As the country continues to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be wondering if you’ll be able to travel sooner (or later). It’s understandable; many of you have been staying home for a good six months now. Everybody deserves a break from everything that’s happening in this world.
As Metro Manila and its neighboring regions shift to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and the rest of the country to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), the question now is: Who are allowed to travel and what are the requirements needed for a smooth journey locally and internationally amid this quarantine?
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While under GCQ, traveling may be a lot easier for many of you. Keep in mind that only essential travels are allowed, as of this writing. Essentially, the “authorized persons outside of residence” (APOR) are the only ones allowed to travel from one city to another. APORs include medical frontliners or employees of industries who are allowed to work under GCQ and MGCQ.
Persons who have a family or medical emergencies are also allowed to travel.
Locally, you’re allowed to travel anywhere as long as your purpose is essential. Make sure to check all the necessary requirements with the Local Government Unit (LGU) for entering their borders.
Internationally, only essential travels, like work, are allowed. The Department of Foreign Affairs keeps an updated list of countries that have currently closed their borders to all flights from the Philippines because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep an eye out for updates on this list, in case you need to travel soon.
If you’re traveling anytime soon, make sure you have and hold all the necessary documents needed for travel.
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Documents would vary depending on the location and your purpose. Below are some of the most common requirements:
Locally stranded individuals - If you were stuck in Metro Manila during the strict quarantine period a few months ago, you can now head back to your provinces, provided that you have the following documents:
Travel authorization or pass - These passes are issued by your municipal or city Chief of Police. You can get your travel pass at your local police stations.
Medical certificate - You would also need to secure proof that you are healthy and with no symptoms of COVID-19 at least 14 days before your travel date.
Make sure to get your medical certificate from your municipal or city health office or any hospital accredited by the Department of Health (DOH).
Negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test - Some regions or provinces require you to present a negative COVID-19 test before entering their borders. Make sure to check with the LGU before booking your plane ticket.
These documents can all be secured at your local police station and health centers and hospitals. You may coordinate with them directly to secure them.
Business travel - APORs do not need travel authorization from LGUs. They do, however, need the following documents:
A Certificate of Employment
Documents from the company justifying the travel reason
Returning Overseas Filipino Workers - If the pandemic has caused you to return home, below are the necessary documents you need to travel:
Case Investigation Form (CIF) - The CIF requires you to disclose your travel history, exposure history, clinical information, and contact details to help the local quarantine authorities monitor all incoming locals for contact tracing purposes.
Red Cross Form - All OFWs must subject themselves to RT-PCR COVID-19 testing in the airport. Make sure to accomplish this and save the QR code for your test.
Booking an accredited quarantine facility - All OFWs must quarantine themselves while waiting for the release of their test results. Make sure that you have reserved a hotel room at any of the approved hotels by the Bureau of Quarantine.
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If you’re leaving the country soon, keep in mind that each country has its own requirements for foreign nationals.
To date, only essential travelers such as OFWs, students enrolled abroad and permanent residents of other countries are allowed to leave the Philippines. Below are some of the commonly required documents:
Negative RT-PCR COVID-19 Test Results - One common requirement is that the traveler must be proven negative for COVID-19 at a certain interval before the flight date. Make sure to schedule yourself for a test at any of the airline’s accredited hospitals.
A Medical Certificate - Apart from your test results, some countries require a “fit-to-fly” medical certificate stating that you don’t have symptoms of COVID-19 and that you’re healthy enough to fly.
Declaration Release and Waiver - A document that declares your awareness of the necessary health and travel requirements and the risk of leaving the country.
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The first time Metro Manila went under GCQ, non-essential travelers were allowed to leave and travel to other countries. However, last August 2020, the Philippine National Police declared that non-essential travels are once again prohibited.
Nevertheless, it’s never too early to know which documents you need to prepare for your vacation abroad. Below are some of the requirements under the Inter-Agency Task Force's Resolution No. 52:
Confirmed round-trip tickets - If you’re traveling to countries that require tourist visas, you would need to have round-trip tickets to present at your flight. One-way tickets are a big no-no.
Travel and health insurance - Considering how unpredictably quarantine measures can change, it’s best to obtain travel insurance coverage, in case of rebooked flights and more accommodation nights. You should also be insured, in case you get infected with COVID-19.
A signed Declaration and Waiver - A completely signed document claiming that you have all the necessary documents and that you are aware of the risks involved in your non-essential travel.
When traveling, remember to follow all of a country’s safety precautions caused by the pandemic, among these include the mandatory wearing of face masks, face shields, and the observance of physical distancing.
While traveling has now completely changed, it is important for you to follow all the safety precautions imposed by the airlines and your destination country. While it may feel like extra work to prepare all these documents, it is for your own good.
Before heading out to travel, whether essential or non-essential, make sure that all your required documents are updated and that traveling is still allowed.