In line with actions taken by governments across the globe, restrictions on movement have been imposed in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Temporary measures, such as travel bans, are considered to be an effective means of control, preventing the movement of people and therefore the diffusion of the virus. The Philippines visa policy has been adapted to prevent further cases.
Can I Travel to the Philippines during Coronavirus?
Foreign citizens are not currently allowed to enter the Philippines. Travel to the southeast Asian nation has been restricted as part of efforts to control the virus.
From early in the outbreak, the Philippines placed restrictions on visitors arriving from China, Hong Kong, and the Gyeongsang province of South Korea, as the areas most severely affected. The visa on arrival scheme usually available to Chinese nationals was suspended until further notice.
As the pandemic spread across the globe, the visa suspension was extended to all foreign nationals, with very few exceptions.
All these measures are temporary, the normal visa policy will resume once COVID-19 has been brought under control.
Exemptions to the Philippines COVID-19 travel ban
Foreign nationals are currently unable to enter the Philippines, exemptions only apply to:
- Accredited Foreign Government and International Organization officials and their dependents
- Foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals
- Foreign parents of a minor who is a Filipino citizen
- Passengers with certain immigrant (13 a, b, c, d, e, g) and special visas (47 a), alien business visa (9 d)
- Foreign nationals who have been issued a visa by Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority, and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority
- Merchant seamen with a 9(c) visa issued by the Philippines
- Foreign airline crew
Anyone who believes that one of the above exceptions may apply to them should check with a Philippines embassy or consulate before making arrangements to travel.
Additional entry restrictions
Until 15th January 2021, only Philippine nationals arriving from or who have been in any of the following countries in the last 14 days may enter:
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, India Ireland (Rep.), Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea (Rep.), Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland or the United Kingdom.
The other exemptions do not apply in this case.
Is my Philippines visa valid to travel during the pandemic?
Philippines visa services have been temporarily suspended. No new visas are currently being issued and existing visas may not be used unless one of the above exemptions applies.
The Philippines’ visa-free policy has also been stopped. Passport holders from over 100 countries can, under normal circumstances, enjoy visa-free access to the country but will be prevented from doing so until the situation improves, blocking almost all overseas travel to the Philippines.
These travel bans are temporary, the normal visa policy of the Philippines will resume as soon as the government considers it safe to welcome back overseas visitors.
Do I need to take a COVID-19 test before traveling to the Philippines?
All international travelers who are permitted to enter the Philippines (including Filipino nationals and the foreign travelers listed above) must meet certain requirements to do so.
Passengers arriving at Davao International Airport (DVO) must have a health certificate proving that they tested negative for COVID-19. The test must have been taken within 72 hours prior to boarding the flight.
Travelers are subject to a COVID-19 RT-PCR test on arrival at their own expense.
Do I have to quarantine upon arrival in the Philippines?
All travelers arriving in the Philippines will be quarantined at their own expense.
Visitors must have a reservation at a hotel approved by the Tourism and Health Agencies where they will spend the quarantine period. A list of approved hotels can be found online.
Is there a Travel Health Card to enter the Philippines during COVID-19?
Passengers must complete a Case Investigation Form before departure and present it on arrival at the airport. The form can be found online and includes questions about recent health and travel.
Everyone arriving in the Philippines is required to download the “Traze” contact tracing application on their smartphone or another personal device.
Can Filipino citizens travel abroad during COVID-19?
Filipino citizens are allowed to travel abroad, provided that they comply with the following conditions:
- Be in possession of a roundtrip ticket
- Purchase travel and health insurance coverage that covers potential costs (such as hospitalization, rebookings, and accommodation) incurred if stranded
- Abide by the visa and immigration regulations of the receiving country
- Complete a Declaration Form acknowledging the risks associated with traveling
- Follow the Guidelines of Returning Overseas Filipinos issued by the National Task Force (NITF)
The Philippines Current Coronavirus Measures
General Community Quarantine (GCQ) is currently in place in areas of Luzon (including Metro Manila), Mindanao, and the Visayas. The following rules apply under GCQ:
- Most workplaces and public places can operate with social distancing protocols
- Some essential sectors such as supermarkets and agriculture may operate at full capacity
- Some sectors such as hairdresser’s and salons may operate at reduced capacity
- Public transport is running with reduced capacity and health protocols
- Non-essential gatherings limited to 10 people
Other areas of the country are operating under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) with less restrictive rules. Measures are under constant review and are updated regularly.
Is wearing a face mask mandatory in the Philippines
On December 15th, the government of the Philippines made it mandatory to wear a face mask and a face shield when out in public.
Previously, the additional plastic face shield had only been compulsory on public transport, however, this additional safety requirement has now been extended.
The face mask must cover the nose and mouth and the face shield from the forehead to the chin.
Safety Advice for Foreigners in the Philippines during Coronavirus
Foreigners currently in the Philippines should follow the standard health recommendations being issued by governments worldwide:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
- No contact with anyone displaying symptoms
- Avoid touching the face
- Practice social distancing, a least 1 meter between people
People in the Philippines who display any of the symptoms (dry cough, difficulty breathing, fever) can call one of the dedicated launched coronavirus helplines: 02-894-COVID (02-894-26843) and 1555.
Many countries have diplomatic missions in the Philippines which can be contacted for advice and assistance in case of an emergency.
General Travel Restrictions for the Philippines
The Philippines has a generous visa-free policy. Citizens of over 100 nations are able to spend from 14 to 59 days in the country visa-free. To take advantage of this scheme, travelers must present:
- An eligible passport valid for the duration of the stay
- Evidence of onward travel such as a flight reservation or return ticket
Anyone without a valid passport and transport arrangements for departing the Philippines will be denied entry.
Foreigners from visa-exempt countries who wish to stay for longer than the time specified must apply for a Philippines visit visa, meeting all the requirements laid out by the government based on the purpose of the trip and nationality.
The Taiwanese are required to apply online for the Philippines eTA visa waiver in order to enter the country.
Access to Boracay Island has been limited to those with a confirmed hotel booking at an accredited hotel. The island was closed for part of 2018 to allow for environmental improvements to take place. Admission to the island has been restricted to help preserve its natural beauty and clean beaches.