Philippines - Travel Preparation

The best time to make a trip to the Philippines is from the middle of December to the middle of May because that is off-season for typhoons. Travelers coming to the country in December (Christmas) or April (Easter) are advised against traveling more than necessary what is absolutely necessary as the entire country is on the move then, making it difficult to get a seat on any type of transport.

January, May and December are the best months to visit the Philippines if colorful celebrations and fiestas are on your list of 'purpose for making the trip'. If your itinerary includes visits to the rice terraces in North Luzon, the best time to do this would be in March and April as the weather is pleasantly warm. Apart from that, these warm summer months are also ideal for island hopping. Do be advised that for those who can't take the heat, the month of May can be quite an experience of warm discomfort.


A Philippines tourist visa is issued to foreigners (restricted and non-restricted) for the purpose of pleasure and/or medical treatment.

Foreigners who intend to stay in the Philippines longer than 21 days must obtain a fifty-nine day tourist visa at the Philippine Embassy or Consulate before travelling to the Philippines. However the Bureau of Immigration in Intramuros (Manila) or at any Immigration sub-office in the country can also be approached to obtain a total of 59 day stay in the country.

Note: A Philippines tourist visa holder is prohibited to obtain any form of employment, to engage in business or to study in any learning institution in the country.


- Duly filled application form (BI Form No. MCL-07-01).

- Passport should be valid for at least six months on the intended day of reaching the Philippines.

- One 2" x 2" photograph taken within the last six (6) months with the applicant’s signature on the front side of the picture

- A photocopy of the applicant’s air ticket or confirmed itinerary.

- Proof of financial capacity (e.g. traveller’s cheques, latest print-out of credit card account(s), latest print-out of bank statements, ownership of real estate properties, and other documents showing the applicant’s capacity to financially support himself for his stay in the Philippines)

Note: If the application is made by an agent or a representative, the application form must be notarized by a notary public, a lawyer or a solicitor.

Fees in Pesos (if applying in the Philippines)

For the extension of 21 day entry stamp for another 38 days

Visa Waiver Application - 500 Pesos

LRF - 10 Pesos

Certification Fee - 500 Pesos

Express Fee (Certification) - 500 Pesos

Express Fee (For Processing) - 500 Pesos

Total - 3,010 Pesos

Note: The application fee/s for the temporary visitor’s visa (tourist visa) abroad may vary from country to country depending on the exchange rate. Please contact the local Embassy or Consulate for information.

A Philippines tourist visa can be extended beyond the initial 59 days. It may be extended in blocks of 60 days (beyond the initial 59 days) up until a maximum of 16 months. In very special circumstances and with approval from immigration in Manila, you may stay up to 24 months.

If you wish to continue to stay in the Philippines beyond the standard 16 months limit, you may either leave the country and come back on a new entry stamp or tourist visa or, convert your tourist visa to another form of non-immigrant or immigrant visa.

Below is the list of all non-immigrant and immigrant visas which can be obtained through the Temporary Visitor’s Visa (Philippines Tourist Visa):

- Student Visa
- Pre-Arranged Employee Visa – Commercial
- Pre-Arranged Employee Visa – Missionary
- Treaty Trader’s Visa
- Returning Resident
- Children of the Resident Immigrants
- Returning Former Filipino Resident
- Immigrant – Quota (13)
- Permanent Resident Visa (13A)
- Temporary Resident Visa (13A)



Customs Duty is a tax levied on imports (and sometimes on exports) by the customs authorities of a country to raise state revenue, and/or to protect domestic industries from more efficient or predatory competitors from abroad. Also called tariff, duty is based generally on the value of goods (called ad valorem duty) or upon the weight, dimensions or some other criteria of the item.

  • Import Duty

All imported goods for consumption are subject to the payment of import duty prior to release of unless otherwise exempted in accordance with law by the Department of Finance.

  • Value Added Tax (VAT)

All imported goods are also subject to the payment of VAT at the uniform rate of 10% of the total landed cost. Even if the shipment is duty free, it may still be subject to VAT.

  • Ad Valorem Tax

A few commodities, like passenger automobiles, jewelry, alcohol, tobacco, etc. may also be subject to the payment of Ad Valorem Tax aside from the import duty and VAT. The rate of Ad Valorem Tax depends on the make-up of the commodity such as the engine displacement cost in case of automobiles, or alcohol content in case of beverages.

Like VAT, Ad Valorem Tax is an internal revenue tax, the collection of which is delegated to the Bureau of Customs in so far as imported goods are concerned. Imported goods subject to Ad Valorem shall be covered by an Authority to Release Imported Goods (ATRIG) issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue before they can be released from the port.

  • Rates of Duty

The rate of import duty varies depending on the commodity imported, ranging from 3 to 50%. The schedule of rates is listed under Section 104, Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), as amended from time to time.

  • Payment of Duties

Duty is paid along with all the other taxes and charges due on the shipment prior to release of the goods for consumption. Payments are made through banks which are electronically connected to Customs. Under the automated On-line Release System(OLRS), when the fact of payment made through the banks are relayed to Customs, Customs in turn keys in such payment and lifts the hold status of the shipment allowing the port operator to release the goods to the importer or his representative.

  • Duty Concessions

Certain commodities are exempt from the payment of import duties upon compliance with formalities prescribed and approved by the Secretary of Finance. Section 105, TCCP governs what is termed as Conditionally-Free Importations. Other special laws also provide tax and duty-free treatment on certain importations.