Just recently I had a reader leave a comment, which at first struck me as angry. Upon reflection, though, I realize he was probably just frustrated because he kept getting so much information, some of it conflicting, about travel requirements to the Philippines.
I’ve always published sources whenever possible … but some sources, like the official Philippine Bureau of Immigration site are (necessarily) packed with a lot of information. Too much information can be as much problem as too little.
I went out and checked some of my references last night because sites do change …and especially with government sites, links change (break). I’m surely glad I did.
While researching the best sources I came upon this one, Know Before You Go … IATA Travel Centre which I had never seen before … it’s excellent, especially for first time travelers. It’s published by the IATA. IATA (International Air Transport Association) is an international trade body, created over 60 years ago by a group of airlines. Today, IATA represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic. The organization also represents, leads and serves the airline industry in general.
There’s a drop-down box for each, select the Philippines (or whatever other country you are interested in visiting) and continue to the next page.
Here you can enter your trip details, where you are coming from, the length of time you’ll be staying and so forth. (if you haven’t been to any other countries, just don’t make a selection in that box.)
You’ll notice I "front loaded" this example to cause a possible conflict … staying for longer than 21 days without a visa. Let’s see how the system handles this.
Now we’ll look at the results page. Sure enough it tells us that we have a problem with passport validity dates and lets us know a visa is required.
Although there is supposed to be "Instant Visa issuance" at the airport, be aware there have been problems recently with this service and I would personally not depend upon it. Much easier to get a visa from the Philippine Embassy and avoid any chance of problems.
Also, although you will also note a "legal loophole" regarding entry with less than 6 months validity, read the exception carefully … it’s strictly up to the officer you happen to walk up to at the Immigration wicket .. would you travel 7,000 or more miles taking a chance on the officer’s good nature? Personally, I’d update my passport in advance … but hey, that’s just me.
All in all this is a great tool provided by the IATA .. about as authoritative as you can get when it comes to air travel information.
Use it in good health and enjoy your hassle-free trip to the Philippines. There’s never been a better time.