Travelers often refer to the Philippines as an “off the beaten path destination”. Some call the islands an “overlooked paradise” and an “underrated vacation spot”. And rightfully so. Philippine tourism has greatly improved and Philippines entry requirements are now easier to meet. Travel bloggers from all over the world have fallen in love with the islands.
Years ago, Traveler Australia published an article about the Philippines being Asia’s most overlooked paradise. The article describes the country as a “feast of screensaver-perfect backdrops – from dreamy tropical beaches and smoldering volcanoes to mesmerizing rice terraces and crumbling Spanish relics”. It goes on to say that the islands remain overlooked in favor of other destinations in Southeast Asia.
I have met a few Aussie globetrotters in the past. Their knowledge about the Philippines THEN seemed to revolve around the swells of Cloud 9 in Siargao. But then we have the waves of Bali, Indonesia to contend with. I’m pretty sure that has changed in more recent years; articles on the Internet about other destinations in the Philippines prove this point. Almost all travelers who decide to give the Philippines a try end up falling in love. Some quite literally, some just enamored enough to plan the next possible escape to the islands.
If you’re considering a trip to the Philippines, it is important to think about the practical things first. What are the Philippines entry requirements? Most nationalities can enter the Philippines without a visa. This makes traveling to the islands quite an easy feat. Nevertheless, it pays to be extra careful that you meet entry requirements.
As of this writing, citizens of 157 countries may enter the Philippines visa-free. They may stay between 14 to 59 days for business or tourism. Brazil and Israel passport holders are allowed 59 days while Hong Kong and Macau (SAR) passport bearers have 14 days. If you need to stay longer, you may apply for an extension of stay at the nearest Immigration office.
Extensions are given at two months per application. You may not exceed a total of two years if you entered the country visa-free. If entered with a visa, you’re allowed a month per extension, not exceeding a total of 6 months.
All visitors need proof of onward travel. A passport that’s valid for at least one’s planned period of stay is required but 6 months of validity is recommended.
You may apply for an advance visa if you plan on staying in the Philippines longer than the allowed visa-free period. Securing a visa for a longer stay will prevent an interruption to your vacation. Bureaucracy in the Philippines is rampant; hours-long waits are not uncommon. Trust me, you would not want to stand in line in this tropical heat!
Here are the requirements for a Philippines visa based on the Department of Foreign Affairs website:
- Valid passport
- Completed visa application form
- 2 passport-sized photos
- Proof of bona fide status as a tourist or business person
- Proof of onward travel
- Visa fees
Proof of bona fide status for tourists includes means of financial capacity. That is to say, you need to have enough cash to cover your expenses. Credit cards will do, too. Meanwhile, businesspersons require a letter from the sponsoring company in the Philippines or country of origin.
Vaccinations and Health Requirements
If you are coming from a country where yellow fever is prevalent, you need to present proof of vaccination against the disease. Because of the pandemic, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is also required. Fully vaccinated travelers must present any of the following:
- WHO International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis
- Vaccination proof issued by foreign governments
- Other vaccination proof approved by the Interagency Task Force on COVID-19
These requirements may change depending on local conditions. It is best that you contact the airline you are flying with to make sure you have the latest requirements.
Knowing the Philippines entry requirements and making the right choice for your travels is crucial before you even book your flights. Questions like “Do you need a visa?, “Would you need an extension?”, and “Is your passport validity compliant with the requirement?” need to be asked. Once you have the answers, go on and make the first step of your trip to paradise! I assure you, you will not regret it. See you around!