The Department of Foreign Affairs recommends what level of visit a Head of State pays to the country. It could be classified as a state visit, official visit, or working visit.

What is a State Visit?

A foreign head of state visits, having been invited by the host head of state.

Arrival ceremonies include the playing of the national anthems of the two nations, a review of the honor guards, and rendering of full military honors, including a 21-gun salute for the head of state. The leaders then proceed to enter the State Entrance of Malacañan Palace, climb the grand staircase, and the visiting leader signs the Official Guest Book in the Ceremonial Hall, followed by a bilateral meeting and a joint press conference.

A state luncheon or dinner is held in honor of the visiting head of state. These usually consist of a reception in the Reception Hall of Malacañan Palace where the two leaders greet guests in a reception line. The state dinner is held either in the Aguinaldo State Dining Room or the Rizal Ceremonial Hall, which includes exchange of toasts. There can also be a cultural presentation at the end of the dinner or luncheon.  The host country shoulders the costs for the visit for the official delegation only. This may include accommodations and providing vehicles for travel unless the delegation chooses to provide its own.

In this type of visit, the visiting official can have 8-10 (not counting the official) personnel as part of his official delegation.

State Visits reflect the highest level of hospitality, honor and formality in relations between nations. They often include extending the use of a State Guest House to the visiting head of state, the conferment of decorations, the exchange of symbolic gifts, and can also include an address by the visiting head of state to the legislature of the host country as well as visits to various national memorials and the inclusion of cultural activities.

In ASEAN, there is a tradition that the first state visit of a new regional leader should be made to a fellow ASEAN member nation. In the Philippines, a state visit by a visiting head of state invariably includes laying a wreath at the tomb and monument of Jose Rizal upon arrival in the national capital, and the rendering of arrival and other honors at Malacañan Palace.

What is an Official Visit?

This is when high-ranking officials (cabinet level to head of government) are invited to visit another country by its government. Honors are given if the foreign official is the head of government, but not so for cabinet-rank officials. No luncheon or dinner is required. The host country pays for the visit’s cost for the official delegation unless the delegation opts to provide for its own needs.

In this type of visit, the visiting official may have up to six (not counting the official) personnel as part of his official delegation.

What is a Working Visit?

No invitation is necessary for a working visit. An official meets with his counterpart to discuss issues concerning both countries.  The host country does not pay for the accommodations or other expenses of the official delegation during working visits.