Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 1, Arrivals

This Airport Guide sets out the arrivals process – from quarantine to immigration to customs – for Philippine passport holders returning home through Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 1.

Post last updated from first- or second-hand experience : 09 December 2022 (based on a 07 December 2022 arrival)
Post last updated using other information : 09 December 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 arrivals process at Terminal 1 (T1) of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (common abbreviation: “NAIA” / IATA code: MNL) – the main airport serving Greater Manila in the Philippines.

If you’re departing from Terminal 1, please use 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 1, 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.

CONTENTS

INTENDED AUDIENCE

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

Most of T1’s gates are grouped around its two concourses like spokes on a hub. If your aeroplane docks at one of these, you’ll initially step out of the aerobridge pier into the narrow corridor that runs along the edge of the concourse. (The waiting area for departing passengers is on the other side of the glass wall.)

Follow the corridor until you reach the broad passageway that runs along the full length of T1’s “arms”. If your flight employs one of the side gates (2 or 7 in the eastern arm, 9 or 15 in the western arm), your walk to immigration will be shorter as the path from the aircraft leads straight into this passageway. If your aircraft parks at gate 1 or 16, the walk will be shorter still as both gates are right next to the immigration area.

STEP 3: QUARANTINE INSPECTION

Making your way down the corridor, you’ll soon come up against the quarantine checkpoint. Be ready to present your eTravel QR code, as well as supporting documents (such as your vaccination/test certificate) if you’re asked to submit them.

If you are unable to present a valid eTravel QR code, you’ll be asked to leave the queue and move off to the side. There, staff members will assist you with getting the required registration completed.

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.

You will find toilets near the end of the passage, just a short distance away from immigration. There’s also a small duty free store where arriving passengers can purchase customary homecoming gifts such as chocolates and liquor.

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 on the left side of the immigration hall. In principle, arriving Filipino passengers should be able to freely choose between the e-gates and manned counters. However, when I flew into T1 on 07 December 2022, I approached the e-gates only to be told by a staff member to circle back and queue up at the manned counters instead. Later, before my turn had arrived, staff retracted a belt barrier and finally allowed passengers to use the e-gates (presumably to reduce crowding at the manned stations). Confusing and frustrating to be sure, but sadly typical of the inefficiencies and poor management that make the airport experience at MNL less than optimal.

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, simply walk forwards straight into T1’s 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 T1’s arrivals hall. You’ll find an assortment of service booths, but no shops or cafés or other amenities of that kind.

Unless you’ve arranged to meet someone in this hall, just keep going straight and out through the doors. You’ll emerge into a sheltered roadway that runs alongside the terminal building.

If you’d like to hire an airport taxi, turn left and walk towards the end of the sheltered road. You’ll see a marked taxi stand and service counter.

You can read more about the road-based options for travelling onwards from MNL T1 to other parts of Greater Manila (and beyond) in my separate airport transportation guide.

If you’ve arranged to be met by a private vehicle, you’ll need to cross the road and descend by a broad ramp to the so-called “arrivals extension”: a roofed waiting area near T1’s parking lot. Note that this area can become extremely congested at peak times.

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 many settings – except in public transportation, medical facilities, and other sensitive locations 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.

4 responses to “Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 1, Arrivals

  1. Pingback: Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 1, Departures – Landside | Within striking distance·

  2. Pingback: Airport Guide: NAIA (MNL) Terminal 1, Departures – Airside | Within striking distance·

  3. Pingback: Airport Guide: Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (MNL T1) | Within striking distance·

  4. Pingback: Flight Report: NRT-MNL on Japan Airlines Flight JL 745 (07 December 2022) | Within striking distance·

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