Lonely Planet Philippines

Lonely Planet Philippines

Entering the country through any of the main ports is a breeze. Most nationalities are issued a free 30-day visa.

Customs Regulations

  • Firearms and pornography are forbidden.
  • You can bring up to 2L of alcohol and up to 400 cigarettes (or two tins of tobacco) into the country without paying duty.
  • Foreign currency of more than US$10, 000 and local currency of more than P10, 000 must be declared upon entry or exit.

Visas

Citizens of nearly all countries will receive a 30-day visa free of charge upon their arrival. If you overstay your visa you will face fines, and airport officials may not let you pass through immigration. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period you intend to stay.

Visa Extensions

To renew your 30-day visa for another 29 days or beyond you must apply for an extension from any office of the Bureau of Immigration (BOI; Most regional hubs and touristy areas such as Boracay have BOI offices; a full list of the regional offices can be found on the BOI website. If done more than a week prior to expiration, the first visa extension costs P3030; if less than a week, a P1010 penalty is applied. It may or may not be possible to extend retroactively (and pay at least the P1010 fine) upon departure at the airport – we wouldn’t chance it. Longer extensions are possible, with correspondingly higher fees; see the BOI website for details.

The visa renewal process is generally painless, with one notable exception: the massive BOI office in Manila. You can pay a travel agent about P1000 to go to the Manila BOI office for you. If you insist on going it alone, bring proof of identity and expect long lines.

You can also receive the 29-day extension (for the same fee as above) immediately upon arrival at airports in Manila and Cebu. Immigration officers will direct you to an office – it shouldn't take more than a half hour to process.

Another option is to secure a three-month visa before you arrive in the Philippines. These cost US$30 to US$45 depending on where you apply. Multiple-entry visas valid for up to six or 12 months are also available.

Onward Tickets

You must have a ticket for onward travel to enter the Philippines if you plan to receive a 30-day visa on arrival. While Philippine immigration inspectors rarely ask to see this onward ticket, most airlines will refuse entry on flights headed to the Philippines without proof of onward travel. A photocopy of your onward ticket will not suffice; you need to show the actual ticket or e-ticket. If you do not have one, the airline will make you purchase a one-way ticket out of the Philippines, departing within 30 days from your date of arrival. When you get to Manila, you are free to exchange this ticket – for a hefty fee, of course.

If you’re applying for a longer-term visa through a Philippine embassy or consulate abroad, you should also have proof of onward travel, although in this case a photocopy of your itinerary from your travel agent may suffice (call the embassy to clarify).

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