Travel tax from Cebu Pacific

I just want to let you the readers know of a problem I am having with booking a flight, and at the time of this article I have still not sorted it out or got a full explanation.

Cebu Pacific Airlines

I have a tourist visa and every two months I pay an immigration fee and have my passport duly stamped and last year the rules changed so that I could be here not twelve months but up to 16 months without causing any problems, and as far as my dealings with immigration here in Davao I have no problems at all.

So my 16 months is up in June so I have booked a flight to Bangkok for one week and paid Cebu Pacific and went home pleased with the booking I had made. However, two weeks later I receive frantic phone calls and texts telling me that I have to pay a further p1600 tax and I cannot fly until I pay that. I asked the lady why I have to pay another extra tax and she told me because I had been in the Philippines for over one year   I am subject to such a tax, and not only was it to be paid but the company had deducted it from her salary as she had not picked up the charge when I made the booking.

I went to the office after making many phone calls that told me nothing and I asked the staff and people on the phone at Cebu Pacific why the charge was being put against me, was it related to the old immigration rules that I can only be here one year, the first answer was yes that was the reason. I then explained twenty times or more that the law had changed , even quoting the Immigration press release stating that it was 16 months now. Thirty minutes into the conversation after checking what I had said they changed the story and told me it was NOT related to my immigration status , but merely a tax for me to pay because I have been here over one year!

I asked if they could send me a copy of the rules related to that tax,they told me they cannot. I asked if they had ever seen the rules, they said they had not. I asked could I speak to someone who may have more information on the subject, they said they have not!!! I asked if they could send me details, they said they could not!

Don’t get me wrong I am very happy to pay the tax if it is to be paid, however I am convinced that they are working the old system and it is related to the immigration rules from last year. It seems to be unfair to tax people on a time they are in a place when all the immigration rules are being observed, and after all they are an airline company, why would they collect the monies surely I pay that to immigration when I get my exit visa stamped?

Sorry to say I cannot get pass “robotic” answers, does anyone have any more details on this subject?

Post Author: John (202 Posts)

John is always finding something new to share with the readers here. John is from Great Britain where he has a background in Retail, Banking and other endeavors. John is a member of the Gay community and writes for gay blogs in the Philippines.

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  1. JohnM says

    John: My experiences with Cebu Pacific have been nothing short of terrible. This is, unfortunately, typical for them. To this day, I still cannot buy a ticket on their web site with a US credit card. Try and call and pay over the phone, and no dice either. In person, at the office (There is always a long queue in Manila there).

    As to the tax, first off, the salary deduction statement was just BS. She didn't get it deducted (I'll bet you a San Miguel!)I knew the law was changed, but unfortunately, things at CP move snail's pace. I think they are referring to the travel tax that people here on a residence visa have to pay. She sounds confused (or her supervisor is confused). Buying tickets here would be so much easier if it was lumped into the price like in nearly every other country.

    They are usually the cheapest fares, on top of it all… The taxes normally are more than the ticket cost.

  2. Phil n Jess R. says

    Yea I don't do Cebu Pacifica anymore cause of brain dead demeanor ..they are very limited where they go .It was a fight to the finish and I lost of course .I would rather walk or take a ferry or stay home .. Phil n Jess

  3. says

    I agree what a pain however a flight to Hong Kong on CP was 50.00 US and on PAL was 350.00 hmmmmm and yes like Phil CP did accept my visa from the US its just you John lol

    • says

      If your VISA, credit card I assume, was accepted and the other was denied my strongest guess is that you did not ask your credit agent to open it so it can be used out of the country. When i did my first visit here and than came back again I learned to use MasterCard and not VISA silly I know but I had no problems until i tried using them online once to renew a domain name of mine but that was when Chase took over my old bank.

  4. Ed Griffin says

    Sorry for your troubles, John. I have a question, you mentioned something about immigration in Davao. There was a post a few days ago from Klaus (I believe). He mentioned several other BI openings. My gf there in Davao City said that none that were listed or close to Davao City. So, where is there a BI in Davao City?


  5. Randy S says

    Ed,the BI when I was in davao 3 years ago was accross the street from Victoria Plaza Mall.
    Hope that helps.

  6. Tyleen Reynders says

    Hi All,
    Just putting in my 2 cents worth.
    When I left the Philippines in Aug last year much to my surprise they charged me a departure tax of around 1600 pesos.
    No one had mentioned it to me.
    When I got home I chewed out the Filipino travel agency rep for not mentioning it to me.
    I told him that I would NEVER do business with him again.
    What kind of travel agent puts you in such an awkward position.
    I had given ALL my pesos away to the driver who dropped me off at the airport. Luckily I had a 20 US bill and had to change it at a terrible rate at the money changer in the airport.
    I told him that if I had know about the "TAX" before I would have been prepared.

    • Muudz says

      Does anyone of you know if I can use my unused travel tax I paid in January 2012? I missed a flight on January 31, 2012 on the way to bangkok, so I did not have the time to refund my travel tax , I didn’t knew it that it cannot be refunded at the airport, they said that where you bought the ticket and paid you go to the same CP office. So no choice but to pay again on my 2nd flight on Feb 8, 2012. I’ll be coming home soon, my question is: can I show them at the airport if there are still travel tax to be paid from Bangko to Manila? Will the travel tax expire if you did not used it? Please let me know. Thanks

      • John Miele says

        Muudz: I am not 100% certain… It may be refundable. However, if you can’t do it at the airport, that tells me that the bureaucracy that you will go through to get it refunded will most likely be a real hassle and time waster. Realistically, you are talking about $35… I personally wouldn’t bother since I value time more than needing to go to some government office over such a small amount of money. It is probably easier to just pay the tax when you leave next time. If you insist on pursuing it, the TIEZA tax is administered by the Department of Tourism… That would be the place to start if you want to find out.

  7. Paul says

    Hi John – in some cases, it's just better to go along to get along, write off any money lost to "tuition at the School of Hard Knocks," and move on with your wonderful life. You'll never get the better of someone who lives by the motto: "Whatever Works." 😆

  8. Tyleen Reynders says

    Hi Phil
    Just out of curiosity ….what would have happened to us if we would have had no money for the tax????

  9. jadewill says

    Hi John – We have the same sentiments as you have. We are in australia now and we tried to purchase tickets online for our 2 month holiday in the Phils. but CP gave us a lot of trouble. They were able to debit the total amount of our travel tickets (Bangkok-Manila, Manila-Legazpi VV.)but CP emailed us that our Credit card could not be authenticated. I had my brother over in Manila handle the refund and after a week they have credited the money back. We then asked my brother to buy us tickets to the same route and he was told that they have to add 1600 each for travel tax unless they see our passport which got an entry to manila stamp on it. My brother argued that we are still in australia and that we are buying tickets to and out of the Philippines. In the long run, we just decided to pay the travel tax and my brother may just have to file for refund from the government. Hope all will be good when its time for our travel.

  10. Hudson says

    Hi John
    Last year I was flying back from Davao to My connecting flight In Manila back to California. The CP flight was delayed for an hour and a half so they could refuel the airplane. I finally get to Manila, waste another half hour to claim my baggage. Now of course your not really at the airport yet, or not the right one anyway. You have to take a taxi through heavy Manila taxi to get to the right terminal…Another hour lost. I get to the ticket counter for my flight to LAX only to find out that I have missed my flight.

    I went to the CP office there at the airport to see if they will pay for a hotel room since I figured they were the ones who made me miss my flight. After fighting with them for 30 minutes, the only thing they could tell me was it was my fault for not allowing enough time between flights…I thought a 3 hour lay-over would have been enough. Silly me.

  11. JOHN says

    John M
    I am hearing so many bad things about them now..what a way to run a company.

    They have still not phoned me back as promised.
    I have never been able to use any of my credit cards for this company.

    phil n jess
    I admit I have lost this one lol

    Good point even with this hassle I still have a saving of near $200, although I have a dizzy head dealing with them.

    The guys have answered this one for you and I find that BI a good one to deal with.

    A very similar p1600 keeps appearing..every tax seems to have the same response.

    You are so right, its just the sense of fair play thing, me being a Brit lol

    I have no HAIR now.

    Am now in Manila and the traffic this morning so bad it took me over an hour to do a normal 30 mins journey.

  12. says

    Sorry to hear about the troubles, John. A pretty good explanation of the law is here:

    This is an official tax and Filipinos, Philippine permanent residents (of any nationality), and temporary residents, such as folks on tourist visas who have been in-country longer than 1 year, are subject to it. The tax, by the way, is PhP1620 for tourist class tickets. For tickets issued within the Philippines, the issuing airline or travel agent is requyired to collect this tax as an agent of the government.

    Cebu Pacific appears to be just trying to comply with the law. Regardless of whether you settle this charge with them or not, you likely won't be allowed to depart without proof of payment .. there's a tourism tax office at every international airport.

    On my recent trip to Macau I was not charged the tax when I bought our tickets, but I was sent to the travel tax desk at the airport to pay it before we could get our boarding passes.

    Don't forget also to check with immigration well before you are ready to depart, you probably require an exit clearance (ECC) (takes three working days to process) which you have to bring with you to passport control at the airport ..

    Temporary Visitors who stayed in the country for more than 59 days but less than six (6) months are required to pay Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) Fee before departure. If they stayed for more than six (6) months, they have to pay the ECC fee and must secure the ECC form and which requires fingerprinting at the BI. They must also leave unexpired their passports.

    Psperwork, documentation and taxes, wherever would we be without them, eh?

  13. says

    My in-laws have been informed by text message at 4.15 am, that their flight back to Davao (if I am not mistaken scheduled 7 a.m.)has been cancelled "because of some circumstances". While waiting in Manila airport, some passengers (WHO DIDN'T APPLY FOR PROMO RATE) were able to to fly back to Davao (???). Promo passengers waited for their departure up to the evening the same day and arrived Davao tired and totally angry around 10.30 p.m. without information or any other service (lunch, dinner etc.).

    My last flight back from Cebu (with CP) has been delayed almost 2 hours "because of weather conditions". Up to now, no one of us passengers could explain, why and how… .

  14. Jamie Flanagan says

    Hello people,

    Cebu Pacific did it to me as well.

    After flying 9 hrs from Australia to Macau and waiting for a connecting flight to Manila for 3 hrs, I approached the desk explaining that my credit card had been rejected and I was told to pay at the desk. I was sent to another desk where they collect the money and to my surprise I was told I would have to wait and see if their was room on the plane.

    I argued that I had a confirmation and was told everything would be ok but the agent there was not actually employed by CB so she couldnt really help me. I made such a fuss the boss spoke to me and basically said the same thing. So tough I hd to wait.

    So after waiting another hour or so at the desk I was informed the plane was overbooked. Not by one or two, but they had 50 too many people for the flight.

    Crying women and children everywhere with valid tickets who could not get on the plane and were stuck at the airport with nothing.

    I flew with Air Macau the next day.

    Coming back they stuffed me around as well causing me to change flights and I was of course charged. The flight they recommended I catch had not arrived when my connecting flight to Australia had left. Lucky I did not take their advice and arrived by other means early in the day.

    The flights have alway been ok. They are often late and with their last effort in over booking they can stick their airline you know where.

    I have actually found a travel agent in Manila that will let me email them what I want, and then direct deposit into their account, which gets me around the credit card problem.

    It is very typical of the way things are done in the Phils and I often wonder why I bother. Then I take one look at my girl and everything is forgotten – until I need to do business with someone again.

    Great site.



  15. mike says

    i didnt have any problems with pal or cathay pacific or northwest now i know not to use cebu pacific thank you for the heads up!

  16. brian says

    Last year booked a flight over internet from USA, even got a confirmation # from them, I as always copied/printed ALL my flight itinarary before I left home. Had copy with me at Cebu Pacific counter to pick up my ticket in Cebu, was informed I had no reservation because they did not procees my credit card…yet I had a confirmation number from them. "Sorry Sir…we have no seats at the rate you originally booked but we do have seats availible for the current rate" rather than argue I paid the extra rate. Fast forward another year, waited in ticket line for and hour at mall, got my ticket …went to pay for it…"sorry Sir…we don't accept credit cards" I had to leave go find a currency exchange , come back…wait…paid and vowed NEVER to fly Cebu Pacific again. I would rather pay more at PAL and deal with a
    professionally run company than one run by forth graders!!
    I predict they will be out of business in 24 months.

  17. Tom Ramberg says

    Hi Klaus!

    I have flown Cebu-Pacific a couple of times. I have vowed to never use them to fly from Manila as their terminal is pure chaos. Last time I used them we were stuck on the plane for almost an hour because a passanger was delayed in traffic. I was a bit miffed as I had arrived at the terminal not only on time but early. I am very understanding if a connecting flight causes a delay but normal tardiness was inexcusable to me. Must have been a VIP or a airport managers son. :)

  18. Gary says

    Same thing happened, almost, except NorthWest – it was less than 12 months so no tax – but they called in a panic and even "reissued" the ticket…

  19. john says

    Dave Starr
    Wow, looks like I have to eat humble pie and go pay the tax. I just wish they could have advised me the way you have. Thanks Dave.

    I would have gone mad with all the problems you had with them. Sorry to hear about that.

    The credit card issue is huge and I hear that its because of fraud that most international cards are not available to Cebu Pacific.

    My friends just smile at me and say that if you want to deal with the airline like that what do you expect?

    Thanks for the info.

  20. janet says

    my friend's dad was coming to the states for the first time. Months before his scheduled departure to the states, he bought his ticket (Dvo-Mnl) at Cebu pacific ticket agency in the mall. On the day of his departure, at the airport in davao, he was told that he could not board the plane since his ticket was not valid. What??? Why not valid? CP's answer was it was never paid after all. Payment was not reflected on the computer. He explained that he had bought his ticket months ago to avail the cheaper rate.. but that didn't get him nowhere. Luckily, he brought his receipt with him and showed them that, yet even that didn't iron out the issue. CP will not let up. He missed his (Dvo-Mnl) flight and ended up buying again another ticket – thankfully his son was with him to help him buy another ticket. They went back to the mall for whatever time they had left and spoke with the ticket agency people. The lady who collected the money and issued him the receipt was not there – she was actually having a makeover at some beauty salon. They found out that she never did turn in the money. this was not the first time she had done it yet they still keep her (go figure). They were refunded the money.. all of it? no! just part of it because there was only so much in their cash register. So his son had to come back the next day to get the rest of it. What trouble! I don't think i could have kept my composure if it happened to me.

    What inconvenience CEBU PACIFIC has inflicted on this man. Missed his flight, had to buy a new, expensive ticket, go back to the office in the mall, did not get the whole refund right away, the frantic thought of missing his international flight. Did CP do anything to pacify this customer? i don't guess so.


  21. says

    My wife and i are still waiting for a Cebu – Pacific refund for a ticket they debited our bank card for but their agent would not issue because our card was from a bank they didn't like . Apparently a Philippine bank they won't do business with because of the family that owns it . :-)

    Only in the Philippines

  22. john says

    I am sorry to hear about the experince, but as you can see from this article it just seems to be the company works and has no idea or plans to make the changes to make the customer want to come back. Jence it will only be a matter of time before the company folds, just like so many othets here in the Philippines.


  23. Bob New York says

    On my first visit to Mindanao, the last part of the journey required a flight from Manila to Cagayan de Oro Lumbia Airport. My travel agent here in New York set up all of my flight schedules for me which included the flight from Manila to CDO. Having to go from Manila International Airport and then check in at Manila Domestic Airport was like a throuwback to the 1950's , it was no problem and sort of a blast from the past for me. I had no problems on Cebu Pacific.

    Six months later when I wanted to visit again, Cebu Pacific would not accept USA credit cards from the USA to book flights. I later found out sometimes they do and sometimes they don't LOL. I took Philippine Air on the second visit and no problem booking from the USA and no problem on the manila to CDO flight.

    I am forming the opinion that Cebu Pacific is putting most of their effort into offering the cheapest possible ticket price to gain more domestic business. From reading the article abd responses here it appears they have put customer service in the back seat.

  24. emercado says

    Some tourists are EXEMPTED from airport tax (or travel tax as you call it)so be careful on what Cebu Pacific is charging you; and the airport tax officer was the one who told that.

    I have 3 Singaporean friends who booked their tickets online while they were in Singapore (for a 10-day visit), but the other one with different return date. When they were here, they asked me to rebook the ticket (of that one)so they'll be together on the same flight on Aug. 5, 2009 1:30PM. So I called up the hotline (02 -70 20 888)and they told me that there will be price adjustment amounting to P3360 which is fine with me. The lady told that I can pay it in the airport or at any Cebu Pacific offices nearby. I went to Cebu Pacific Office in Robinsons Imus Cavite to pay, and to my surprise the lady told that I need to pay also the airport tax of P1620 because payment was made over the counter. And so I did. But at the airport, when we are about to pay for the 2 other for their airport tax, the tax officer said tourists are exempted from airport tax, and he, in his own initiative made a photocopy of passport and asked our friend to write that he is authorizing me to collect the refund. And the 2 boarded without paying airport tax. On that evening I went to Imus office to get the refund,but they refused. They said, the refund is not anymore possible because the ticket was used already, and the guest, should have applied for an exemption before he left the country (how would I know, they did not tell that when I paid the ticket). And the other lady said that I should go to NAIA office to get a ATI form or something and that is the right procedure in doing refund. WOW! WHY THEY ARE GIVING US THE HEADACHE IN GETTING REFUND. In the first place, there should be no airport tax at all; so why did they charge that? Why they can easily get the money, and give us hardtime to get it back? My uncle has the answer to this:

    They don’t want to give refund because they are the ones who will took the money; they can easily do that – they are the one to claim the refund because there is CONSPIRACY within that office,They will charge the tourists for airport tax, unknowingly, which is not necessary and later, if the customer protest, they will say ask for a refund. They will ask for so many things and will kick you like a ball, from one department to another, until you get tired and not ask for refund anymore. That’s what our uncle says. I am not sure if its true or not. I sent an e-mail to them but until now I am not getting any reply yet. My brother in law also had a word with the manager of Complaints Division of Cebu Pacific but until now they are not responding or informing us of any progress. He's not after the money, he's after the Imus personnel who treated us so bad, they are not very courteous, they are not helping in any manner and they lack professionalism when dealing with customer complaints.

  25. john grant says


    Sorry to hear of all the problems, honestly though its not unusual I hear it and get it all the time. And I agree that a refund is just a number of hurdles to go through to get nothing.

    I was once sold a BAD ticket it took me 12 weeks and a phone call to a BBC programme to get PALL to even respond to me.

    Just to let you know that when I got to leave on my trip I was never asked for proof that I paid this extra tax, so when I asked the lady she said I should never have paid it. Go figure

  26. says

    If you stayed longer than a year, I would agree with the tax but the tax is dealt with through the immigration booth not an airline company.

    One silly, unjust, thing that happen to me is that i was not even here for a year, although my passport was stamped up to that date and i was leaving before the year was reached and they still charged me that tax that is only suppose to affect those who stayed over one year.

    Hector D De Leons books will give you a lot of these answers you are looking for.

    Never trust the airline company if it is a yearly tax and related to honest immigration issues the person at the checkout area will collect it not the one who sold the ticket otherwise you might have a double jeopardy which is wrong.

    Everything is explainable those who do not explain it are 1) lazy 2) they do not know 3) they are taking money from you which is normally what ticket agents try to do if you are not smart.

  27. RichardD says

    I bought a ticket last week on their website with my American Visa. I was shocked that it was accepted. I traveled on that ticket today with no problems except the 1 1/2 hour delay and the charges for virtually everything on the plane, and then they gave me the wrong change, which after I kept asking finally was resolved. I think this will be my first and last flight with them. well after the return trip. They were a little cheaper, but when you add in the agrivation and extra cost in flight, I think I will pay the cost of the PAL flight next trip

  28. Phil n Jess R. says

    Ha Ha Ha that happened to me to but i give my extra money to my wife and I had none .. ended up a couple from Scotland paid for my tax stamp in Cebu..When i told them I had no money to pay the tax .. the man turned and started to laugh saying.. did you spend it all gambling .. I said no I gave it to my wife when we departed at the entrance .. Then he said he would buy my stamp for me ..he said not to worry about aying it back just help someone else .. and I did a year later ..Phil n Jess

  29. says

    Hi Phil n jess, Thank you very much. I really appreciate your comment because I thought, I was the only one in this entire country. Being a fan of Cebu Pacific for a long time (and not only me but also some of my in-laws (several trips to Cebu and Manila) I only can agree with you. A couple of days ago I planned to write a post my inlaw's experiences with CEBU PACIFIC after a trip to Manila ("waiting 16 hours for departure going back to davao, BECAUSE THEY BOOKED a promo rate…!").

  30. Phil n Jess R. says

    Yea Klaus ..It is easier to sit for 3 hours then to stand in line for 1 hour ( or more ) at a airport ..

  31. Phil n Jess R. says

    I feel so bad for your in-laws Klaus.. but I had to laugh ( ha ha ha ha ).I was thinking Wow i was there too but not as bad I got a room for the night in La and manila .compliments of the airlines .. had a flight canceled in La overnight stay to manila missed flight by 1/2 hour .overnight stay ..2 days late getting to cube ,I booked hotel room for 3 days it expired the day I arrived .. go figure …..Dave except my appoloiges for running on ..It was my first trip to the Philippines too ..Phil n Jess

  32. Henry says


    On my first trip to the Philippines last April 2008, I flew Cebu-Pacific from Manila to Davao. Strike 1 – waiting for about 2 hours in a joke-of-a-ticket buying facility. How could they herd so many people like that with no organization? I mean, there were no orderly lines for people to queue. Seeing how other people were boxing themselves into whatever line was (or wasn't in view), I joined in. Oh, the heat and the confusion—such wonderful memories. Ok, got the ticket. Strike 2 – going to check-in my luggage. My luggage was overweight, so I had to pay a penalty. Alright fine! Strike 3 – the plane is 3 hours late! Need I say anymore? Next time I fly PAL.

  33. Andy Wooldridge says

    Hello Klaus,

    And hey Phil I knew we had a lot in common. My first trip to Davao went ok on the way there and I thought I was going to same on way home. Davao airport did have a p250 airport tax And Josie had a neighbor that had a nephew that worked as security at airport so she got to come all the way through a separate door to international to watch my plane leave. Beings I already paid the air port tax I gave her the rest of my cash. Never knew that in Manila there was an additional p750. No problem nice security guy took me out of international to an atm machine I got $25.00 and went on my way. Got home and checked my bank and was charged $25.00 for atm fees. Live and learn. hehe

  34. says

    Hi Tom Ramberg, thanks for your compliment… by the way, it has been a post of John…(?). Anyway, no problems, John is my neighbour… .

  35. Tom Ramberg says

    I just noticed my double mistake. I was in a hurry to leave for work so I was a bit careless. Sorry John! :)

  36. janet says

    8 years ago their office was in uyangeren area but now moved to the new building accross victoria plaza.

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