This Airport Guide outlines what Philippine passport holders can expect to encounter when returning home through Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3.
Post last updated from first-hand experience : 02 July 2022 (based on a 14 June 2022 arrival via MNL T3)
Post last updated using other information : 06 November 2022
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 T3’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 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.
eARRIVAL CARD (formerly “One Health Pass”)
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 eARRIVAL CARD website. Click the “Register” button on the home page to start the process. 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 eArrival Card service is completely free of charge. Make sure that the website address you are using is https://www.onehealthpass.com.ph/, which can be counter-checked against the links provided in reliable sources; for example, on the website of the UK’s FCDO (scroll down to the heading “If you’re fully vaccinated”).
The form will ask for inoculation details (date, vaccine brand, etc.) but won’t require you to upload documentary evidence at the point of registration. However, you’ll need to bring a copy of your vaccination or test certificate for inspection at the airport counter and the quarantine checkpoint.
After completing the registration process, take a screen capture of the QR code or bar code that will be issued to you. Show the code to airline personnel as 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 was directed to dock 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 eArrival Card QR or bar code and related supporting documents (including your vaccination/test certificate).
Depending on the information you’ve submitted, the eArrival Card system will issue either a QR code (for expedited entry) or a bar code (for manual inspection). QR code holders can use the express lane at the quarantine checkpoint whilst those with bar codes need to queue for manual verification.
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.
You may find – as I have in the past – that your flight’s assigned baggage carousel isn’t 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. This segregation is not always enforced and there are times when all passengers are funnelled through a common set of lanes (whether or not they need to make a declaration).
Passengers are no longer routinely asked to fill out a customs declaration form, unless they’ve got goods or financial instruments to declare. A brief guide describing how to complete the form is available on the Bureau of Customs website.
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.
Bear in mind that the locations of specific queueing points and taxi ranks do change from time to time. When enquiring with airport personnel as to the whereabouts of this or that service, 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 a legal sense – except in public transport and other settings as specified in the Executive Order – the vast majority of 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.