UPDATED Restrictions on Travel to and from the Philippines due to the COVID-19 Pandemic (lifting of 72-hour window)
Due to the unexpected and rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire island of Luzon, including the National Capital Region (NCR), on Enhanced Community Quarantine effective on 17 March 2020.
On 18 March 2020, the Executive Secretary released Additional Guidelines for the Community Quarantine over Luzon. The Additional Guidelines may be found here.
Travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Philippine government has imposed travel restrictions for exit and entry into the Philippines, especially from countries greatly affected by the pandemic.
I. Exit from the Philippines
The government has lifted the 72-hour window for the departure of foreign nationals from international airports / ports in the island of Luzon (i.e. NAIA, Clark, Laoag). All persons, regardless of nationality, except for Filipino tourists, may now fly out of the country at any time. Proof of international travel itinerary scheduled within 24 hours must be presented.
Filipinos on non-essential travel (i.e., tourism) are not allowed to leave the country during the effectivity of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and balikbayans will be allowed to depart.
I. Country-based Travel Restrictions
All inbound passengers shall be allowed entry, subject to the applicable travel restrictions below.
Inbound international passengers, who are not covered by any ban, as detailed below, may be subject to applicable quarantine procedures upon entry into the Philippines.
Inbound Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouses and children, holders of Permanent Resident Visas and 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine government shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures
Mainland China, and Macau and Hong Kong Special Administrative Regions (SARs)
a. Temporary ban on entry into the Philippines
As of 2 February 2020, the issuance of visas to the following foreign nationals are suspended:
i. Foreign nationals directly coming from China and its SARs; and
ii. Foreign nationals, who, within fourteen (14) days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, have been to China, and its SARs.
Foreign nationals with visa-free entry privileges entering the Philippines, falling under above-mentioned categories, are likewise covered by the temporary travel ban.
b. Restrictions on Travel to China, and Macau and Hong Kong SARs
There is a temporary ban on all travel to Hubei province in mainland China.
There is likewise a temporary ban on all travel to other areas of mainland China, subject to the following exceptions:
i. Filipino government officials traveling to mainland China on official duty;
ii. Returning OFWs who are able to present valid visas and/or work permits, OEC, notarized declaration of their knowledge and understanding of the risks, and other relevant documents pertaining to their current employment in mainland China as may be required by immigration authorities;
iii. Filipinos with permanent resident visas issued in China.
The following are still covered by the ban on travel to other areas of mainland China:
i. OFWs on first-time deployment to mainland China
iii. Dependents of OFWs, and
There is likewise a temporary ban on all travel to Macau and Hong Kong SARs, subject to the following exceptions:
i. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) bound for Hong Kong and Macau, including new-hires, who are required to execute a declaration which states that they are aware of the risks involved.
ii. Permanent residents of the Hong Kong and Macau SAR.
iii. Filipinos leaving to study abroad.
a. Temporary Ban on Entry into the Philippines
There is a temporary ban on entry into the Philippines of the following:
i. any person coming from the North Gyeongsang Province (including Daegu City and Cheongdo County) of South Korea; and
ii. any person who has been to the North Gyeongsang Province (including Daegu City and Cheongdo County) of South Korea within 14 days immediately preceding their arrival in the Philippines.
b. Restrictions on travel from the Philippines to South Korea
There are temporary restrictions for travel to South Korea, as detailed below:
i. All travel for Filipinos to North Gyeongsang Province (including Daegu City and Cheongdo County) of South Korea are banned.
ii. All Filipinos going to South Korea, except North Gyeongsang Province, may proceed with their journies, except that they shall execute and sign a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in proceeding with their trip.
iii. OFWs, students studying in South Korea, and those with Permanent Resident status are not restricted to travel into South Korea.
iv. OFWs (whether returning or newly-hired) as well as dependents of permanent residents are allowed to return to South Korea but they must also execute a Declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved upon their return to the country.
Inbound travelers from Italy are required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within forty-eight (48) hours immediately preceding departure, signifying that the traveler has tested negative for COVID-19.
Inbound travelers from Iran are required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within forty-eight (48) hours immediately preceding departure, signifying that the traveler has tested negative for COVID-19.
Filipinos who will travel to Israel are required to obtain clearance from the Israeli Ministry of Interior, through the Consular Section of the Embassy of Israel in Manila, prior to their departure.
Starting Thursday, 12 March 2020, all foreign nationals entering Israel from abroad will be required to undergo 14 days of home quarantine.
Anybody who is currently under home quarantine under previous instructions of the Israeli Ministry of Health will be required to continue quarantine for up to 14 days following their return to Israel.
The Qatari government has imposed temporary entry restrictions to Doha-bound passengers who have been to 14 specified countries, including the Philippines, within the last 14 days immediately prior to their travel to Qatar.
This does not affect transit through Qatar.
The Saudi Arabian government has imposed a temporary travel ban on Umrah Visa holders and Tourist Visa holders from countries judged to pose a particularly high risk of spreading the virus, including the Philippines.
Filipinos with work, employment, business, or family visit visas are still allowed entry into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Actions to consider / Conclusion
All non-essential travel to the above-listed countries, as well as all other countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19, should be postponed and/or cancelled.
All those who are on essential travel should comply with the relevant regulations and measures imposed by the Philippine or foreign authorities to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Practice all reasonable preventive measures, including observing proper personal hygiene, coughing etiquette, and avoiding large public gatherings and symptomatic individuals.