Pandemic Travel Guide: Preparing for Your Philippine Business Trip
Travel for non-visa required countries
Like most countries in the “new normal” of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines has placed strict policies for entry, to ensure the safety of all guests and locals. During most of the stretch of the pandemic, temporary visitors were not allowed to enter the country, but the Philippine government has recently eased the restrictions.
Existing pandemic policies already allow foreigners to enter the Philippines with certain conditions and requirements. So, if you would like to do business here, perhaps to visit your team in Manila or see first-hand how outsourcing works, there are ways to gain entry access.
Effective February 10, 2022, fully vaccinated foreign nationals from non-visa required countries are allowed to enter the Philippines for business or tourist trips. Non-visa required countries include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, and over 150 more countries.
The Philippine government considers a person “fully vaccinated” if he or she has at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Those with only one shot of the vaccine are considered “partially vaccinated” and are still classified with “non-vaccinated” individuals.
This means if you already have at least two doses of any COVID-19 vaccine and you are from a non-visa country, you are already allowed to visit the Philippines.
Moreover, foreigners from these countries are also exempted from facility-based quarantine, giving them more time to make the most out of their trip to the Philippines. There are two important requirements, though: a negative RT PCR result taken within 48 hours before the trip and a valid vaccination certificate.
If you were vaccinated in a non-visa country that has reciprocal agreement with the Philippines, a national or state vaccine certificate is considered valid. These countries include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Here are the other countries with reciprocal agreements with the Philippines to recognize each state’s national vaccination cards:
If you were vaccinated from a place not listed above, you will need to secure a WHO-issued Certificate of Vaccination from your country’s health agency.
What if I’m from a visa-required country?
If you are unvaccinated or if you come from a visa-required country, you will need an Entry Exemption Document (EED). To get an EED, the Philippine-based company affiliated with the visitor must submit a request to an appropriate national government agency.
Once a visitor gets an EED, he or she may apply for a temporary visitor’s visa and proceed with the travel. Other documents needed are the negative results of an RT-PCR test that was done within 48 hours before the flight and an official proof of vaccination.
If you have the documents needed, you are ready for your journey to the Philippines. Begin by registering with the country’s Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ). Within 2 days before your flight, go to the BOQ website to register and upload a photo of your negative RT PCR results.
You may also want to secure a quarantine accommodation before your flight for a better experience. Government-approved quarantine hotels are updated in this list. It will also be helpful to secure a hotel transfer or any transportation to your accommodation before you depart for the Philippines.
Once registered, you will get your very own One Health Pass QR code, which will be used when you deplane and start your quarantine. All unvaccinated visitors or those from visa required countries are required to undergo quarantine and another RT-PCR test, all at their own expense. You can pre-pay the accommodation and the RT-PCR test before your flight via credit cards or just pay in cash when you arrive.
Follow this map for the quarantine protocols that will match your status.
Welcome to the Philippines
The Philippines, like all other countries, has established safety measures as a response to the constantly changing COVID-19 situation.
First, the minimum health protocols include wearing face masks all the time, maintaining physical distancing, and handwashing. Depending on the number of COVID-19 cases, a region in the Philippines could also be placed under 5 different alert levels. It is important to know these alert levels because they dictate mobility and the capacity of establishments that are allowed to operate during the pandemic.
For higher alert levels, interzonal travel or travelling across cities in a certain region may be limited to certain people and under particular local rules.
At the moment, Metro manila, as well as adjacent provinces are placed under Alert Level 1, which allows everyone to travel to different cities.
You may check the latest Alert Levels in various parts of the country on the Department of Tourism’s website. Here’s a snapshot of the restrictions under different alert levels:
Travelling around the city
When travelling around a city, it is important for visitors to always bring their important documents, especially their valid vaccination certificates.
If you need to move around the city more frequently, it would be more convenient to privately rent a vehicle or stay at a place near your desired destinations. You can also queue for a cab when you are already outside, but it is much more convenient to book a ride through ride-sharing apps like Grab Philippines.
Some establishments would only allow fully vaccinated individuals to dine in, but many would still accommodate partially or unvaccinated people.
Most offices in the Philippines have remained operational throughout the pandemic, but they had to secure safety seals from the local labour department.
All 14 Emapta offices have been granted safety seals, which means the company has been checked and deemed safe and compliant by proper government authorities.
Every Emapta office imposes temperature checks and contact tracing efforts at the entrance for everyone’s safety. Alcohol dispensers and physical distancing markers are also scattered throughout the whole office.
Most office buildings in Metro Manilla use contact tracing apps, but they usuall vary depending on the city. This means you may have to use different apps per city, so make sure to ask local authorities for guidance.
Some government-approved apps, however work for multiple cities. These apps are available for both android and iOS users.
If you need to travel locally via air, quarantine is not required, but you need to show negative antigen test results within 48 hours before the flight for certain destinations. So be sure to check the requirements first with your contact person.
Meanwhile, here are some of the important numbers you should have when travelling to the Philippines.
If you intend to travel to the Philippines, make sure you have the patience to follow strict health protocols since this is for your own safety as well.
If you are feeling sick or if you have been exposed to a positive case, the best thing you can do is to delay your trip until you test negative for COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also encourages everyone to get fully vaccinated before travelling abroad for the general safety of everyone.
In the meantime, most businesses in the Philippines remain operational and in the outsourcing setup, virtual collaboration has always been the main mode of coordination.
If you need any assistance in exploring staffing solutions in the Philippines in the time of the pandemic, we are here to help.