Convention, parents whose children have been abducted from the United States to the Philippines or wrongfully retained in the Philippines are unable to invoke the Convention to pursue their children's return or to seek access to them.

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  The Family Code of the Philippines is available here. Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in the Philippines and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children's Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children's Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Website

Email: AskCI@state.gov

Parental child abduction is not a crime in the Philippines.

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Possible Solutions - Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in the Philippines and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children's Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.   Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the Philippines for information and possible assistance

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Retaining an Attorney

The Philippine Mediation Center and the Philippine Judicial Academy function as the primary mediation institutions for cases that a court refers for mediation.  Only cases that are already in the judicial system are eligible for this service.  Parents can obtain more information here and here.  Outside of the courts, the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development may be able to provide assistance.  Parents can obtain more information here

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Mediation

The Philippine Mediation Center and the Philippine Judicial Academy function as the primary mediation institutions for cases that a court refers for mediation. Only cases that are already in the judicial system are eligible for this service. Parents can obtain more information here and here. Outside of the courts, the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development may be able to provide assistance. Parents can obtain more information here

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

The Philippines is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of the Philippines.

In September 2012, the Philippine Central Adoption Authority, the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB), instituted a new rule (also referred to as a “conditional moratorium”) limiting the number of new dossiers it will accept to petition to adopt a child without special needs. The rule does not apply to children in the Waiting Child Program or relative adoption cases. ICAB has stated that the rule is intended to help reduce wait-times for referrals from approximately two to three years to just 1.5 years. This rule replaced the former moratorium, instituted in December 2010, on new applications from prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child under the age of two.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Philippines, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, the Philippines obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from the Philippines:

  • Residency: Requirements for U.S. Citizens Residing in the Philippines U.S. citizens interested in completing a full and final adoption of a Filipino child while living in the Philippines must be residents of the Philippines for at least three years prior to the filing of the adoption petition and maintain such residence until the adoption is finalized. U.S. citizens living in the Philippines do not need to possess a certificate of legal capacity to adopt, which is normally required by Philippine courts in domestic adoptions. Prospective adoptive parents can instead obtain a letter from the American Citizens Services section of U.S. Embassy Manila that states that the U.S. government does not issue certificates of legal capacity to adopt. To request this letter, please contact U.S. Embassy Manila’s American Citizen Services section at: acsinfomanila@state.gov.

    Prospective adoptive parents who meet the residency requirements should a) file a petition for adoption with the Philippine court to begin the adoption process; and b) submit the letter from the American Citizen Services section in lieu of the certificate of legal capacity.

    The Philippine government may waive these requirements if a) the prospective adoptive parent(s) are former Filipino citizens who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, as defined by Philippine law; or b) the prospective adoptive parent seeks to adopt the legitimate child of his/her Filipino spouse.

    Requirements for U.S. Citizens Residing outside of the Philippines
    The three year residency requirement does not apply when U.S. prospective adoptive parents do not reside in the Philippines. In those cases, the prospective adoptive parents will pursue the Hague Adoption Convention process and gain legal custody of the child prior to the child receiving an immigrant visa. The prospective adoptive parents will finalize the adoption in the United States.

  • Age of Adopting Parents: Based on the Inter-Country Adoption Law of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8043), the prospective adoptive parent must be at least 27 years of age and at least 16 years older than the child at the time of application, unless the adoptive parent is the biological parent of the child to be adopted or the spouse of such parent. The maximum age gap between the prospective adoptive parent and the child to be adopted must not exceed 45 years.
  • Marriage: If prospective adoptive parents are married, they must have been married for at least three years. They must file jointly for adoption. Applicants who have lived together in a common law relationship for several years must have been married for at least one year, although ICAB will take into account the stability of the relationship prior to the marriage. Single applicants are eligible to adopt children between six and 15 years old in the Waiting Child Program. For prospective adoptive parents with a history of divorce, ICAB will consider prospective adoptive parents who have a history of two or fewer divorces and assess the stability of the current marriage to evaluate the suitability of a placement. Philippine law does not recognize same-sex marriage, but does not expressly forbid gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered individuals from applying to adopt individually.
  • Income: Prospective adoptive parents must have a minimum annual income of $40,000 USD.
  • Other: Prospective adoptive parents must not have ever been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. They must be in a position to provide proper care and support and necessary moral values to all of their children, including the child to be adopted. The Philippine government will ascertain the prospective adoptive parents’ ability to provide necessary moral values from references from community or religious groups (priests, pastors, etc.), or from people who know the prospective adoptive parents and can testify that they have the capacity to care for the child.

    Prospective adoptive parents must have at least a high school diploma.  

    Obesity is an unacceptable medical condition for prospective adoptive parents. ICAB previously defined obesity as a BMI of 35 or above. A more recent addition to the list of unacceptable health conditions is “metabolic syndrome,” which is defined as a medical disorder that, when occurring together with a high BMI, increases a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A prospective adoptive parent’s BMI is still taken into consideration along with other health and lifestyle factors.

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Who Can Be Adopted

Because the Philippines is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from the Philippines must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of the Philippines have determined that placement of the child within the Philippines has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to the Philippines’ requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.

Note: The adoption of relatives is common in Philippine society. Learn more about adopting a relative

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Relinquishment: In order for a child to be eligible for adoption, his or her birth parents must first relinquish her/him through a Deed of Voluntary Commitment. This document allows the birth parents to release the child to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for subsequent adoption.
  • Abandonment: In the event that the child has been abandoned and no parent is available to sign the Deed of Voluntary Commitment, a licensed and accredited child-placing agency or other acceptable entity can petition the Department of Social Welfare and Development to issue a certificate stating that the child is legally eligible for adoption. Other acceptable entities that can petition include: a licensed and accredited institution managed by the national government or local government unit; a non-governmental organization; or a provincial, city, or municipal Social Welfare Development Officer who has actual custody of the child.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: A child must be under 15 years of age.
  • Sibling Adoptions: In most circumstances, the Philippines strongly encourages siblings to stay together in adoption. In some cases, teenage siblings may be adopted separately through the Waiting Child Program, which encourages the adoption of children with special circumstances or needs. See below for more information on the Waiting Child Program.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Children in the Waiting Child Programmust be older than 73 months or meet one of the following criteria:
    • Be in need of major surgery or have a major illness;
    • Have developmental delays;
    • Have a handicap;
    • Be part of a sibling group of older children; or
    • Have been sexually or physically abused.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Prior to departing Philippines with the child, adoptive parents must complete a five-day bonding period in the country.
  • Other: None
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How to Adopt

WARNING: The Philippines is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in the Philippines before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Philippines’ Adoption Authority
Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB), an agency attached to the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Philippines as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or; 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases. Please contact adoptionusca@state.gov with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.

THE PROCESS

Because the Philippines is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from the Philippines must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in the Philippines
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt (or gain legal custody) of the child in the Philippines
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Philippines is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Philippines. The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

Prospective adoptive parents are required to work with an adoption agency authorized by the Inter-Country Adoption Board. View this list of agencies.  

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to ICAB as part of your adoption dossier. ICAB will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Philippine law.

3. Be Matched with a Child in the Philippines

If both the United States and the Philippines determine that you are eligible to adopt, and if ICAB has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, ICAB may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in the Philippines. ICAB will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates this information to ICAB. Matching by the ICAB’s Inter-country Adoption Placement Committee is not required for intra-family adoption or special needs cases. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, which is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Philippines. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to ICAB in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from the Philippines where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform ICAB that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in the Philippines before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody) of Child in the Philippines

Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Philippines, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in the Philippines.

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in the Philippines generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: ICAB receives dossiers from adoption service providers, reviews and processes applications, and matches children with prospective adoptive parents. As a final step, it issues placement authority.

    The Inter-Country Adoption Placement Committee, part of ICAB, reviews the matching proposals during the matching conference. ICAB maintains two placement committees; each team is composed of the following: a child psychiatrist or psychologist, medical doctor, lawyer, registered social worker, and a representative of a non-governmental organization engaged in child welfare.

  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The adoption agency, or adoption service provider, facilitates the pre-adoption counseling, home study, submission of application for adoption, child assignment, application for the child's intercountry adoption through ICAB, and post-adoption/placement reporting.
  • Time Frame: Adoption processing depends upon many variables, including the availability of children to be matched with prospective adoptive parents, the number of prospective adoptive parents on the waiting list, and the caseloads of Philippine social service agencies and courts.
  • Adoption Application: To start the Philippine intercountry adoption process, prospective adoptive parent(s) or their authorized adoption service provider must file an application with ICAB.
  • Adoption Process:
    • Endorsement of child for intercountry adoption: The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) must administratively declare that a child is legally available for adoption as a prerequisite for adoption proceedings.  For intra-family or relative cases, the biological parent(s) execute a Deed of Voluntary Commitment, signed in the presence of DSWD Social Workers.
    • Matching: The Inter-Country Adoption Placement Committee matches the child with a prospective adoptive parent(s) and refers its proposal to ICAB for approval.  ICAB will then send a notice of a proposed match to the adoption service provider representing the prospective adoptive parents.  The prospective adoptive parent(s) notify their adoption service provider of their decision with respect to the matching proposal within 15 days of receipt. Note: ICAB prohibits contact between the prospective adoptive parents and the child's parents /guardians or custodians before the Committee matching proposal has been approved. Exceptions to this rule include adoptions of a relative or in cases where the child’s best interests as determined by ICAB are at stake.
    • Placement Authority: ICAB transmits the Placement Authority document to U.S. Embassy Manila within five working days of receipt of the prospective adoptive parents' acceptance of the matching proposal.
    • Application for immigrant visa: The child appears at the embassy for his/her preliminary immigrant visa interview, together with the social worker from ICAB. At this stage, prospective adoptive parents are not required to appear for the interview.
    • Issuance of Article 5 letter: Upon receipt of the Placement Authority from ICAB and U.S. Embassy Manila’s completion of the immigration review, U.S. Embassy Manila will provide ICAB with the Article 5 letter.
    • Convention Article 17(c) Certificate: Upon receipt of the Article 5 letter, ICAB will issue their Convention Article 17(c) Certificate, which transfers legal custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents for the purposes of emigration and adoption abroad. U.S. Embassy Manila will then schedule the child for the final immigrant visa interview.  The adoptive parents do not need to be present for this interview.
    • Child travels to the United States: After finalizing the child’s immigrant visa issuance with U.S. Embassy Manila, the adoptive parent or parents must escort the child from the Philippines to the United States upon completion of a five day bonding period in country.
    • Post-placement period: Upon the child’s arrival to the United States, the adoptive parents enter a six-month post-placement period where the accredited adoption service provider in the United States monitors the child's welfare and reports back to ICAB every two months. This requirement also applies to intra-family (or relative) adoptions. ICAB then reaffirms its consent to adopt.
    • Petition for adoption in the United States: The adoptive parent(s) should then file a petition for adoption before the court in the United States.  In the majority of cases, this is required in order for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
    • Final adoption decree: The adoption service provider should submit to ICAB the final U.S. adoption decree within a month of its issuance.  
  • Adoption Fees: Your adoption services contract with your adoption service provider should itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

    Information on adoption fees required by ICAB is available on their website, in the FAQs section.

    When the prospective adoptive parent is a foreign national, the court petition to adopt costs 10,000 pesos (approximately $245).

  • Documents Required: The following documents must be written and officially translated into English. They are required as part of the application for adoption submitted to ICAB:

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.
    • Home study;
    • Birth Certificate(s) of prospective adoptive parent(s);
    • Marriage Certificate or Decree of Absolute Divorce, if applicable;
    • Written consent of the prospective adoptive parents' biological or already adopted children who are ten years of age or over, witnessed by the Philippine social worker after proper counseling;
    • Physical and medical evaluation by a duly licensed physician;
    • Psychological evaluation by a psychologist;
    • Most recent income tax return or any other documents showing financial capability;
    • Clearance issued by the police of other proper government agency of the place of residence;
    • Character reference from the local church minister/priest, employer, or a non-relative member of the immediate community, who has known the prospective adoptive parents for at least five years;
    • Form I-800A Approval (proof that the prospective adoptive parent(s) are suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law);
    • Article 5 Letter, provided by U.S. Embassy Manila, which shows that the child to be adopted is allowed to enter the United States and reside permanently, once adopted; and
    • Recent postcard-sized pictures of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and all immediate family.

6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States.

Birth Certificate 
If you have finalized the adoption in the Philippines, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport. ICAB will help prospective adoptive parents acquire the birth certificate.

If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

Philippine Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Philippines. ICAB will help prospective adoptive parents acquire a Philippine passport for their adopted child.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. After the adoption (or grant of custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Manila for final review of the case, final approval of Form I-800, and issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, in order to obtain your child’s immigrant visa.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

Read more about the Medical Examination.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States:  An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

* If your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to the Philippines
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for the Philippines, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Philippines, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
According to Philippine law, after the adoptive parents assume custody of the child and escort him/her to the United States, they enter a six-month post-placement period where the adoption service provider in the United States conducts bi-monthly reviews of the child’s welfare and reports the information to ICAB. After adoptive parents complete the post-placement period, the adoptive parent(s) should file a petition for adoption before the court in the United States. The adoption service provider should submit the final U.S. adoption decree to ICAB within one month of its issuance.

We urge you to comply with the Philippines’ post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to the Philippines’ history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Philippines
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Ermita, Metro Manila - 1000
Tel: (632) 301-2000 extension 5184 or 5185
Fax: (632) 301-2591
Email: IVManilaAdoptions@state.gov
Internet: ph.usembassy.gov

Philippine Adoption Authority
Inter-Country Adoption Board
P.O. Box 1622
#2 Chicago corner Ermin Garcia Streets
Barangay Pinagkaisahan
Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: (632) 726-4551; 726-4568; 721-9781/82; 721-9711; 721-9770
Fax: (632) 725-6664
Email: adoption@icab.gov.ph
Internet: icab.gov.ph

Embassy of The Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 467-9300
Fax: (202) 467-9417
Email: washington.pe@dfa.gov.phwashingtonpe@philippinesusa.org;
washingtonpe2010@gmail.com
Internet: philippineembassy-usa.org

The Philippines also has consulates in Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Northern Mariana Islands, and San Francisco.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17A, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Civil documents and the Philippine Police clearance are among the list of documents necessary to apply for an immigrant visa.

Civil documents issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), formerly the National Statistics Office (NSO), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are preferred.  These agencies have branches and outlets throughout the Philippines.  These agencies issue documents printed on paper with security features.  Documents from these sources are centrally registered and are considered more reliable than documents issued by local registrars.

For civil documents with legal changes, corrections, and court decisions, applicants should request civil documents and certificates that are issued with a “CDLI” endorsement (Court Decree and Legal Instrument).  This endorsement shows any amendments to the original document from marriages, annulments, name changes etc.  Unless a CDLI copy is requested, the requester will receive the un-amended or original copy of the document.

General Issuing Authority Information:
 

The PSA is the central repository for all civil records coming from the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) offices nationwide, the National Archive Office, and records from Philippine Embassies across the globe.  Filipinos abroad are required to submit records of births, marriages, and deaths to their embassy so they may be recorded with the PSA.

A civil document can be obtained in three (3) ways:

  1. In-person by the owner or an authorized representative with a letter of authorization from the owner and valid government issued I.D.s, with affixed   signature & photo, for both the owner and representative;

  2. e-CENSUS on-line application, the most convenient option for Filipinos abroad; and

  3. PSA Helpline Plus call center at (02)737-1111, available for applicants from within the Philippines with appropriate charges applied, depending on the     area.  Each application option will incur specific charges.
     

Local civil records in many localities in the Philippines have been destroyed due to war and natural calamities.  Church records, while useful as secondary evidence, are frequently unavailable for the same reasons.  When a specific civil document is unavailable, it is advisable to obtain a certificate of non-availability from the PSA.  Local parishes usually issue similar certificates of non-availability.  In the absence of primary and secondary evidence, substantiated by replies from civil or church authorities, affidavits from two persons who have personal knowledge of the birth, death, or marriage that is in question are generally accepted.

Philippine Police Clearance locally known as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance – for U.S. immigrant visa application purposes.

The NBI is the central repository of all criminal records in the Philippines.  Applicants must obtain a clearance “for travel abroad” purposes.  The clearance certificate should be on green-colored paper bearing a digital photo of the person.  The clearance is valid one (1) year from date of issuance. 

The NBI clearance can either be applied for in-person (PHP 140.00) or via an online application (PHP 140.00 + 25.00 for e-payment service) when applied for locally.  Overseas Filipinos may also apply for an NBI clearance with slightly higher fees depending on the location of residence abroad.  The NBI application form with instructions can be obtained from Philippine embassies abroad.

Issued documents by PSA and NBI government offices are printed on paper with security features.  Both agencies have branches and outlets throughout the Philippines.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates
 

Available

Fees: Cost will depend on the type of service.  (Fees are subject to change. It is advised to check with the respective issuing agency for updated costs)

  • In-person application – PHP 140.00 or USD 3.00

  • e-CENSUS online application – delivery within the PHILIPPINES PHP 315.00 per copy, plus a delivery fee of USD 20.00 to other countries per copy.  You may visit PSA at http://www.e-census.com.ph  for information on fees and how to apply.

  • PSA Helpline Plus –call center - dial (02) 737-1111.  Hub of operations is (local) Metro Manila.  Calls from outside Metro Manila will incur normal long distance charges;  PHP 350.00 or USD 7.00 per copy (inclusive of processing and delivery)
     

Document Name: Birth Certificate, generally in English format with a few older versions in Spanish format (will require English translation).

Issuing Authority: Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Printed on PSA controlled color paper with serial # and security features and PSA logo. Signed (electronically) by the National Statistician and Civil Registrar General.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: National Statistician and Civil Registrar General

Registration Criteria: All civil documents must be timely registered in accordance with PSA criteria,  Registration shall come from originating offices stated in the Issuing Authority -should submit all vital statistics/civil records to the PSA government agency including late registrations.

Procedure for Obtaining: Complete Instructions/procedures on how to apply and fee payment for the civil documents may be viewed at the PSA website: https://www.psa.gov.ph/tags/request-and-issuance-certificates.  For online application web link: http://www.e-census.com.ph.  (Note: All PSA Metro Manila Outlets/offices are open from Mondays to Fridays 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Saturdays 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It is advised to check with issuing agency for updated business hours).

Certified Copies Available: Yes

Alternate Documents: (Will only be accepted when the certificate issued by PSA indicates “No record available”). Retained personal copy of birth not available from PSA, LCR, and National Archive. Baptismal certificate from the church or substantiated by affidavits from two disinterested persons who have personal knowledge of the birth, death, or marriage, Certificate of Foundling issued by the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB).  Other pertinent documents determined by the adjudicating consular officer to his/her satisfaction for visa purposes

Exceptions: Birth records from pre-war are no longer obtainable while most of post-war born civil documents is limited from National Archives and PSA.  A certified copy of a birth registration (less preferred) may be obtained from the local civil registrar at the place of birth.  Local Civil Registrar records are often incomplete and it is often necessary to augment local birth certificates with baptismal certificates.  "Affidavits from two disinterested persons" are generally considered unreliable but may be useful in cases where pre-war records are not locatable.

 

Death Certificates
 

Available

Fees: Cost will depend on the type of service. (Fees are subject to change. It is advised to check with the respective issuing agency for updated costs)

  • In-person application – PHP 140.00 or USD 3.00

  • e-CENSUS online application – delivery within the PHILIPPINES PHP 315.00 per copy, plus a delivery fee of USD 20.00 to other countries per copy.  You may visit PSA at http://www.e-census.com.ph  for information on fees and how to apply.

  • PSA Helpline Plus –call center - dial (02) 737-1111.  Hub of operations is (local) Metro Manila.  Calls from outside Metro Manila will incur normal long distance charges;  PHP 350.00 or USD 7.00 per copy (inclusive of processing and delivery)
     

Document Name: Death Certificate

Issuing Authority: Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Printed on PSA controlled color paper with serial # and security features and PSA logo. Signed (electronically) by the National Statistician and Civil Registrar General.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: National Statistician and Civil Registrar General

Registration Criteria: All civil documents must be timely registered in accordance with PSA criteria,  Registration shall come from originating offices stated in the Issuing Authority -should submit all vital statistics/civil records to the PSA government agency including late registrations.

Procedure for Obtaining: Complete Instructions/procedures on how to apply and fee payment for the civil documents may be viewed at PSA website: https://www.psa.gov.ph/tags/request-and-issuance-certificates.  For online application web link: http://www.e-census.com.ph.  (Note: All PSA Metro Manila outlets/offices are open from Mondays to Fridays 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Saturdays 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Please check with issuing agency for updated business hours).

Alternate Document: (Will only be accepted when the certificate issued by PSA indicates “No record available except for “Presumptive Death “cases).  LCR record of death as secondary proof, while burial records will be helpful.  For missing persons with unconfirmed death occurring in the line of work (e.g., seaman lost at sea, pilot in plane crash), a Court Decision/Record of “Presumptive Death” should be provided.

 

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available

Fees: Cost will depend on the preferred service to be used. (Fees are subject to change. It is advised to check with the respective issuing agency for updated costs)

  • In-person application – PHILIPPINES PHP 140.00

  • e-CENSUS online application – delivery within the PHILIPPINES PHP 315.00 per copy. Delivery to OTHER COUNTRIES USD 20.00 per copy using the online application website: http://www.e-census.com.ph  How to apply and payment page.

  • PSA Helpline Plus call center - dial (02) 737-1111. Hub of operations is (local) Metro Manila. Calls from outside Metro Manila will incur normal long distance charges for a call to Manila;  PHP 350.00 per copy (inclusive of processing and delivery)

Document Name: Marriage Certificate/Contract. Marriage record generally in English format except for marriage certificate issued from other countries that may require English translation.

Issuing Authority: Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Printed on PSA controlled color paper with serial # and security features and PSA logo. Signed (electronically) by the National Statistician and Civil Registrar General.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: National Statistician and Civil Registrar General

Registration Criteria: All civil documents must be timely registered in accordance with PSA criteria,  Registration shall come from originating offices stated in the Issuing Authority -should submit all vital statistics/civil records to the PSA government agency including late registrations.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Complete Instructions/procedures on how to apply and fee payment for the civil documents may be viewed at PSA website: https://www.psa.gov.ph/tags/request-and-issuance-certificates.  For online application web link: http://www.e-census.com.ph.  (Note: All PSA Metro Manila outlets/offices are open from Mondays to Fridays 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Saturdays 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Please check with issuing agency for updated business hours).

Certified Copies Available: Certified copies of originals can be obtained from the local civil registrar of the place where the marriage occurred.  These are less preferred than Marriage Certificates issued by the PSA.

Alternate Documents: N/A

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: Marriage record in question will be addressed accordingly during the time of interview.

Marriage Index Documents
 

Available

Fees:

  • In-person application – PHP 195.00 or USD 4.00

  • e-CENSUS online application – delivery within the PHILIPPINES PHP 415.00 or USD 8.25 per copy, plus a delivery fee of USD 20.00 to other countries per copy.  You may visit PSA at http://www.e-census.com.ph for information on fees and how to apply.

  • PSA Helpline Plus –call center - dial (02) 737-1111.  Hub of operations is (local) Metro Manila. Calls from outside Metro Manila will incur normal long distance charges;  PHP 415.00 or USD 8.25 per copy (inclusive of processing and delivery)

 

Document Name:  Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) or singleness and CEMAR-“Advisory of Marriage(s)”

Issuing Authority: Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) – primary & central authority; records originate from the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) office nationwide, Philippine Courts (Sharia Court – for Muslim marriage included), Ethnic Tribal marriage. Report of occurrence/events by the Philippine embassies abroad

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Printed on PSA controlled color paper with serial # and security features with PSA logo. Signed (electronically) by the National Statistician and Civil Registrar General. 

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: National Statistician and Civil Registrar General

Registration Criteria:  civil documents must be timely registered in accordance with PSA criteria,  Registration shall come from originating offices stated in the Issuing Authority -should submit all vital statistics/civil records to the PSA government agency including late registration.

Procedure for Obtaining: Complete Instructions/procedures on how to apply and fee payment for the civil documents may be viewed at the PSA website: https://www.psa.gov.ph/tags/request-and-issuance-certificates.  For online application web link: http://www.e-census.com.ph.  (Note: All PSA Metro Manila Outlets/offices are open from Mondays to Fridays 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Saturdays 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Please check with issuing agency for updated business hours).

Annulment Decree and Declaration of Nullity
 

Available

Fees: Dependent on the issuing court

Document Name:  Annulment Decree

Issuing Authority: The Family Court of the province or city where the petitioner or the other spouse (called the “respondent”) resides for the last 6 months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he/she may be found in the Philippines.

Certified Copies Available: Certified copies of the Annulment Decree or Declaration of Nullity can be obtained from the appropriate court.

Registration Criteria: The Annulment Decree or Declaration of Nullity must be registered in the Civil Registry where the marriage was registered, the Civil Registry of the place where the court is situated, and in the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Comments: Note that a petition for “annulment” refers to voidable marriages, which are valid until annulled by the court, while a petition for “declaration of nullity” refers to marriages that are considered void or inexistent from the very beginning.

Divorce Certificate
 

Available

Certified Copies Available: Certified copies of the divorce certificate can be obtained from the appropriate court.

Comments: Divorce was recognized in the Philippines between March 11, 1917 and August 29, 1950; since the latter date, courts have been empowered to grant legal separation (annulment) but not divorce. Even during the period of legal recognition, divorces were rare in the Philippines because of limited legal grounds for granting divorces.

Adoption Certificates

N/A

ALL /
ALL /
Identity Card

National ID Card: Unavailable

Police, Court, Prison Records

Court/Prison Records
 

Available

Fees: Cost will depend on which Bureau or Agency will provide the document.

Document Name:  Court or Prison Record

Issuing Authority: Provincial or Regional Trial Court, Court of Appeals, Supreme Court, Bureau of Prisons or The National Penitentiary.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Depending on which Bureau or Agency will provide the document

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Director, Bureau of Prisons, or Director, National Penitentiary.

Registration Criteria: N/A

Procedure for Obtaining: Applications should be made to the Director, Bureau of Prisons, National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila.  Local police chiefs usually furnish details of jail terms upon request.

Certified Copies: Available

Alternate Documents: N/A

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: The Philippine Police Clearance (NBI Clearance) annotation will provide information whether a court or prison record is required from an applicant.
 

Police certificates
 

Available

Fees:  Application in person: 115 pesos

Application by mail: 200 pesos which must be paid through money order or bank draft (negotiable in the Philippines and payable to the Director of the National Bureau of Investigation).

Document Name:  NBI Clearance

Issuing Authority: The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Green,  annotated for travel abroad

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A

Registration Criteria: Philippine-born immigrant visa applicants 16 years and over are required to furnish certificates issued by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).  The green NBI certificate annotated for travel abroad is the correct certificate.  Other colors are for local use only.  Foreign-born applicants who have resided in the Philippines for six months or more may be issued NBI clearances upon application either in person or by mail.  Applicants residing outside the Philippines should send requests for certificates together with money orders or bank drafts for the fees and postage to IRD-Mailed Clearance Section, National Bureau of Investigation, Taft Avenue, Metro Manila, Philippines.  Philippine Embassies abroad can assist Filipinos in obtaining NBI police clearances.  The NBI has its own fingerprint charts and personal data forms that it will send to the requesting applicant for execution.  Most applicants abroad find it more expeditious to have a relative or friend in the Philippines assist them in obtaining their certificates from the NBI.  In that instance, a letter of authorization is required.  The applicant may also submit a copy ("personal copy") of a prior NBI clearance to facilitate the processing of a new clearance.  Posts are advised that not all arrests and convictions occurring outside of Manila are reported to the NBI.  NBI's criminal records database is not foolproof and the remarks provided on reports often require explanation*.  Manila and major Philippine cities have computerized records.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Applicants who prefer to secure the certificate personally must proceed to the NBI Clearance Center at:

5th Floor, Victory Central Mall
Old Victory Compound, Rizal Avenue
Monumento, Caloocan City

Or to the following Satellite Offices and Renewal Kiosks:

Satellite Offices:

Quezon City Hall Rodriguez (Rizal) Municipal Hall
Muntinlupa City Hall Marikina (Riverbanks)
Las Pinas City Hall Taytay (Rizal) Municipal Hall
Mandaluyong City Hall Los Banos (Laguna) Municipal Hall
Caloocan City Hall POEA (Ortigas)
Valenzuela City Hall

Renewal Kiosks:

SM Megamall (Mandaluyong City)
Park Square I (Makati City)
Tutuban Center (Divisoria)

For NBI provincial offices, please visit this link: http://www.nbi.gov.ph/field_offices.html.

Comments: *For explanation of unclear remarks found on NBI clearances, please consult the National Bureau of Investigation or the U.S. Embassy Manila, Immigrant Visa Unit.

 

Military Records

Available

Fees: N/A

Document Name: N/A

Issuing Authority: Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of National Defense and/or  Philippine National Police

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: N/A

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Office of the Adjutant General

Procedure for Obtaining:  Certificate of Prior Service can be obtained from the Office of the Adjutant General, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of National Defense at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. Philippine National Police officers have a judicial system, similar records are available for former these officers from the Philippine National Police Headquarters, Camp Crane, Quezon City.

Certified Copies:  Available

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: N/A

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Available

Fees: USD 30.00

Document Name: Travel Document

Issuing Government Authority: Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Consular Officer of a Philippine Embassy or Consulate

Procedure for Obtaining:

Bring the Following Requirements:

  1. Airline Ticket;
  2. 4 pieces of 2×2 photos with white background;
  3. Old passport;
  4. In case of lost passport, present the following:
     

Comments:

A travel document is allowed only for applicants who cannot be issued a Philippine passport and have emergency travel to the Philippines such as due to medical or legal reasons or death in the family.  It is valid for 30 days from issuance and can only be used one-way to the Philippines.  In order for a national to leave the Philippines, they will need to apply for a new passport.

Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

Post Title: U.S. Embassy Manila, Philippines

Address:  U.S. Embassy

1201 Roxas Boulevard

Manila, Philippines 1000

Phone Number:   (632) 976-8500

                            (632) 976-8501

                            (632) 976-8502

Visa Services: All visa categories for all of the Philippines

Comments / Additional Information: N/A

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of the Phillipines and the areas listed below:

  • The Marshall Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Palau
     

Document Services to Other Posts:

IV Manila can help posts interpret remarks on National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) police certificates and obtain additional clarification from the NBI when necessary.  Since fraudulent documents can be obtained easily in the Philippines, the consular officer may wish to consider referring suspect documents in doubtful cases to the Fraud Prevention Unit, U.S. Embassy Manila, for investigation.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 467-9324 (202) 467-9300 (202) 467-9417

Chicago, IL (312) 583-0621 ext. 21 (312) 583-0647

Hagatna, GU (671)646-4620/4630 (671)646-4630 (671) 649-1868

Honolulu, HI (808) 595-6316/6317/6318/6319 (808) 595-2581

Los Angeles, CA (213) 639-0980/0981/0982/0983/0984/0985 (213) 639-0990

New York, NY (212) 764-1330 (212) 764-6010

Saipan, CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) (670) 234-1850 (670) 234-1948 (670) 234-1849

San Francisco, CA (415) 433-6666/6667/6668 (415) 421-2641

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Manila
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Manila, Philippines 1000
Telephone
+(63) (2) 301-2000 x2246 and x2567
Emergency
+(63) (2) 301-2000 x0
Fax
+(63) (2) 301-2017
Philippines Country Map

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Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.