Local laws and customs

You must be able to show some identification if requested by the police. A photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport should suffice.

Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for importing and using illegal drugs are particularly severe. Possession of even small amounts of any illicit drug in the Philippines attracts mandatory jail sentences. Police and other authorities have been publicly encouraged to kill suspected drug traffickers who resist arrest.

Violating local laws may result in a jail sentence, served in a local prison. Sentences are severe. The judicial system can result in long-term detention until a court hearing takes place. Foreign nationals have been known to spend several years in prison on remand while their cases are processed. Detention facilities are far below UK standards. You can find more information on the British Embassy website.

Philippine law on paedophilia is severe, and strictly enforced. Severe penalties can be passed in child abuse or rape cases. A child is defined in Philippine law as a person under the age of 18. Entrapment may also occur where strangers with children have befriended single male tourists. Allegations of abuse are then made in an attempt to extort money.

The Philippines is generally a tolerant and progressive place for LGBT travellers, although some stigma exists outside urban centres. Current legislation does not recognise same-sex unions. Same-sex relationships are not criminalised by law in the Philippines, but overt public displays of affection may be considered a ‘grave scandal’ under the Revised Penal Code, and can result in imprisonment for up to 6 months. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Any foreign national planning to recruit Filipinos for employment overseas must carry out due diligence, comply with local legislation and be licensed. The laws relating to illegal recruitment are strict.