First-Time Traveler Tips
First time traveling to another country? Don’t worry. We’ve compiled a few pointers to help you out.
(You can also call our office and speak to our experienced staff!)
BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT
Purchasing First Time Immigrant Fares
- First time immigrant fares are often lower than regular one-way ticket fares, however these fares are not shown in airline websites. You may purchase these special fares from us, provided that you can send us a scanned copy of your newly issued immigrant visa.
- We highly recommend that you send us a copy of your visa to avoid purchasing the non-discounted one-way ticket!
- Note: If you return to the Philippines after migrating abroad, your ticket back to the US or Canada will be charged the regular fare price since you will no longer be a first time immigrant.
- Store your passport in a safe place to avoid damage. Tampered passports will cause complications in the airport, so make sure your passport is tamper-free!
- If your passport is bound to expire within the year, schedule a renewal appointment with the DFA at www.passport.gov.ph.
Reminder! The latest appointment dates that the DFA website issues is usually 1-2 months from the time you apply, so make sure that you apply way before your scheduled departure.
- You may also call the DFA Hotline (02) 737-1000 to book an appointment or visit one of their many satellite offices around Metro Manila. Visit their website at www.dfa.gov.ph.
Children Traveling Alone
- Traveling without your parents? If you’re below 18 years old and are traveling with an adult that isn’t your mom or dad, you’ll need to apply for a Travel Clearance from the DSWD.
- If you’re flying to the US or Canada, make sure that your luggage does not weigh more than 23 kilos. This is your maximum weight allowance.
- You are allowed 2 piece of luggage that are 23 kilos each, for a total of 46 kilos. In addition to this, you have an extra 7 kilos for hand carry items on the airplane.
- The above means that you can check in 46 kilos worth of baggage, and carry 7 kilos into the plane with you.
- Note: If you’re traveling to New Zealand, Australia, or any countries in Asia and Europe, the baggage allowance is slightly different: Make sure that you only bring 1 luggage with you, and that it weighs 20 kilos at most!
- In the event that your luggage exceeds the maximum weight allowance, your airline will have an appropriate fee you’d have to pay.
The Philippine travel tax of P 1620.00 and the terminal fee of P 550.00 are automatically collected by international carriers if you use a travel agency if the exit point is Manila. But if the exit points are Cebu or Clark, the terminal fee will be collected at the airport.
Some travelers are exempted from paying Phil travel tax such as:
- Balikbayans who have stayed in the country for less than one year.
- Foreigners who have stayed in the country for less than one year.
- Children below 12 years old with a Reduced Tax Exemption Certificate (50% discount)
- Children below 2 years old with a Tax Exemption Certificate.
- Workers and their spouse with a copy of their Exit Pass and Tax Exemption Certificate.
Note: Not sure how to get a Tax Exemption Certificate? Just bring your passport to the TIEZA. Visit tieza.gov.ph for more details.
Check these links for other concerns you might have:
- For online pre-departure orientation registration: www.cfo.gov.ph
- For Canadian immigration information: www.cic.gc.ca
- For US immigration information: www.uscis.gov
AT THE AIRPORT
From your point of origin:
- Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your departure. If your flight departs at 6pm, make sure you’ve arrived at the airport by 3pm!
- Take out your passport and ticket while your other belongings are safe in your bags before you enter the departure airport.
- Look for the check in counter appropriate to your flight and airline then fall in line to check in.
- Once you reach the check in counter, the attendant will ask you to present your ticket and passport to verify your flight and check in your luggage.
- You will given a boarding pass which contains the information on your plane’s gate, your seat assignment, and boarding time. This pass is very important!
Proceed to the immigration counter where the officers will check your passport, ticket, and visa. They might ask you some questions to verify your trip.
- After being cleared with the immigration officers, you could explore airport until your boarding time.
- You may eat and shop in the establishments in the airport or relax near your gate, as long as you remember to return to your gate early in time for boarding.
ON THE PLANE
Inside the aircraft:
- While boarding, several other passengers are trying to get to their seats so it’s highly advised that you stow your belongings in the compartment above your seat as quickly as possible so as not to hold up the line behind you.
- Be polite as you’re passing through. A kind “excuse me” is much better in a cramped situation than letting our frustration get the better of us. (Remember: you’ll be sitting in an airplane with these same passengers for more than 10 hours!)
- Don’t be shy or feel embarrassed to ask your flight attendant for help – even just for a glass of water! Their job is to keep you comfortable on your flight, they will gladly assist you on anything you need.
- There will be signs above your seats. One sign will be a “no smoking” sign and another is a seat belt sign. Upon take off, those signs will be lit up, which means that no one can smoke or take their seat belts off and stand up. When those lights are turned off, feel free to stand up to use the lavatory.
- The lavatory is located in multiple areas in the airplane. Just ask your flight attendant for directions. You may use the lavatory the way you use any other bathrooms.
- Most airlines will have individual televisions per passenger. Since different airlines have different TVs, you can ask your flight attendant how to use your TV! You’ll be provided with airplane headphones so you can watch movies, TV shows, documentaries, or just to listen to music.
MINIMUM CONNECTING TIME
If your flight has to stop first at another airport:
- Once you get off the plane and into the airport, follow the ‘Transfers’ or ‘Flight Transfer’ sign.
- After this, check the airport notice boards for the gate and boarding time of your flight. It will be a good idea to locate your gate right away so you know where to go.
- When you’ve found your gate, you can feel free to explore stores and restaurants if you have time.
- It is only Philippine Airlines that flies direct to US and Canada. But if you take Asian carriers, they will always pass through their countries to pick –up other passengers. You will need a minimum of 2 hours to get connected to your next flight.
- Cathay Pacific – via Hong Kong
- Air Canada – via Hong Kong, Seoul, or Narita
- Eva Air or China Air – via Taipei
- Japan Airlines or Nippon Air – via Narita
LAYOVER TIME FOR 1ST-TIME IMMIGRANTS
- When you arrive at the port of entry Canada or US and you still need to fly to an interior province like Calgary or Denver, you need at least 6-7 hours layover time. This is because you will need to present your documents to the Canadian or US Immigration which may take some 20-30 mins. per family. If there are other families who arrived ahead of you, you have great chances of missing your flight if your layover time is just 2-3 hours.
AT YOUR DESTINATION
Where should I pick up my luggage?
- Upon leaving the aircraft, follow the signs until you reach the immigration section.
- Fall in line behind one of the counters; while waiting for your turn, make sure you have prepared all the documents you need to present. Once you reach the counter, the immigration officer will check your documents and ask you a few questions about your trip. Don’t be nervous and answer honestly.
- After passing immigration, collect your baggage at the airport carousel. Your flight will have its own carousel; just look at the signs above each carousel to find your flight’s appropriate carousel.
- Note: If you’re flying to another part of the country, after collecting your luggage, ask for directions to the domestic airport. Find the appropriate check-in counter of your domestic flight and go through the same flight procedures.
CANCELLATION / REBOOKING
If you need to rebook or cancel your tickets:
- Different airlines have their own policies about rebooking and cancellation fees. We’d love to help you find out how much these fees are for your airline, but you are also welcome to call your respective airline’s customer care hotline to check! Usually, rebooking fees cost around $75-$200 depending on the circumstances.
- Tickets that are bought through a promo are usually not rebookable and non-refundable. However, refunds of regular priced tickets may be available should you need to cancel your ticket!