People love to travel, but that became more difficult when COVID-19 began to spread. If you live in the US, you may wonder when you can start traveling again.
If you plan to travel to the Philippines from the US and plan to stay longer than 30 days, you need to get a visa. This means you should consider getting your visa as soon as you can. If you plan to learn about a Philippines travel visa, keep reading to keep yourself informed!
FAQs About Traveling to the Philippines
Let’s start by discussing some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Philippines. That way, you can understand the current state of Philippines travel restrictions and regulations and when to apply for a visa.
Do US Citizens Need a Visa for the Philippines?
While US citizens can’t enter the Philippines at the moment, they don’t need a visa to visit. However, if they want to stay for more than 30 days, they need a visa. In short, if you only plan to visit for a week or so, you won’t need to get a visa to go to the Philippines.
However, you should apply for a visa if you plan to stay more than 30 days in the Philippines. Otherwise, you’ll have to leave the Philippines within 30 days of your arrival. Many people will travel to a nearby country and return to the Philippines, in order to comply with the requirements for not obtaining a visa.
This approach can be costly since you need to travel more, so it’s probably more economical and easier to get a visa so that you do not have to worry about exit and entrance requirements.
When Will the Philippines Open for US Travelers?
Currently, many countries use a risk level system to determine and project the COVID risk level of each departure country. Typically - these systems assign each country a color to show its COVID-19 risk level. Green refers to the safest countries, yellow shows some risk, orange means increased risk, and red is the highest risk.
The Philippines currently doesn’t allow red-level risk countries into the country. The US is currently on the Yellow list and the Philippines is allowing travelers from the US if they meet the following criteria:
Entry and Exit Requirements:
- Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? Yes, with a valid visa and if other conditions are met.
The IATF has adopted “Yellow” and “Red” classifications in addition to “Green” for countries/territories/jurisdictions based on their respective COVID-19 incidence rates and case counts. Passengers coming from, or who have been to, “Red” jurisdictions will NOT be allowed entry to the Philippines. For the full list of “Red” and “Green” countries, visit the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) website. “Yellow” jurisdictions are those countries not on the “Red” or “Green” list. The United States is on the “Yellow” list. For more information on “Green Lanes” rules, see the PCOO website.
According to BI guidance, individuals in the following categories should be allowed to enter the Philippines, subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry, until further notice:
- Foreign nationals with valid and existing visas at the time of entry.
- Foreign nationals allowed entry under the Balikbayan Program (RA6788), provided they are nationals from non-visa-required countries under Executive Order 408:
- Former Filipino citizens, together with their foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with the former Filipino citizens; and
- Filipino citizens’ spouses and children, regardless of age, who are travelling with the Filipino citizen.
- Foreign nationals who are holders of valid and existing Special Resident Retiree Visas (SRRV) may be allowed entry without the need for an Entry Exemption Document (EED).
- Foreign nationals who are holders of valid and existing 9(a) or Temporary Visitor’s Visas, provided they present, upon arrival, an EED issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), except for foreign spouses, parents, or children of Filipino citizens with valid 9(a) visas who are allowed entry to the Philippines without the need of an EED, per IATF Resolution 128.
Foreign nationals who are holders of valid and existing 9(a) or Temporary Visitor’s Visas, provided they present, upon arrival, an EED issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), except for foreign spouses, parents, or children of Filipino citizens with valid 9(a) visas who are allowed entry to the Philippines without the need of an EED, per IATF Resolution 128. All decisions to grant or deny entry to the Philippines are made by BI staff at the port of entry upon arrival in the Philippines. Contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate in the United States for additional information prior to booking travel to the Philippines. U.S. citizen residents of, and visitors to, the Philippines must contact BI for information on visa extensions. U.S. citizens can review a complete set of instructions and requirements needed for every BI transaction on its website.
What Immunizations Do US Travelers Need for the Philippines?
The Philippines has an extensive list of required vaccines to enter the country.
- Routine vaccines
- The COVID-19 shots
- Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Measles, Malaria, Rabies
- Japanese Encephalitis
Most of US travelers will have these shots, but you should double-check your records. You should also see if you need to get any booster or additional shots to keep yourself up-to-date.
You should still check the list regularly. Doing so will help you see if the Philippines has added any new or required vaccinations to the list. If you don’t have the required vaccines, the government won’t let you enter the country.
How to Get a Philippines Tourist Visa
Now that you understand the requirements for travel to the Philippines during COVID-19, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed and uncertain due to the changing rules and lack of a clear opening time for travel from the Philippines government. However, the Phillipines and the rest of the world will eventually fully reopen for travel. The Philippines have standard procedure requirements you need to follow if you want to get a tourist visa.
- A valid passport or travel document valid six months past the day you plan to leave
- Two passport photos
- Paying the visa fees
- A bona fide status as a tourist
- Completed visa application forms
- Paying the visa fees
These documents and fees and forms will ensure you are well prepared for your tourist visa application.
You should start by filling out the required application to get your passport. Keep in mind you will be required to present proof of your citizenship and pay the required fees for the passport. Once you do so, you can get passport photos by visiting local Costco or drugstore or FedEx store.
After you have received your passport from the US, you’ll need to apply for a Philippines visa by completing the application form. This part is fairly convenient as you have the option to complete the form online. An application fee applies once you have completed your application and are ready to submit it.
After you have submitted your application, start booking your hotels and flights. Having confirmed travel arrangements will help you prove your status as a bonafide tourist as required by Philippine immigration law.
Booking a hotel or other accommodation will show Philippines Immigration that you have a place to stay and a confirmed travel plan. Booking a return flight is proof of your intention to return home after your visit..
Immigration officials will also want to make sure that you have enough money to support yourself during your visit to the Philippines. Make sure to have your credit cards and debit cards ready to show immigration officers upon your arrival. They may not always ask this of you, but it is best to be prepared.
As with any type of government paperwork, regardless of the country, you will have a waiting period before receiving your visa. Be patient. If you filled out the forms correctly and can prove your visit to the Philippines is for tourism - you have nothing to worry about.
Why You Should Apply for a Visa Now
Now that you understand how to get a travel visa for the Philippines, you might consider applying for a visa now. Otherwise, you may have a longer than normal waiting period for visa approval once the Philippines fully re-opens for US travellers.
Get Ahead of the Backlog
If you apply now, you can avoid a huge wait time and possible backlog for processing travel visa applications from the Philippines. Once the Philippines announces US applicants can come in again, more people will apply - this is a certainty. However, if you prepare ahead of time you can be one for the first in line for your Philippines visit from the US.
When a backlog builds up, you could face months or even a year of waiting for your visa application to the Philippines to be approved. You don’t want to run that risk. If you plan to visit the Philippines as soon as possible, you need to apply before a potential backlog builds up.
After all, if the government has to go through more applications, it will take them more time to get to yours.
Have Your Visa Ready
If you apply now, you might get approved for a Philippines tourist visa. Depending on the situation, you could mention your desire to visit once the US has the approval to enter the Philippines. That way, the government can mark your approval date at a later point, so you can enter later on.
Even if you can’t enter as soon as the US has approval, you’ll at least have your visa ready. Once the visa receives approval, you’ll need to keep track of the expiration date. That way, you can apply for an extension when it runs out.
This means you can rest easy knowing you have a visa ready rather than waiting and worrying about it.
Make It Pass High-Priority Applications
As you apply for a visa, the government may not go in order of the applications. This is because the Philippines has a Priority Interview Program (PIP). The PIP allows business-related applicants to get into the Philippines quicker.
For example, the PIP allows business travelers to get their visas in about two days instead of the usual three weeks. If you consider the backlog along with business workers who need to enter, it could be awhile before you get your visa approved.
However, if you apply for your visa now, you can get ahead of the PIP applicants.
Find Out If You Need to Make Any Fixes
If you apply for your visa ahead of time, you can address issues sooner. You may apply and have a few mistakes in your application, but you will have plenty of time to correct them if you plan ahead and apply now.
For example, if you didn’t sign your full name on the document, you may need to redo it. This means if you apply it immediately, you’ll find out sooner. On the other hand, if you procrastinate for a couple of weeks, you may fall behind and get caught up in the rush of applications that is sure to come when the Philippines reopens.
Even if you don’t need to fix anything, you don’t want to run this risk. This means if you apply for your visa ahead of the backlog, you can minimize potential issues and get it in time for your tourist visit to the Philippines.
If you want to visit the Philippines, apply for a visa as soon as you can. Whether you plan to visit as a tourist or meet a Filipino you met online, you need to get your visa.
Make sure you keep yourself updated on the Philippines and US news. As you do so, you can find out when you can enter the country again. And make sure you start your travel visa application for the Philippines now.
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