I cannot cover all the arrival procedures for each International Airport of the Philippines here. However, since the procedure does not change drastically from airport to airport, I will write about the arrival procedure for the busiest airport of them all. And that will be the infamous NAIA Terminal 1.
Why infamous? Because it has been consistently voted as one of the worst international airports in the world. And unfortunately, this is the airport that most airlines currently use. If it is at all possible, please refrain from using this airport (I recommend NAIA 3).
CAUTION: Everything is free in the airport when you arrive. You are not required to pay anything. The immigration process, the baggage carts, the customs check, the elevator, the toilet is all free to use. Report to nearby airport officials if anyone is trying to extort money from you.
Arrival Procedures for NAIA Terminal 1
1. Fill-out some stuff (preferably while inside the plane)
2. Get-off the plane (duh!)
3. Pass through the thermal camera/scanners
4. Line-up for the immigration check (use the Foreign Passports Lane)
At the immigration counter, submit to the immigration officer your passport, return ticket, immigration/disembarkation card and customs declaration form. Except for the disembarkation card, everything will be returned back to you.
Please note that there are 2 types of immigration cards:
ARRIVAL CARD – for arriving passengers
DEPARTURE CARD – for departing passengers
Sometimes it becomes very crowded as people line-up in front of the immigration counters, check which counters are for foreigners before lining up in front of any of them.
5. Get your luggage
After going through the immigration, you may go ahead to the baggage conveyors. Flight numbers are displayed on top of the conveyors in the baggage retrieval area.
6. Go through customs check
After retrieving your luggage, you may proceed to the customs checking area. Hand over your passport and customs declaration form to the customs officer and answer some questions.
Answer as honestly as possible and if the officer asks if you have anything to declare, it would be best if your answer is “none”. Meaning, you are not bringing anything with you any taxable or subject for inspection item (please refer to link at bottom of this post).
Luggages are very rarely inspected for arriving passengers. However, items larger than your luggage may be subject for inspection (such as a surf board, guitar, keyboard, golf clubs, etc.) If you say that you have something to declare, then prepare yourself for some inconvenience, time wasting and unwanted spending of precious money.
The best you can do in this situation is do not bring any taxable items in the first place OR do not say that you have anything to declare to customs.
If everything is clear, your passport and customs declaration form will be returned to you. Get your stuff and head for the exit.
There is another person right ahead (just before you head to exit) that is collecting the customs declaration form. Give that form to him/her. It will not be returned to you after that.
7. Changing your money to Peso
Before getting out of the arriving passengers processing section of the airport, you might want to change your currencies first.
To change your currency into Philippine Peso, you may find some booths in the airport that specializes in this service. Unfortunately, these booths have very very poor rates so DO NOT change all of your money with these booths.
Change only a certain amount of money that you will immediately need. And have your other currencies changed elsewhere (like the mall). You can also change your left over Pesos into your country’s currency before returning home but there might be a set minimum amount of how much of your currency you can buy.
8. Head for the exit
Finally, at the exit, an airport staff will compare your baggage tag with that of your airplane ticket. This completes your arrival procedures for NAIA Terminal 1. Cross the street and head for the arriving passengers waiting area.
9. Wait for the person who will pick you up
If someone is scheduled to pick you up, you should wait at the arrival area coinciding with the first alphabet of your last name. Or you just call whoever is picking you up and tell him/her where you are.
If someone comes bargaining with you to ride a taxi or stay at a hotel, just ignore them. Or pretend you do not understand what they are talking about. Or simply turn them down.
Do not go with anyone you do not know if there is someone already scheduled to pick you up!
10. Welcome to the Philippines!!!
It’s hot, it’s humid, and you’re profusely sweating. Yeah, baby!!!
Currency Import Regulations:
For residents and non-residents, an amount of up to 10,000 Philippine Peso (PhP) will be allowed without declaration. Exceeding amounts require an authorization from the Central Bank of the Philippines. Foreign currencies of up to USD 10,000 or its equivalent will not need to be declared. Amounts exceeding USD 10,000 or its equivalent, on the other hand, must be declared.
Information must be furnished on the source and purpose of the transport of such amount. Violation will be subject to sanctions under Philippine customs law and regulations.
- Only banknotes and coins, which are legal tender must be declared (travellers checks, credit cards etc. are exempt from declaration requirement)
- This guide is mainly applicable to residents and travelers visiting the Philippines for tourism purposes and do not require a visa
- For other travelers to the Philippines, please check the Immigration website or the Philippine Embassy in your country for more information
Find related information here:
- Philippine airport tax regulations
- NAIA 1 Arrival Procedure
- Countries that do not need a visa permit to visit the Philippines