The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands) and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.
National and local elections will be held across the Philippines on 13 May 2019. The official election period runs from 13 January to 12 June. During this time additional security measures, such as extra security checks and roadblocks, will be put in place in many areas. You’re advised to follow the advice of local authorities. The Philippines Bureau of Immigration have specifically warned foreign nationals against participating in public protests and political rallies. Foreign nationals who participate in these activities may be detained and deported for violating Philippine immigration laws. It’s not uncommon to see increases in election related violence in the run up to elections. You should keep up to date with local activity and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings of people.
On 26 December 2018, the United States Transport Security Administration issued a public notice highlighting poor aviation security at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Additional security measures are in place on flights departing from this airport to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials. The UK keeps aviation security measures under constant review, in conjunction with international partners and the aviation industry.
Boracay island reopened to visitors in October 2018 after a six-month closure for environmental improvements. The Department for Tourism has published a bulletin including a list of authorised hotels that are now accepting guests (available under the ‘Publications’ tab). Some restrictions remain, and you should take local advice on documentation and port of entry to the island before you travel. More information on local requirements in Boracay is available in this article from the Philippine Information Agency.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship. You should remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to the local authorities.
There’s been an increase in kidnapping of foreign nationals, including attacks targeting foreigners and tourists since late 2015. Terrorist groups continue to plan kidnap operations against western nationals in the Philippines. This threat extends throughout the Philippines, both on land and at sea, but is particularly acute in the southern Philippines (Mindanao, Palawan and central Visayas, including Siquijor and Dumaguete). See Terrorism.
Martial law is in place across the whole of Mindanao until 31 December 2019. There may be curfews and checkpoints. Monitor media reporting and follow the instructions of local authorities.
A ‘state of national emergency on account of lawless violence’ remains in place across the rest of the country. Expect random checkpoints, security patrols and a more visible routine security presence. You should co-operate with the Philippine authorities and allow extra time to pass through security checks. Make sure you carry a form of identification with you.
The eruptive activity of the Mayon volcano in Albay Province (Bicol region) has reduced since 2018, although it remains at a moderate level of unrest with a risk of sudden eruptions, lava collapses and ash fall. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has lowered the alert to level 2 but an exclusion zone remains in place. If you’re in Albay Province, you should follow the advice of the local authorities, including the advice not to enter the designated danger zone. You should remain vigilant and follow developments on the PHIVOLCS website. See Volcanoes
Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year. Most typhoons occur from June to December. There may be flooding and landslides. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders. See Natural disasters
There’s a high incidence of street crime and robbery throughout the Philippines. You should take sensible precautions. See Crime
Prison sentences in the Philippines are severe. The judicial system can result in long-term detention until a court hearing takes place. Detention facilities are far below UK standards. Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for importing and using illegal drugs are particularly severe. See Local laws and customs
UK health authorities have classified the Philippines as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. Consular support is severely limited in parts of the Philippines where we advise against travel, and limited in the areas we advise against all but essential travel. Full consular support is available in all other areas.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
Over 200,000 British Nationals visited the Philippines in 2017. Most visits are trouble-free.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.