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Philippines

Visas

Visa regulations in the Philippines are subject to change so be sure to check with a Philippine embassy or consulate before making your travel plans.

At the time of writing, citizens of nearly all countries did not need a visa to enter the Philippines for stays of less than 22 days - you'll be given a 21-day visa on arrival in the country. However, you may well be asked for proof of an exit or onward ticket upon arrival in the country.

For longer stays, before you travel apply at a Philippine embassy or consulate for a three-month single-entry visa, which usually costs US$30. Multiple-entry visas valid for up to six or twelve months are also available ($60 or $90 respectively), but you'll still be limited to 59-day stays.

Most Philippine embassies and consulates won't issue you a visa without proof of a ticket for onward travel from the Philippines. Usually, a photocopy of your itinerary from your travel agent is enough, but some ask to see the actual ticket.

Visa extensions

If you want to stay beyond the 21 or 59 days you've been given on arrival, you'll have to deal with a local immigration office. Fortunately, you can now buy your way past a lot of the red tape with a P500 'express fee', which may be pricey but it ensures that your application is processed in only a few hours, rather than the usual five to seven days.

Currently, 21-day visas can be extended to 59 days for P2020. Longer extensions (up to a maximum of six months) are possible, with correspondingly higher fees. You'll need photocopies of the identity page and the Philippine entry stamp from your passport, and you may need to show an onward ticket.

Manila's massive Bureau of Immigration (02-527 3265; Magallanes Dr; 8am-noon & 1-5pm Mon-Fri) squats between the Pasig River and the Intramuros city walls. A visit to this imposing edifice is a formal occasion: casual clothes, such as shorts and singlets, are prohibited - flip-flops (thongs) are also a bad fashion statement - and you'll need proof of identity to enter the building.

Visa extensions from 21 to 59 days can often be handled faster by the regional immigration offices in San Fernando (La Union) and Cebu City, but remember to dress for success.

Onward tickets

Officially, you must have a ticket for onward travel to enter the Philippines. This applies both to those who apply for visas before arriving in the Philippines and those who hope to receive a 21-day visa on arrival. In practice, immigration inspectors at the airport don't always ask to see an onward ticket.