An English-speaking nation of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is part of Southeast Asia, but vastly removed geographically and culturally. If you are visiting the Philippines for tourism-related purposes, such as a scuba dive trip, kite surfing escapade or resort-style honeymoon, purchase a round-trip ticket or an onward airline ticket. Otherwise, the only part of the Philippines you'll see is the airport.
21-Day Tourism Visits
If you are traveling by air to the Philippines for no more than 21 days, and for tourism purposes only, you must present a return airline ticket -- or an onward ticket to another country -- to pass through airport Customs and legally enter the country. You must also present a U.S. passport that is valid for at least six months after the date of travel. The Customs officer will stamp a 21-day entry visa on your passport. If you plan to stay more than three weeks, you must apply for a Tourist Visa with the Philippines Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, in Manila.
Three-Day Transit Visits
If you plan on traveling through the Philippines as part of a multiple-country vacation, you must present your return airline ticket -- or onward travel airline ticket -- at Customs, or you will not be granted permission to enter the country. At Customs, you must also hand over your Philippines multiple-entry transit visa 9(b), which must be obtained in the U.S. prior to your trip. The transit visa authorizes a tourism-based visit for up to three days, as long as the trip occurs within one month of the date on the transit visa. You must also present a U.S. passport that is valid for at least six months after your trip.
You may not need a return airline ticket -- or onward airline ticket -- if you are visiting the Philippines for non-tourism purposes, such as pre-arranged employment or as a student, and if you are not considered an immigrant. You must apply for a non-tourism visa online with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration prior to travel.
Tips and Considerations
Before booking a flight to the Philippines, check with the U.S. Department of State website for travel warnings. At publication, the Department of State warns against U.S. travel to the Philippines, citing terrorist threats and recent kidnappings of U.S. Citizens.
Sign up for the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to ensure your safety abroad. You can register for STEP online or at the U.S. Consulate in Manila.
Failure to comply with the terms of the 21-day entry visa may lead to fines.