International Essentials for Traveling to Philadelphia

June 10, 2022

What you need to know before visiting Philadelphia

Traveling to Philadelphia is a breeze. Once you have landed, it’s a quick and easy trip through Customs. The Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection monitors average wait time per passenger going through Passport Control and Philadelphia International Airport works hard to keep the wait time minimal. The airport offers 24 Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks in the passport control area of Terminal A-West to help ensure a swift experience.

NOTE: Effective November 8, 2021, fully vaccinated foreign travelers will once again be able to travel to the United States. Air travelers to the United States will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the U.S., with only limited exceptions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that for purposes of travel to the U.S., vaccines accepted will include FDA-approved and World Health Organization emergency use-listed vaccines. For the latest information, consult the U.S. Department of State’s website. Effective June 12, 2022, all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) – regardless of vaccination status – are no longer required to present a negative COVID-19 test. For tips for traveling to Philadelphia during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Before you take off

  • Electricity: The U.S. and Canada use 110 to 120 volts AC, as opposed to 240 volts in use in most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It’s best to purchase an outlet adapter before traveling to the United States.

  • Clothing and shoe sizes: Most clothing is not taxed in Pennsylvania, making it the best place to build a new wardrobe. The exceptions are: formal day or evening wear; sporting goods and clothing worn or used when engaged in sports; and some articles of clothing with fake or real fur. Click for a more detailed list.
    The U.S. has a unique clothing and shoe sizing system. Use the charts found here to convert measurements from one system to another.

  • Sales taxes: Most goods in the city are assessed an 8 percent sales tax. This is in addition to the amount on the price tag. Necessities like food and clothing are not taxed, with some exceptions.

  • Converting measurements: The U.S. does not use the metric system. Use this guide to get an idea of how measurements compare.

    • 1 liter = 1.057 quarts

    • 29.57 milliliters = 1 fluid ounce

    • 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

    • 2.54 cm = 1 inch

    • 0.9 meters = 1 Yard

  • Tipping/Gratuities: Tipping is expected in certain situations. At restaurants, for example, diners should tip 15 percent to 20 percent of the total check. Other tipping guidelines:

    • Bartenders: 10 percent to 15 percent of the total tab

    • Hotel bellhops: $1 to $2 per piece of luggage

    • Hotel cleaning staff: $1 to $5 per day

    • Parking valets: $1 to $2

When you get here

  • Free WiFi: Available throughout the airport. Click here for more details.

  • Electrical outlets: In need of a charge? Look for red “Power Up” signs with available outlets. Charging stations are available throughout the airport. Important note: The U.S. and Canada use 110 to 120 volts AC versus 240 volts in use in most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

  • Privacy for nursing mothers: Nursing mothers can take advantage of Mamava, Minute Suites or Companion Care Restrooms. For more information on Mothers’ Nursing Stations available and where they are located at the airport, click here.

  • Translation services: International flights are often met by airport employees who speak the native tongue of the departure country. Besides most European languages, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Mandarin, the passenger assistance team also have employees who know Kpelle, spoken in parts of Guinea and Liberia; Malay, spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; and Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. The city also subscribes to a language line for travelers in need of services. It can be reached at 800-648-0170.

  • Accessibility: Many services, including skycaps, sighted guides, electric carts and wheelchairs, are provided directly by the airlines. If you require assistance, please notify the appropriate airline.

    Visitors with hearing or speech impairments can call the Pennsylvania Relay Service at:

    • 800-654-5984 for TTY relay

    • 800-654-5988 for Voice relay

    Visitors with disabilities or medical needs can address any concerns they may have about the policies or procedures at security checkpoints by calling the TSA help line at 855-787-2227.

    For more information on accessibility information at PHL Airport, click here.

The following language services are available for business travelers:

Photo by D. Rosenblum for Philadelphia International Airport.

Discover Philadelphia

Pick up a Philadelphia International Visitors Guide, available in English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, French, Japanese and Chinese at the Philadelphia International Airport, visitor centers and hotels, or find them online.

Philadelphia is one of the world’s most walkable cities with excellent public transportation systems. Learn more visitor basics.

COVID-19 Testing

Many overseas travelers are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding a plane to return home. The many testing sites available throughout downtown Philadelphia can be located using the interactive map on the City of Philadelphia’s website.

A convenient testing option for those traveling through Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is the on-site testing clinic operated by Jefferson Health and Rapid Available Testing. Located in the pre-security area of Terminal E, the site offers multiple types of tests intended for outbound travelers and ranging from $80 to $130, including a rapid antigen test, a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, and Rapid PCR test. To learn more about COVID-19 testing at PHL, including operating hours, pricing and more, click here.

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