Fire and rescue services
Call 117 for the Police National Operations Center hotline.
Or contact your nearest Philippines National Police (PNP) station.
We haven't changed our level of advice.
Exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines overall.
Higher levels of advice are in place for some parts of the country.
Do not travel to central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula, and the Sulu Archipelago and southern Sulu Sea area.
Do not travel to:
due to the very high threat of terrorism and kidnapping.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Terrorist attacks, including bombings, are possible anytime, anywhere in the Philippines. This includes Manila.
We continue to receive information indicating terrorists may be planning attacks in the Philippines.
Possible targets for future attacks include places travellers and expats visit, such as:
These areas have a high threat of:
Martial law is in place in Mindanao until 31 December 2019.
Authorities have increased powers to:
Monitor media reports. Do what local authorities say.
If you visit central or western Mindanao despite our advice:
Recent terror attacks include:
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Business or criminal-related kidnapping can happen anywhere in the Philippines. The threat is highest:
Both locals and foreigners, including Australians, have been kidnapped in central and western Mindanao and in eastern Malaysia. They may target popular tourist areas in:
Kidnappers sometimes hold victims for a long time, sometimes for years, before releasing them. They sometimes kill their captives.
Criminals also kidnap commercial seamen from cargo vessels in the area.
The Australian Government has a longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.
The threat of piracy in the southern Philippines is very high, especially at coastal resorts and isolated coastal locations.
If you travel to the southern Philippines despite our advice:
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people are common and can turn violent.
It's illegal to take part in political rallies if you're not Filipino. Authorities may deport Australians or cancel their visas for being involved.
Armed clashes often occur between security forces and militants, especially in Mindanao and remote areas of northern Luzon.
The New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which is associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines, operates throughout the Philippines. They are often involved in attacks targeting Philippine security forces.
Authorities suspect CPP-NPA militants were behind bomb attacks in Antipolo City and Masbate City in 2018.
In Mindanao, armed clashes between rival clans and other armed groups are also common. Sometimes clashes result in deaths and injuries.
If you see a confrontation between police and criminals or between rival groups, leave the area straight away.
Violent and other serious crime is a big problem in the Philippines.
Gangs are active in Manila, including in the central business district of Makati, and provincial resort towns.
Gangs can drug, rob or assault tourists.
To avoid drink spiking:
Gun ownership is widespread and poorly regulated. This adds to the high rate of violent crime.
Gunfights between police and criminals are common, including in tourist areas in Manila. People are often killed or injured, including bystanders.
Insurgent groups are sometimes involved in violent criminal activities operate in rural areas. They target business interests, including mining projects, for extortion.
Several Australians have died after property disputes turned violent.
Armed criminals sometimes rob and kill or injure people on:
Avoid travel on these forms of transport.
Pickpocketing and bag snatching are common. Be careful in crowded shopping malls and other public places.
Scams, including those involving business ventures, credit cards and ATMs, are common.
To protect yourself from scams:
To protect yourself from crime:
Swimming off coastal areas is risky.
Severe currents and rips are common in coastal areas. Many travellers have drowned, including at popular resorts.
Lifeguards are rarely available.
A red flag means you shouldn't enter the water.
If you plan on swimming:
Transport and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards. This includes for adventure activities such as diving.
If you plan to do an adventure activity:
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
To protect yourself during a natural disaster:
Identify local sources of support and advice that can help you after a natural disaster.
If you're visiting after a natural disaster, contact your tour operator to check if services are affected.
Typhoons usually occur between late May and December. Many people die during typhoons.
Tropical storms, flooding and landslides are also common during this period.
The direction and strength of typhoons can change with little warning.
Typhoons may disrupt telephone, internet and communications.
If you're travelling during typhoon season:
If there's a typhoon:
Contact your airline for the latest flight information.
The Philippines is located on the Ring of Fire. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common. It may take some time for full services to resume.
Monitor media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has set up permanent danger zones (PDZ) around the summits of several volcanoes:
Avoid areas around all of these volcanoes.
Volcanic activity may increase with little or no notice. It may disrupt flights in the region. Individual airlines make their own decisions about flight operations. Contact your airline or tour operator for up-to-date information.
If there is any major volcanic activity:
Large and destructive tsunamis can happen.
If there's a tsunami warning:
Move to high ground straight away if:
Don't wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media and weather services.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and if you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front.
If you travel to central and western Mindanao despite our advice, you'll probably need a specialised insurance policy that covers travel to high-risk destinations. Most Australian policies won't cover you for travel to these areas.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in the Philippines. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
There is currently a measles outbreak throughout the Philippines, including Manila.
In 2018, the Philippines reported more than 17,000 cases of measles. The rate is increasing and causing deaths.
Get vaccinated against measles.
On 19 September 2019, the Philippines Department of Health reported a polio outbreak. The local authorities are taking measures to limit the spread of the disease.
Polio is an infectious disease that can spread rapidly and mainly affects young children. It can cause muscle weakness, paralysis and, on rare occasions, it can be fatal. Make sure you're vaccinated against polio.
These illnesses are more common during the rainy season between May and December.
Get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel.
The Philippines Department of Health has declared a national dengue fever epidemic following an increase in case cases in the first half of 2019. There's no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue.
Zika virus is widespread in the Philippines. There's no vaccination for it.
If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends that you:
To protect yourself from disease:
HIV/AIDS is a risk for travellers.
Take precautions if you engage in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Transmission rates between men who have sex with men are high.
Condoms may be difficult to find outside Manila.
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases are common, including:
Serious outbreaks can occur.
Lakes and rivers can contain waterborne diseases, such as:
Risks are highest after flooding, and continue after floods recede.
Swimmers in coastal resort areas have also reported illness from pollution.
To reduce your risk of illness:
If you're bitten or scratched by an animal, seek medical help straight away.
Get medical advice if you suspect food poisoning or have a fever or diarrhoea.
Ciguatera fish poisoning from eating reef fish can be a hazard.
Avian influenza occurs in farm birds.
To protect yourself from avian influenza:
When preparing food, handle poultry properly. Make sure you thoroughly cook all parts of the poultry.
Medical facilities are adequate in major cities. However, facilities are limited in country areas and on remote islands.
Major private hospitals, particularly in Metro Manila, are well-equipped and internationally accredited.
There are decompression chambers in:
Most hospitals need up-front payment or guarantee of payment before they'll treat you. Treatment can be expensive.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
If you're accused of a crime, authorities may not let you leave the Philippines until investigations and legal proceedings are finished.
The justice process can take a long time. Some court cases take years.
Australians accused of crimes have experienced financial and other difficulties while waiting for their cases to finish.
Penalties for drug offences are severe.
A major clampdown on drugs - the war on drugs - has been underway since 2016. There are mandatory jail sentences for possessing even small amounts of illicit drugs. Thousands have been arrested and a large number of people have been killed in drug-related violence.
The Philippines also has strong laws against child sex crimes and human trafficking. Authorities have arrested and prosecuted a number of foreigners, including Australians, for these offences.
It's illegal to take photos of official buildings for publication.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Local laws don't protect LGBTI rights.
Locals generally tolerate the LGBTI community. However, open displays of affection between same-sex partners may offend.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can’t help you.
You won't need a visa if you plan to:
You'll need a visa if you're:
Ensure you keep your visa up to date. Failure to do so may result in you being:
Detention conditions in the Philippines do not compare with Australian standards and deportation processes can be lengthy.
You can apply to extend your tourist visa (visa waiver) through the Philippines Bureau of Immigration and pay the appropriate fees.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Get further details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules from:
Immigration authorities may ask for proof of an onward or return ticket.
Children under 15 years of age may need a Waiver of Exclusion Ground if they're:
You may need an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) from the Philippines Bureau of Immigration before you leave the Philippines if you have stayed in the Philippines for more than six months.
Children born in the Philippines who are leaving the country for the first time on a foreign passport will need an ECC.
You must pay any outstanding visa fees or fines or risk not being able to depart the country. You may be detained by the Philippine Government and subject to a lengthy deportation process.
You must have no outstanding legal issues or court cases. You need to contact the relevant court or the Bureau of Immigration to confirm that you do not have any travel restrictions (Hold Departure Order; Watchlist and Blacklist).
Check the Philippines Bureau of Immigration website for more detailed information.
If you're leaving the Philippines from Mactan-Cebu International airport, you need to pay a departure tax.
If you leave via Manila International airport, there's no departure tax.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If you lose your passport on arrival into the Philippines, before passing through Immigration, you'll be refused entry to the Philippines. You'll be sent back to your port of origin by Philippine Government and the Australian Government is unable to help.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The local currency is the Philippine peso (PHP). You can easily convert AUD for PHP at airports, banks, shopping centres, tourist locations, in major cities and towns.
ATMs are widely available. International credit cards are generally accepted in hotels, restaurants and higher-end shops, particularly in cities and larger towns. However, it is advisable to keep some cash. Card skimming occurs.
You can use an Australian driver's licence for up to 90 days after you arrive. After that, you need to get a Philippines licence.
Roads are generally congested and often in poor condition. Drivers often break the road rules.
Avoid driving off the national highways and other sealed roads, especially at night.
You're 2 times as likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in the Philippines than in Australia.
Certified helmets are mandatory when riding in major cities. Accidents are frequent.
Check if your travel insurance policy covers you when riding a motorbike and if any exclusions apply. You might not be covered if you don't have a valid Australian motorcycle licence.
Use ridesharing apps and Grab taxis sourced from hotels. They're more reliable than taxis hailed on the street.
Public road (bus, jeepneys) and rail transport is widely used throughout the country but should be avoided due to safety and security. See Safety.
Sea travel in the Philippines can be hazardous.
Avoid ferries if you can.
If you must travel by sea:
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check the Philippines' air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network website.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call 117 for the Police National Operations Center hotline.
Or contact your nearest Philippines National Police (PNP) station.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular help, see contact details below.
6819 Ayala Avenue
Makati City, 1200, Philippines
Phone: (+63 2) 7757 8100
Fax: (+63 2) 7757 8344
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.