Arriving in Cebu from abroad? Here’s what you need to know

John Sitchon

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Arriving in Cebu from abroad? Here’s what you need to know

The COVID-19 PCR testing stations at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Photo from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority

(1st UPDATE) If you're coming to the Philippines from another country via Cebu, there are a dozen steps to go through before you can go home

If you’re coming to the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) from abroad, there are new quarantine protocol requirements.

Beginning February 1, all international passengers arriving in Cebu are required to have a mandatory RT-PCR swab test on the 5th day after arriving.

Note that the instructions for domestic travelers coming to Cebu are different. You may read those requirements here.

“This is pursuant to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Resolution Nos. 96 and 97,” the MCIA in their public advisory.

Under IATF Resolution No. 96, all arriving passengers, regardless of origin, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine upon arrival.

Previously, the RT-PCR swab test was required upon arrival.

This time, it is 5 days from the arrival date at the designated quarantine facility/hotel to consider the possible incubation period of the virus.

If a passenger was exposed and caught the virus on the airplane for example, it would not immediately appear if the swab is taken upon arrival.

What’s more is that arriving passengers from countries where the new COVID-19 variants emerged are now subjected to a 14-day quarantine, while waiting for their RT-PCR test result.

If the passenger tests negative, they can coordinate with their home local government unit on completing the quarantine in their home town.

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Fortunately for OFWs, the costs for the RT-PCR swab test are shouldered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Non-OFW Filipinos and foreign nationals will have to pay for their own swab test, which cost P4,100. They also have to arrange their own quarantine hotel stay of 7 days hotel booking confirmation at accredited hotels.

You can check the list of accredited hotels here.

When you arrive at the airport, here’s what to expect:

Step 1: Pre-deplaning procedure

Prior to arrival, fill out and complete the following forms distributed by the airline crew while in-flight:

  • Health Declaration Form
  • Immigration Arrival Card

You must also complete the online MCIA Passenger Arrival Registration Form via within 5 days before your scheduled arrival date at MCIA. 

Step 2: Arrival briefing

The bureau of quarantine will brief passengers before they unload and step off the aircraft.

Step 3: Validation

Once briefing is done, proceed to the Validation Counter and present the following:

  • Barcode/Travel Reference Number (TRN)
  • Passport
  • Boarding pass
  • Health declaration form
Step 4: Temperature scan

A Bureau of Quarantine officer will scan your temperature for fever.

Step 5: Immigration clearance

Proceed to the Immigration counter for clearance. Submit Immigration Arrival Card.

Step 6: Proceed to exit counters

Proceed to the designated counters at the Arrival Reclaim Hall:

  • For OFWs: OWWA Counter for hotel accommodation assignment
  • For non-OFW Filipinos and foreign nationals: Cashier counter for payment of swab test.

Note: Philippine pesos and credit cards are modes of payment accepted. For other currencies, proceed to the foreign exchange counter at the arrivals area.

Step 7: Swab Testing

All passengers shall be swabbed upon arrival at MCIA and on the 7th day of quarantine at their respective quarantine facilities. All swab tests would be administered by the Department of Health (DOH) Region 7.

Step 8: Claim luggage

You may get your belongings at the luggage carousel .

Step 9: Proceed to waiting area

Proceed to the designated waiting area and wait for a representative from the respective agencies for Customs clearance:

  • OWWA for OFWs
  • Accredited hotel representatives for returning non-OFW Filipinos and foreign nationals
Step 10: Proceed to customs counter

Passengers must have their luggage checked by the Bureau of Customs.

Step 11: Quarantine facility transfer

Proceed to your designated vehicle with your respective agency representative for hotel or quarantine accommodation drop-off.

Step 12: Releasing of RT-PCR results

Test results are released within 24-48 hours via the email address provided in the online registration form.

  • If the swab test result is POSITIVE, BOQ will coordinate with the passenger for specific instructions. The passenger must comply with the mandated health, safety, and treatment protocols of the DOH and BOQ.
  • If the swab test result is NEGATIVE, the passenger will receive the test result via email from the BOQ.
Step 13: Going home

If the swab test result is negative, you may then coordinate with your LGU for further instructions on transport and completion of the remainder of the 14-day quarantine.

Your hometown may offer pick-up from Cebu City or you may arrange your own transportation depending on the instructions of your home local government.

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport authority strongly advises passengers to continuously monitor the status of their flights and ensure that they have the necessary documents in compliance with the regulations of the local government of their point of origin and place of destination.

For further questions, you may contact the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) via or call (032) 494-7000, 7688 to 7690. –

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