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Philippines

If you’re travelling to the Philippines, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

We advise against all travel to South West Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago and against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao. We would advise citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the Central Visayas region and the provinces of Cebu and Bohol.

There has been an increase in kidnapping in the Philippines, including attacks targeting foreigners and tourists since late 2015. Terrorist groups continue to plan kidnap operations against western nationals in the Philippines. This threat extends throughout the Philippines, both on land and at sea, but is particularly acute in the southern Philippines (Mindanao, southern Palawan and Central Visayas, including Siquijor and Dumaguete).

In recent weeks there has been an increase in the threat of kidnappings in the areas of Palawan Province, to include Puerto Princesa City, and the areas surrounding Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

We advise citizens to exercise a high degree of caution and to careful consider travel plans, and exercise heightened vigilance in these areas. 

Latest travel advice

On 23rd May 2017, martial law was declared for the whole of Mindanao for 60 days in order to suppress violence and improve public safety. Government officials said martial law measures would include the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the imposition of curfews and establishment of checkpoints. We continue to advise against all travel to western Mindanao including Marawi City; and against all but essential travel to eastern Mindanao. If you are in Marawi City you should remain indoors, monitor media reporting, and follow the advice of the Philippine authorities.

Typhoons

Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year, mostly between June and December. There may be flooding and landslides. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms.
For more information read the natural disasters and climate section of this page.

Zika Virus

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America, the Caribbean and other locations including The Philippines. Infection with Zika virus has been increasingly linked with a serious birth condition called microcephaly where the baby is born with an abnormally small head and/or brain damage. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and plan to travel to areas affected by the Zika Virus, you are advised to discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider and to consider postponing your travel to affected areas. Irish Citizens are advised to follow the advice of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Emergency Assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in the Philippines, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consul in Manila or the Irish Embassy in Singapore.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about the Philippines before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in the Philippines, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Other EU embassies

You can contact the Embassies and Consulates of other EU countries represented in the Philippines for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Unrest

We advise against all travel to South West Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago and against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao.  

If you’re travelling to the Philippines, always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser. Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational. The Philippines Bureau of Immigration has specifically warned foreign nationals against participating in public protests and political rallies. Foreign nationals who participate in these activities may be detained and deported for violating Philippine immigration laws.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism in the Philippines. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers like airports, shopping malls and places of worship. Be aware of the risk of terrorist attacks to all forms of public transport: road, rail, sea and air. Terrorist groups have threatened to attack passenger ferries and other vessels, particularly those operating from Mindanao. You should avoid using public transport throughout Mindanao.

Kidnapping

There is a threat from kidnapping, particularly in the southern Philippines. Kidnapping could occur anywhere, including on coastal and island resorts and on dive boats and sites in the Sulu Sea. Foreigners have been targeted in rural, urban and coastal areas in the past.

Crime

There’s a high level of violent crime, including gun crime. Criminal gangs sometimes use terrorist tactics like kidnapping. Explosions attributed to criminal organisations have caused fatalities.

There is a high incidence of street crime and robbery. Some taxi drivers and their accomplices have robbed and harmed passengers. Be particularly vigilant when travelling on public transport. Armed hold-ups have occurred on ‘jeepneys’ and buses. In some cases these have resulted in fatalities.

You should take sensible precautions.

  • Arrange to be met at the airport or use a hotel transfer service. Only use taxis from a reputable company.
  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Beware of strangers offering drinks or confectionery that may be spiked.
  • Always be careful about your personal safety. Get advice from local contacts, avoid travel off the beaten track and always leave travel plans with friends, colleagues or relatives. Safety standards on taxis, buses and boats can be low.

Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in the Philippines, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Singapore if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Philippines, bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Air travel

With the exception of Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific Air, all air carriers from the Philippines have been refused permission to operate services to the EU due to safety concerns.

Sea travel

Avoid travel on ferries if possible. Ferries are often overloaded, lack necessary lifesaving equipment, are not adequately maintained and have incomplete passenger manifests. Storms can develop quickly.

There is a high level of piracy and armed robbery against ships in and around Philippine waters.

Maritime rescue services in the Philippines may be limited.

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Illegal drugs

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for importing and using illegal drugs are severe.

Personal identification

You must be able to show some identification if requested by the police. A photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport will suffice. Leave details of your travel plans, passport and credit cards with friends and family and make sure the next of kin details in your passport are up to date.

Law enforcement

Philippine law on paedophile activity is severe, and strictly enforced. A child is defined in Philippine law as a person under the age of 18. Entrapment may also occur where strangers with children have befriended single male tourists; allegations of abuse are then made in an attempt to extort money.

Recruitment

Any foreign national planning to recruit Filipinos for employment overseas must carry out due diligence, comply with local legislation and be licensed. The laws relating to illegal recruitment are strict. Foreign nationals have been known to spend more than two years in prison on remand while their cases are processed.

 

Natural disasters and climate

Typhoons

Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year. Most typhoons occur from June to December. There may be flooding and landslides. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms on the websites of the Philippines state weather agency, the Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and typhoon.com, or follow @Typhoon2k on Twitter.

To learn more about what to do if you’re caught in a tropical cyclone, see the Gov.uk website.

Earthquakes

The Philippines is in an active earthquake zone. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency

Volcanoes

There are numerous volcanoes in Philippines, any of which can erupt without warning. Sudden steam and ash explosions may occur at any time.

The capacity of the Philippine emergency and rescue services to deal with large natural disasters is limited. Check news reports and follow local advice before travelling to volcanic areas. Avoid volcanic areas during and immediately after heavy rainfall when there is increased risk of lava flows. You can find more information on the PHIVOLCS website.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Visas

Irish passport holders can enter the Philippines without a visa for an initial period of 30 days. Entry to the Philippines may be refused if you are unable to produce evidence of return or onward travel - for example an onward or return air ticket. You can apply to extend your stay at the offices of the Bureau of Immigration Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter and can lead to detention pending payment of outstanding fees and fines and voluntary deportation at your own expense.

If you’re unsure of the entry requirements for the Philippines, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Philippines.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of six months after the conclusion of your trip to the Philippines (or other countries within South East Asia).

During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport and your arrival card at all times so you can show evidence of your identity if asked, for example, by the police.

Children travelling to the Philippines without their parents

Foreign minors (under 15 years of age) who are not travelling with one or both parents, or not coming to join a parent in the Philippines are required to carry a copy of their parents’ resident visa. Parents of children travelling unaccompanied to the Philippines must file an ‘affidavit of support’ with the nearest Philippines Embassy or Bureau of Immigration. Contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate for further information.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see what vaccinations you need for the Philippines. 

Medical facilities

The availability of medical care varies across the Philippines, and may not meet the standards of care in the Europe. Although adequate in major cities, medical care is limited in more remote areas. Treatment can be very expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 117 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Mosquito-borne diseases

Dengue fever and malaria are widespread in the Philippines. Before travelling, get up-to-date medical advice as to whether you will need preventative treatment. After arrival, take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Water-borne diseases

Water-borne diseases, including typhoid and cholera, are endemic in the Philippines. You should use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Rabies

There is a risk of rabies throughout the Philippines.

More travel advice

Because we don’t have an Embassy or Consulate in the Philippines, we can’t give you up-to-date travel advice. But you can visit these foreign ministries for more detailed information: