There is a high incidence of street crime and robbery, sometimes involving weapons and firearms. You should take sensible precautions.
Arrange for a pick-up at the airport, or use the hotel pickup service or official airport taxi (if available).
Only use taxis from reputable companies. Some taxi drivers and their accomplices robbed and injured passengers. Avoid displaying cash or jewelry.
Beware of strangers offering drinks or candy. They may be pierced.
Be especially vigilant when using public transport. There have been armed hijackings of “jeeps” and buses, mainly in major cities such as Metro Manila and Cebu. In some cases, these have resulted in death.
If you plan to travel within the Philippines, seek advice from your local government on travel requirements as part of your preparation. For contact details of local officials, see the Home Office and Local Government website. You can also contact your nearest Department of Tourism Office (DOT) for advice through the DOT official Facebook page or the DOT hotline at 1-386. See the link for DOT-ready safety protocols and a range of precautions.
Always leave your travel plans, passports and credit cards with friends, colleagues or relatives, and make sure your next of kin information in your passport is up to date.
A “state of emergency for lawless violence” remains in place across the country. Expect random checkpoints, security patrols and a more visible routine security presence. You should cooperate with Philippine authorities and allow extra time to pass security checks. Make sure to keep a copy of your ID with you.
Mindanao and Sulu Islands
This FCDO Travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu Islands is not recommended due to terrorist activities and clashes between the military and rebel groups.This FCDO Due to the threat of terrorism, travel to other parts of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao) is not recommended for all but essential travel.see terrorism
Terrorist groups are likely to continue planning kidnappings of Western nationals by land and sea. This is particularly acute in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands.see kidnapping
Mindanao lifted martial law on January 1, 2020. Pay close attention to media reports and follow directions from local authorities.
You can drive in the Philippines for up to 90 days with a valid UK driving licence. If you plan to rent a car, check with your car rental company about their requirements before traveling. If you are staying for more than 90 days, you should apply for a local permit. You can find more information about the application process on the Land Transport Office website.
Accidents can occur, mainly due to poor road conditions, dangerous driving and non-enforcement of traffic laws. Adhere to speed limits, be cautious around motorcycles and scooters, and avoid driving at night or in bad weather as much as possible. Make sure you have adequate insurance.
Safety standards for taxis and buses can be low.
Philippine law prohibits children 12 years of age or younger from using the front seat of a vehicle. Children are exempt if they are at least 150 cm (4 ft 11 in) tall and can be properly secured with a conventional seat belt. Otherwise, the child must sit in the rear of the vehicle and use a child restraint system or car seat. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in penalties.
This FCDO Cannot advise on the safety of individual airlines. However, IATA publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive, and the absence of an airline on this list does not necessarily mean it is not safe.
A list of accidents and incidents can be found on the Aviation Safety Network’s website.
Incidents of piracy and armed robbery of ships are rampant in and around the Sulu and Celebes Seas. Boats to and from offshore islands and dive sites are also possible targets. See kidnapping.
The Philippines’ network of ferries and passenger ships has a poor record for maritime safety. Vessels sometimes lack the necessary life-saving equipment, and marine rescue services can be limited. When considering travelling on an interisland ferry, you should exercise caution and avoid overcrowding on the boat. Accidents are more frequent during the rainy season between June and December, when storms develop rapidly.
On 3 August 2019, three passenger ships capsized in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait, killing more than 30 people.
Keep abreast of local and international developments and avoid demonstrations or large crowds.
The Bureau of Immigration of the Philippines specifically warned foreigners not to participate in public protests and political rallies. Aliens who engage in these activities may be subject to detention and deportation for violating Philippine immigration laws.