The Philippines Suspends e-Visa for Chinese Visitors

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Chinese tourists are temporarily unable to get an online visa for the Philippines. The electronic visa, or e-Visa, system has been suspended until further notice.

The Philippine e-Visa was launched for beta testing in summer 2023 in China only.

After a 3-month trial period, the online visa service has been paused while improvements are made.

It is currently unknown when the e-Visa service will return. In the meantime, Chinese passport holders will have to look to Philippine embassies and consulates when planning a visit to the island nation.

The Philippines Suspends e-Visa for Chinese Visitors

Why Has the Philippines Suspended the Online Visa for Chinese Tourists?

At the end of November 2023, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) released a statement announcing that e-Visa applications would be unavailable in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). No reason was given initially.

On Friday, December 1, 2023, a new statement from the DFA indicated that the service had been suspended to make improvements. The department said it was carrying out a “reassessment” of the e-Visa platform, aiming to “improve future operations”.

Specifically, the DFA stated that these improvements would include the e-Visa service’s payment processing systems.

The online visa is expected to become available to Chinese citizens once again after these improvements have been made.

How Can Chinese Nationals Get a Philippines Visa Now?

PRC passport holders can still get a Philippines tourist visa. However, until the e-Visa system is relaunched, visa applications must be done in the traditional way.

Filipino authorities have instructed visa applicants in China to contact the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate. This can be done via the government website or in person.

Visa applications must be filed with the embassy or consulate.

Individuals who hold a Republic of China (Taiwan) passport may instead register online with the Philippine eTA to visit the country visa-free.

The Philippine e-Visa Trial in China

The Philippines have been planning a new electronic visa system for some time.

Philippine President Marcos told government agencies to focus on key markets when planning the new e-Visa, following a meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Tourism Sector group. These included China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

Chinese visitors make up one of the largest groups of tourists visiting the Philippines.

In 2019 alone, 1.7 million people visited the country from China. This made it the Philippines’ second-largest tourist market.

For this reason, China was chosen as the country to trial the new e-Visa service.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, visitor numbers have dropped sharply, with only 137,822 arrivals from China in the first half of 2023.

The Philippines’ Tourism Department praised the decision to trial the e-Visa in China, stating the importance of attracting more Chinese visitors to the country.

On August 24, 2023, the Philippines launched the e-Visa in China for beta testing. The first region to have access was Shanghai, with visa issuance managed from the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in the city. The system then rolled out to other areas of the country.

According to the nation’s authorities, the first foreigners to use the new e-Visa to travel to the Philippines arrived in the country in September — a 38-year-old Chinese woman and her three-year-old daughter.

The original plan was to expand the e-Visa to other nationalities by the end of the year.

However, this has not been the case. After just 3 months, the e-Visa system has been temporarily withdrawn, pending improvements.

The Future of the Philippine e-Visa

The Philippines’ visa policy has not changed and the e-Visa service is expected to resume in the near future.

The Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Tourism Sector group (PSAC), a body of the Philippines’ business elite working in an advisory capacity to the government, previously recommended extending the e-Visa system to nationals of India, Japan, and South Korea, as well as China.

No date has yet been given for the relaunch of the e-Visa in China or the expansion to other countries.

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