This Airport Guide sets out what Philippine passport holders can expect to encounter when returning home through Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3.
Post last updated from first- or second-hand experience : 08 December 2022 (based on an 08 December 2022 arrival)
Post last updated/reviewed using other information : 11 February 2023
NOTE: This Airport Guide should only be used for general planning and reference purposes. Details may change at any moment and without prior notice.
In this post, we’ll explore the international arrivals process at Terminal 3 (T3) of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (common abbreviation: “NAIA” / IATA code: MNL) – the main airport serving Greater Manila in the Philippines.
If you’re arriving on a domestic flight, please read my other Airport Guide which covers the arrivals experience for passengers landing at MNL T3 from another destination within the Philippines.
If you’re departing from Terminal 3, please navigate to the separate Airport Guides I’ve written covering departures landside (before outbound border control) and departures airside (after outbound border control).
For a broader overview of Terminal 3, please click here to navigate back up to my portal post about the entire facility.
To learn more about the airport as a whole, please click here to view my comprehensive guide to MNL.
- Intended audience
- Before you fly: Pandemic-related entry requirements and pre-flight preparations
- Step 1: Enjoy the view as you land
- Step 2: Disembark from the plane
- Step 3: Quarantine inspection
- Step 4: Immigration
- Step 5: Baggage reclaim and Customs
- Step 6: Leaving the terminal
- Appendix: Pandemic-related measures
This guide was written from the perspective of, and primarily for, travellers who hold Philippine passports. This reflects my own circumstances and is the only position from which I can offer advice out of first-hand experience.
Foreign nationals, unaccompanied minors (whether Filipino or foreign), and other travellers with special conditions are subject to more complex arrival requirements which I am in no position to advise on. Having said that, much of the information set out below – such as the layout of MNL’s arrivals area and the general flow of entry procedures – will be of interest to all passengers regardless of circumstances.
BEFORE YOU FLY: PANDEMIC-RELATED ENTRY REQUIREMENTS AND PRE-FLIGHT PREPARATIONS
Please bear in mind that I will not offer any visa or immigration-related advice in this guide, nor will I respond to enquiries on such matters. Contact the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country and/or the relevant government agencies – such as the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Quarantine – if you require information other than what’s presented below.
Summary of quarantine-related entry requirements
The current entry/testing rules for all arriving passengers are set out in IATF Resolution No. 2 s. 2022 (full text), issued on 04 October 2022 and approved by the Office of the President on 28 October 2022 (source). Flag carrier Philippine Airlines posted the following summary on 05 November 2022 (source):
Note that the “eArrival Card” mentioned above has been superseded by a new Electronic Travel Declaration system, which is covered in more detail below.
The foregoing guidelines are in respect of pandemic-related quarantine measures. Entry requirements in respect of immigration and border control regulations – such as visas, minimum passport validity, etc. – are not covered in this guide.
Electronic Travel Declaration (eTravel)
All arriving passengers – regardless of nationality or vaccination/testing status – are asked to submit their personal information and vaccination details on the Philippine government’s Electronic Travel Declaration (eTravel) website. Introduced in December 2022, this new system completely supersedes the old “One Health Pass” and “eArrivalCard” forms.
Registration is free of charge and requires no app to be installed.
WARNING: There are reports of fraudulent and misleading websites that charge fees for quarantine-related registrations. Ignore these scammers – the eTravel service is completely free of charge. Make sure that the website address you are using is https://etravel.gov.ph/, which can be counter-checked against the links provided in official sources.
The current version of the form will ask for vaccination details (date, vaccine brand, etc.) without requiring you to upload documentary evidence. However, you should bring a copy of your vaccination or test certificate for inspection as/when needed.
After completing the registration process, take a screen capture of the QR code that will be issued to you (or use the download link provided). Show the code to airline personnel when you check in and to quarantine officials after you land.
STEP 1: ENJOY THE VIEW AS YOU LAND
STEP 2: DISEMBARK FROM THE PLANE
From the gate, enter the hallway and follow the signs saying “Arrivals” and “Transfers” until you reach the quarantine checkpoint.
You may need to cover a fair bit of distance, especially if your plane docks at one of T3’s more remote gates. (This is often the case for smaller aircraft operated by budget carriers.) The corridor is fitted with a few moving walkways to help speed the transit, but they don’t serve its full length.
Toilets are available along the arrivals corridor. In addition, if you’re walking from one of the gates in the southern half of T3 – which includes most of the gates used by international flights – you’ll pass a small duty free shop near the very end of the hallway (just before the immigration counters).
STEP 3: QUARANTINE INSPECTION
Approaching the end of the corridor, you’ll observe a manned counter fitted with a thermal camera. This is meant to rapidly screen the temperature of all passengers walking past.
A little further on is the main quarantine checkpoint. Be ready to present your eTravel QR code for scanning, along with related supporting documents (including your vaccination/test certificate) if these are requested.
STEP 4: IMMIGRATION
After passing through quarantine, the next step is to make one’s way through border control.
From April 2022, Philippine passport holders are no longer required to fill out arrival/disembarkation cards (source).
Separate counters are used for Filipino citizens and foreign nationals. When using a manned counter, simply present your Philippine passport to the immigration officer for inspection and stamping. (Keep your boarding pass close to hand in case it’s asked for.) Absent any special circumstances – such as a notice against your name in the immigration bureau’s records – the whole process will take mere minutes.
Holders of Philippine passports can also use a bank of automated e-gates in the middle of the immigration hall. The following video (not by me!) explains how to use an e-gate to pass through border control.
In place of an inked stamp, an arrival sticker will be printed as you exit through to the other side. Don’t forget to collect the sticker from the printer receptacle (it’s easy to overlook this bit) and affix it to a blank space in your passport.
STEP 5: BAGGAGE RECLAIM AND CUSTOMS
From border control, take an escalator down to T3’s cavernous baggage hall.
There are times when a flight’s assigned carousel isn’t immediately displayed on the screens in the baggage hall. Enquire directly with the airport staff if this happens and they’ll point you to the correct one.
As at other airports, there are separate customs lanes for passengers with or without anything to declare (red and green, respectively). This segregation is not always enforced and there are times when all passengers are funnelled through a common set of lanes. Bear in mind that all baggage is subject to inspection at the customs officers’ discretion, even if you pass through a green lane – this may involve an x-ray check and/or a hand search with follow-up questions as needed.
During your flight, the cabin crew will have distributed blank customs declaration forms. These are meant to be collected at the customs barrier as you pass through, although this isn’t consistently done. To avoid inconvenience, you should complete the form before landing and have it ready for submission just in case.
STEP 6: LEAVING THE TERMINAL
Beyond the customs barrier is T3’s arrivals hall. Open to non-passengers, this area is usually one of the most heavily crowded in the entire terminal.
Unless you’ve arranged to meet someone in this hall, you’ll want to plough through the masses and walk straight out onto the pavement.
As shown in the following image, the pavement running alongside T3’s arrivals access road is divided into numbered “bays”. If you’ve asked someone to collect you from the terminal, I’d advise agreeing on a specific bay number to make it easier for them to locate you.
This is also where you can find and arrange road transport to your next destination. Private vehicles – as well as cars summoned via ride-hailing apps – normally use the road closer to the building whilst public transport flows through the parallel road opposite, stopping along the centre island.
Note that the locations of specific queueing points and taxi ranks do change from time to time. Should you find it necessary to ask airport personnel for guidance, do so with caution as this could attract the interest of unauthorised touts within earshot (or staff surreptitiously working with them). My preferred method is to ignore all offers of assistance and walk with purpose along the pavement as if I knew precisely where I needed to go, whilst discreetly scanning the scene until I identify the taxi rank or queueing point – or the appropriate signage – for the service I require.
The road-based options for travelling onwards from MNL T3 to other parts of Greater Manila (and beyond) are outlined in my separate airport transportation guide.
APPENDIX: PANDEMIC-RELATED MEASURES
The wearing of face masks remains mandatory on all forms of public transport (whether by land, sea, or air) throughout the Philippines. Executive Order No. 7 (dated 28 October 2022) sets out the current requirements in respect of public health protocols throughout the Philippines. Do note that whilst mask wearing is no longer obligatory in most settings – except in public transportation, medical facilities, and other sensitive locations as specified in the Executive Order – many locals still don masks both indoors and outdoors. Private establishments might also impose stricter requirements within their own premises and ask all patrons to put on a mask before entering.
Physical distancing (or “social distancing”) remains recommended, but is not rigorously enforced in practice.
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hi, for how long did the entire process (from disembarking to getting your luggage) take? thank you
I’m afraid I can’t recall how long I waited for my bag once I reached the luggage belt. That said, the whole interval from stepping out of the aeroplane to reaching the baggage hall – with quarantine and immigration in between – was only about 10 minutes all told. Didn’t take long at all, though I should mention that (a) I had my One Health Pass all sorted so it was just a quick scan-check at the quarantine barrier, and (b) there was practically no queue to speak of at the immigration counters for Philippine passport holders so I was served almost instantly. Conditions might differ if you happen to arrive at a particularly busy time.
Your blog is very informative and helpful.